>> Star Trek fan fiction >> Protostar >> Encapsulation
In the year 2373, a major Borg attack on the Federation caused the deaths of over 10,000 lives. Though many people fought in the battle, some were ordered to stay behind. Some such people, such as captain Jean-Luc Picard, commandeered their ships and helped fight in the battle anyway.
Jean-Luc Picard was the only captain not to be court-martialed for his actions.
By Mike Wright
He stood, as proud as he could possibly be, in front of the inquiry board. He knew the consequences of his actions would probably lead to this, and like all his fathers before him, he bore the responsibility as he knew he should.
"Captain Thomas Dwayne Arkcana, you are charged with violating direct orders from a superior officer," the Admiral that headed the inquiry said. "How do you plead?"
"Guilty, sir," he replied.
"Captain, I'm sure you were chosen for your command strictly on the basis that you were one of the best and most responsible people in Starfleet. What could possibly cause you to violate orders in this way?"
"May I speak freely sir?"
The admiral looked upon the captain with some astonishment. "Proceed."
"The Independence is one of the most powerful ships in the fleet. My crew is one of the finest group of people a captain could ask for. I have had over ten years of command experience. Why was my crew and I left out of the battle in the first place?"
"It's not your place to make that decision," the admiral replied. "You were simply not included because you were not initially assigned to the task force."
"Sir, the Independence was less that four light-years away from the interception zone. The USS Berlin was ordered into the battle, and she was over two hours away at maximum warp."
"Captain, this discussion will get you nowhere. You violated direct orders from the commander of the task force, Admiral Hayes, and for thatÖ"
"Sir, Admiral Hayes was dead when I got there, along with the crews of twelve other shipsÖ"
"And for that," the admiral continued," this panel has decided that you temporarily be deactivated from the service until you are informed otherwise. Is that clear?"
Tom was devastated, but he still looked at them with determined eyes. "Aye, sir," he said a little too coldly.
"Commander Orielis will take command of the Independence until a replacement is found. Mr. Arkcana, you are dismissed from this court, and this service."
* * *
Captains log: Stardate 50183.4.
I have officially taken command of the USS Protostar, a newly commissioned ship assigned to border patrols. She is an Independence class vessel with almost as much firepower as a Sovereign class ship. Maximum sustainable velocity of warp 9.98, making her one of the fastest in the fleet. Only 230 crew members though. I must say I was shocked when I saw the results of the maneuvering tests they did on her at Starbase 324. She's almost better than the USS Defiant in it's capabilities.
I have officially met all my senior staff now except for my senior officer and helmsman, who are both being transferred from the Independence after its recent destruction in a battle with the Cardassians. I am told that commander Compton Orielis is a fine officer with five years of experience behind his belt. Lieutenant William Farrigut is another story however. His record seems to reflect that he is rather cocky in his attitude, a risk-taker. While I do see the need for such a person at certain times, I will be sure to remind him that he is working under a new CO now, and I expect him to behave himself.
Most of the other crew I had my choice in. My CMO is lieutenant-commander Megan Calloway, who once served on the Enterprise. My chief of security is lieutenant H'van Steplo, a good officer. Lieutenant Anthony Kazintski is my chief of operations, with quite a bit of experience himself. Other crew members are rather less reputable, and I am less bond to call them my senior staff. Oh, and how can I forget, lieutenant-commander Ethan Janxton, my chief engineer.
Right now we are still moored at Starbase 324, pending repairs on the warp drive system. I am told that yesterdays maximum efficiency test went haywire when the power output from the warp core overloaded the containment field and almost caused a breech. As can be expected with some of these newer ships, they are massively overpowered, and the Protostar is no exception.
Captain Joseph Hammond out.
Captain Hammond walked down the corridor of Starbase 324 towards Admiral V'Chek's office. It had been a while since he last visited Starbase 324, since it had become Starfleet's primary experimental research facility as far as anti-Borg technology development. Some of the best minds of every species in the Alpha and Beta quadrants were assigned here, but still, some things where just not shared. This was the place where Commander Shelby helped design the Defiant class ship, a starship that he had a lot to thank for. Even though being one of the most advanced ships in the fleet, the USS Defiant was the test bed for many systems in place on starships today.
The captain stopped at the door to his office and rang the chime, waiting for the expected "Come" to enter. He walked in, the first impression being that this was the type of office you would expect from a Vulcan. At least until you noticed the lone wooden apple sitting on his desk.
"You wanted to see me, sir?" Joseph asked politely.
The admiral turned in his chair, then stood up and extended his hand to the captain. A custom not particularly used by the Vulcans, but the captain took it all the same.
