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Star Trek: Aldrin


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#1 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 09:40 AM

STAR TREK: ALDRIN
-1-
The Enemy Within
Derek Kessler

Prologue


The Dominion was an extremely powerful interplanetary force based in the Gamma Quadrant. Its hundreds of planets were ruled by the Founders, a race of reclusive shape-shifters. The Founders controlled their territory with the Jem’Hadar, via the Vorta. Both the Jem’Hadar and Vorta were genetically engineered and cloned, creating a seemingly endless supply of both. The Jem’Hadar were designed to be the perfect warrior, but they were also physiologically dependent upon the enzyme ketracel-white, which was distributed by the Vorta, the Dominion’s diplomats.

When the Bajoran Wormhole, a subspace link between the Alpha and Gamma Quadrants created by the extra-dimensional Prophets, was discovered in 2369, the Federation began to explore and colonize the Gamma Quadrant. The former Cardassian mining station Deep Space 9 was moved to the mouth of the wormhole and served as the launchpad into the Gamma Quadrant and a receiving station into the Alpha Quadrant. The Dominion was quick to object to this cultural incursion and soon made their intentions clear.

In 2370, Starfleet had its first contact with the Dominion, resulting in the destruction of the U.S.S. Odyssey. By 2373 the Dominion had entered an alliance, brokered by the unstable Gul Dukat, with the Cardassian Union, giving them a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant. Dominion forces began to build up at the Cardassian homeworld, Cardassia Prime. Meanwhile, the Vorta negotiated non-aggression pacts with the Romulans, Bajorans, and other Alpha Quadrant governments. Fearful of an impending Dominion invasion, the Federation prevented the arrival of more Dominion troops and ships by blockading the Bajoran Wormhole with a field of self-replicating cloaked mines.

The Dominion attacked from their new base Terok Nor, the former Deep Space 9 that the Federation was forced to evacuate when the Bajorans signed the Dominion’s non-aggression pact. During the early months of 2374, the Dominion inflicted extreme casualties on the Federation and their Klingon allies. The tide turned in favor of the Federation and Klingons in late 2374 when the Romulans abated their non-aggression pact and launched a joint strike on the Dominion and Cardassians. Section 31, the Federation’s covert intelligence agency, released a genetic virus that nearly wiped out the Founders. In spite of the Founder’s disease, the Breen sided with the Dominion and overwhelmed the Allies to the point that a few Breen ships were able to inflict heavy damage on Starfleet Headquarters, located on Earth.

The Allies resisted the Dominion and developed defenses to the Breen’s sophisticated weaponry. In 2375 the Dominion began to lose ground against the allies and Starfleet forces recaptured Deep Space 9. But the minefield around the wormhole had been destroyed and a massive Dominion fleet was on its way from the Gamma Quadrant. Captain Benjamin Sisko, a Human chosen by the Prophets as their emissary to the Bajoran people, appealed to the Prophets to destroy the fleet before it reached the Alpha Quadrant, for Bajor’s sake. The Prophets intervened, completely eliminating the Dominion fleet while it was still within the wormhole’s tunnel.

The Dominion retreated to Cardassia Prime to rebuild their forces. Recognizing the Dominion’s vulnerability, the Allies launched a desperate final assault on Cardassia. After a domestic attack on the Dominion’s Cardassia Headquarters by Cardassian freedom fighters, the Dominion swiftly responded by leveling entire Cardassian cities, killing millions of innocent civilians. The Dominion made sure that the Cardassian fleet knew of their brutal retribution, but incorrectly gauged their loyalty. The Cardassians turned on the Dominion, but the diseased Founder leader still refused to surrender, ordering all Dominion forces to fight to the death. Not until Odo, a Founder raised among the Bajorans, linked with the Founder leader, communicating his desires and curing the disease, did she order the Dominion to surrender.

Deep Space 9 – Habitat Ring
Denorios Belt, Bajor System
16:46 Hours, November 19th, 2375
Stardate 52884.03334

Colonel Kira Nerys rubbed her sleepy eyes. She watched as the female leader of the Founders smoothly walked around the black table. The female, at least in her current form, leader of the Founders, and two Vorta, accompanied by their Jem’Hadar guards, had been negotiating the terms of the Dominion surrender for fifteen endless hours with representatives from the Allies. A dozen ambassadors from the Federation, the Klingons, and the Romulans, with Admirals, Captains, and Generals from each of the powers filled one side of the briefing room. And, of course, there were the reporters on the other side. Annoying as they were, they still had freedom of the press as allowed by the Federation constitution.

Arrangements had been made and there was now an actual paper document on the table. The Founder leaned over the document. The two Vorta looked over her shoulders as she scanned the final surrender. A silence fell over the crowded briefing room as the Founder leader stared in what almost seemed like grief at the document.

There was suddenly a flash of light outside the large porthole windows of the briefing room. An alarm began to blast throughout the station as a thin, green wave of energy radiated from the flash point. The delegates and reporters watched in stunned silence as the wave rushed towards the station. Kira carefully watched as the Founder leader dropped the pen and turned to stare out the window. The wave effortlessly passed through Deep Space 9’s shields, and half a second later it washed over the station.

Time seemed to slow as the wave passed through the briefing room. A bright light filled the room, washing out almost everything inside. Kira was able to see the outline of the Founder leader as it began to shift. The Founder collapsed onto the table and began to liquefy. Kira tried to rush forward, but could only move slowly in the thick air. She turned her head and saw an elderly Starfleet admiral slowly fall and disappear. The wave suddenly ended and Kira was unexpectedly propelled towards the table.

Kira fell headfirst into the table and bounced back onto the deck. After recovering her balance, she lifted herself off the metal deck and glanced around the room. A few officials were being helped off the deck, including the Starfleet admiral. She pulled herself up, using the table, and looked to the Founder leader. She was slowly regaining the humanoid shape that Kira was familiar with. Kira was hesitant to touch the Founder, who was being assisted by her Vorta attendants, so instead she went to help the admiral.

He was back on his feet, and actually looked slightly younger and a bit taller than he had before this odd phenomenon. She hit her Bajoran combadge, a small subspace communicator incorporated into the Bajoran emblem and mounted on her chest, “Kira to Ops.”

The young Ferengi Starfleet lieutenant Nog answered, “Ops here.”

Kira looked around the conference room. Most inside just seemed to be slightly stunned by this odd event. “What was that?”

There was a short pause, “We’re not sure. It looks like it was some sort of polaron wave. Whatever it was, it knocked out all of our sensors.”

“Even internal?”

“That’s what I meant by all, Colonel.”

Kira laughed to herself, “Lieutenant, you better be hiding when I get back up there. Kira out.” She looked to the Founder leader in time to see her motioning for the representatives of the allies to come forward. Federation President Ak’telKi, a very young Andorian woman, and Admiral William Ross, Klingon Chancellor Martok with Ambassador Worf, Romulan Praetor Hiren and Senator Cretak, and Interim Cardassian President Seskal with Elim Garak, stepped towards the Founder and watched.

She stood there for a moment, making eye contact with each representative. “May I speak?”

Ak’telKi observed a general, though begrudged, consensus among the delegates. She nodded her head, “You may.”

The Founder leader took a deep, but unnecessary, breath. “Nearly seven of your years ago, your people discovered the wormhole that led to our Gamma Quadrant. You brought your people, your ships, and your cultures with you and started to colonize planets in territory that we, the Dominion, believed was rightfully ours. We attacked your colonies, but you refused to leave. Our egotistical attitude towards your people pervaded, and we believed that you would not be able to repel our forces.

“You could not have chosen a better way to prove us wrong. Despite our alliances with the Cardassians and the Breen, you resisted, you adapted, and you drove us back. And even when you had us cornered, we refused to give up. Then our allies turned on us, but we still refused to surrender. It took the most intimate contact between myself and Odo to convince me to do otherwise.” She paused for a moment, “With your permission, I’d like to address a few of you individually.”

Martok spoke gruffly, “Go ahead.”

She almost seemed to smile, “Chancellor Martok, we captured and impersonated you for some time. But against all odds, you escaped, exposed our conspiracy, and led your people in many brave battles. May your name ring with honor throughout the halls of Qo’noS for centuries to come.”

“Praetor Hiren, you came to power on Romulus through peaceful means, something almost unheard of on Romulus. You assumed control in the middle of our conflict and handled your forces expertly.”

The Founder turned to Ross. “Admiral Ross. What can I say? Your military expertise is unmatched among the Federation. You wielded the power of the Federation fleet with extraordinary skill. Your tactics, though unconventional, were extremely effective.”

Ross interrupted, “Thank you, but I owe much of the credit to Captain Sisko.”

“Very well,” restarted the Founder. “President Seskal, you fought bravely with Legate Damar. I understand now why you resisted our occupation of Cardassia. I am truly sorry that I ordered the execution of your people. Can you find it in you to forgive me for the atrocities I have committed?”

All eyes fell on Seskal. He stared down the Founder for some time, and then said with quiet restraint, “You killed millions of innocent civilians as retribution for the actions of myself and a few others. You destroyed our great cities, our institutions, our priceless artifacts. But worst of all, through murder, you made it impossible for over a million children to pursue their dreams, simply because they were Cardassian. No, I cannot find it in me to forgive you, and I doubt I ever will.” Seskal stood, stone faced, and waited.

The Founder leader drew back, aghast at Seskal’s controlled outburst. She took a minute to collect herself. “I, the representative of the Dominion, hereby present the Cardassian Union, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Empire, and the United Federation of Planets, with the unconditional surrender of all Dominion territory, equipment, vessels, and personnel, effective upon the signing of this document.” She rotated the paper, pushed it across the table, and placed an ink pen next to it. Martok, Hiren, Ak’telKi, and Seskal all signed the agreement in succession. Seskal handed the paper and pen back to Ak’telKi, who then placed both on the table before the Founder

She pressed the pen to the paper and scrolled in smooth, but somewhat forced, Federation Standard text, ‘Founder’. She then placed the pen on the table and the entire room, except for herself and the Vorta, broke out in applause.

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#2 poko

 

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 11:37 AM

Fine start. :thumbsup:

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"The universe is big, its vast, and complicated, and ridiculous and sometimes - very rarely - impossible things just happen and we call them miracles."

"Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold."

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#3 Shodar

 

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 02:42 PM

That is the worst piece of writing I have ever see- what? This wasn't written by Berman? Oh, carry on then ;)

:thumbsup: Can't wait for the next installment
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#4 Shlomi of Vulcan

 

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 03:10 PM

Can't believe you ended this phase of it so abrutely. I was really getting into it. Good work for a 1st installment. eargerly await more.
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#5 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 03:12 PM

Can't believe you ended this phase of it so abrutely.  I was really getting into it.  Good work for a 1st installment.  eargerly await more.

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There's more coming. I've got the whole thing finished, but I figured I'd space it out some... :)

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#6 poko

 

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 03:56 PM

There's more coming. I've got the whole thing finished, but I figured I'd space it out some... :)

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i.e. He wants to make sure he gets a lot of complements so he's releasing it in sections to get reviews after each part. :lol: :P

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"The universe is big, its vast, and complicated, and ridiculous and sometimes - very rarely - impossible things just happen and we call them miracles."

"Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold."

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#7 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 03:58 PM

i.e. He wants to make sure he gets a lot of complements so he's releasing it in sections to get reviews after each part.  :lol:  :P:

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:lol: Nah, I wrote the whole thing more than a year ago. But it's 92,000 words, not something I can post at once, or even all in one day! Expect Chapter 1 later tonight...

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#8 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 04:31 PM

1


Drydock 4
Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
Mars, Sol System, Sector 001
08:00 Hours, January 23rd, 2380
Stardate 57061.190388

A shimmering column of aqua energy and matter swirled above the glowing transporter pad of Drydock 4. The glittering particles of energy condensed into Captain David Clark, a middle-aged man with tightly curled brown hair and dark brown eyes. Clark closed his eyes for a few moments, involuntarily straightened his black, gray-shouldered uniform, and then stepped off the pad and acknowledged the ensign manning the controls. The captain ran his fingers through his thick, curly hair and quietly sighed, “I hate transporters.” The ensign glared at Clark through narrow eyes, as if the captain had just insulted his mother, and then returned to the transporter controls. Just then, the door into the corridor slid open and a short, frail, gray-haired two-star Starfleet admiral walked in.

“Hello, David,” Admiral Russell said. His voice was weak, yet warm and welcoming. He thrust his pale, bony hand forward in greeting. Clark gently took hold of it and shook lightly, “I trust you had a comfortable trip?”

“Just fine, thank you. You didn’t have to come all this way just to show me the ship,” said Clark. The transporter operator sarcastically rolled his eyes. “But why couldn’t I bring a shuttle up here?” Clark asked. The operator bit his lower lip as if the superior officer had insulted him, again.

“You remember that plasma fire we had up here a couple of days ago?” Clark nodded his head, remembering that it had started in the drydock’s staging area, “It damaged our shuttlebay here on the dock, and the atmospheric forcefields and bay doors for the shuttlebay were in there. So it could be a short while before the Aldrin is in good working order.”

“Oh, okay. Speaking of which, when can I expect the Aldrin to be in good enough order to take her out for a spin?” asked Clark, eagerly rubbing his hands together. The transporter operator was now closely watching as the captain and admiral conversed.

Russell shifted his weight onto one leg and furrowed his brow in thought, “Uh… one or two days, provided we can figure out where our forcefield emitters are at.” Clark cringed inwardly, the admiral had just used a preposition at the end of the sentence, and Clark was often a stickler for grammar. No sense in wasting thought on grammar now, thought Clark.

“What do you mean?” Clark said.

Russell lightly puffed his lips, “The emitters we had were destroyed in the fire, and the Corps of Engineers doesn’t seem to want to give us any.”

Clark nodded his head, “They’re a stubborn bunch. I’ll see if any of my friends back in SCE will be able to trade some emitters.”

Russell nodded, “Sounds like a good plan.” The admiral stopped nodding, and the transporter operator continued to watch the two officers, despite the awkward silence now progressing. Both Clark and Russell eyed the ensign out of the corners of their eyes, bringing the operator to a realization that he was neglecting his work, and eavesdropping on superior officers. He quickly retreated to an open bulkhead to the right of the single transporter pad and began probing the exposed circuitry with a tricorder, a palm-sized portable scanning device, operated by input on its touch-sensitive display.

Russell and Clark left the transporter room and walked slowly down a corridor lined with tan bulkheads and a hip-height metal grab bar. Russell dragged his feet along the carpet, showing that his advanced age was not treating him well. “I can trust he isn’t going to be part of my crew,” said Clark, referring to the transporter operator they had just left.

“I’ll see to it that he isn’t,” said Russell. He pointed down a corridor to their right, “This way.” The pair walked down the corridor, passing several doors designated as storage rooms and fabrication facilities. A few still bore black scorch marks from the fire.

They suddenly came to a portion of the hall lined with large windows that overlooked the expansive docking area below. Cradled inside the thick grid walls of Drydock 4 was a large Akira-class starship. The oval shaped saucer was shorter in length than width, and had long, shallow notches in the front and back. The bridge of the vessel was situated at the top of the saucer, protected on both sides by a split engineering hull that started near the front of the sauce and bowed out to almost a hundred fifty meters behind and above the saucer. Held up above the bridge, at the rear of the two engineering hulls, was a large weapons pod, bristling with torpedo launchers and phaser emitters. Suspended to the sides, below and behind the saucer, were two large warp nacelles, one of which was opened to allow a small yellow Workbee shuttle to work on the complex series of warp field coils inside.

Out of sight, on the bottom of the saucer was a bulge that contained the majority of the ship’s deuterium slush storage and its glowing blue deflector dish. Painted in black letters outlined in gray on the dorsal and ventral bow of the saucer was the ship’s name and registration: U.S.S. ALDRIN NCC-89465.

The Aldrin was connected to the drydock at an airlock directly behind the bridge and at two large re-supply ports at mid-way along the ridge topping each of the engineering hulls. At various points along the ship outer hull panels were missing, indicating much work still had to be done on the Aldrin. Along the outside seams of the engineering hulls and the saucer were strips of complicated, dark gray technology: ablative armor generators. They, and the advanced transphasic torpedoes inside the weapons pod, had been brought from the 25th century by the U.S.S. Voyager, which three years ago had returned from the 70,000 light-year distant Delta Quadrant.

Clark gazed in awe at the beautiful ship situated below him, watching as Workbees affixed panels to the hull and continued to work on the warp nacelle. For so many years he had worked just like the pilots of the Workbees, and now he was taking command of a ship, a ship of the class he had designed. He was not sure of how long he had been gawking at his new ship, when Russell impatiently cleared his throat. “So, do you want to actually go inside, or are you going to just stand there and command it from here?” Clark felt his cheeks flush red with embarrassment. The admiral chuckled, “Come on, let’s go meet your crew,” He smiled and started down the corridor. Clark followed after him, wondering what awaited him inside.

The turbolift door opened to the airlock at the back of the Aldrin’s bridge. Russell gestured to the airlock, “Go on.” Clark stepped confidently into the airlock and made his way over to the door leading to the rest of the ship. He punched in an access code and the door slid open to reveal a curved corridor that ramped up, its end not visible from where Clark stood, but he knew it led to the bridge. The captain turned to the turbolift to find that it, and Russell, where gone, replaced by the large, heavy doors of Drydock 4. He shrugged and walked up and around the ramp, smelling the same ‘new ship scent’ he had last smelled on the brand-new U.S.S. Akira. To his left was a second ramp that led up to the observation lounge. He stopped at the top of the ramp and the door there split open, revealing the spacious and well-lit bridge of the Aldrin. There were two comfortable looking command chairs in the center area of the bridge, and behind them was a station for the operations officer, incorporated into a sweeping brushed steel arc. The steel arc curved around the outside of the command chairs, providing support for large maneuverable computer access panels for the captain and first officer. A shallow ramp curved up on both sides of the bridge, between the arc and the tactical and science stations, making the back third of the bridge a level higher than the rest, with a long blue spill light incorporated into the step dividing the level, hidden behind the command chairs and under the operations station, matching the curve of the arc. Towards the back of the bridge, was a circular tactical station in the corner on the right, mirrored by an identical science station on the left. In the center of the back wall was a detailed cutaway schematic of the Akira-class ship, the master system monitor. Directly in the front of the bridge was a single helm station and chair, facing a large, curved holographic viewscreen, currently not active. Above, the overhead was supported by several thick gray beams that stretched from the bridge walls to the center, in which was a meter-wide circular window directly above the command area. Small lights around the edge of the overhead and the window cast a soft glow on the bridge. Along one wall, several bulkheads had been opened to reveal complex webs of circuitry, gel packs, and ODN relays. Half a dozen engineers were working at the open wall, mostly prodding the internal mechanics with various engineering tools.