"Yes, captain, I wanted to talk to you about your next assignment. I understand that you are to be assigned a patrol route near the Neutral Zone?"
"Yes," the captain replied. "That was my understanding."
"Well, your orders have changed," the admiral said bluntly. "I have permission from Starfleet for you to help me in finding a certain person. Are you aware of a Doctor Valan Regnar?"
"Well, as you should. He was one of our leading Romulan scientists here at Starbase 324 on a special project which for now is still classified. And it appears that the Doctor has disappeared."
Joseph crossed his arms, a characteristic he displayed when he knew what someone was talking about. "Do you think he was a spy?"
"No, that's the strange part of it," the admiral said in a strangely non-Vulcan way. "We received a message from him about two days ago, saying that we could find him at the Grahalla Observatory. Unfortunately, we have no idea what he is talking about. We were unable to get an exact source of the transmission, but we did get a heading, and it's not coming from across the Neutral Zone. It's well within Federation space."
Joseph frowned. None of it made sense. "Can I ask the nature of the project he was working on?"
The admiral sat down, and motioned for Joseph to do the same. "Have you heard of a trill scientist named Lennara ?"
"Yes, she was on the team of scientists trying to create an artificial wormhole."
"Well," the admiral said cautiously," and this is strictly classified, but six months ago, her and her team successfully created a somewhat stable wormhole, large enough for a small ship to pass through for a short period of time. This was kept top secret because of the war with the Klingons. What Dr. Regnar and his team were developing was a device that could be mounted on a starship, and allow it to pass through."
"Sort of like the old fashioned bridge-mounted tanks of the 20th century."
"Yes, indeed," the admiral replied. "We are rather confused as to why the Doctor would leave all his notes and equipment behind, and just vanish as he did."
"And you want me to find him for you, before he falls into the wrong hands?" the captain asked.
"The heading of the signal is attached to your mission assignment," the admiral said, handing the captain a padd. "However, you may not need them. Starfleet Admiral Jelico contacted me early this morning on the matter, and have assigned an observer to your mission. He has not yet been informed, but we have included orders in your mission assignment for him to come along with you. Starfleet intelligence has recently placed him on Deep Space Nine, so you will have to go out of your way to find him."
"What's his name?" Joseph asked.
"A decommissioned captain, by the name of Arkcana," the admiral replied.
Commander Orielis watched as his previous captain began packing away his things in a very odd-looking duffel-bag with a Starfleet Delta on it. The Protostar was due to leave in about an hour.
"So, why did you come to Deep Space Nine?" the commander asked.
The captain turned and shrugged. "Oh, I don't knowÖ Instinct perhapsÖ"
"It was the wormhole, wasn't it."
The captain turned and quickly resumed his packing. "What makes you say that?" he said.
"Because any man would do the same in your position."
"I would never turn my back on Starfleet," the captain said angrily.
"No, you wouldn't," the commander replied quickly. "But you weren't a part of Starfleet. Once they cashiered you out of the service, you were free to do whatever you wanted. Nothing to hold you back from going."
For several moments, neither said anything. Arkcana continued packing.
"But something stopped you. You had plenty of time to set it up."
The captain continued his steady packing.
The captain finally turned and sat in a nearby chair. "The Bajoran Wormhole is artificially created, but whatever created it used a technique so radically different from our own, there was no way to access it. I took a runabout through that thing about five times at least, went over all the records. I can't access the control mechanism. The captain of the station apparently has a way of doing it, but the Caretakers sound pretty weird about the way they go about things. Rather mystical I take."
"So you couldn't redirect the opening?"
"It took quite a bit just to get captain Sisko out there to try and reach the "Prophets." For all I know, they may not even have the capability of changing the phase variance of the wormhole."
The captain got up and resumed his packing.
Compton looked down at the floor, then back at Arkcana, a puzzled look on his face. "Don't you think you've been packing long enough?"
The captain turned, an amused look on his face. "What?"
"You've been throwing junk in that damn duffel of yours for the past half hour. Is that thing like a bottomless pit or something?" Compton got up, and Tom laughed. Compton peered into the bag, pulling out a padd. "How to make friends and influence them. You've been reading that 20th century crap again, haven't you?" They both laughed.
"What can I say? I've read just about everything."
"I look at it this way. If it ain't on the Holosuite, there's probably a reason why."
They both laughed as the comm system chimed.
"Captain Arkcana, commander Orielis, please report to the Protostar. We will depart in exactly half an hour."
Arkcana zipped up the bag and slung it around his shoulder as they walked out the door. "So where to first?" he asked.
"Sickbay," Orielis replied. "Captain Hammond wants you to get checked out as soon as possible, then meet him on the bridge."