A pointy-eared Vulcan engineer, with the typical slanted eyebrows and smoothly trimmed black hair, noticed Clark and snapped to attention, “Captain on the bridge.” Clark noted that he looked rather young, although Vulcans were known for aging slowly and living in excess of two hundred fifty years.

Clark absently waved his hand, “As you were.” He surveyed the bridge before asking the Vulcan, “What’s our status?”

The Vulcan approached the captain, but stopped a respectable meter away. He suddenly let loose a torrent of information, “The ODN relays to the tactical systems are being rerouted due to an overload in the primary EPS taps. Only thirty percent of the crew has reported aboard, and Commander Jensen just left to get an update on the situation in Stellar Cartography. There are several other items that require attention, but they are not of significance at this time.”

“What situation in Stellar Cartography?” Clark asked.

Vorik responded, “The holographic map projectors are not functioning properly.”

Clark raised his eyebrows in satisfaction, “I see that things are ahead of schedule, so I have only one thing to do,” he paused for a moment, “Computer, this is Captain David Clark, assuming command of the U.S.S. Aldrin.”

The computer beeped softly in response and said in its pleasant female voice, “Acknowledged.”

“Well,” Clark rubbed his hands together, “Since it seems that I’m not needed here, I’ll be going to my quarters. Thank you, Mr.…” he paused and pointed a questioning finger at the Vulcan, “I’m afraid I don’t know your name.”

One of the Vulcan’s eyebrows rose, “Lieutenant Commander Vorik, Chief Engineer.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Clark, “Vorik, of the U.S.S. Voyager! I do believe it will be a pleasure serving with you.” He put his hand forward but the Vulcan ignored the gesture.

Vorik nodded passively, “I, as well, do believe it will be a pleasure serving with you, Captain. But, as I am Vulcan, I do not have any emotions, thus I cannot be pleasured by an experience.”

Clark laughed aloud, “Vulcans! Every time somebody tries to talk to you about emotions, you say that you don’t have emotions, right?”

Vorik raised his eyebrow again, “That is correct.”

“But, that’s a lie,” said Clark, slowly walking towards the turbolift, opposite the door he had entered from, “You do have emotions, but they are extremely volatile, so you suppress them with intense mental conditioning and meditation.” Clark turned his head slightly and studied Vorik.

Vorik blinked several times, and then said as calmly as he had before, “You are well versed in Vulcan culture, Captain. Perhaps I should rephrase my response for future discussion.”

Clark smiled, “Perhaps you should. Well, if you need me, I’ll be in my quarters.” Vorik returned to the open bulkheads as the captain headed to the turbolift on the left side of the bridge. Clark stopped in the alcove that contained the turbolift doors and examined the bronze dedication plaque. Topping the plaque was an etching of the Starfleet emblem, a gently bowed triangle with a smaller offset triangular cutout in its base, both of which combined represented the Cochrane Subspace Distortion, the basis of warp drive. Attached to both sides of the triangle were two trapezoids, which visually formed a flatted hexagon behind the triangle. A missing horizontal bar punctuated the hexagon, almost splitting it in two. Below the emblem was the name U.S.S. ALDRIN, and further down was:

REGISTRY NUMBER NCC-89465 • AKIRA CLASS
LAUNCHED STARDATE 57070.5 • UTOPIA PLANITIA FLEET YARDS
SOL SECTOR • UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS


Below were the names of dozens of Starfleet officials with names like Berman, Piller, Jeffries, and Roddenberry. Clark smiled, seeing Lieutenant Commander David Clark listed as the Chief Design Architect. At the bottom was a quote from the ship’s namesake, “Beautiful! Beautiful!” the historic words uttered by United States astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, the second Human to set foot on Earth’s moon.

The turbolift arrived and the doors split open, its padded beige circular walls beaconing for Clark to step in. He looked up at the lift’s top, which resembled a miniature version of the bridge overhead, several small supports radiated down from a bright light in the center to the circular bulkhead, with a ring of down lights at the edge. He stepped in, ordering, “Deck 8, Section A.” Before Clark had even seen the inside of the ship, years ago the plans had been emblazed into his memory, he already knew where every room was, where to find each lettered section, and where the nearest turbolift stop was located in relation to most rooms. But then again, that is expected when you’re the one who designed the ship, thought Clark. The turbolift came to a stop and the door slid open, revealing a short hall intersecting another corridor.

Clark walked down the hall and approached a gray door opposite the turbolift. A dark red marker on the door read: 08||1067 CAPTAIN DAVID CLARK, COMMANDING OFFICER. The door slid open to reveal Clark’s new quarters. The captain’s quarters were large and the entire outer wall was filled with large windows that looked out over the bow of the Aldrin’s saucer, the equatorial red deserts of Mars filling the entire port side. Several drydock facilities and a large starbase, the headquarters of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, floated in space above Mars. To his left was a decent-sized black desk with integrated computer access and a large screen behind. Under the windows were two low, gray couches with a table and a couple of chairs, all near a large bed. To Clark’s right was a kitchen with a door that led into his private bathroom. The quarters lacked almost any aesthetic appeal, due to the standard neutral gray furniture found inside, just like all of the quarters on the Aldrin. Won’t do much good hanging out here, he thought, standing in the open doorway. “Computer,” said Clark, “Where is Commander Jensen?”

“Commander Jensen is in her quarters.”

“And just where are Commander Jensen’s quarters?” asked Clark.

“Deck 4A, Section A, Cabin Zero Zero Two Seven.” Clark turned back and walked to the turbolift. When the door opened a few seconds later, a young, blond-haired female ensign ran out of the lift, nearly colliding with the captain.

“Oh my!” she stammered, and then tripped, almost careening into a bulkhead, “S-s-s-sorry Sir!” The ensign quickly scrambled down the corridor and turned at the intersection, disappearing out of sight. Clark laughed to himself at her sudden agitation, and then entered the turbolift, ordering it to Deck 4A, Section A.

When the lift came to a stop, the door opened to reveal that this stop was at the corner of two intersecting corridors. Directly ahead of Clark was a door marked 04A||0047 MAIN ENGINEERING-A. Several years ago when Clark was with the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, he had designed the Akira-class starships with two active warp cores, one in each side of the split hull, thus necessitating that there be two Engineering departments. The captain confidently stepped out of the lift and made a u-turn to the left into a medium-length corridor lined with doors every several meters. Clark walked down to the end of the hall where Commander Jensen’s quarters should be. Sure enough, to Clark’s left was a door labeled as 04A||0027 COMMANDER JENSEN LOY, FIRST OFFICER.

The companel to the right of the door beeped when the captain tapped the intercom. “Who’s there?” asked a smooth, pleasant female voice from behind the door.

“Captain Clark.” He nervously tapped his foot on the deck, remembering now that he had forgotten to even look over his senior staff’s records before coming aboard. At least he now knew his first officer was a she.

“Come on in.” The door slid open to reveal stark, plain quarters similar to, but significantly smaller than, Clark’s quarters. The overhead lights were turned off, with the bright lights of Drydock 4 pouring through the windows. Clark walked in and looked around; to the left, a small kitchen and the bathroom, whose open door was spilling diffused yellow light onto the gray-carpeted deck; ahead, an elliptical coffee table, with low couches on either side, all positioned under three wide, sweeping windows; and to the right, another window and an untouched, neatly made bed with closet doors beyond. All of the windows held an unusual view not available on most other classes of vessels, looking in across the top of the saucer at the bridge, with Engineering Hull-B behind it, and the thick grid wall of Drydock 4 and Mars beyond. A steaming mug of dark liquid sat in the center of the coffee table.

“Go ahead and sit down,” said the female voice, coming from the bathroom, “I’ll be out in just a moment.” Clark walked over to the couch facing into the quarters and sat down, looking at the mug. Suddenly a female Bajoran, with shoulder length black hair and horizontal ridges on the bridge of her nose, walked out of the bathroom. She was wearing a pair of standard issue duty pants that came up to her waist and a tight sleeveless gray undershirt that exposed her well-toned arms. A traditional Bajoran earpiece hung from the lower and back edge of her right ear.

Clark blinked several times, staring at the attractive figure before him. He mustered up the will to speak, “Commander Jensen?”

She nodded her head, “That’s me. Is it safe to assume you’re Captain Clark?”

“Yes,” Clark nodded.

She cracked a broad smile, exposing her brilliant white teeth to the drydock’s lights, “What brings you here, Captain?” She walked across the room and opened the closet behind her bed.

“I had nothing to do, so I figured I might at least introduce myself, so I came here to, uh, meet you,” Clark thought back on how stupid that had sounded, no doubt not a good impression. Jensen reached up to the top shelf in the closet and grabbed a zippered command red shirt and a standard black duty jacket with gray shoulders.

Jensen turned and nodded her head, “Sounds like a good idea.”

She bent her arms back, placed one in a sleeve of the red shirt, then the other, and pulled it up to her shoulders with a quick flick of her arms. “You wanted to get to know me?” she asked, picking the conversation back up.

Clark shook his head, “Oh, yes. Uh, what are some things that you enjoy doing?”

Jensen gazed out the window behind Clark, “Swimming, orbital sky diving, cooking, and shopping. What about you?”

Clark collected his thoughts for a moment, not expecting any reverse interrogation, “Thinking about the universe, building models, pedal biking, and playing marimba.”

Jensen looked at the captain with a puzzled look, “Marimba?”

“A percussive keyboard instrument made of graduated wooden bars and tubular resonators, from twentieth century Earth,” explained Clark, “I am going to pick mine up when we stop by Earth. Perhaps I should play it for you sometime.”

Jensen’s eyes, the color of dark chocolate, sparkled, “I’d like that. Any other questions?”

Clark drummed his hands on his lap, “Let’s see, what’s you favorite-”

The Starfleet emblem combadge on Clark’s chest suddenly beeped, “Vorik to Captain Clark.”

Clark tapped the badge lightly, “Clark here.”

Vorik’s voice projected from the badge, “We’ve encountered a problem with the ODN relays on the bridge. Your opinion on this matter would be much appreciated.”

“On my way, Clark out.” The combadge beeped off. “It seems I’m wanted on the bridge. I’ll talk to you later.” He stood and walked towards the door.

“Sure,” said Jensen. She walked up to Clark, “How about dinner, here, at nineteen hundred?”

Clark nodded in agreement, “See you then.” He walked out of Jensen’s quarters and the door closed behind him.

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#9 poko

 

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 01:30 AM

ahhh, the calm before the storm. Any second now something really bad will happen, then another bad thing, then another. Things will get worse and worse then suddenly.... they save the day! :thumbsup: I'm excited.

-Doctor-

"The universe is big, its vast, and complicated, and ridiculous and sometimes - very rarely - impossible things just happen and we call them miracles."

"Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold."

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#10 jespah

 

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 07:00 AM

The calm plus the banter. Good start, let's see what happens ....

Honk if you love silence.

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#11 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 08:53 AM

I'll post the next chapter after noon today...

EDIT: Okay, I meant to post it earlier, but got distracted... <_< real life...

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#12 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 05:25 PM

2

U.S.S. Aldrin, Drydock 4
Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
Mars, Sol System, Sector 001
18:45 Hours, January 23rd, 2380
Stardate 57062.344458

Both Clark and Vorik were lying on the deck on their backs, their upper torsos under the open bulkhead on the bridge. At least a ton of equipment was suspended over their heads, nearly all of it essential for the smooth and continuous operation the bridge would have to support when it finally left drydock. Contained in the cage of technology were organically engineered bio-neural gel packs, isolinear chips, optical data networks, plasma conduits, power conduits and other pieces of computer processing and data storage equipment. Just a few minutes ago, something about a meter inside the mess had exploded, throwing flaming bits around inside. The bridge’s fire suppression system had activated immediately and sprayed carbon dioxide laced foam onto the entire assembly, along with Clark and Vorik. Both of their faces sported blemishes of soot and burned skin. Flecks of light blue foam were spattered all over them and the surrounding equipment. Clark shifted and felt his spine pop several times, and realized that he had been on the deck for over ten hours. They had been trying to reroute a malfunctioning ODN relay, a task that should have been easily completed with a few commands to the computer. The captain and his chief engineer had failed several times; trying every method they could conjure three or four times, all with no success. Clark slowly pulled himself out from the charred mess to examine it from an outside position. He saw the blackened remains of an exploded bio-neural gel pack deep inside, “Vorik?”

The Vulcan engineer grabbed a bar supporting the equipment and smoothly pulled himself. “Yes, Captain?” he asked, sitting up. His spine popped and a trace of pain crossed his supposedly emotionless face.

Clark scratch at a mild burn on his chin, “Can I have your tricorder?” The Vulcan reached down to his belt and unclipped his tricorder. With a flick of his wrist, Vorik launched the small gray package into the air and into Clark’s cupped hands. Clark switched the tricorder on and began scanning the jumbled mess. The tricorder emitted a series of shrill beeps as it passed the burst gel pack. Clark brought the tricorder back to the gel pack and scanned it again. He read the tricorder’s display, “Looks like this gel pack was in the later stages of some sort of an infection.” He involuntarily licked his dry lips. “Any theories?”

“Approximately a year ago, an infectious strain was reported at the gel pack synthesizing labs on Earth’s moon,” Vorik said, “But it was supposedly contained and eliminated.”

“Do you remember what kind of infectious strain?” asked Clark.

Vorik thought for a moment, recalling the information, “It was a delayed-action de-synthesizing viral agent. It attacked the artificial neurons in the packs, causing swelling and fatal malfunction. The virus lay dormant in the packs for weeks before it began infecting. Applying power to the packs worsened the swelling to the point that it could overwhelm the elastic potential of the packing.”

“Computer,” Clark ordered, “Scan all bio-neural gel packs aboard for a de-synthesizing viral agent.”

“Scanning bio-neural gel packs for de-synthesizing viral agents,” said the computer. A moment later, the computer responded, “Out of three hundred eight bio-neural gel packs aboard, one hundred twenty two are infected with a de-synthesizing viral agent.”

Clark shook his head in dismay, “I’m going to put in a request for two hundred more gel packs,” and then to the computer, “Computer, why did internal sensors not detect the virus?”

“Unknown,” said the computer.

“Intriguing,” Vorik said plainly, that being the extent of his display of confusion and surprise.

Clark turned to the Vulcan, “Vorik, start replacing the infected gel packs, and all that stuff that was burned behind the bulkhead.” He paused, “That wasn’t worded well, was it?”

“That would be correct.”

“But do you know what I meant?” asked Clark

Vorik nodded, “Yes.”

“Good,” Clark walked to his ready room, the captain’s office, attached to the right side of the bridge. The office was just as plain as his quarters; ahead was a small bed; to the right, a curved black desk with a built in monitor and a high-backed, gray chair. Below three large windows, which looked out over the starboard side of the saucer, a view mostly occupied by Engineering Hull-A, was a set of chairs and a table. Around a corner past the desk was a full, but still small, bathroom. The captain walked around his desk, past the chairs, into the small bathroom, and over to the round sink. He grabbed a white washcloth off the counter, soaked it in cold water, and wiped the soot and sweat off his face. Upon looking up into the mirror, Clark saw that he had burns on his chin, right cheek, and above his left eye. He searched through the drawers below the counter until he found a dermal regenerator and some other first aid supplies in a lower drawer. Clark placed the small silver disk a few centimeters above the burn on his forehead and squeezed a button on its side. A faint blue light shined onto his forehead, regenerating the damaged tissue. He repeated this process on his chin and cheek.

Clark looked down at his uniform. It was rumpled and covered with bits of fire suppression foam. He brushed the foam, but it just smeared into blue streaks across his front. The foam was speckled across his pants as well. Clark took a few steps across the bathroom and opened a small closet. Inside were four complete duty uniforms on hangers. A small card sat on the shelf above the uniforms:

Figured you’d probably need these,
Crewman Harris, Ship’s Tailor

Four folded red command shirts sat behind the card. Clark removed his combadge from his chest and set it beside the card. He unzipped his soiled jacket and dropped it in a bin at the bottom of the closet, knowing Crewman Harris would return to clean it when Clark had gone. The captain reached down to remove his boots. He squeezed a small silver square on the top of the boot and the collars holding the boots tight against his calves relaxed. The boots easily slipped off and Clark removed his pants, also depositing them in the bin for cleaning. He took a fresh uniform off the rack and put it on, not bothering to change his red command shirt, untouched by the foam, as it was protected from exposure by the jacket. Clark snatched his combadge off the shelf and placed it back on his chest, and then slipped his feet back into the boots, squeezing the collar activators to tighten the collars. With one last look in the bathroom mirror, Clark straightened his new duty jacket, automatically tugged it down, and then grabbed Crewman Harris’s note, dropping it on his desk on the way out.

When Clark came back out onto the bridge, in the few minutes it had taken him to change Vorik had assembled a team of about a dozen engineering technicians and was now removing the entire damaged assembly from the bulkhead. Clark looked over to the tactical station, finding that it was dark. He surmised that Vorik had already severed all power connections to the malfunctioning equipment, thus cutting power to the tactical console. The captain shrugged and stopped at the turbolift, waiting for a lift to arrive. As he waited, the technicians successfully pulled the whole assembly, which was about two meters tall, four meters wide, and a meter deep, out of its hole and set it on the deck. Despite their best efforts, it still hit with a bang that was probably heard through several decks, including the mess hall directly below.

A turbolift finally arrived and Clark stepped in and ordered, “Deck 4A, Section A.” The turbolift whisked the captain down four decks, then towards the starboard side, and then up four decks into Engineering Hull-A. The door opened to reveal the double doors to Main Engineering-A. Clark turned and walked down the corridor to Jensen’s quarters. He paused and looked at the small chronometer built into the companel, 18:57. He verified that with the antique linked silver banded watch on his wrist, 6:57 p.m. Clark stood at the door until the clock read exactly 19:00, only then did he dare to enter.

Before Clark could push the intercom next to the door, it slid open, revealing Jensen standing there, leaning against the doorframe, this time wearing a complete uniform. “Punctual, just like I thought you would be,” she smiled, “Come on in.” She walked back into her quarters, this time lit by two low, fat candles on the coffee table.

Clark stepped in and asked, “So, what are we having tonight?” The door automatically closed behind him, cutting off the bright corridor lights and significantly darkening the room.

“Is Mexican okay with you?” Jensen asked from the replicator in the kitchen. An island counter separated it from the rest of her quarters.

“Earth cuisine?” questioned Clark. He awkwardly shoved his hands into the pockets in his uniform pants.

Jensen laughed lightly, “Yeah, I fell in love with stuff while I was at the Academy.”

Clark rocked back on his heels, “Love is a very powerful thing.”

“Yeah right,” teased Jensen, “Have a seat.” She gestured at the couches as a large plate of Mexican fare materialized in the replicator. She picked up the plate and waited as another plate appeared in a sparkle of light. The Bajoran the grabbed the second plate, walked over to the couches, set both plates down on the table, and headed back to the kitchen. The aroma of spices and seasoned meats preceded her arrival.

As he was sitting on the low gray couch, Clark glanced at the plates’ contents; a large burrito, refried beans, seasoned rice, a dish of salsa, a small cup of sour cream, and about half a plate of tortilla chips. Jensen returned with two sets of utensils, linen napkins, and two intricately etched crystal glasses. Without sitting, she positioned them around both plates and went over to her bed. Clark watched curiously as she crouched behind the bed, and then rose, producing a glass bottle filled blue liquid, Romulan ale. Romulan ale is illegal in the Federation, thought Clark, Oh well, who cares? He laughed to himself, disregarding Federation law in the home system of Starfleet Command.

Jensen poured the blue ale into both glasses, and set the bottle at the end of the oval table. She slowly sat down across from Clark, “So, Captain, what’s your story?”

“Please,” said Clark, sipping the ale, “We’re off duty, call me David.” The Romulan beverage was sweet, yet also bitter and pungent, but like most alcoholic beverages, it was oddly satisfying.

“Okay, David,” Jensen smiled slyly, “What’s you story?”

“My life story?” asked Clark. He sipped the ale again, and savored its strong taste, and feeling it slide down his throat.

Jensen shrugged and picked up her glass, “Sure, why not?”

Clark set his glass on the table, “Well, Loy,” he smiled, “I was born in 2340, and raised in Toronto, Ontario.” He added, “In Canada.”

Jensen peered at Clark over the rim of her cup and said quietly, “I’ve been there before; it’s a beautiful city.”

He nodded, “Yes, it is. When I was nine year old, my father was killed in a hovercraft accident outside of Toronto,” Clark swallowed hard, “My mother was devastated and had to go through extensive counseling. She later remarried to a man named Michael Lloyd. He and I didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye; he thought I was stupid, I thought he was intolerant. As it turns out, we were both wrong. But we didn’t settle our differences quickly enough, so he managed to convince my mom that I had to be sent off to a military school. When I was twelve, I started class at the Valley Forge Military Academy, an archaic little school in Pennsylvania.”

Clark picked up a fork and cut off a bite of his burrito, the unexpected pieces of jalapeno peppers hidden inside searing the surface his tongue. He noticed an unusual blend of chicken, beef, and chorizo, a Mexican sausage, combined with tomatoes, guacamole, lettuce, cheeses, and sour cream. He felt sweat began to bead on his forehead and upper lip, a physical reaction to the chemical reactions instigated by the peppers. He swallowed quickly and continued, “While at Valley Forge, I started playing marimba, and I studied hard, just to prove to Michael that he was wrong. I graduated in ’56, two years ahead of my age.

“I got all kinds of awards, and was tested by various agencies, all interested in exploiting my abilities, but I decided to go to Yale University to study law. Of course, I couldn’t restrain myself to just law, so I also did marimba performance and starship engineering.”

Jensen swallowed a mouthful of refried beans, “You triple majored?”

Clark shrugged, “Yeah. Didn’t think anything of it then, still don’t. It just gave me more options, all of which I am happy to say I’ve explored.”

“Okay,” Jensen conceded, “That still leaves another twenty years.”

“Right,” Clark continued, “After finishing at Yale, I worked as a city attorney in Newport, Kentucky for two years. While the experience was no doubt rewarding, I just couldn’t stand the monotony, and the idiocy, in the profession. Despite that the majority of Humans have some shred of common sense, almost every suit brought on the city was incredibly frivolous. I had to defend the city against a man whose blind dog ran into the river and drowned.” He rolled his eyes, “So I joined Starfleet. I went into the engineering division, even though everybody thought I should go for command. After graduating, I went to the U.S.S. Saratoga.

“Three years later, the Borg attacked and we were part of the Wolf 359 task force. The Saratoga was destroyed and I was one of the few survivors. I still go back to that day every once in a while, never meaning to, and I ask myself, ‘Why did I get to live?’ ”

An awkward silence filled the room, so Clark abruptly continued, “I went into a bout of mild depression, I was kind of just ‘there’ for a while, until I was transferred to Deep Space 9 immediately after the Cardassians abandoned it. It was there that I realized my true potential with the design of the runabout bays. Then in ’70, the Corps of Engineers requested that I join.” Clark took another sip of the ale, “So I did, just for kicks at first. I worked on the Intrepid-class warp systems, and then on the salvage of the Enterprise-D. After that I was promoted to the Chief Design Architect of the Akira-class and started doing upgrade work on the Fifth Fleet.”

“I didn’t know you did the Akira-class,” said Jensen. Bits of tortilla chips flew through the air when she took a bit into one loaded with salsa.

“You didn’t read the profiles either?” asked Clark, smiling as he resisted laughing.

Jensen shook her head, “No, takes all the fun out of it. What else?” She put the rest of the chip in her mouth and leaned forward, supporting her head on her hands.

“Well, I was doing upgrades on the U.S.S. Bozeman when the Borg attacked again. This time the captain and first officer were disabled, so command defaulted to me, a lowly Lieutenant Commander, the highest ranking officer on the bridge.

“Admiral Hayes was impressed, or so he told me, so he had me promoted and put on the command track. Unfortunately, there were no command positions open at the time, so I became chief engineer on the Cairo. We were assigned to patrol of the Neutral Zone while the majority of Starfleet was off fighting the Dominion. One day I took a shuttle to a nearby outpost to get some medical and engineering supplies, and when I came back, the Cairo was gone. A long investigation followed, where I was cleared of any wrongdoing, and I returned to SCE.” He had left out the most depressing part of the story. He suddenly felt himself going back to that moment, a moment he never wanted to live again, that he tried his hardest to avoid, that he had locked in a little box and thrown away the key. Suddenly, that little box had broken.

Clark stood in the shuttlebay of the Cairo, looking out at the stars floating beyond. A small, soft hand fell lightly on his shoulder, “David, I’m going to miss you.” Clark turned his head and looked into the face of Majel Hawkins. Her tan skin displayed the mixture of Human diversity, her dark, long, curly hair bounced when she walked, her deep chocolate eyes captivated Clark every moment he was in her presence. They had dated for nearly seven months, and were now engaged and running headfirst for a long, happy life together. Majel wanted to have lots of children, ‘Four or five’ she had told him, and Clark had just smiled, thinking of the joy that their marriage would bring to his years.

“It’ll only be a few days,” said Clark, laying a reassuring hand on Majel’s, “I promise.”

“It better be,” teased Majel. She put a threatening finger up to Clark’s chest, “Or this ring is going to some Ferengi.” Clark looked down at the engagement ring he had gotten for Majel. The Vulcan Sapphire, set in 10 karat latinum, had cost Clark a fortune of both time and money, both of which he had very little of these days.

A young ensign stepped out of the door on the shuttle’s side, “Commander, it’s ready.”

Clark and Majel walked towards the shuttle together, holding each other at the waist. At the door, Clark turned to face Majel and said quietly, “I love you.”

“I know,” Majel wrapped her arms around Clark’s neck and pulled herself up to his face. Clark resisted. “What’s wrong with you?”

With a subtle movement of his eyebrows and a jerk of his head, Clark indicated the source of his unease: the ensign, just standing a few meters beyond. Majel smiled, “Never mind him.” Before Clark could dodge her again, Majel planted her lips on his. The power of her affection poured over Clark, and it took every ounce of energy he could summon to prevent a collapse into a giddy pile of Human flesh.

Majel withdrew, still smiling, “I’ll see you in a few days.” The last thing Clark saw before the shuttle hatch closed was a sparkle of light. He spent the next couple days of his solitary trip to the outpost wondering if it was Majel that sparkled like that.

Four days later, Clark was approaching the rendezvous coordinates for the
Cairo. He had safely traveled to the outpost, picked up their supplies, and was on high warp back, anticipating his wedding to Majel, just weeks away now. The Cairo should have hailed Clark’s shuttle by now, but perhaps, he thought, they were under radio silence, or as had happened far too often with the old ship, the subspace transceiver relay had failed, and would require Clark space-walking on the bottom of the saucer to fix it. Clark realized that the rendezvous coordinates were now well within his shuttle’s sensor range.

Clark brought his shuttle to a stop at the coordinates, and scanned for the
Cairo, finding nothing. He checked his orders with the stellar chart displayed on his screen, and they matched. The Cairo should be here. Right here. But it wasn’t. Clark located the Cairo’s warp plasma trail, abruptly ending four light-years from the rendezvous point. There was no sign of battle, no sign of other ships, not even tachyons from a cloaked ship. The Cairo was simply gone, on patrol of the Neutral Zone; there was no reason for it to be missing. Clark just couldn’t comprehend the missing ship, he convinced himself they were just running behind, and he should just wait here. After all, he had a wedding to attend.

He had no clue how long it had been when the transport from the outpost had found him. As per standard Starfleet protocol, Clark was supposed to send a message to the outpost confirming his meeting back with the Cairo. But he never met the ship, so why bother? Why not just wait for the
Cairo to show up? That’s what they were supposed to do.

The officers and psychiatrists told Clark ‘they’re gone’ and ‘the Dominion’ and ‘I’m so sorry’, but none of it registered. He sunk into a state of severe depression and had to undergo therapy and counseling. Not until then did he realize, Majel, with her curly hair, and her dark eyes, and her sparkling smile, and all her overflowing love for him, was gone.

“Captain?” Clark opened his eyes and lifted his head. Jensen repeated, “Captain, are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” said Clark, sitting up straight. He shoved the memories back in the box, hoping they would never surface again. But, he knew it was like putting a cork in a cracked dam; either the cork wouldn’t hold, or the dam would overflow. It’s only a matter of time, Clark told himself.

Jensen leaned back into her couch, “I kind of lost you there.”

Clark shrugged and wiped his eyes, “Bad memories. Where was I?”

“You just went back to the Corps of Engineers,” said Jensen.

“Thank you,” Clark continued, “Two years later, Voyager returned, so I was on a team that analyzed their transphasic torpedoes and ablative armor. Last year, I took a leave of absence and went to Cardassia, helping in the reconstruction. When I came back a few months later, they promoted me and dropped me in the center chair.” He saw that Jensen was about to say that the Aldrin’s captain’s chair was not in the center of the bridge, “It's an expression.”

“I know,” said Jensen.

“Do I get to know your story?” Clark asked.

“Sure,” Jensen agreed, “I was born in 2347, right in the middle of the occupation. My parents were marine biologists when the Cardassians came. The Cardassians shut down the institute, so instead of resettling somewhere else, my parents joined a resistance cell. They tried their best to shield me from the brutality of the Cardassians, but in ‘54, they were caught and executed.

“I was only seven and I joined the resistance movement. I was just a courier, but I felt that I was doing my part. Ten years later I got off Bajor by stowing away on a Cardassian freighter bound for Cardassia. I knew well enough that a beating with a club can do quite a lot of damage to a computer system, so I sabotaged the transport and left in an escape pod before the it went into the Badlands. I drifted for six weeks and was picked up by the Odyssey. The Talbot family adopted me for a year, and then in ‘65, I got into Starfleet Academy, Danula campus. After I graduated, I took the Advanced Tactical Training course and joined Section 31.”

Clark held up a hand and interrupted her, “I’ve always wondered, what exactly is Section 31?” He put his fork down in the place of his now completely eaten burrito.

The Bajoran swore, “Shit, you’re not supposed to know about that.”

Clark shrugged, “Too late.” The captain put a chip with guacamole in his mouth.

“I guess it won’t hurt to clear up some misconceptions you probably have,” said Jensen. She formulated a definition, “Section 31 is a covert operations and intelligence gathering agency established under the Starfleet Charter. Its agents carry out missions to protect the Federation from extraordinary dangers that cannot be stopped or detected by regular Starfleet. Unfortunately, the details of my life as an agent are top secret, so I can’t tell you.”

“Even if I order you?” teased Clark.

“Your clearance level isn’t high enough,” Jensen ran her finger around the rim of her glass. “Anyway, I left Section 31 at the start of the war, and was assigned to the [Centaur, as chief of security. After the war ended, I was promoted and sent to Cardassia to coordinate security during reconstruction,” She sipped her ale. “A few months ago, I got redeployment orders, and then I found myself here.” She smiled over the glass of ale, “Is that good enough for you?”

“That was very informing,” said Clark. He brought his glass of ale to his lips a bit to quickly, hitting it against his chin and spilling the ale on his uniform. “Damn it,” he futilely wiped his soaked chest.

“I’ll get a towel,” Jensen stood and walked to the bathroom, and returned with a small white washcloth. She knelt in front of Clark and dabbed at the black jacket with the cloth. She dropped the cloth, spread her hand, and pressed it to Clark’s chest. He slowly looked up from the wet spot to see her face mere centimeters away from his. She leaned forward and passionately kissed him. Clark resisted, but the emotional wall he had erected five years ago after the loss of the [i]Cairo
and Majel suddenly collapsed and he surrendered himself to his emotions.

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#13 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 06:55 PM

3

U.S.S. Aldrin, Drydock 4
Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
Mars, Sol System, Sector 001
19:23 Hours, January 23rd, 2380
Stardate 57062.454830

Dr. Richard Cochrane swiveled in his chair, lightly dragging his feet on the deck. The Commander’s head was covered in snow-white hair and subtle wrinkles creased his face. He propped his legs up on the curved white desk before him and looked out through the large curved window dividing his office from the main ward of the Aldrin’s sickbay. It’s an impressive facility, Cochrane thought to himself, for a starship, although nowhere near Starbase 375’s or those at Starfleet Medical, but impressive nonetheless. Nurse Wright, a cordial young man of African descent, had just given Cochrane a tour of the medical facilities, proudly showing him the multiple private examination rooms, hinting at scandalous activities Cochrane would rarely consider at his age. Wright continued the tour of the sickbay, pointing out the supply room, still with several containers requiring unpacking, followed by a brief look into the expansive emergency overflow ward, then a more detailed stay in the technology laden laboratories. Although Cochrane considered himself to be a man of the 23rd century, even though he had lived the majority of his life in the 24th, he already possessed a thorough understanding of the majority of the sophisticated equipment, yet, Wright insisted upon explaining their uses and operations. Just let the kid give you the tour, Cochrane told himself, He’s just trying to be nice to the old man. Upon completing a circuit of the Aldrin’s medical facilities, Cochrane had retreated to his rather bland office and picked the first PADD, a Personal Access Display Device, in essence a thin, tablet computer, on a stack of seven. It detailed the current medical staff duty roster, which until now had consisted of just Nurse Wright.

A sudden bang punctuated his thoughts. A hundred thoughts of its possible source raced through Cochrane’s head, compelling him to investigate. The elderly doctor stood stiffly and walked out of his office and into the sickbay. His light blue eyes looked around the empty main ward, finding no sign of Nurse Jefferson Wright. Although Cochrane was extremely old for a Human, he quickly walked around the bulkheads outside his office to the storage room where he had last talked to Wright to find that the narrow door was closed. He pressed the small control panel by the door and it slid open, spilling medical supplies on the floor, and causing Cochrane to jump back a meter. Glass beakers and vials shattered as a broken shelving unit, no longer supported by the door, fell through the doorway, dumping its contents onto the deck. Cochrane cautiously peered inside the tiny room and saw that every shelf in the in there had collapsed or been knocked off the walls. The burn pattern of a small explosion on the white bulkhead caught the doctor’s eye. Wright must have somehow triggered an explosion, thought Cochrane, which threw him into the shelves behind him. He fell onto the deck, and the first shelving unit he fell on, fell into the shelves on the other side, he traced Wright’s probable movements in the air with his finger. Cochrane suddenly became concerned that Wright was buried under the pile of broken glass, boxes, and shelves.

A faint “Help…” came from the pile. Cochrane gingerly stepped into the supply room and heard glass crunching beneath his booted foot. He lifted a fallen shelving unit off the top of the pile and leaned it against the wall. Glass shifted off the pile, revealing a bloody hand protruding from the mess. The wet fingers, covered in shards of glass, slowly closed into a ball and the arm began to move, forcing it way out

“Don’t move!” Cochrane ordered. The doctor began shoving the glass shards aside with his bare hands, ignoring the bits of glass scraping into his soft palms. Every piece was covered in liquid medicines, all spilled when their containers were shattered. Cochrane saw Wright’s face, distorted beneath the layers of angular glass. He grabbed the nurse’s arm and lifted him out of the pile, glass tumbling off his body. Pieces of glass protruded from almost every centimeter of Wright’s body. “I’m getting too old for this,” muttered Cochrane, dragging Wright out of the supply room by his arms. He carefully laid Wright on the floor, and hefted him back up, cradling the nurse under his arms and knees. Cochrane struggled as he carried Wright over to the surgical bay, a large round alcove with glowing red decontamination arrays vertically lining the curved wall, a sophisticated medical bed in the center, and room for a dozen physicians to work on one or two patients together. He gently lowered Wright onto the surgical bed and looked over Wright’s glass-covered body finding that his left hand and wrist were badly burned. Cochrane walked back to the supply room and started digging through the debris.

Wright tilted his head to the left and spit a shard of glass out of his mouth, “Doc?”

Cochrane returned with a hypospray, tweezers, a dermal regenerator, and a small gray bucket. “Yes?” Cochrane pressed the hypospray to Wright’s neck and its sophisticated aero-suspension system injected a pain reliever through Wright’s blue shirt collar. The doctor set the bucket on the deck by his feet.

“How bad does it look?” asked Wright. He cringed as Cochrane plucked a piece of glass from his leg and dropped it into the bucket.

Cochrane rolled his eyes at the over-dramatic, over-used question, “It look’s very shiny.” He dropped another shard of glass into the bucket, clinking against the first.

“I’m serious.”

“It’s not too bad,” Cochrane stated, “Looks like you’ve got several minor lacerations, many, many, small cuts, and probably a bruise or two.” He removed another piece of glass from Wright’s skin and dropped it into the bucket. The pain reliever took hold of Wright’s nervous system and he slipped into blissful unconsciousness.