Arkcana grinned. "I hope it's a girl," he said.
"Oh, yeah. She is, but a little too young for you."
"Nobody's too young for me, you should know that."
"Yeah, you'd probably do it with someone half your age."
The captain laughed. "Oh, didn't you meet my last?"
Orielis grinned. "Yeah, but seriously, her name is lieutenant commander Calloway. She's pretty good at what she does."
"I bet she is," he said grinning. Suddenly he stopped and frowned. "Wait a minute, Megan Calloway?"
Compton frowned back. "Yeah, why?"
The captain continued down the hallway. "Oh, no reason."
* * *
"Twenty," Lieutenant Kazintski said, catching his hacky sack before it hit the floor. "Beat that one."
Megan Calloway smiled and grabbed it from him. "You, are no challenge." She threw it up in the air, and began kicking it back into the air with the ease and grace of a dancer. Kazintski watched as she quickly approached his record and quite easily passed it. Finally, she let it drop, and land on her toe, a perfect toe stall. "One-hundred twenty-five."
Kazintski stood with a shocked look on his face as she flicked the hacky sack with her toe, causing it to hit him square between the eyes. He caught it, staring, bewildered.
"See you on duty," she said, kissing him before she left the holodeck.
Before the doors could close, lieutenant commander Ethan Janxton slipped through the holodeck doors. "Blown off again, eh?" he said in his think Australian accent.
"One-hundred twenty-five?" Kazintski said, disbelieving.
"Oh, that all?" Janxton said. Then he laughed. "Never could keep up with women, could you Tony?" He swiped the hacky sack from the lieutenants hands, then tossed it out the holodeck doors, where it quickly dissipated into a quantum mist. "What say we go grab a beer, eh? Yeah, just the trick."
The lieutenants communicator chimed. "Lieutenant Kazintski, please report to the bridge."
Kazintski looked at Janxton finally, open mouthed. "Sorry old chum, not today," he said, finally smiling. And as he walked out the door, he turned back and added a final "Eh?" before turning and leaving.
Janxton opened his mouth to speak, but finally shrugged. "Your loss," he said. "Computer, begin program Janxton one." The holodeck changed into a big Australian bar full of smoke and drunk people. He walked up to the bar, and ordered a beer.
* * *
Captain Arkcana walked into sickbay, dreading who might be inside. Sure enough, she turned around and faced him.
"Can I help you, captain?" Calloway asked.
The captain extended his hand. "Captain Thomas Arkcana. I believe we've met before?"
Calloway simply looked at his hand, then pulled out a tricorder and examined him. "You're okay," she said bitterly. "Unfortunately."
"That will do." The captain turned and walked out the door. One of the other nurses couldn't help hearing what had gone on, and turned to Calloway. She turned away from him, but not before he noticed the tears in her eyes.
"What was that all about?" he asked.
"Nothing," she said, her voice broken up. "Nothing at all."
* * *
"Captain on the bridge," Commander Orielis said as captain Hammond stepped out of the turbo lift.
"What's our status, commander?"
"All systems ready, and ops has cleared us, sir."
The captain nodded, approvingly. "Very good, commander. Helm, retract automatic moorings, set speed to one quarter impulse."
"Aye, sir," lieutenant William Farrigut said.
The Protostar slowly left the perimeter of Deep Space Nine.
The captain sat in the center seat, followed by commander Orielis. "Set course 001 by 215, speed warp seven."
"Setting course, aye," Farrigut replied.
"Execute," the captain said.
The Protostar shot into warp.
Thomas Arkcana stood at the windows of the Protostar lounge, watching the stars fly by at warp speed. He couldn't remember the last time he was able to look out these windows, at least ones similar to them, and watch the stars fly by. He wasn't sure why, but they had a certain hypnotizing effect. In fact, he would have fallen asleep if it were not for a voice behind him.
"You know," the voice said, "You remind me of a certain boy I knew, always trying to look towards the stars for his answers."
The captain turned around, and saw the lounge bartender sitting at a table behind him. She was a long haired, dark skinned lady with a big blue hat.
"The stars must not have been on his side though, they never gave him an honest answer."
She was amusing, he thought. He was reminded of all those holo-novels where the bartender gave the hero some bit of crucial information. Perhaps this woman hoped to be so. In any case, Arkcana tended to be polite to people he had never met.
"Really," he said. "Seems like I've had that feeling for a while now."
"I think that it's a natural thing for people to do, especially when they have the feeling that they can never go home."
Arkcana felt the hair on the back of his neck rise, and his temperature grow cold. "What makes you say that?" he asked.