19:37 Hours, January 23rd, 2380
Stardate 57062.457490

“So, where ya from?” inquired a young female engineering technician. She was a somewhat attractive redhead, but her southern Appalachian accent grated at Vorik’s nerves. He decided it would be best not to let her know so in the contained environment of the Aldrin’s mess hall. An open field with a phaser in hand would be more ideal, thought Vorik, resisting the temptation to smile. Vorik’s emotions had always been very close to the surface, contrary to the traditional Vulcan practice of almost eliminating them. Yet, Vorik adamantly behaved like a normal Vulcan, trying his best to prevent public emotional displays.

“I was born in the T’plana-Hath City on Vulcan, but recently I was in the Delta Quadrant aboard the U.S.S. Voyager,” answered Vorik. He pulled a grayish gel pack, which when healthy are a deep blue, out of the mechanical systems in one of the mess hall’s two replicators.

“You were part of that whole Voyager thing, huh? I’m from Arkansas myself,” rambled the technician, “Ya ever been to Arkansas?”

“No,” Vorik finished removing the infected gel packs from the replicator.

“Well, you should go there sometime. It’s a beautiful place, the mountains, the forests… I tell you what, I’m goin’ to take you to Arkansas someday, just so ya know what a wonderful place it is. What do ya think of that?”

“I think I need another gel pack,” said Vorik, attempting to steer her conversation to a different subject. He turned to face the technician, who placed a fresh gel pack in Vorik’s hand.

The technician fell silent for a few moments, and then said, “I’ve heard that you Vulcans don’t have any emotions, but it seems to me that you’re irritated about something.”

Vorik inserted the gel pack into a receiver at the base of the replicators, “That is incorrect, Vulcans do experience emotions, and I am not irritated.” He had successfully changed the subject, but the technician had instead chosen a very sensitive one.

“Are you sure?” she asked.

“About what?” Vorik pulled his hands from the replicators and replaced the panel cover over the inner workings.

“The emotions thing,” she said. Vorik stood, as did the technician.

“Yes, Vulcans suppress their emotions with rigorous mental discipline and meditation,” he leaned over and picked up the cases of bio-neural gel packs, “Now, if you will excuse me, I’d like to finish this my self.” Vorik stood and left the mess hall, leaving the stunned technician behind.

07:00 Hours, January 24th, 2380
Stardate 57063.815562

“The time is Zero Seven Hundred hours,” said the computer, announcing Clark’s wake-up call. Clark rolled over in the bed and opened his eyes. Ridges of skin dominated his waking sight. It took him a few moments to realize what happened: he was lying in bed with Commander Jensen. Romulan ale and attractive women are NOT a good combination, Clark thought, or maybe they are. He smiled to himself.

He pulled his arm up from his side and ran it down the side of Jensen’s body, and discovered that she was not wearing any clothes, aside from being covered by a thin, gray bed sheet. Clark lifted the sheet to verify this, and found that both he and Jensen were completely unclothed. He tried to recall what had happened over the night, but came up blank on the events that transpired after their brief dinner. Jensen’s dark eyes slowly opened, glistening in the ambient light from the drydock. “Good morning, Captain,” she whispered.

Clark’s hand found its way into her silky black hair, “Good morning.” The two gazed into each other’s eyes, and Clark felt a wave of emotions wash over him. The captain laughed lightly and asked, “You wouldn’t be able to recall what exactly happened last night?”

Jensen smiled, “I remember you spilled some ale, I got a towel, and then I woke up and found you in my bed.”

“That’s all?”

She nodded slowly.

“That’s more than I remember.”

Jensen smiled and rolled smoothly out of the bed. She stood with her bare behind facing Clark, opened the closet, and pulled out a towel, which she tucked loosely around her waist. By that time Clark had risen from the bed and managed to find and put on his pants. Jensen walked around to the other side of the bed and pulled the sitting captain off the edge of the bed. They stood that way for a moment, gazing into their eyes before Clark slowly tilted his head down and kissed Jensen, one hand holding her head and the other caressed her bare back.

07:53 Hours, January 24th, 2380
Stardate 57063.825632

Clark walked onto the bridge a few minutes before his scheduled shift was to begin, and found that there were no other personnel there. The engineers had successfully replaced the damaged technology and reactivated the tactical console. He comfortably positioned himself in the plush, leather command chair and gazed at the nighttime Martian horizon displayed on the left side of the viewscreen. The lights of a large city glittered on the edge of the horizon, illuminating the pink, dust-filled atmosphere. The captain picked up a nearby PADD and called up a status report; Vorik had managed to replace all of the infected gel packs, both warp cores were now back online, the forcefield emitters and launch doors had been installed in the shuttlebay, and Nurse Jefferson Wright had been injured in an accident in sickbay. Also the helm officer, operations officer, and several other crewmembers were due aboard at 13:00 hours.

Clark laid the PADD on his armrest and contemplated the Martian vista. He began vigorously drumming his fingers on his lap and the chair in an ancient Human musical style called ‘rock’. While drumming, he decided he’d go visit sickbay, engineering, the shuttlebay, and then roam the ship for a short while. He finished his drumming with a grand finale, at least it seemed so in his head, and accidentally hit a corner of the PADD, flipping it into the air above his head. Clark tried to snatch the spinning PADD out of the air before it landed on the deck, but he only succeeded in knocking it away towards the helm. He rose from the command chair and headed towards the fallen PADD, picked it up off the deck and tossed it back onto his chair before heading back to the turbolift.

08:04 Hours, January 24th, 2380
Stardate 57063.930874

Cochrane sat patiently in the sickbay office, wishing for something to do. It had taken him two hours last night to clean up Wright, removing over a kilogram of glass shards from the nurse’s skin in the process. Cochrane had also reviewed the next week’s medical staff duty roster, requested a replacement crate of supplies, and spent the night in sickbay, keeping an eye on Wright, who was doing just fine. Tired out by the unexpected overnight shift, Cochrane leaned back in his chair and propped both his real leg and artificial leg up on his white desk. He decided to relax with a quick game of dom-jot on a PADD he had loaded with several games. Seven games later, he was still playing the computerized dom-jot when Clark walked into the main ward. Cochrane quickly changed the display to the incoming supplies list, and had laid the PADD face up on the desk by the time Clark had reached the office entrance. Clark rapped his fist against the doorframe, “May I come in?”

“Certainly, it’s not my ship,” said Cochrane, spreading his arms in a welcoming gesture. He pulled his feet down from the desk and leaned forward, “How can I help you, Sir?”

“First off, no ‘Sirs’, I’m just the guy in charge of the big picture, and you most definitely deserve ‘Sir’ more than me,” Clark said as he pulled out the chair on the other side of Cochrane’s desk and sat down, “Second, is there anything important I should know about you? I lost my crew profiles.”

“For one thing,” started Cochrane, “I’m one hundred twelve years old, so don’t just bring me along on any old away mission. I lost a leg at Tomed, so I’ll probably use the transporter for emergency calls, I’m a great-great-grandfather, and I’ve been accused of having the best bedside manner this side of the Neutral Zone.” He smiled and adjusted his duty jacket, “I also try to keep up on the latest events galaxy-wide, so don’t be surprised when we start receiving news transmissions from Romulus.”

Clark stood and held his hand out, which Cochrane quickly took, “Well, it looks like it will be a pleasure serving with you, Doctor.”

Cochrane broke a wide smile, “It seems the pleasure will be all mine.”

“If you’ll excuse me,” said Clark, “I’ve got places to go and people to meet.” He left the office. Cochrane leaned in his chair, looking through the window as Clark looked over the unconscious body of Nurse Wright on a recovery bed, and then exited into the corridor. The games PADD beckoned to Cochrane, and as soon as the door closed, he picked it up and resumed play.

08:17 Hours, January 24th, 2380
Stardate 57063.933344

Due to the short height of the engineering hulls, the two warp cores were seemingly small for a large starship, but compensated with their larger girth. Each of the two Main Engineerings contained the dilithium matrix housing surrounded by two levels of steel grid platforms, connected by short, curved flights of stairs. Along the sides of the rooms were large banks of computer consoles, displaying everything from the status of the matter/antimatter flow constrictor to the day’s engineering duty roster.

Clark walked quickly into engineering, but slowed and stopped about five meters in and gazed at the swirling blue and green of matter and antimatter reacting inside the warp core. A large gunmetal gray band around the middle of the core housed the dilithium crystal matrix, where the raw power from the antimatter explosion was harnessed. Two pulsating plasma conduits came from the crystal matrix and rose vertically towards the overhead, where they turned and traveled horizontally aft to the powerful warp nacelles suspended below and outside the engineering hulls. Even though the Akira-class dual warp core system was a product of Clark’s ingenuity, its raw power still captivated him each time he saw it.
To his right was the chief engineer’s office, a large alcove lined with computer consoles and containing a large desk, a chair, and a set of shelves filled with specialized engineering tools. To his left was the warp core monitoring station, with a large screen detailing the complex interactions between the Aldrin’s two warp cores. Behind and to his left were a large industrial replicator and a flight of stairs leading up to the upper deck of Engineering.

Clark quietly listened the warp core’s pulsating hum as Vorik stepped down a flight stairs from the upper platform around the warp core, stopping on the lower platform still more than a meter off the deck. Apparently unaware of Clark’s presence, the Vulcan turned away from Clark and called over the railing to a young Andorian ensign at the back of Engineering, “Ensign Man’tA’el, please realign the EPS taps in junction 4A, correctly this time.” The Andorian quickly picked up a nearby engineering kit and scrambled out through a door in an alcove to the left. Vorik lifted a PADD off a console attached to the railing. He studied the PADD for several seconds before looking down at the console and checking something else.

Clark walked over to one of the display alcoves and pulled up a systems status chart. He squinted at the numbers then said loudly enough to get Vorik’s attention, “You might want to try re-routing the ODN relays through system bank number three instead of four.”

Vorik turned to the captain, looking at him over the railing, “I did not know you where in here, Sir.”

“No ‘Sirs’,” Clark said without turning away from the screens, “By rerouting the ODN relays you can increase the computer’s efficiency.”

“Bank three is designated as an auxiliary bank,” Vorik stated, putting up the argument Clark had expected.

“Yes, but bank three is designed to carry a larger data stream in the event of an emergency rerouting. If you reroute the ODN relays from four to three, and re-designate four as the new auxiliary bank, then the computer processing and transfer efficiency should increase by something like fifteen percent,” Clark looked up at Vorik, who then raised his eyebrows in a mix of confusion and apprehension. “It’s a mistake the computer engineers try not to let anyone else know about,” added Clark, giving him the boost he knew his argument would need.

Vorik put the PADD back down on the console, walked down the steps to the deck, and approached Clark’s alcove. He stood next to the captain and studied the computer systems chart on the display, “Captain, I do believe you are correct.”

Clark smiled, “Of course I am.” Vorik started out of Engineering, to rectify the error, but the captain decided to stop him, “Vorik, if you’re free after this shift, I’d like to challenge you to a game of 3-D chess in the mess hall. I’m told you’re quite the player, and I need a challenge.”

Vorik turned back to the captain and said, “I will be there.” The Vulcan quickly walked out the Engineering doors, leaving Clark alone in Engineering. Clark smiled to himself and turned back to the display screen.

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#14 poko

 

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 12:54 AM

Clark's a little clumsy. ;) I like Cochrane a lot.

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"The universe is big, its vast, and complicated, and ridiculous and sometimes - very rarely - impossible things just happen and we call them miracles."

"Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, somewhere else the tea's getting cold."

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#15 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 07:36 PM

Clark's a little clumsy. ;) I like Cochrane a lot.

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Cochrane is my favorite of the group. :) He has quite a history, eventually I'll post all of the character's bios...

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#16 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 07:47 PM

4


U.S.S. Aldrin, Drydock 4
Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
Mars, Sol System, Sector 001
12:59 Hours, January 24th, 2380
Stardate 57064.399532

Both Clark and Jensen sat in their respective chairs on the bridge, Clark on the right, Jensen on the left. Jensen glanced at the small chronometer incorporated into the small display at the end of her armrest and said disdainfully, “They’re late.”

“Not yet,” Clark sarcastically reasoned, “They’ve still got fifteen seconds.” Sure enough, fourteen seconds later the door leading to the airlock at the back right side of the bridge opened and in strode a young, blond haired, female lieutenant. Her hair came down to the middle of her back in long, silky waves of blond, intermixed with streaks of a darker tan. Her gray-green eyes were set into deep sockets, her cheekbones well defined under her very white skin. She wore a red command shirt, leading Clark to the assumption that she was the helm officer.

She walked into the center of the bridge, between the two command chairs and the empty helm, and then said, “Lieutenant Janice Kelley, reporting for duty, Sir.” She stood as straight as a rod, even slightly rising up on her toes, as if she were trying to look taller.

Clark lifted his right hand off his armrest, “At ease, and no ‘Sirs’. Helm officer?”

Kelley visibly relaxed, shrinking to much less than two meters. “Yes, Sir.”

“Please, don’t call me Sir,” Clark again requested, “Take your station.” Kelley turned around and walked to the helm station. She slowly sat in the navigator’s chair and examined the controls along the smooth, meter long console, her fingers floating delicately over the control surface.

“Is this your first starship?” asked Clark.

“Helm? No,” Kelley swiveled in her chair, her face flushed pink with delight, “I was a helm officer aboard the Prometheus in ’77.”

“The Prometheus? Well, I’m sure you had some interesting experiences there,” commented Jensen. Clark looked at her, not understanding. Jensen formed the word ‘Later’ with her mouth.

Kelley twisted her mouth, “No, not really. In three years there I only went on one away mission.”

Jensen asked, “But wasn’t the Prometheus on the front lines of the war?”

“Not really” corrected Kelley, slowly becoming more confident, “It was part of the Sector 001 Defense Task Force, at least during the war. I didn’t graduate from the academy until ‘75, and by the time I was assigned to the Prometheus, the Dominion had surrendered,” explained Kelley. She ran her fingers through her long blond hair, pulling a lock over her shoulder.

Suddenly, the airlock door parted again and a young Romulan woman in a Starfleet uniform walked through. Her slightly pointed ears were full and curved, and her thin, long eyebrows were slanted up from the bridge of her nose at nearly forty-five degrees, with a subtle V-shaped forehead ridge that ran a parallel angle. She stopped slightly off center from the bridge and announced a little too loudly, “Ensign Nevala R’Mor, Operations, reporting for duty,” she hesitated, “Sir.” She was slightly taller than Kelley, but wore a yellow division shirt.

Jensen glanced down at her display, “Ensign, you’re late.”

“Yes, Sir. I’m sorry, Sir,” R’Mor’s skin turned a light shade of green as she blushed in embarrassment. She continued to hold her head high.

Clark stood and looked the ensign in her eyes, “May I ask why?”

“I was stopped in the drydock corridor by a, uh, rather elderly admiral.”

Clark smiled and glanced at Jensen, “Russell, he’s not too fond of Romulans.”

R’Mor’s blushing subsided, “So he informed me, Sir.”

“No more ‘Sirs’,” said Clark, “I run a loose ship, so there is no reason you shouldn’t be able to address me as ‘Captain’. Understand?”

R’Mor curtly nodded her head, “Yes,” she added, “Captain.”

“Go ahead and take your station,” Clark said, sitting back down.

The Romulan glanced around the bridge, “I’m sorry, but where’s the ops station?”

Jensen pointed at the steel arc behind the command chairs, “Right there.” R’Mor stepped up the ramp behind the command chairs, dragging her hand along the sleek, semi-reflective surface of the arc. She came to her console at the apex and paused.

“Kelley,” Clark called.

The helm officer turned her chair, “Yes, S-,” she stopped herself and smiled, “Captain?”

“Are you familiar with the controls yet?” asked Clark.

Kelley nodded her head, “Yes.”

“How would you like to take her for a spin?” A smile inched across Clark’s face.

“I’d love to,” she turned back to the helm.

Clark tapped his combadge, “Bridge to Engineering.”

A voice came on the bridge speakers, “Vorik here.”

“Vorik, could you bring the thrusters and impulse drive online? We’re going out for a spin around the block,” said Clark.

Vorik’s confused voice asked, “What block?”

“Never mind that, Vorik. We’re planning on leaving drydock soon.”

“The impulse drive should be fully operational in twenty two minutes. Vorik out.” The speakers shut off.

“Ensign, open a channel to Admiral Russell,” ordered Clark.

A few beeps and, “Channel open.” Russell’s pale, wrinkled face came on the viewscreen.

“Trying to leave early?” chuckled Russell.

Clark stood from his chair, “No, Sir, just taking her out for a spin.”

“I see. Permission granted to depart drydock in, oh heck, ten minutes. Russell out.” The viewscreen snapped back to the Martian horizon, the Sol Sector’s tallest mountain, Olympus Mons, clearly visible in the pink haze.

Clark turned to Jensen, “Make a station and ship-wide departure announcement.”

Jensen pressed a point on her console. “This is Commander Jensen,” she announced, her voice coming from the speakers, “The U.S.S. Aldrin will be departing in ten minutes. All hands should report aboard by that time.”

“All crew already reporting aboard,” R’Mor immediately said, standing behind the arc.

“Good, let’s give all the station personnel a chance to get off,” said Clark.

Kelley spoke from the helm, “Thrusters are operational.”

“So, R’Mor, why’d you join Starfleet?” asked Jensen. She turned her chair around to face the Romulan. She added, “Just wondering.”

“I grew tired of the lack of respect in the Empire. The Empire was stagnating,” explained R’Mor. “I was forced to serve in the Romulan Space Force for seven years as a maintenance worker on a warbird doing homeworld defense. Despite our apparent galactic power, the Romulan military was nearly broke. Conditions were awful aboard the warbird and nobody seemed to want me, so I stole a shuttle and fled to the Federation. I wasn’t pursued, so I figured the Romulans didn’t care whether I was there or not. Since I wasn’t a Federation citizen, Commander Clark gave me a recommendation for the Academy,” explained R’Mor, “And now, I’m here.”

R’Mor’s console beeped and she said to Clark, “Docking control reports all station personnel aboard. And Admiral Russell wishes us luck.”

“Seal airlocks,” ordered Clark. A quiet thump came from the back of the bridge. “Close supply ports,” Clark paused before his next command, “Release docking clamps.” The Aldrin shuddered as the drydock’s powerful docking clamps released their hold of the ship and the inertial dampers compensated.