The lady smiled. "It's in the eyes. The way they move from star to star, searching for the one that one day may lead them home. And there's almost this look of hopeless desperation in the eyesÖ maybe even frustration."
The captain nodded. "Yeah, I guess that would sound about right."
The lady smiled again. "So what's your story, captain? What star are you looking for out there?"
Arkcana turned towards the window. "It's not really a star. More of a doorway."
"A doorway? What kind of doorway?"
"Ah," she said. "For a moment there, I was thinking that we had a lot in common."
Arkcana looked back at her. "I thought you looked familiar."
This time, the lady looked surprised. "Really? I didn't know I had a reputationÖ"
"You're that El Aurian from the Enterprise. Guinan."
"As a matter of fact, yes. And you are?"
Arkcana extended his hand. "Thomas Arkcana."
She took his hand and shook it firmly. "Captain of the shipÖ?"
The captain laughed. "No, not of a ship. Used to, but not any more."
"Really, what happened?"
"Long story," he replied. Just then, his communicator chimed.
"Captain Arkcana to the bridge."
He tapped his comm-badge. "I'm on my way," he said. "Well, maybe I'll see you around sometime."
"Yeah," Guinan said as he got up and walked away. "I'd bet my life on it."
* * *
Tom Arkcana walked onto the bridge just as the lights darkened and the red alert indicators began flashing. He saw Captain Hammond standing near Ops, so he joined him.
"What's going on?" he asked.
"We've picked up a subsonic warp trail. Mr. Kazintski has matched it up as an old Constitution Class starship, however I don't quite see how any could be patrolling the area at this time."
Arkcana grinned. Constitution Class starships had been decommissioned over eighty years ago. A few unaligned worlds had purchased them, but surely they would all be gone by now. However, he had a feeling this was no ordinary Constitution Class starship.
"I'm just taking wild shots in the dark here, but re-modulate your gamma 12 frequencies to the lower EM band, and tell me if the ship magically turns into an Excelsior Class ship."
Lieutenant Kazintski made the changes. A moment later, he said, "He's right, sir, I'm detecting a Type II Excelsior Class starship on a parallel heading."
"Damn," Arkcana said.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Hammond asked.
"He's got the Protostar."
Hammond and Kazintski both looked confused. "What do you mean?" Hammond asked. "Is he trying to ambush us or something?"
Arkcana sighed and shook his head. "No, I mean he has the Protostar. The original one, as in the one that came before this one. And trust me captain, it's a ship you don't want to tangle with."
Hammond looked even more confused. "I don't understand. As far as I knew, there was no ship previously named the Protostar."
Arkcana sighed. "Captain, I suggest you convene a meeting of the senior staff immediately. It appears that the secret has unexpectedly bubbled its way to the surface."
* * *
The senior body of the Protostar walked in and sat down at the main conference table. It was the kind of table which could seat quite a few more people than it really needed, which was something Arkcana himself had requested on the Independence. It apparently became standard. At the head of the table sat Captain Hammond. Next to him was Commander Orielis and Captain Arkcana. Next to them were the rest of the senior staff. When they all settled down, captain Arkcana got up and engaged the holographic view screen in the center of the table.
"Computer," Arkcana said, "activate security clearance Arkcana Theta-Two-Two-Sierra. Access Level 17 Starfleet Security files on the unidentified ship encountered on Stardate 4401.4, code named "USS Protostar."
Hammond looked surprised as the computer accepted the security clearance and began displaying three-dimensional schematics of what looked like some kind of Federation starship. The saucer section was similar to that of an Ambassador class ship's saucer, with what looked like armor blades running across the rear sides, and the experimental impulse drive of a New Orleans class ship. The stardrive was also similar to an Ambassador class ship, but with extended running blades similar to a Type II Excelsior class ship, and torpedo bay similar to a Constitution class ship. The warp drive looked like a cross between those of a Sovereign class and an Excelsior class ship. Altogether, it looked rather menacing.
"Just what exactly are we looking at?" Hammond asked.
Arkcana looked with a small sense of pride on the ship. "You're looking at my last command previous to the Independence."
The chief of security, H'van Steplo, spoke up. "Sir, according to Starfleet records, your command previous to the Independence was the USS Kyushu. And might I add that this design is completely unknown to Starfleet."