“Docking clamps released, umbilical cords disengaged,” R’Mor reported.

“Kelley, take us out,” commanded Clark.

“Yes, Sir,” Kelley smiled. Her fingers lightly bounced on the controls and the Aldrin quietly slid out of the cradling arms of Drydock 4. The ship drifted past a large, spider-like drydock wrapped around the skeleton grid of a Galaxy-class saucer.

“Put us into standard orbit,” Jensen ordered. The Martian horizon dove off the left side of the viewscreen as the Aldrin turned its belly down. The Akira-class ship smoothly glided down towards the Martian equator.

“Bringing even with the equatorial plane,” Kelley said. The forward thrusters fired and the Aldrin slowed near the equator, using its momentum to rotate so that its port side was again facing Mars and the ship was parallel to the equator, achieving standard orbit above the red planet. The horizon was once again visible on the left side of the viewscreen. “Standard orbit achieved,” announced Kelley.

“Good,” Clark tapped his combadge, “Clark to Vorik.”

“Vorik here.”

“What’s the status of our impulse engines?” asked Clark.

Vorik paused, “The impulse engines should be operation momentarily, Captain.”

“Good, Clark out,” his combadge beeped in acknowledgment.

The helm beeped loudly and Kelley said, “Impulse drive is operational.”

“Set a course for Jupiter Station, one quarter impulse,” ordered Clark.

“Aye, Captain,” Kelley said, “Course laid in.”

The captain glanced at each of his present crewmembers, R’Mor, Jensen, and Kelley, and then looked to the viewscreen where the stars stood still, “Engage.”

17:38 Hours, January 24th, 2380
Stardate 57064.968302

Vorik grabbed a clear bishop from the lower level of the chess platform and moved it to a small square held away from the middle platform, “Check.” He and Clark were engaged in an intense match of three-dimensional chess, now playing for over three hours. They sat on opposite sides of a small mess hall table with the multi-platform assembly that was 3-D chess on top. A few crewmembers had come to the mess hall for dinner after the Aldrin had returned to Drydock 4, having safely traveled on impulse speed to Jupiter Station and back to Mars in less than four hours.

Clark contemplated the chess setup for a few moments, then snatched a frosted white pawn from the highest level and placed it in the bishop’s place, handing the discarded chess piece back to Vorik.

The Vulcan gazed at the platforms for several minutes, and then replaced Clark’s pawn with a clear knight. Clark smiled, “I thought you would do that.” Vorik cast him a quizzical glance as Clark switched his king and a clear rook, castling. Vorik’s pawn was in jeopardy, but if he moved it, his king would be in check, thus making it an illegal move. The Vulcan’s dark eyes darted all over the platforms, quickly analyzing and discarding hundreds of possible scenarios in seconds. He finally picked his other bishop from the bottom platform and placed it behind his knight, creating a wall between Clark’s rook and his king.

“Nice move,” said Clark, “But not nice enough.” He grabbed a pawn from the highest square, moved it down, and gently shoved aside Vorik’s bishop. Clark shifted himself down into a slouched position in his chair and placed his hands behind his head, “Checkmate.”

07:52 Hours, January 27th, 2380
Stardate 57072.044620

Clark strode confidently onto the bridge, closely followed by Jensen. The two had decided to stop keeping their blossoming romance a secret, figuring some of the crew probably had figured them out already, and told the rest who hadn’t. They supposed the rumor mill broke into full production during the warp endurance trial when an unsuspecting crewmember happened upon them in the turbolift. As the two walked together to the command seats, R’Mor at the operations station humorously raised an eyebrow and glanced at Kelley at the helm, who smiled back.

Clark and Jensen sat themselves in the command chairs at the center of the bridge. “R’Mor,” Clark called out.

“Yes, Captain?”

“Open a channel to Admiral Russell,” he ordered.

“Channel open.” Admiral Russell’s face appeared on the viewscreen.

“What do you want this time, David?” asked the admiral.

“Requesting permission to leave Drydock, permanently, Sir,” requested Clark.

“You sure you’re ready?” Russell asked.

“Dead sure.”

“Don’t say that!”

Clark was confused by Russell’s objection, and from the corner of his eye he saw that Jensen was as well.

“I don’t want you to end up dead!” Russell chuckled lightly. Jensen suspiciously raised an eyebrow.

“Don’t worry about that, Admiral, we intend to stay alive for a while,” said Clark.

“Of course you do!”

“Admiral, I’ve had a question on my mind for a few days.”

Russell’s forehead wrinkled in concern, “Go ahead, David.”

“Sir, this may seem a little, uh, oblivious on my part, but what is our mission?”

“Very good question,” Russell mused, he looked down for a moment, then back to he viewscreen, “Starting out, you’re going to proceed to Earth where you’ll pick up a subspace relay station along with the rest of your crew. After that, you’ll go to Deep Space 9, and then into the Gamma Quadrant to do some explorin’.”

Jensen blurted out, “The Gamma Quadrant?”

“Yes, the Gamma Quadrant. At the other end of the wormhole you’ll set up the subspace relay for communications through the wormhole. The Dominion will be sending an escort for you, as you will have to go through their territory.”

Now Kelley seemed content to object, “The DM?”

Russell nodded, “Correct. They insisted that they escort you through their territory. Apparently there are some renegade factions within the Dominion, and the legitimate leadership doesn’t want to risk starting another conflict.”

“Is that all?” Clark asked, slowly absorbing and processing the information.

“Sure is. I’m sending you your mission coordinates. Permission granted to depart Drydock 4. Russell out.” The viewscreen changed back to the Martian horizon.

“Ensign,” ordered Clark, “Open a channel to the station.”

“Channel open,” reported R’Mor.

“This is Captain Clark. The U.S.S. Aldrin will be departing in ten minutes. I repeat; the U.S.S. Aldrin will be departing in ten minutes. All hands should report aboard by that time. Clark out.”

R’Mor said, “Decks 3, 5, 7, 8, 13, and 14 have not reported in yet.”

Clark nodded, contemplating how his new ship and crew would respond to the unknown challenges ahead. Exploring the Gamma Quadrant, Clark thought, I thought they’d reserve that for an experienced crew. Though the Defiant did a good chunk of that. But it’s a small ship, and no match for the Aldrin.

A few minutes later, R’Mor interrupted Clark’s thoughts, “All decks report ready. Drydock reports all station personnel are off.”

“Commence undocking,” ordered Jensen.

“Sealing airlocks. Releasing docking clamps,” reported R’Mor. “Disengaging umbilical cords.” She smiled, “We’re free.” The Aldrin started to drift down as the gravity of Mars took over.

“Kelley, set a course for Earth, one quarter impulse,” Clark ordered.

“Course set.”

“Engage.”

The Aldrin’s thrusters fired and the ship smoothly slid out of Drydock 4’s cradling arms. The powerful impulse engines on the back edges of the saucer and the end of the engineering hulls kicked to life and the Aldrin shot across space, banking around the numerous drydocks.

Clark gripped the armrests of his command chair as the bottom end of SCE headquarters loomed incredibly close on the viewscreen. A proximity alarm went off, but Kelley didn’t adjust the Aldrin’s course. Clark had had enough, “Lieutenant!”

The viewscreen changed to a view of the starboard edge of the saucer, from a visual sensor mounted on the front of the starboard warp nacelle. The large spherical fusion reactor of the starbase hurtled towards the saucer, casting a shadow over the entirety of the Aldrin. Alarm after alarm sounded, but Kelley kept the Aldrin on course. The edge of the saucer passed within a several meters of the starbase.

Clark sighed, relaxing. He opened his mouth to have a word with Kelley, until he realized that the nacelle was farther out from the center than the saucer. The alarms intensified as the Aldrin became dangerously close to the starbase, so close that Clark could see the serial number on some of the duranium panels covering the massive sphere. Clark pressed himself back into his chair, but could not avert his eyes from the viewscreen. Within a second, the Aldrin had swept past the starbase, unscratched. Kelley continued at the helm, as if nothing had happened. R’Mor’s face was drained of color and her dark green eyes were wide with fright.

Clark cleared his throat, “Lieutenant?”

Kelley spun her chair around, leaving the helm on autopilot, “Yes, Captain?”

“As much as I trust in your piloting abilities,” said Clark, wearied by the close encounter with the starbase, “Never do that to me again.”

Kelley understood, “Yes, Sir.”

R’Mor spoke up, “SCE wants to know ‘what the hell we’re doing’.”

“Tell them we’re having some navigational difficulties,” said Jensen. R’Mor nodded and entered the commander’s response.

“Lieutenant,” Clark asked, “Do you think you can get us to Earth without getting us all killed?”

“Yes, Captain.”

Clark smiled, “Let’s go.”

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#17 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 08:37 PM

5

U.S.S. Aldrin
Mars, Sol System, Sector 001
08:03 Hours, January 27th, 2380
Stardate 57072.149862

Kelley banked the Aldrin around Mars and between the two Martian asteroid moons, Phobos and Deimos. The distant blue globe of Earth appeared on the viewscreen, slowly growing larger. White clouds swirled over the blue oceans that surrounded the multiple continents, varying from blistering deserts to lush tropical jungles, from frigid ice fields to open plains of grass, and from dense green forests to the jagged, snow-capped mountains. Earth’s rocky gray satellite stood sentry nearby, with several large cities on its lunar surface. The Aldrin swung quietly around the Moon and was stopped by a group of three Federation cruisers, the last line of defense between an attacker and Starfleet Command.

“Perimeter control is requesting our clearance,” said R’Mor.

“Transmit Aldrin Pi Omega Four,” ordered Clark.

R’Mor entered the code, and then said, “They’ve cleared us.”

“Taking us into a standard orbit,” Kelley said cautiously. The Aldrin glided quietly around the Moon and past the three vessels, taking up orbit around Earth.

“Okay, everyone has shore leave for the next forty eight hours,” said Clark, “Have fun,” he smacked his open palms against his armrests and tried to erase the images of his first command incident. He and the other three stood and entered the turbolift. Jensen ordered the lift to transporter room three. The turbolift stopped and Jensen, R’Mor, and Kelley left, but Clark stayed inside.

“Aren’t you coming?” questioned Jensen from outside the lift.

“No; transporters aren’t my thing,” said Clark, then to the computer, “Shuttlebay.” The turbolift doors closed before Jensen could question Clark’s motives.

Jensen walked into the transporter room to find Kelley on the pad and R’Mor at the controls. “So, where’re you going?” asked Jensen. She swung her arms back and forth, relieving some built-up tension.

“Buenos Aires,” R’Mor stated.

“San Francisco,” Kelley smiled, “What about you, Commander?”

“We’re off duty, it’s Loy. And I’m going to Marseilles.”

Kelley looked to R’Mor, who in turn confirmed, “Standing by.”

“Energize,” Kelly ordered. R’Mor worked the controls and Kelley disappeared in a sparkle of light, her molecules disassembled at the quantum level and transmitted through space to a transporter station on the ground, where the molecules are quickly reassembled. The whole process took less than five seconds.

From the controls, R’Mor asked, “Would you mind beaming me down?”

Jensen smiled, her nose ridges compressing slightly, “Not a problem.” She stepped up to the console and ran her fingers over the controls, “Buenos Aires, right?”

R’Mor stepped onto the pad, “Yeah, I’ve got some friends there.”

“Ready?” Jensen asked.

“Go ahead,” said R’Mor. Jensen’s long fingers danced on the controls, and R’Mor disappeared in the dazzling lights. Jensen set the controls for a delayed beam down.

She muttered to herself, “Marseilles, France, Academy pad, ten second delay. Start.” The Bajoran bounded off the raised control station and onto the transporter pad. She straightened her uniform and felt a familiar tingle spread over her body. The transporter room began to disappear in a sparkling aqua-blue haze.

08:10 Hours, January 27th, 2380
Stardate 57072.151192

“Good morning, Sir,” said a tall ensign with short, spiked blond hair as Clark entered the shuttle control room, located at the back of the saucer. The ensign sat in a wheeled chair at a long computer console on one side of the long, narrow room. A series of large windows ran along each side of the room, one looking out to the empty space beneath and between the engineering hulls, the other looked into the long shuttlebay. Below were three launch doors high enough for a small craft to enter, making the entire shuttle bay three decks tall.

The shuttlebay stretched nearly two hundred meters from the front of the saucer to the rear, with the massive cylinder of the main computer core obstructing the center. Shuttles could come and go through the doors at either end of the bay, but Clark’s design had originally intended for them to exit through the front and return through the rear. All around the circular computer core were docking terminals where shuttles could be refueled and have minor servicing done.

“Good morning, Ensign, uh…” Clark paused.

The ensign finished Clark's sentence, “Skon.”

“Good morning, Ensign Skon,” he repeated, “Are there any shuttles are left?”

“As a matter of fact,” Skon turned to the console and read, “There are six: the Carpathia, Atlantis, Braga, Hawking, Newton, and the Magellan.”

“Is the Magellan ready for launch?” asked the captain.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Okay, I’m taking it down,” said Clark. He began to walk towards a door at the end of the control room.

“Sir,” Skon called.

Clark stopped and turned around, “Yes?”

Skon swallowed, “Please be careful. I don’t want any of my shuttles damaged.”

Clark turned back around and walked back to the door, rolling his eyes. The door slid open at his approach and revealed an open lift down to the bay deck. Clark stepped onto the lift, which had a single curved, hip-height safety bar, and rode it to the deck. The lift jerked to a stop and the bar automatically swung open. Clark stepped off and looked around; the middle aft launch door, one of the three on the back of the saucer, was open, the atmosphere held in by a thin forcefield. Seven new shuttles were parked around the computer core, their chisel-shaped bows facing out. Clark quickly walked to the docking stations, searching for the Magellan.

A shuttle lifted off from the docking ports and roared over Clark’s head. He instinctively ducked and covered his head. Realizing that the shuttle posed no danger, Clark stood and watched as the forcefield flashed and let off an electric sound as the shuttle easily penetrated and escaped into space. The shuttle’s engine noise still echoed throughout the bay.

The name Magellan caught Clark’s eyes, and he walked directly to the shuttle, right in the middle of a semi-circle of shuttles and facing directly out the middle launch door. The Magellan was a Type-XI shuttlecraft, almost eight meters long, five meters wide, and four meters tall. The shuttle was ultra-aerodynamic, sloping gently to the front and the back. The warp nacelles were attached directly to the hull and shaped to form lifting wings for more efficient atmospheric flight. Two sets of impulse engines were mounted on the back edge of the hull, with large air-intake scoops at their fronts.

Clark tapped a small control panel to the right of the outer door on the shuttle. After a short delay, the door slid up into the shuttle’s roof. The captain stepped up onto the raised deck of the shuttle and looked around the spacious cabin. A small, single person transporter was mounted in the back with storage cabinets on either side holding hazardous environment suits, medical supplies, and emergency rations. A replicator was built into a bulkhead near the transporter. Access for larger items was available via a downward opening hatch at the shuttle’s back.

Clark closed the door and seated himself in the left pilot’s seat, located in the shuttle’s front. A single tap on the wide, dark console brought the shuttle’s systems online. A quiet hum filled the small vessel as the power system surged to life. Skon’s voice came on the shuttle’s speakers, “You’re clear to launch, Sir.”

“Thank you, Ensign.” Clark ordered the shuttle to disconnect from the docking ports, and a low thump reverberated through the Magellan. He lightly fired the thrusters and the shuttle lifted a few meters off the deck and slowly drifted forward. The Magellan glided through the expansive bay towards the rear launch doors. The ends of the nacelles and the bottom and inner sides of the engineering hulls were visible through the open middle door. A barely visible static field filled the void in the open door, denoting the forcefield boundary holding in the atmosphere. The forcefield sparked brightly as Magellan coasted through the launch door. Clark slowly piloted the shuttle under the cradling arms of the Aldrin.

“Computer,” requested Clark, “Set a course for Toronto, Canada.”

The computer’s pleasant female voice said, “Course set.”

“Engage.”

The shuttle floated down below the Aldrin’s saucer and spun half way around, operating entirely on computer control. Its impulse engines fired and it shot forward beneath the massive ship and began to fly around the Earth. It turned its ventral side down towards the Earth, the massive Pacific Ocean over a thousand kilometers below. The curve of the Earth was clearly visible through the Magellan’s forward windows. Even before the shuttle was over the western coast of North America, the forward thrusters fired and pushed the shuttle into Earth’s atmosphere. The hull of the shuttle heated with the intense friction of atmospheric entry, yellow and purple plasma flames shooting around the small vessel. The inferno around the Magellan died as it slowed even further, now over the imaginary boundary between the ancient countries of the United States and Canada, not a cloud visible ahead. The flames slowly died away as the shuttle slowed and entered the lower kilometers of the atmosphere. Everything below was still dark with night, but was covered in a white blanket of snow that seemed to glow a dark blue in the starlight. Clark identified glowing cities he’d visited as a child: Calgary, New Winnipeg, and Fargo. As the sun broke over the horizon dead ahead, he sighted other cities: Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Detroit. Within several minutes, the Canadian National Tower, the most prominent Toronto landmark, was peaking over the horizon. Soon the large, metropolitan buildings became visible and before he knew it, Clark was flying over suburban Toronto.

The shuttle beeped, announcing that it had reached its destination. Clark took over the controls and piloted the Magellan around the massive base of the CN Tower, the twisted and melted remains of the abandoned Skydome Stadium at its base transformed into a memorial to the millions of lives lost in the nuclear holocaust of World War III, over three hundred years ago.

Clark landed the shuttle on a pad atop a tall apartment building on the shore of Lake Ontario. A thin layer of fresh snow covered the rooftop. The door on the shuttle slid open and Clark stepped out, feeling the bitter coldness of the Canadian air biting into his unprotected face. A gust of wind blasted from the lake, nearly knocking him to his knees.

He steadied himself against the shuttle and surveyed the city; Lake Ontario was completely frozen over and the skyscraper filled city was covered in almost a meter of fluffy white snow. A large transport hovercraft sped across the lake, blowing snow into a billowing white cloud behind it. The sun was still low, so the cloud of snow rose to obscure its shining brilliance.

Clark closed the shuttle door and approached an elevator door sticking up at one corner of the building. He stopped and stood quietly at the double doors, waiting for the elevator to arrive. As the sky darkened slightly and a light dusting of snow slowly descended upon the city, it dawned upon Clark that he had to push the little round ‘Down’ button to the right of the elevator door to call the lift. He pushed the button, and a few seconds later a bell dinged and the doors parted to reveal a small glass elevator, releasing a warm burst into the chilled air. Clark stepped onto the red carpet and scanned the bank of buttons on the right side of the door. ‘B10’ was at the bottom of the buttons, and ‘51’ and ‘R’ were at the top. Clark pushed a button, which lit up, and the doors slid shut. He felt the elevator begin to descend and saw a small, lighted display above the door change from ‘R’ to ‘51’ and then begin to cycle down more rapidly. Clark looked out the glass wall and watched the smooth glass facades of Toronto’s business district slide by. The lift slowed to a stop and the doors parted with the sounding of a chime, at the 21st floor. A little girl with curly blond hair walked in, trailing a beagle dog on a short leash. Clark supposed that she was no older than five years.

“First floor please,” she requested. Her dog whimpered lightly. Clark pressed the button marked ‘1’ and the doors closed. Once the lift was moving again, the girl looked up at Clark and asked, “Are you in Sta-flee?”

Clark looked down at the girl, “Starfleet?”

The girl nodded, her blond curls bouncing with the motion.

“Yes,” said Clark, “I’m a captain.”

The girl gazed up at him, “A what?”

“A captain. I’m the, uh, guy who’s in charge of a starship,” Clark explained.

The girl’s lips parted slightly, then she said with confidence that startled Clark, “Aren’t you that guy on the tenth floor that makes music?”

Clark smiled, “That’s me. But I’m going to be leaving for a while.”

“Why?” she asked.

Clark crouched down and scratched the beagle’s head. It rewarded him with a lick on his palm. “I’m going to go explore space,” Clark said.

The girl nodded her head lightly, “Okay.” The elevator stopped and with a ding, the doors opened. The floor indicator read ‘10’.

“Looks like this is my floor,” said Clark. He stood and stepped out of the elevator into the hall.

“Bye, Mister,” the girl said, and then the lift doors closed her off. The captain smiled and straightened his uniform. Ahead, behind a nondescript hinged wood door was Clark’s apartment. The captain reached in his pants pocket and pulled out an engraved brass key, considered archaic by modern standards, but still effective. He inserted the key into a locking mechanism built into the door above the handle and twisted it to the right. The lock clicked, so Clark turned the key back and pulled it out, depositing it in his pocket. Clark turned the round brass handle on the door and pushed it open.

Clark’s spacious, two-level apartment was appointed in the most current fashion: metal everything. It had been filled with metal ever since he got it over ten years ago, but had recently become fashionable. Of course, not everything was metal, the floor was carpeted and the furniture was soft and comfortable, for example, but there were still gleaming metal accents everywhere.

The apartment was twenty meters wide and ten meters deep. Directly above was the upper level of the apartment, his bedroom, a large open loft that extended across the entire span of the apartment and five meters from the wall. An equally large area was open to the ceiling five meters above. Covering the entire the outside wall were large, copper framed plate windows that provided a stunning view of Lake Ontario. Directly ahead of Clark was a large sitting area with two couches, a coffee table, and three recliners. To Clark’s left was the large kitchen and bathroom, the only entirely enclosed room in the entire apartment. To his right was his extensive library, with his treasured marimba. Metal shined everywhere in the apartment, on the kitchen appliances, on the loft supports, the stairs, the table, and even the floor in the kitchen and by the door.

Clark turned to his right and stepped into a small lift to the second floor. He pulled a steel gate across the opening and ascended to the loft. The lift stopped and Clark stepped out. The heavy canvas curtains had been drawn back, exposing the railing along the open edge of the loft and allowing light in and air to circulate. To his left was his sleeping and dressing area, to the right was a small office. Clark walked to the sleeping area, which held a large, but low, bed with white pillows and sheets and surrounded by a wide stained wood shelf. The wall opposite the railing was filled with drawers, and the wall at the head of the bed was filled with shelves.

Clark opened a drawer and pulled out several sets of neatly folded civilian clothes. He tossed them onto the bed behind him, disturbing the taut white sheets. He pulled a large duffel bag from a lower drawer, set it in the bed, and put the clothes inside. The captain grabbed several small items, including a small velvet jewelry box, off a shelf above the bed.

Clark carefully placed the trinkets in the bag, and stood for a moment with the jewelry box in his hand. He rubbed his fingers over its soft surface and then flipped open the top. Two golden rings, one slightly larger than the other, sat in the box and shined brightly in the morning light. Memories of Majel flooded across Clark. He saw the emotional tidal wave coming, and snapped the box shut, containing the storm within. His head was spinning, so he gently set the box in the bag and slowly sat on the bed. He dropped his head into his hands, wondering why these memories had to come back now. In the four years since the Cairo had disappeared, the only people he had spoken to about Majel had been psychologists, and even they had to wheedle the thoughts out of him. Determined not to let the past tear him down, he stood and grabbed the open bag by its handles. He walked to the office end of the loft and set the bag on a large glass desk cantilevered from the wall. He picked several data chips and sheets of hand-written music off the desk and put them in the bag. He left the desk with the bag, now heavier than before, and took the lift back down to the lower level.

Clark walked over to his small library, two three-meter-square bookshelves in the interior corner opposite the kitchen. He set the bag on a table and grabbed more than two dozen books off the library shelf, and several more pieces of music. He turned to his marimba, which was almost two meters long and covered by a padded slipcover shaped to its top. The captain placed the bag on top of the marimba and wheeled it over to the kitchen. He took a set of a dozen pots and pans and placed it on the marimba. Clark pulled several sets of silverware and cookware out of a drawer in the kitchen. He put them in one of the pots and opened a small wine cooler next to the sink. He removed several bottles of champagne and wine from the cooler, gently laid them in the bag, and then wheeled the marimba over to the door. Clark reopened the door and pushed the marimba into the hall. He looked back into the apartment for a short while, and then walked into the hall. He closed and locked the door behind him.

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#18 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 09:08 PM

6

U.S.S. Aldrin
Earth, Sol System, Sector 001
07:46 Hours, January 29th, 2380
Stardate 57077.522932

“How many are left on the surface?” Clark watched the viewscreen as Starbase 1, a massive orbital base similar to that of SCE back at Mars, came around Earth’s horizon, a mere speck in front of the Moon.

R’Mor pressed her console, “Just a moment, my, uh, console is frozen.” She futilely tapped it harder.

“What?” Clark leapt from his command chair and ran around the steel arc to R’Mor and the ops console. It was still glowing brightly, so he pressed several controls, but nothing changed. “Computer,” Clark called, “Why isn’t the ops console functioning?”

The computer responded, “Please elaborate. Records indicate that the ops console is functioning.”

“Computer,” Clark ordered, “Run a level-four diagnostic on all bridge stations.”

A few moments later, the computer reported, “Level-four diagnostic complete. The science, ops, helm, and command stations are disconnected from the bridge ODN relays.”

“Why?” Clark questioned.

“Unknown.”

“Why wasn’t the disconnection detected?”

“Unknown.”

Frustrated, Clark began to pace back and forth at the back of the bridge. He stopped at the science station, leaned over the console, and tapped the console. Nothing happened, so he asked the computer, “What stations are working?”

“The tactical station is functional.”

Clark sighed heavily, “Transfer all bridge functions to the tactical station, authorization Clark Omega Gamma Four.”

“Bridge command functions transferred to the tactical station,” the computer reported. The screens in tactical station changed with their new purpose.

“Clark to Vorik,” the captain said aloud.

The computer buzzed, indicating a malfunction, “The communications system is inoperative.”

Irritated, Clark shook his head, “Why?” R’Mor was still at the ops console, watching her captain.

“Unknown.”

“Ensign,” said Clark, “Could you go down to Engineering and see if Vorik knows what the hell is going on.”

R’Mor walked to the turbolift, but the doors did not acknowledge her presence by opening. “Captain,” she called. Clark looked over and she pressed the call button to the left of the door. The computer buzzed again.
“Computer, what’s wrong with the turbolifts?” asked Clark, the frustration clear in his voice, even though he knew the computer didn’t care.

“Turbolift controls have been severed at Junction 7-12.”

“By whom?” Clark demanded. He stopped at the tactical station and laid his hand on its cool metal edge.

“Unknown. Computer controls are being rerouted to-,” the computer stopped in mid-sentence.

“Computer?” questioned Clark, “Computer!” The tactical station suddenly exploded, hurling Clark into the dead ops console. The lights started to flicker as his vision went dark.

07:48 Hours, January 29th, 2380
Stardate 57077.523312

“Commander!” called out the young lady from Arkansas. She ran towards the warp core where Vorik was standing. “Commander!”

“Yes?” Vorik calmly responded.

The technician breathed heavily, “All the consoles… in Engineering… are… frozen!”

Vorik almost dropped the PADD he was holding, “What about the rest of the ship?”

“Yeah, everything’s… dead.” She braced herself on a support for the higher platform around the warp core. Vorik turned and lightly tapped a console attached to the warp core and nothing changed.

“Computer,” called Vorik, “Why have the access consoles stopped functioning?”

“Unknown.” The displays all around Engineering went suddenly went dark, quickly followed by the lighting. Engineering was bathed in a blue-green glow from the swirling warp core, casting complex shadows around the large room.

As Vorik calmly walked to a storage locker near a side door, the technician asked, “Now what d’ya suppose all this is about?”

Vorik put his fingers between the locker door and the bulkhead and pried it open. He pulled out two wrist beacons and two phaser rifles. “I suspect sabotage.” He slapped a beacon on his left wrist and activated the lights on both rifles.

“Sabotage…” the technician wondered aloud. She accepted a wrist beacon and rifle from Vorik. He removed his tricorder from his belt and affixed it to the top of the rifle. The Vulcan led the technician back to the dimming warp core and up the stairs to the first platform, then the second, and then the upper deck of Engineering, three meters up. A quick search with the phasers’ lights revealed no one up there.

Vorik tested his combadge, “Vorik to Clark.”

No response from Clark or the computer.

“Vorik to Clark,” he repeated.

Nothing.

“Now what?” the technician asked.

“We go to the bridge,” said Vorik. He went back down the stairs and platforms and back to the storage locker. Vorik kneeled at a Jefferies tube hatch between the side door and the locker. A quick twist of a manual release switch unlocked the hatch and it swung open, revealing a meter-wide tunnel that connected to a network of access tunnels throughout the ship. Without a word, he crawled in, holding his phaser rifle up as he moved through the confined tube, lit only by his lights.

Starfleet Academy
San Francisco, California
Earth, Sol System, Sector 001
07:51 Hours, January 29th, 2380
Stardate 57077.523882

Kelley stood quietly on the Academy transporter pad, waiting to be beamed to the Aldrin. A young, male cadet stood at the controls next to the pad. They were in the Starfleet Academy Transportation Center, a cavernous hall filled with transporters, contact stations, and walkways leading to a small fleet of shuttlecraft waiting outside. Both Starfleet personnel and civilians filled the hall, but sound dampers installed along the exposed rafters softened the otherwise painful racket. Several large windows filled the hall with sunlight, overpowering the comparably dim lights on the ceiling. Kelley reflected on her time in San Francisco, meeting with friends and former Academy instructors. She had even taken a trip up to the Moon and had dinner with her parents, something she hadn’t even considered before her shore leave began, but they asked, so she accepted their invitation.

“Ma’am,” the cadet said, interrupting Kelley’s thoughts, “I’ve lost contact with your ship.”

“What?” The pleasant memories of her two days of rest faded away in an instant.

The cadet looked back at the read-out, “I’ve lost contact with-”

“I know what you said! Why?” Kelley demanded. With only a few minutes before the crew was due aboard, she might as well already be late.

“I don’t know. The Aldrin just disappeared,” the astonished cadet said. He tapped the controls, seeming to hope the ship would simply reappear.

Kelley stepped off the pad and stood next to the cadet, “Access the sensor array and scan for the Aldrin.”

“I’m detecting the mass of the Aldrin, but no energy signatures,” the cadet said. He scanned again, finding identical results.

Kelley slapped her combadge, “Kelley to Aldrin.”

No response.

“Damn it,” she slapped it again, “Kelley to Aldrin.” She turned to the cadet, “What’s your name?”

“Francis Key,” he said.

“Come with me,” Kelley started walking to the open doors at the end of the crowded room. Key deactivated the transporter’s controls and then ran after Kelley.

Kelley exited the transportation center, hitting a literal wall of wind. The blue California sky had clouded over with a dark storm rolling in from the Pacific Ocean. The sky continued to grow darker as Kelley ran past the numerous shuttle landing pads, and entered the small traffic control center. There were over two-dozen stations in the center, half of which were manned by cadets.

A short female cadet approached Kelley and Key and held up a halting hand, “I’m sorry, this is a restricted area. I’m going to need your clearance.”

“My clearance?” Kelley questioned, “My starship just shut down in Earth orbit! Is that good enough?”

The cadet blinked several times, stunned by Kelley’s outburst, “Okay, come with me.” She turned and headed to a station in the center of the control room. “What’s your ship?”

“The U.S.S. Aldrin,” said Kelley.

The cadet pulled up a report at the console, reading it to Kelley, “Command lost contact with the Aldrin a minute fifteen ago, then fifty two seconds ago the Aldrin went dead, fusion reactors, emergency batteries, matter/antimatter, everything.”

“I know that,” said Kelley, “Can you transport me on?”

“No, Ma’am,” the cadet said, “Starfleet Code 57, Subsection 6, Paragraph 4: Before beaming onto a derelict vessel, a thorough set of scans must be conducted.”

Kelley placed her hands on her hips, “And how long should that take?”

“About an hour,” she said.

Kelley grunted, and then said to Key, “Get a shuttle ready, I’m going up.”

“You can’t do that!” yelled the cadet as Kelley and Key walked away. Lightning flashed and thunder boomed outside. A torrential rain began to pour, beating down on the traffic center’s roof.

Kelley stopped and turned, facing the cadet down, “Why? Is there some regulation about that too?” She stood face to face with the cadet, “What’s your name?”

“Cadet Ann Siddik.”

Kelley placed a threatening finger on Siddik’s chest, “Do you think I care whether there’s another damn regulation?”


Siddik braced herself against the station behind her, “No, Ma’am.”

“I’m glad we both agree.” As Kelley was leaving Siddik, she bumped into a tall, brown-skinned Human, accompanied by blue-skinned Bolian. Both were drenched from the sudden downpour. The Human man, who had no hair on his scalp and a goatee on his chin, asked Kelley, “Who should I talk to about a missing ship?” He shifted a phaser rifle on his back.

Kelley pointed over her shoulder at Siddik, “Cadet Siddik.” She and Key continued towards the doors and lightning struck outside. The sky had grown black, the lights of San Franciscan metropolis lighting the sky a ghastly gray. Kelley stopped a few meter from the door, turned around and looked at the man and the Bolian. The pair had just reached Siddik, when Kelley stopped in mid-step. She turned and called out, “Did you say ‘missing ship’?”

The Bolian turned around, “Yes.”

“What ship?” A bolt of lightning struck the Golden Gate Bridge, visible through a narrow window. The lights on the red bridge died, leaving it silhouetted against the turbulent clouds.

“The Aldrin.”

Kelly ran to them, extending her hand in greeting, “I’m Lieutenant Janice Kelley, U.S.S. Aldrin.”

A smile spread across the Bolian’s face, “Lieutenant Shi’laan Toq’bae.”

The African man added, “Lieutenant Commander John M. Murphy, U.S.S. Aldrin.”

Kelley felt all the tension in her shoulders flow out, “Well, gentlemen, I’ve got a shuttle waiting. That is, if you’re ready.” She looked to Siddik, “Isn’t that right, Cadet?”

Siddik nodded, “Yes, Ma’am.”

U.S.S. Aldrin
Earth, Sol System, Sector 001
08:17 Hours, January 29th, 2380
Stardate 57077.631974

“Captain?”

A ghostly face appeared in Clark’s dark, blurry vision. He saw very little, but felt stiff carpet under his head and smelled acrid smoke.

“Captain,” repeated R’Mor. A flash of light illuminated her face, “Are you all right?”

Clark struggled up, and pain shot through his spine, “Ensign, is that you?”

“Yes, Captain,” R’Mor grabbed Clark’s wrist and helped him to his feet. She cast her wrist beacon on her face, which had several gashes oozing green blood, “Are you okay, Captain?”

Clark squinted when R’Mor flashed the light in his face, “Yes, Ensign, other than a headache, I’m fine. But you look like hell.”

R’Mor shrugged, “Yeah, I caught a mouthful of shrapnel when the console blew. Here’s a beacon.” She slapped a light into Clark’s hand. The captain put the device on the back of his wrist and shined it around the dark, empty bridge. He came across the tactical station, which was a smoldering mess. A deep pit in an access panel denoted the point of detonation.

“Damn,” Clark commented, “What happened?”

R’Mor shrugged, “I’m not sure, but it looks like sabotage. Communications and power are out, and every access door is locked.” Clark shined his light around the bridge until he came to a weapons locker to the side of the master system monitor. He walked over, pulled the door open, and removed two phaser rifles and two Type-2 handheld phasers. He clipped a Type-2 on his belt and tossed the other to R’Mor. She snatched it out of the air and holstered it on her belt, and then wiped a trickle of green blood away from her eye. Clark activated both rifles, walked over to R’Mor, and handed her one.

“Why didn’t you go to get help?” asked Clark, shining the light on his rifle at the back of his empty command chair.

“All of the Jefferies hatches are locked,” R’Mor said.

“Not for long,” Clark stated. He pointed his rifle at the faint outline of a hatch in the carpeted deck. He was steadying his shot when a loud thump sounded from the rear of the bridge. Clark and R’Mor froze as more thumps and creaks emanated from the door leading to the airlock. The pair aimed their rifles at the door.

There was a thump on the door, and then the panels slowly separated, creaking and squeaking under the manual movement. A pair of brown hands protruded from the gap, and then the door slowly creaked open. A bald, African man with a short goatee poked his head through the door, “Good morning, Captain.” He smiled.

Clark aimed his rifle at the man, casting a blinding light on him. “Who are you?” the captain demanded, suddenly very paranoid.

“Lieutenant Commander John M. Murphy, Tactical Officer, U.S.S. Aldrin.” He struggled against the door.

Clark lowered the rifle, “Sorry about your station, it’s a bit of a mess.”

“Perfectly all right,” Murphy continued to pull the door apart, “Captain, could I get your help over here? The door seems to be jammed.” Clark was already on his way over. The two men pried the stiff door apart, allowing Murphy to come through. Kelley, Jensen, a male Bolian, and two cadets followed him onto the bridge

“Well, who all do we have here?” asked Clark. He looked at the Bolian. His blue skin was split by a crack that ran down the middle of his face, across the widely spaced dark veins on his hairless head, and down the front and back of his neck. He stepped forward, “Lieutenant Shi’laan Toq’bae.”