Arkcana smiled. Typical Vulcan behavior. That is, if he was a Vulcan. He had pointed ears, but Arkcana really couldn't tell. "Your right of course. That's what the records say. However, my official records were modified after the incident at Wolf 359. The ship you see here was a prototype ship created at the last minute as one of Starfleet's fevered anti-Borg efforts. Somewhat like the Defiant class line, except the Protostar was truly meant to be one of a kind. She is an Excalibur class vessel, with weapon systems so extraordinary, that they could be defined as illegal." He began pointing to certain areas of the ship. "The weapons bay you see here is not your standard photon torpedo bay. It's not even your standard Quantum torpedo bay. The torpedoes this thing fires were an experimental protoplasmic device, capable of twenty second antimatter recharging."
Lieutenant Kazintski laughed. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?" After a glare from Hammond, he straightened his face and added "Sir."
"It means," Arkcana said, trying to hide his own amusement at the scene, "That once this torpedo penetrates the hull, it begins releasing up to twelve ounces of antimatter per second for twenty seconds. Which is quite a bit more deadly than even today's Quantum torpedoes. Moving on," he continued, pointing to the hull section, "The phaser systems are type ten, equal to the ones on a Galaxy class cruiser. Her maximum sustainable cruise velocity is warp factor nine point seven. And she is equipped with a Romulan cloaking device."
Commander Steplo became alarmed. "What was a Federation starship doing with a Romulan cloaking device back then?"
Arkcana frowned. "As I said, this was not your normal starship. In fact, after the battle of Wolf 359, the Protostar was presumed destroyed, and Commander Shelby saw no need to make more ships like her."
Hammond sat back in his chair. "All this is rather trivial, captain. I think the real question we need to ask is, why are we having this briefing? Obviously if the ship was destroyed, you wouldn't be briefing us on it."
Arkcana frowned at him. He was starting to get the feeling that Hammond didn't exactly like him. "Captain, I can't explain it any better than you could. I saw the Protostar destroyed at Wolf 359. We assumed the reason that there was no wreckage was because of all the antimatter she was carrying. But now that I think about it, it would take only three torpedo explosions to simulate a warp core breach."
Hammond got out of his chair and began pacing the briefing room. "So you say there is a chance that the Protostar still exists. What does this ship have to do with our current mission?"
Arkcana leaned on the back of is chair and watched with amusement as captain Hammond paced the briefing room. "Valan Regnar was my science officer aboard the Protostar."
"So what? Are you suggesting that Regnar mutinied and took the Protostar?"
"Not just Regnar. The Protostar needed at least four people to work on automation alone. And he didn't have security clearance to operate the photon bays."
Lieutenant Kazintski spoke up. "The ship needed security clearance to fire torpedoes?"
Arkcana nodded. "You gotta be wielding a lot of authority to fire a torpedo of that kind of firepower."
Hammond waved it off. "Nonetheless, you're implying that Regnar now has control of this ship, with the help of someone else on your crew? Who else would that be?"
Commander Orielis finally spoke up. "Captain, when was the last time you heard from your first officer on the Protostar?"
Arkcana rubbed his chin. "I don't know. I lost contact with my entire crew after we were rescued on the Tian an men."
"Then isn't it possible that he may have control of the ship?"
Hammond held up his hands. "Now wait just a damn minute. You're talking a massive ship-wide mutiny here! Such things just don't happen on a Federation starship!"
"Captain, I know this is hard to understand. I have to remind you all that this is information is classified under level 17 clearance. Most of the information you are requesting is at level 18, which I do not have the authority to access. The simple fact is, Regnar now has access to the most powerful ship ever know to mankind, and he may just be desperate enough to use it. The crew needs to be prepared for an attack of this caliber. The shields need to be tuned to an upper EM frequency to stand some chance of having an effect. The phasers need to be tuned to 157.4. And you need to begin programming an emergency torpedo evasion program into the computer."
Hammond finally stopped pacing, and walked over to his chair. "Very well then. Lieutenant Kazintski, begin scheduling battle drills. Commander Janxton, you'll be in charge of re-tuning our defensive systems. Dismissed."
The senior officers began filing out, but captains Hammond and Arkcana stayed behind. As the door closed, Hammond turned to Arkcana.
"I don't buy it, captain."
"You don't have to. You have your orders."
"From admiral V'Chek. Not you."
Arkcana turned away from him. "Admiral V'Chek doesn't have a clue what he sent us into."
"And you do?"
Arkcana turned around and slammed his hand on the desk. "Damn it captain, I was there. You have no idea what we went through."
"No, I don't," Hammond replied angrily, "Everything about you and your doomsday starship have been carefully hidden away in one big encapsulation of history. You give us clues as to what may have happened, but what it all comes down to, is just who the hell you are."
Arkcana looked darkly at him. "Captain, you can't handle the truth."
"What makes you think that?" Hammond said. "This whole thing is just like the government cover-ups of the late 20th century. You hide the truth because you think it will lead to some kind of mass hysteria or something."
Arkcana turned away from him. "Captain," he said more calmly, "Are you aware of the theory of the Parallel Universe?"
Hammond stopped, his eyes growing bright with understanding. "You're from an Alternate Universe."
"My world is almost exactly the same as yours. The timeline was the same all up to the events surrounding the destruction of the USS Enterprise, 1701-A. Are you aware of them?"
"Yes, it was destroyed at Chal, trying to prevent Admiral Drake from starting a war with the Klingons."
"Same thing in my universe, except he succeeded. And with the help with the newly restarted protomatter research, the Federation destroyed the Klingon empire. Shortly after, we signed a treaty with the Romulans, similar to your own Khitomer Accords with the Klingons. And our first encounter with the Borg turned out differently too. We were able to capture the cube, and strip it of its technology. Of course, we never realized the whole time that there was a group of anarchists forming, who called themselves the 'Iluminati.' They managed to create a massive fleet of starships, and had sympathizers all throughout the Federation and Romulan governments. Mutinies began happening every day. The Federation lost over a third of their fleet before my crew entered this universe."
"How did that happen?" Hammond asked.
"We were on patrol in an area that you would call the Romulan Neutral Zone, when we encountered a Romulan Scout ship in distress. When we went to investigate, the ship attacked us, and we fell into some kind of quantum rupture in subspace. We tried to get out, but my chief engineer turned out to be part of the Iluminati. He beamed off the ship, and the quantum transition re-tuned subspace to your own universe. My science officer, Regnar, had figured that if we could create an artificial wormhole and re-tune the quantum transition just right, we could get back. But then we heard the distress call at Wolf 359, went and joined the battle, and the Protostar was destroyed. Or so I thoughtÖ."
Hammond walked to the conference room windows, and looked out. "So basically we have a renegade crew with one of the most powerful ships known to this universe out there. And I can guess that they with Regnar's research on Artificial Wormhole creation, they will be trying to open a doorway back to your universe. You know, I'm having a hard time seeing why we are trying to stop Regnar. He doesn't belong here, any more than that ship does."
Arkcana shut off the schematic display. "The way I see it, this mission can end in only three ways. One, we destroy the Protostar, and stop Regnar from opening that wormhole."
"Is that really necessary?"
"Compared to the other results, yes. Second scenario, we capture the Protostar, and stop Regnar. In that case, under orders we will be taking the ship back to Starbase 324, where the Federation will discover the secret of stable protomatter devices."
"What's wrong with that?"
"Captain, the kind of power these weapons have is way to much for any one government to control. I am completely faithful to the Federation, but if this power should fall into the wrong handsÖ."
"Okay," Hammond said, "You said there was a third scenario."
"Thirdly, we let Regnar go back. In that case, there will be a permanent doorway between our two universes, and my Federation will be in a position to invade this universe."
Hammond became shocked. "They would do that?"
Arkcana sighed. "Captain, you can't imagine the atrocities I've seen committed by my Federation. I had no idea what was happening when I joined. And once I started climbing the ranks, I got used to it. Even started thinking like them. But once I came hereÖ It was like a rebirth for me. I had no idea people thought like they do here."
"So your saying that the best thing to do would be to stop Regnar and destroy the Protostar. One question: How do we do that?"
Arkcana looked out the conference room window. "Captain, I have no idea. We're literally fighting our selves here."
Suddenly the ship bucked, and they could here the sound of a nearby explosion. The red alert klaxons began blaring.
"Red alert!" came the voice of Commander Orielis. "Captain to the bridge! Red alert!"
Hammond dashed out the conference room door, with Arkcana right behind him. Just before the door closed, the captain turned and looked out the conference room window, just in time to see his old ship firing a dual phaser blast directly at them.
Tom Arkcana walked onto the smoking bridge of the Protostar just as she was rocked by another phaser blast. The display panels behind commander Steplo's station exploded, sending him flying across his console. Captain Hammond ran to the center seat, and sat down, tightly gripping the arm rests.
"Report!" he yelled.
Captain Arkcana ran to Steplo, who was lying bleeding on the floor. He slapped his communicator and called, "Bridge to transporter room two, medical emergency, beam Mr. Steplo directly to sickbay!" Lieutenant Kazintski began giving the damage report as Steplo vanished in a blue transporter beam.
"Impulse engines are down, shields at forty percent."
"Helm, hard about. Lock phasers on her weapons systems and fire."
The Protostar came about, firing a dual phaser beam at the other Protostar. The ship took the hit without so much as a shudder, and responded by firing a torpedo."
"Sir, they just fired a torpedo! Sensors indicate a protomatter matrix!" Kazintski called out.