“Dr. Toq’bae, right?” inquired R’Mor, apparently having read the crew profiles, unlike Clark.

“I don’t like the title of ‘Doctor’,” stated Toq’bae, “Too formal for me.”

Clark nodded his head, “Okay. Cadets?”

The two cadets stepped forward. “Cadet Francis Key,” the male cadet said.

“Cadet Ann Siddik,” said the other, holding her arms behind her back and seeming unnecessarily curt.

“Nice to meet you,” Clark saw that his four officers all held Type-3 phaser rifles, the cadets had Type-2 handheld phasers. “The floor hatch is locked,” Clark commented, indirectly asking for help and shining his light on the sealed hatch.

“Not a problem,” said Murphy. He quickly swung his rifle around, aimed it at the hatch, and blasted it away. Several wrist lights jumped wildly in surprise. The twisted, smoking hatch landed with a clang on the deck. A wisp of smoke rose from the edge of hole.

“Nice work, Commander.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“No ‘Sirs’,” instructed Clark, “That goes for all of you,” he pointed a finger at the group, “Understand?” The group all nodded their heads. Clark motioned to the smoldering hole in the deck, “Who’s first?”

Murphy approached the captain, “With your permission, Captain, I’d like to go first.” Clark quickly realized that Murphy was several centimeters taller than himself.

Clark nodded, looking up into Murphy’s face “Permission granted.” The captain stepped to the side and Murphy walked past him to the hole. He looked down, then held his rifle to his chest, and, standing straight as a rod, stepped forward and dropped down.

R’Mor peaked over the edge, watching Murphy sweep the dark corridor below with his rifle and its light. He called up, “Clear.”

Clark handed his rifle to R’Mor and dropped down through the broken hatch. He landed and folded his legs, cushioning his impact with his hands. He stood and looked up. R’Mor held Clark’s rifle vertically, dropped it through the hatch. Clark caught the rifle and R’Mor dropped her own through. He caught it in his other hand. The Romulan dropped through the hole and fell on her side. Clark dropped their rifles on the deck, and with Murphy, helped R’Mor to her feet. She received her rifle from Clark, and then helped the rest of the crew with the rifle-personnel drop.

Once he landed, Key pulled a tricorder from his belt and began scanning. “Sir,” he said quietly, looking at the corridor bulkhead, “I’m detecting almost three dozen life-signs in a room behind this bulkhead.”

“The mess hall,” added Clark, “Are they awake?”

“Most appear to be okay, but eleven are unconscious,” Key reported.

Clark paused thoughtfully, “What species are they?”

“Let’s see,” Key fumbled with the tricorder, “Two Vulcans, one Andorian, one Deltan, and thirty two Humans, one very old.”

“That would be Dr. Cochrane,” Clark commented, “But we have only one Vulcan. And no Deltans.”

“Then they must be intruders,” Murphy declared, “And their hostages.” Kelley uneasily shifted her rifle.

“Open the door,” Clark ordered. Siddik clipped her handheld phaser on her belt and approached the door. She knelt next to the door and opened a small panel by it. A handle inside was labeled ‘MANUAL RELEASE’. The door suddenly snapped open and a yellow energy beam shot out, nailing Siddik in the side. She fell silently to the deck.

A Vulcan and a Deltan leapt out of the mess hall, both holding a Starfleet phaser rifle in each hand. They both wore dark brown civilian clothes with several outside pockets. Clark instantly recognized the Vulcan as Vorik.

“Hello, Captain,” Vorik said, his voice dark and menacing, even with a hint of uncharacteristic confidence. Clark felt his arms begin to shake, realizing his own crew had betrayed him. Vorik and the Deltan started firing. Kelley, Key, R’Mor and Murphy were hit by yellow phaser beams and went down immediately. Toq’bae shot the Deltan in the chest, sending him flying down the corridor. Vorik in turn hit Toq’bae dead in the chest and Jensen in the stomach. Clark watched in horror as his comrades fell. Every shot at the Vulcan seemed to miss. Vorik suddenly stopped firing and Clark looked up from his crew, all lying silently on the deck, to see Vorik flanked by new two armed Humans, all of their weapons pointed at Clark.

“I suggest you drop your weapon, Captain,” said Vorik. Clark immediately released his rifle and it hit the deck with a clang. The captain had holstered his Type-2 towards his rear, so he slowly placed his hands behind his back and quietly fiddled with the controls.

“Captain,” Vorik ordered calmly, “Bring your hands out where I can see them.” Hoping he had set the phaser to wide stun, Clark whipped it out and fired. One of the three shot at Clark, striking the Captain’s thigh. The corridor flashed yellow as a spray of phaser energy shot forth from Clark’s small phaser. Vorik and his collaborators fell.

Clark slowly lowered the phaser and surveyed the hall. On his side were Kelley, R’Mor, Murphy, Jensen, Toq’bae, and Cadet Key, all unmoving on the deck. Close to the mess hall door was Siddik, along with Vorik, the Deltan, and two Humans, also not moving. Clark breathed a sigh of relief and felt pain shoot through his injured leg.

Cochrane leaned out through the open mess hall door. Clark instantly reacted by raising his phaser, and then lowering it once he saw it was the doctor. Concern was visible on Cochrane’s face, even in the nearly pitch black corridor. “Captain,” he paused as he surveyed the people strewn across the deck, “What the hell is going on?”

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#19 Captain_Hair

 

Captain_Hair

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 09:45 PM

7

U.S.S. Aldrin
Earth, Sol System, Sector 001
10:21 Hours, January 29th, 2380
Stardate 57077.861838

Clark kneeled by a mess hall chair and studied the Vulcan tied down by rope-like ODN wiring. A wrist light had been mounted on a table opposite the Vulcan, casting an eerie glow on his unconscious face. Aside from some residual soreness on his front side, the Vulcan would experience only some grogginess from Clark’s phaser. Wish I could say the same for my leg, thought Clark, absently massaging his bandaged thigh. He then looked up at the identical Vulcan standing next to him, “You never told me you had a twin.” The restrained Vulcan stirred in the chair, the effects of his stun wearing off.

“I did not think it was necessary,” Vorik stated, “I was told that Taurik had been killed during the Dominion war.”

“Apparently not,” Cochrane shined a wrist light on Taurik’s neck. “Look at this,” he said, pointing at a small glass capsule protruding from his neck. A small amount of white, flaky residue coated it’s interior.

Vorik studied the capsule, “It appears to be a ketracel-white cartridge.”

Cochrane looked down at his tricorder, “It sure is.”

“Why would he have one of those?” Jensen asked. She sat down on the table opposite Taurik.

“No clue,” Cochrane shrugged, confused by this twist. He turned his light to the unconscious bodies of Taurik’s co-conspirators, reflecting it off similar capsules sticking out of their necks, “But it looks like the others have them too.”

“Let’s find out what they’re doing,” Clark said, “Wake him.” Cochrane fumbled with a hypospray in the dim light, then pressed it to Taurik’s neck. It hissed as the chemicals were propelled into the Vulcan’s bloodstream. Cochrane immediately stepped back a few meters as the Vulcan groggily raised his head.

Taurik slowly looked around the mess hall with pale, glazed eyes, and then suddenly lunged at Jensen. The commander threw herself back over the table, but Taurik was restrained by his bindings and the chair. He and the chair jumped forward, and then caught on the carpet, falling into the table. Taurik’s head smashed into the table as Jensen landed on her hands and knees on the other side. The Vulcan rebounded off the table and crashed sideways to the deck. He moaned and dropped his head to the deck, dark green blood oozing from the fresh gash on his head. A small brown pouch fell out of Taurik’s jacket pocket.

Vorik snatched the bag from the deck and examined its contents. He held up several small vials of milky, white liquid, “More ketracel-white.” Cochrane nodded in agreement.

Clark knelt next to the dazed and bound Vulcan and demanded, “What are you doing on my ship?”

Taurik struggled to right himself and his chair, but Vorik’s booted foot pressed the fallen chair to the deck. Taurik spat a loose tooth onto the deck and said quietly, his voice raspy, but unmistakably similar to Vorik’s, “We’re trying to… finish,” He coughed and spoke deliberately, “What the Dominion… started.”

“We have been at peace with the Dominion for over four years,” argued Clark.

The Vulcan’s eyes suddenly burned with fury, “I am not!” He struggled against his bindings, clearly displaying strong un-Vulcan-like emotions.

Vorik calmly said, shifting his weight onto the leg holding down, “Brother, you must retain control of your emotions.”

Taurik thrashed violently in the chair, “I cannot!” He kicked viciously, sending Vorik back into chairs and tables. Clark jumped up and kicked his booted foot into Taurik’s stomach, flipping the Vulcan and his chair face down. The mess hall fell quiet. Several security officers, working under the orders of Cochrane, helped him move the bodies of the other prisoners to an open area several meters away.

Taurik’s forehead rubbed against the carpeted deck, leaving a dark, bloody smear. He yelled out in rage, “The Dominion must pay! I will not let them get away… with what they did… to us!” He began to rock his chair, trying to get its weight off his head.

Clark kicked Taurik’s chair onto its side and loudly demanded, “And just what did they do to you?” Most of the crewmembers in the mess hall had stopped what they were doing and were now watching Clark’s brutal interrogation.

Taurik shuddered, and then said in a low, dark tone, “They experimented on us. Made us dependent on ketracel-white… made us their slaves. They forced us to fight the Federation, or they would take away the White. We had no choice,” The Vulcan paused, “Not having the White is worse than death.” The cartridge in his neck sputtered, running low on the addictive drug.

The captain suddenly changed his mood and the subject, “Are you the one who sabotaged my ship?” He grabbed a chair and spun it around, stooping it with the back facing Taurik. Clark sat in the chair, straddling the back. He looked down at Taurik, putting on a sympathetic mask to continue his psychological twisting of Taurik. Clark stood again and righted Taurik’s chair, and then sat back in his backwards seat.

Seeing that Clark was seemingly less confrontational, Taurik visibly relaxed, “Yes.” He nodded, “Yes, I am.”

Clark restrained himself from beating Taurik into a pulp. He dug his fingers into the padding on the back of the chair, but kept a neutral face, “What did you do?”

Taurik shifted into a slightly more comfortable, or less uncomfortable, position in his bindings, “We created a de-synthesizing virus and released it… into the gel pack labs on the moon.” He coughed and a slight gurgling emanated from his throat. Apparently Clark had kicked him harder than he had thought. “There was a detectable virus that they contained, but we implanted a harder to find mutation in the packs specifically destined for this ship.”

“What else?” Jensen demanded. She walked around a table between herself and Taurik.

“We placed cloaked explosive charges on your ship,” said Taurik. A small amount of green blood trickled from his lower lip.

Clark scratched the side of his head, “Where?”

Taurik licked the blood from his lip, “There’s a PADD in my inner pocket. It has the locations of all the charges on it.” The ketracel-white cartridge in his neck started sputtering constantly, “I require a… a new cartridge.”

Clark reached into Taurik’s jacket pocket and removed an alien looking PADD. He activated it and scanned its index of files displayed, finding an entry titled ‘Aldrin’. He opened the file and found a deck-by-deck map of the Aldrin, marked with small red dots, presumably the location of the charges. He angled the PADD so Taurik could see the screen, “Is this it?”

Taurik started shuddering, “Y-yes. I require… a… new White cartridge.”

Cochrane fingered the pack of ketracel-white cartridges, “Captain, he’s suffering from ketracel-white depravation. I need to give him a new cartridge now, or he might die.” The doctor put Taurik’s chair back into an upright position.

Clark carefully watched Taurik, “So?”

“He won’t be of much use if he’s dead!” Cochrane yelled, “I took an oath that I would do everything in my power to prevent harm from coming to my patients. This man,” he pointed a shaking finger at Taurik, “Saboteur or not, is my patient!”

Clark never took his eyes of Taurik as he listened to Cochrane, “How long does he have?” Taurik’s eyes slowly glazed over and color began draining from his face. His chin dropped and he began to breath heavily through his open mouth.

The doctor fiddled with his tricorder, “Seven minutes tops.”

“Seven minutes should be all I need.” Clark reached his hand forward and closed Taurik’s mouth, “How did you get on my ship?” Exasperated, Cochrane walked away for a moment.

Taurik struggled to recall the words he needed, “We… we set a plasma fire in the drydock staging area, and then disabled… the station’s internal sensors and transported onto the ship. We used tricorders to… mask our signatures.” His eyes rolled up and his head fell to his chest.

“Where did they keep you?” asked Clark, again changing the subject, throwing Taurik off track.

The Vulcan, too incoherent to know there was a track, gazed dully at the captain, “Wha?” He started to drool out of the side of his mouth.

Clark repeated himself, “The Dominion. Where did they keep you?”

Taurik began to breath heavily, then suddenly let loose a string of loud, moist, coughs. Green blood poured from his open mouth, soaking into his brown jacket. Taurik struggled, “They kept us… at… at Internment Camp… One… Twenty.” He coughed again, sputtering blood onto the mess hall carpet.

His body suddenly went limp, throwing the chair off balance. The chair slammed to the deck, causing Taurik’s head to hit with a thud. Dark green blood drained from the Vulcan’s mouth and spread across the carpet. Clark knelt next to the fallen Taurik.

Cochrane’s tricorder let out shrill series of beeps. The doctor looked up in alarm, “I’m losing him!”

Clark conceded, “All right, give him a cartridge.”

“That’s not going to be enough,” said Cochrane. He grabbed his medical kit off a table behind him and knelt next to Taurik. The Vulcan began to tremble slightly as Cochrane feverishly searched the kit in the dark.

“Damn it! Light!” the elderly doctor barked. An ensign stepped forward and shined his wrist light on the kit. Cochrane immediately snatched a cylinder full of green liquid from the kit and shoved it into the bottom of the hypospray already in his hand. He pressed the hypospray to Taurik’s neck and a quiet hiss followed. The Vulcan’s trembling gradually subsided. Cochrane carefully removed the empty ketracel-white cartridge from Taurik’s neck, carefully placed it in his med-kit, and inserted a fresh cartridge in the hole.

Clark rose from Taurik’s side and turned to his twin, “Vorik,” he handed Taurik’s PADD to the engineer, “Get some repair teams together.”

Vorik took the PADD and nodded. The Vulcan snapped about and headed towards a group of engineers still mingling near the open door leading to the dark corridor. He called out for the technicians to form repair teams.

Clark left Taurik and approached a small group of Taurik’s collaborators, revived to full consciousness and guarded by several armed security. He grabbed a nearby chair and placed it backwards, between two guards. He sat facing the back of the chair, his legs protruding on either side. “So,” said Clark, “Tell me about Interment Camp One Twenty.”

Four Humans and a male Deltan quickly looked up. A Hispanic lineage man scratched at the hole in his neck where a ketracel-white cartridge had been inserted, “What do you want to know?”

“How did you escape?” asked Clark.

The Hispanic man thought for a moment, “We sabotaged the power supplies and stole a Jem’Hadar attack ship in orbit.”

“Where is it now?”

“The attack ship?” asked the Hispanic man. Clark nodded. The man continued, “We were forced to sell it to some Ferengi when we ran out of fuel and were being pursued by a whole DM fleet.”

“How did you get here?” Clark questioned.

“We purchased a shuttle from the Ferengi and ran. We snuck through the wormhole in the wake of a Romulan warbird, abandoned the shuttle, and stowed away to here.”

Clark sat for a short time, then asked, “And where is this Interment Camp One Twenty?”

The Hispanic man looked to the Deltan. They locked eyes in an almost resentful stare. After several tense moments, the Deltan simply said, “No.”

“Giir, please,” said the Hispanic man, “They need to know where it is!”

“Why, Gomez? Why?” demanded the Deltan, presumably Giir.

Clark shifted the chair forward, “So that we can punish those responsible.”

Giir sat stubbornly for a moment, and then said harshly “I’ll fly you there. Is that good enough for?”

“I guess that will have to do,” Clark shrugged.

He was preparing to ask more questions when Vorik came up to the group and addressed Clark, “Sir, I believe I’m going to need you on the repair teams.”

“Why?” Clark asked.

“Two thirds of our technicians are still on the surface,” Vorik stated.

The mess hall was suddenly bathed in orange light as the Aldrin’s drifting orbit brought it out of the Earth’s dark shadow and into the sun’s intense light. Clark shielded his eyes with a raised arm, “When do I start?”

“Now. You’ll be with Hill and me.”

Clark responded, “Okay, let’s go,” the captain turned back to the prisoners, “We’ll continue this later.” He and Vorik then left the mess hall together.

16:22 Hours, January 29th, 2380
Stardate 57078.549340

Murphy fell exhausted into his desk chair in his bleak quarters. He supposed that soon he would be able to beam up his possessions and decorate his new room, but this would have to do for the time being. The lights in this section of the ship had been activated about twenty minutes ago, and computer had just been activated, bringing with it systems like communications, data access, replicators, and finally, the doors. Murphy leaned forward and pressed a switch built into his smooth black desk. A thin computer access panel slid up at an angle from a slot in the desk. Murphy leaned back and stretched, feeling his tense abdominal muscles resist the action. After getting blasted in the stomach, his muscles had been unusually tight, but with Cochrane working to treat the saboteur/prisoners’ addictions, Murphy hadn’t bothered trying to get any pain medication. “Computer, display records for Taurik, presumed deceased,” Murphy ordered. A page displaying Taurik’s public history appeared on the computer panel. Murphy leaned forward and started reading the report on the obscure Vulcan.

‘Taurik was born in 2340 on the planet Vulcan. He and his twin brother Vorik enrolled in Starfleet Academy together, and Taurik beat his brother for placement on the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. Taurik was promoted to Lieutenant at the start of the Dominion war and assigned to the U.S.S. Geiger. The Geiger disappeared in 2375, presumably falling victim to Jem’Hadar attack ship squadrons patrolling the Cardassian Demilitarized Zone. With no evidence to the contrary, and no prisoners from the Geiger released at the close of the war, the Geiger and its crew were declared lost in action.’

Murphy let his weary brain process the information and synthesize it with the interrogation, and Taurik’s story suddenly seemed much more credible. He tapped his combadge, “Murphy to Clark.” The computer beeped, denying Murphy’s communication. The security officer leaned forward and tapped the ‘comm.’ option on the top of the computer display. He scrolled down the list until he found and pressed Clark’s contact.