Arkcana ran to the Ops station. "Set phasers to 147.7, lock on 4 meters ahead and fire."
Just before the torpedo came into range of the Protostar, a smaller tuned phaser fired at it, causing a massive explosion.
"It worked sir," Kazintski called out. "Torpedo destroyed."
"We can't take much more of this," Hammond said. "Helm, get us out of here, maximum warp."
Arkcana looked at Kazintski's sensor readings. "Wait, no! Don'tÖ"
But it was too late. Farrigut engaged warp. As the Protostar began to form its warp field, the left nacelle shuddered. Suddenly, the plasma flow overloaded, and the nacelle exploded. On the bridge, consoles all over overloaded and exploded. The comm system above the center seat burst, sending captain Hammond across the bridge, where he hit the navigation station.
Captain Arkcana got up off the floor and looked about. Everything was dark, and there was nothing but the emergency lights. He slapped his communicator.
"Bridge to engineering, report!"
There was no response.
Except for the voice of the computer.
"Warning: Damage to warp core. Overload in five minutes."
The captain wasted no time.
"Computer, jettison the warp core, authorization Arkcana theta-two-two-sierra."
He was relieved to here the familiar whoosh of the warp core leaving the ship. A few seconds later, the ship jumped as the core exploded just underneath it. A moment later, he noticed lieutenant Kazintski picking himself up off the floor.
"Report," Arkcana ordered, as he walked toward the navigation console.
Kazintski checked his readings. "Shields are down. Weapons, communications, navigation, just about everything besides life support is off-line. We have a hull breach on deck eight, sections five through eleven alpha. Our left warp nacelle has been completely severed."
Arkcana checked the pulse of captain Hammond. He was dead.
"What about the Protostar?"
"I can't tell sir, internal and external sensors are off-line. We are completely adrift."
Arkcana moved the navigation seat aside, and checked on lieutenant Farrigut. He was still alive, but looked in bad shape.
"We have to get to engineering," Arkcana said. "Try and get those systems back online as soon as possible!" He ran to the conference room door. He had to know if the ship was still out there. As he stepped through, he got his answer without even having to see it.
He re-materialized in a purple transporter haze on board the bridge of the Protostar.
Not Hammond's ship though.
The ship had hardly changed a bit since the last time he had seen it. The navigation station still in the front, next to Ops. Tactical and science stations were along the sides of the bridge. The center seat was in the center, raised above the rest of the stations.
Like a Klingon battle cruiser, or a Cardassian Warship.
So that the rest of the crew would look up with respect.
The center seat turned.
Commander Orielis looked at him.
"Captain on the bridge," he said with a grin.
* * *
The bulkhead in sickbay popped out easily, and Kazintski crawled his way into sickbay. Commander Calloway just happened to be walking by when he caught her eye. She quickly grabbed a medical scanner and ran to him, embracing him.
"When we lost contact with the bridge, we thought the worstÖ" she almost cried.
"Hey," Kazintski said smugly. "Don't worry about me. But you need to get a medical team up there as soon as possible, some of the crew got pretty banged up. The captain is dead."
"Damn," she said. "Okay, I'll send a team up as soon as possible. In the mean time, you need to get down to engineering and get main power back online."
"We can't," Kazintski replied. "We had to jettison the warp core."
She finished scanning him. "You're all right. Well, just do the best you can. We gotta get out of here before that ship comes back."
"Captain Arkcana can handle them. It used to be his ship. I'm sure he knows its weaknesses."
Calloway turned away from him. "That is, if he isn't the one who ordered the attack."
Kazintski heard her, but he had come to know that Calloway made comments she didn't mean for anyone to respond to.
He just walked out of sickbay.
* * *
"Commander, what the hell is the meaning of this attack," the captain said angrily.
Orielis got up out of the captains chair. "Sorry about that, sir. But we had to get your attention. Wanted to make it look convincing."
"Make what look convincing?"
"I knew you didn't want to betray Starfleet, so I wanted to make it look like you were captured in the heat of battle."
Arkcana started putting two and two together. "I get itÖ" He grinned. "Good work, commander. I'll have to put you up for a promotion when we get back." He walked over to the center seat and sat down in it. "Helm, set course for the Grahalla Observatory. Warp six."
Orielis looked confused. "What about that other Protostar out there?"
"Don't worry about it," he said, grinning. "All her systems are destroyed. She'll have to be towed back to space dock to have them all rebuilt. It will be several days before she can even send out a distress signal."
"Still," Orielis said, "It won't be long before Starfleet begins to suspect something is up. It might be wise to take a hostage."