Clark’s voice came out of the speakers built into the screen, “Yes?”

“Captain, it’s Murphy. Have you read the report on Taurik?”

“No, why?”

Murphy read the last four sentences of the report to Clark.

Clark took a deep breath, “For some reason I was doubting his story. This helps.”

“That’s what I thought,” said Murphy.

“Commander, I think it’s time we pay Taurik another visit,” said Clark, “He might have some information we’ve been waiting for.”

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#20 Captain_Hair

 

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 10:07 PM

8

U.S.S. Aldrin
Earth, Sol System, Sector 001
19:00 Hours, January 29th, 2380
Stardate 57078.888816

Clark looked around his bridge, again fully lit and operational. The charred and mangled mess that had been the tactical station had been replaced with an entirely new module. The partially enclosed cylindrical station was occupied by Murphy, with Toq’bae at his science station on the opposite side of the bridge. Clark spun his chair around and looked up at R’Mor, who was standing at the ops console behind him, “Ensign, open a channel to Admiral Russell.”

The Romulan lightly tapped her console, “Channel open.”

A holographic projection of Admiral Russell’s frail body appeared in the middle of the bridge. He pressed at invisible buttons not displayed by the projection, apparently oblivious to Clark’s message. Clark stood, straightened his uniform, and loudly announced, “Admiral.”

Russell jumped and clutched at his chest; seemingly fearing cardiac arrest from a pounding old heart, “Don’t do that!” He staggered and braced himself against an invisible bulkhead.

Clark looked around at the his bridge crew, all smiling on the border of laughter, “Do what?”

“Scare me like that!” The admiral breathed heavy, ragged breathes, “What do you want now?”

“As you now, we’ve had a little problem up here,” said Clark.

Russell scratched his chin, “Yeah, what exactly happened?”

“We were sabotaged.”

“Yeah, I know that much. By whom?”

“We found some former Dominion prisoners aboard,” explained Clark, “They say they are trying to get retribution for what the DM did to them.”

Russell stepped back, nearly merging with Kelley, “What did the Dominion do to them?”

“They are claiming to be prisoners that the Dominion conducted genetic experiments on, successfully making them dependent on ketracel-white,” Clark said.

“I don’t think we have any record of something like that happening.”

Clark cocked his head slightly, “Of course not. They say they were still being held captive after the war. In fact, they didn’t know that the war was over. The DM wouldn’t want anyone to know about something like that, so they would either keep them prisoner or execute them.”

“Who are these prisoners?” Russell asked, “Where are they from?”

Clark recalled the information he had gleaned from the saboteurs in his last interrogation, “One was a Vulcan Starfleet officer, Three Humans, two of them Maquis, and a Deltan merchant pilot.”

“Really? Well then, looks like we’ll have to launch an investigation into this,” the admiral sighed and shoved his hands in his pants pockets, looking like a little kid.

Clark took a deep breath, “With all due respect, Admiral, I’d like the opportunity for my crew to investigate.”

Russell crimped his face in thought, “I’ll have to get in touch with the Diplo’ Corps, but I’ll see what I can do. Russell out.” His image wavered and then disappeared. Clark let himself drop into his command chair.

The console next to Clark’s chair suddenly beeped, “Vorik to the Bridge.”

Clark tapped the console, “Bridge here.”
“All systems are operational,” said Vorik.

“Good. Make sure they’re ready for departure,” ordered Clark.

“Yes, Captain. Vorik out.” Clark waited, listening to the quiet humming of his ship.

After a few moments, Jensen turned to Clark, “Just what are you planning on doing?”

The captain paused for a moment, “You know their pilot agreed to fly us to the base, so we’re going to let him do that, under guard. Once we’re there, we’ll try to get any prisoners still there. I’ll try some gentle diplomacy, and probably have to resort to acting,” he paused, hating the idea, “Militarily.”

The Bajoran nodded and said with a hint of sarcasm, “Sounds fun.”

R’Mor spoke from behind the pair, “Admiral Russell is calling.”

“Put him on,” Clark ordered.

Russell appeared in holographic form again, “Well David, it seems that they like you in the Diplomatic Corps, and in Starfleet Command. You’ve got permission from Admiral West to go do your thing.”

“Admiral West? As in Captain Foster West?” questioned a stunned Clark.

Russell chuckled, “The same. He got promoted up to three stars during the war.”

“Wow,” Clark felt the information sink into his mind. “So, when do we get to go?” he asked.

“As soon as you pick up the subspace relay,” said the admiral, “Russell out.” He smiled as his image winked out.

“I’ve got a transporter lock on the relay,” R’Mor stated, already beginning to anticipate her captain’s orders.

Clark smiled, “Go ahead.”

The Romulan was silent for a few seconds and then said, “Got it. Cargo Bay One.”

“Lieutenant Kelley,” said Clark, “Set a course for Deep Space 9.”

“Course set.”

Clark paused, “Engage.” The humming of the ship went up in pitch as the Aldrin left Earth orbit. It swung around the massive Starbase and throttled its impulse engines to maximum power. Within seconds it blasted above the asteroid belt and past Jupiter.

A few minutes later, with Neptune behind them, Kelley reported, “We’ve cleared the warp line.” During the war, the Federation Council had declared all space within the sphere of Neptune’s orbit to be a warp free zone, except in the event of an emergency. That ruling was still in effect, especially after how close a renegade Romulan vessel had come to destroying Earth just a year ago.

“Maximum warp,” Clark ordered. The Aldrin’s advanced warp engines created a complicated subspace field and instantly propelled the ship at a velocity over seven thousand times faster than light. Protecting the crew from being flattened into a molecular paste against the rear bulkheads was a sensitive system of inertial dampers, which held the ship and crew in place during sudden changes in direction and speed. Upon jumping to warp, the whole bridge crew was suddenly pressed back into their chairs, excepting R’Mor, who was standing. She flew backwards, slamming into the large master systems monitor mounted on the rear bulkhead. The inertial dampers immediately compensated for their lag, saving all of them from becoming an organic paste.

Clark tapped his combadge, “Clark to Vorik.”

“Vorik here.”

“The inertial dampeners on the bridge seem to be lagging a bit,” Clark said, “I think the charge that went off up here threw them out of alignment. He rubbed the back of his neck.

“I’m on it. Vorik out.”

A faint moan of pain emanated from the back of the bridge. Toq’bae called out, “She’s hurt!” Clark leapt from his seat and came around to find R’Mor’s thin but full body splayed out on her back at the back of the bridge, Toq’bae and Murphy kneeling on either side. R’Mor’s chest rose in shaky gasps as she breathed heavily. Toq’bae looked up at Clark, fear piercing his dark blue eyes, “She’s not responding.”

Clark crouched over R’Mor’s face, contorted in pain. She opened her eyes and looked up, breathing laboriously. Clark called to her in earnest, “Nevala!” She just absently looked up, and then labored to breath again. She yelled out and her body suddenly arched into the air. Just as suddenly, she collapsed back to the deck and she began to quickly whisper in Romulan, the language coming across to Clark as incomprehensible, yet elegant. She dug her nails into the carpeted deck and the veins and tendons in her neck bulged out, making her pain almost too much for Clark to bear.

“Kelley!” Clark yelled, “Get back here!”

Kelley jumped off of her helm chair and ran back. She opened a storage door to the left of the ship monitor and pulled out a med-kit. Her field medical training took over as she fell to her knees and opened the kit, promptly removing a hypospray and a canister filled with a clear liquid. Kelley jammed the canister into the hypospray’s bottom and pressed it to R’Mor’s neck. With a hiss of the hypospray, R’Mor quieted down and relaxed a bit. Kelley asked her, “Where does it hurt?”

R’Mor didn’t respond, so Kelley immediately began to gently push her fingers into various points along her rib cage, hoping for a response. Kelley moved her fingers to R’Mor’s back, pushed, and heard the sickening grating of bone against bone. R’Mor screamed something that Clark assumed was a Romulan curse.

Clark watched as Kelley looked up in horror. He smacked his combadge “Clark to Sickbay!”

“Cochrane here.”

“Doctor, we’ve got a medical emergency up here!” said Clark. Kelley received a tricorder from Toq’bae and scanned R’Mor, “It’s Nevala.”

“I’m on my wa-” The doctor’s voice cut out as he rushed to the bridge.

A shimmer of transporter energy appeared next to R’Mor. It coalesced into Cochrane with a med-kit, who immediately knelt next to the Romulan. He pulled a tricorder off his belt and scanned R’Mor.

Cochrane reported, “She’s fractured a few ribs and it looks like she’s bruised her spine. What on Earth happened?” Cochrane opened his med-kit and removed a few tools.

“We went to warp, but it seems the inertial dampeners up here are misaligned,” Clark explained as Cochrane ran a small silvery pod over R’Mor’s chest. “They were lagging when we jumped to warp, and she ended up getting thrown against the bulkhead.”

“She’s lucky to still be alive,” Cochrane said, “Her spinal column suffered a major blow. I’m going to need to get her down to sickbay now.”

“Do it,” Clark stood and stepped back.

Cochrane tapped the combadge on his chest, “Cochrane to Transporter Room One. Two to beam directly to sickbay.”

“Stand by,” came a voice from his combadge. Cochrane and R’Mor dissolved in a shimmer of energy.

Bajor System
15:51 Hours, February 2nd, 2380
Stardate 57089.399202

The face of Bajoran Colonel Kira Nerys filled the viewscreen on the Aldrin’s bridge, “Hello, Captain. A bit late, aren’t we?”

Clark glanced at the antique silver link watch on his wrist, looked up, and smiled, “Sorry about that, we’ve had a few unexpected delays.”

“Yeah, right,” Kira sarcastically retorted, “Okay David, you’re cleared to dock at Upper Pylon Two. Kira out.” The viewscreen switched to a view of the former Cardassian mining station, now joint Starfleet/Bajoran base Deep Space 9. When the Cardassians had abandoned their annexation of Bajor, they had left the massive trilaterally symmetrical circular station in orbit. Soon after, when the Federation had stepped in to help the ailing Bajorans, a stable wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant was discovered nearby, making the station of vital military, economic, and diplomatic purpose.

Clark smiled, remembering this station as his post for over a year, where he rubbed elbows with the station’s senior officers and dignitaries that visited. “You heard her, Kelley,” said Clark, “Upper Pylon Two.”

“David?” questioned Murphy from behind the captain.

Clark swiveled in his chair, “Yes?”

Murphy leaned forward, propping himself up on the edge of the tactical station, “David?”

“What?” Clark sat there for a moment, and then realized the security officer was questioning his being called ‘David’ by a station commander, “Oh, ‘David’. Right, Nerys and I were friends while I was stationed here.”

Murphy leaned back in his chair, pulling at his goatee, “Right. ‘Friends’.” He made little quotation marks in the air with his fingers as he said ‘friends’.

Clark laughed for a moment and raised his hands defensively, “I swear, we were only friends, nothing more!”

Kelley interrupted them from the front of the bridge, “Commencing docking at Airlock Two.” Clark spun his chair to a forward facing position and saw the tip of Upper Pylon One on the left side. A quiet thud reverberated through the Aldrin. “Docking complete,” reported Kelley.

“Good,” said Clark. He smacked his open palms against his chair.

The turbolift door suddenly opened, and four junior duty officers walked onto the bridge. “Looks like we’re off duty now,” said Toq’bae.

Clark stood from the command chair, “We certainly are.” He walked towards the turbolift, followed by Jensen, Kelley, Toq’bae, and Murphy, with his phaser rifle slung across his back. Once all five were inside, Jensen ordered, “Airlock Two.”

The door slid shut and the lift began to descend. Toq’bae critically studied Murphy for a second and then asked, “Murphy, do you carry that thing around with you wherever you go?”

“You mean my rifle?” questioned Murphy, reaching back and patting its black stock. The Bolian nodded. “I don’t carry it around when I’m off duty. Is that good?”

Toq’bae rolled his eyes, “I suppose it will have to do.”

The lift doors snapped open to reveal a corridor crowded with crewmen waiting to disembark. “Looks like were here,” commented Jensen.

Everyone but Clark left the turbolift, but before any of them could ask why he remained, the lift had already left.

16:02 Hours, February 2nd, 2380
Stardate 57089.504444

“Hey, Doc, when do I get to leave this place?” R’Mor questioned. She rolled uncomfortably on one of the beds in sickbay. Her form-fitting, two-piece, white post-surgery outfit was becoming rather itchy, and she wanted to get it off and be back on duty as soon as possible.

Cochrane walked out of his office, “As soon as your blood pressure is back down to normal.”

R’Mor sat up on the bed and vigorously scratched at her chest, “Are these things supposed to be this itchy?” She suddenly took in a deep breath and sneezed violently, whipping her black hair.

“No,” said Cochrane, stopping as R’Mor inhaled deeply. She let out another powerful sneeze, spraying saliva into the air. “Would you stop that!” Cochrane joked, “You’re getting bio-matter all over my sickbay!”

R’Mor began scratching at her legs, “Everything in here is pre-sanitized and-,” she sneezed again, “-and bio-matter resistant.” She sniffled lightly and rubbed her finger under her nose, reminding Cochrane of his great-granddaughter, Kimberly.

“Then why are you sneezing like that?” Cochrane asked.

“I don’t know!” R’Mor yelled. She slammed her hands against the bed, “You’re the doctor; you tell me!”

Cochrane shrugged, “I’ll have to run some tests.” He walked away and grabbed a medical tricorder off a small, freestanding lab station. He came back, flipped it open, and began scanning R’Mor. The doctor read the readouts and then said, “Your histamine levels are up.”

R’Mor rubbed her eyes, “And that means what?”

“It would appear that you’re having an allergic reaction,” Cochrane stated.

“With what? I thought this place was pre-sanitized, no allergens?”

Cochrane raised his eyebrows, “I think it’s your post-op garb.”

The Romulan looked down at her white outfit and tugged at the bottom of her tunic, “This?” She sneezed. “What’s it made of?” R’Mor sniffled lightly.

Cochrane thought for a moment, “I believe it’s synthetic cotton.”

“What’s ‘cotton’?” asked R’Mor, obviously confused by the strange material.

“It’s a fabric made from a plant native to Earth,” explained Cochrane, “I’ll go get you a different outfit.” He walked over to a replicator, “One caminar post-op garment.” As the folded caminar, a synthetic fabric similar to ancient nylon, outfit was materializing in the replicator, the door to the corridor silently slid open and Clark walked into the sickbay.

The captain stopped, looked over at R’Mor, and found that she was topless, obviously unaware of his presence. Her discarded tunic was a rumpled pile of white fabric on the low bed between herself and Clark. She placed her thumbs in the sides of her white pants, pulling them away from her hips. As much as he liked the view, Clark felt that he was stepping out of line, so he quickly looked away and cleared his throat.

His action came too late. R’Mor’s pants dropped, leaving her slight body completely naked. Clark cleared his throat, alerting her to his presence. R’Mor gasped in shock, bent down, and pulled her pants back up, covering her lower torso. She quickly grabbed the white tunic off the bed and held it against her chest. She managed a forced, embarrassed smile, and her face blushed green with her Romulan blood.

Clark laughed, “No need to be embarrassed, you have a, uh, nice,” R’Mor leveled a scathing glare on Clark, forcing him to change his choice of words, “An attractive body.” He instantly regretted the selection, but R’Mor simply brought her elbows closer into her body, covering her stomach in favor of the sides of her slender waist. Clark decided to steer the awkward one-way conversation in a more neutral direction, “How are you feeling?”

“Fine, Captain, just having a, uh, allergic reaction,” R’Mor felt the warmness of blushing slowly leave her cheeks.

Clark resisted laughing, “To what?”

R’Mor shifted uneasily, then moved her arms to hold the shirt against her chest with one hand, while gently tugging at her white pants with the other, “Synthetic ‘cotton’.”

The captain looked to Cochrane and took on a more serious tone, “Why didn’t we know about this?”

Cochrane pulled the folded stack of lustrous gray fabric from the replicator, “Romulan physiology is very unique. Her last physical only found an allergy to pollen.”

“I’m allergic to pollen?” inquired R’Mor. She walked towards Clark and Cochrane.

“You sure are.” Cochrane handed the folded caminar to R’Mor, who held it to her chest. She turned her head and sneezed loudly.

The Romulan sarcastically rolled her eyes, “Thanks for telling me.” She turned and placed the outfit on an empty steel cart near the entrance to Cochrane’s office. Facing away from Clark and Cochrane, she dropped the tunic on the deck and looked over her shoulder to see if either was watching her.

“Does she have any other allergies?” asked Clark, looking directly at Cochrane.

Cochrane shook his head, “Not that I know of. I don’t think even a full body scan could reveal much more.” Convinced that neither man was paying attention to her, R’Mor grabbed the upper layer of gray fabric, and snapped it in the air, unfolding it.

“Do it anyway,” said Clark, “You might find something, you never know.”

R’Mor turned, holding two meter-square gray sheets of caminar in front of her exposed upper torso, “You might want to have a talk with the replicator.” Cochrane snatched the fabric out of R’Mor’s raised hands, forcing her to resort to covering herself with only her hands.

Clark looked at the replicator and then ordered, “Computer, one glass of water.” A clear glass shimmered into being in the replicator. It held its shape for a moment, and then collapsed into a puddle of water that spilled out of the replicator and onto the carpeted deck.

“A ‘glass of water,’ apparently our replicator has a sense of humor,” Cochrane commented.

“I’ll get an engineer to come down here and take a look at it,” said Clark. He glanced at R’Mor and found that she had taken the caminar sheets and used them as a non-allergenic covering. She had tucked one around her waist like a towel, but it had slipped down to her hips, and the other across her chest.

Cochrane was silent for a moment and then asked, “Captain, when will we be arriving at Deep Space 9?”

“Oh, about fifteen minutes ago,” said Clark, “Oh, and before I forget, you’re both off duty now, so you can go ahead and pay a visit to the station. And I highly suggest you do so.” He turned and walked out of the sickbay.

“You heard the man,” said R’Mor, “We’re off duty. Where’s my uniform?”

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that just yet,” said Cochrane.

“And why not?” R’Mor demanded.

“I need to run a FBS on you,” Cochrane stated, “Captain’s orders,” He walked over to the main surgery bed and gestured for R’Mor to lie down. She sauntered over and lied face-up on the bed. Cochrane pressed a button on the bed’s console and a thin, curved computer screen came from the bedside and arched over R’Mor’s stomach.

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