Arkcana thought about it. "I don't think I like that idea. It would give them even more reason to come looking for us. And they've already identified our warp signal."
"Well, what do you suggest?"
"Their communications systems are based on level 2 subspace signals. They are extremely easy to jam. If we set the torpedo frequency to 147.7, and detonate about five or so a few hundred kilometers from their bow, that should keep them busy for a few weeks."
"Good idea," Orielis said. "Mr. Janxton, make it so."
"Aye, sir," Lieutenant Janxton replied.
The Protostar fired five torpedoes, and then went into warp.
Tom Arkcana looked out the windows of the lounge on the Protostar, as he had a thousand times before. This time around though, the sight didn't seem too appealing. Even though he knew that his dream was about to come true.
He was going home.
He almost wished that Guinan was here.
He turned and looked, but the lounge was empty. Ironic, he thought.
Because no matter what he could call it, he had betrayed Starfleet, like he had sworn he would never do. It left him empty in side. It was a feeling he hoped he would never have again. Though he was pretty sure he would feel it for the rest of his life.
His reflections were interrupted as commander Orielis walked into the lounge. He stopped, and crossed his arms on the other end of the room. He grinned. "I had forgotten that was your favorite spot on the ship."
Arkcana turned back to the window.
Orielis came closer. "Something about a place to reflect."
"So tell me," Arkcana said, "what happened after Wolf 359?"
Orielis sat at one of the tables. "Commander Sebastian was able to jettison the warp core before it detonated. When he discovered that there was nothing wrong with the core, so he fired torpedoes at it, making it look like the ship had blown up. Then he took her to the L-45 system under emergency impulse power, and the crew that had been trapped on board were able to repair all the major systems. Then it was a matter hijacking the nearest Federation starship and stealing its warp core. They rebuilt the whole ship. Then they beamed Lieutenant Farrigut and I right off of Earth, before they put us through those ridiculous simulators. Then we got commander Regnar into the Romulan group at Starbase 324, and well, you probably can figure out the rest."
"How far has he gotten in creating the wormhole?"
"He's already done it."
Arkcana was surprised at that. "Then why haven't you left yet?"
Orielis got up. "We owe to much to you, captain. I wasn't willing to leave you behind."
Orielis began walking out of the lounge.
"Commander," Arkcana said.
Orielis turned. "Yes?"
Orielis grinned. "No problem." Then he left.
"But this dream has to end."
* * *
Lieutenant Kazintski jumped as the control panel sparked in front of him. "Damn it. Comm system is off-line again."
Commander Janxton turned to him. "Aye, if ya'd stop messin' with that thing, we'd be okay."
"We gotta get the shields back online."
Ethan laughed. "Lieutenant, it's been an hour. If that bloody ship was still out there, she'd have blown us away by now."
Kazintski scoffed. "Well, I doubt that ship would just leave us crippled like this." The console in front of him sparked again. "Aw hell. Screw it." He got up and moved to the sensor station. The console was working. "All right," he said. He tapped his comm badge. "Kazintski to Arkcana."
"I doubt the internals are working yet, mate."
"Well, we gotta give the captain a report. Computer, locate captain Arkcana."
"Captain Arkcana is not on the ship."
Ethan laughed. "I'm tellin' ya, she ain't on the up and up."
Kazintski frowned. "Diagnostics say that the internal sensors are working fine. Computer, how many people are currently aboard the ship?"
"There are currently 498 people on the ship."
"Who are the two people missing?"
"Captain Arkcana and Lieutenant Commander William Farrigut."
"When did they leave?"
"Captain Arkcana was beamed off the ship and fourteen hundred forty-seven and Lieutenant Commander Farrigut beamed off the ship forty seconds later."
"Beamed off? By who?"
"Unknown. External sensors were off-line."
Kazintski thought that one through. "So were the transporters. How did Farrigut get off the ship?"
Kazintski looked and Janxton. "Get those comm systems back online Ethan. We have a serious problem."
* * *
William Farrigut popped open the deck plating from the jeffries tube, and jumped into the hallway. Next to him was a door marked "Armory." Perfect, he thought. He walked inside.
Captain Arkcana sat on the bridge of the Protostar, and ordered standard orbit. The planet on the screen was rather beautiful. But the primary objective lie ahead of them, and Grahalla Observatory.
The Observatory was a station built in 2248 by an unknown species. The captain and his crew had first noticed it just before they got the distress call from Wolf 359. Commander Regnar had said that it was a good place to set up the equipment he needed to open the wormhole.
"Commander Sebastian, please hail the station, and clear us to dock."
"Aye, sir," the commander replied.
There was a slight shudder felt around the ship, and the sound of an explosion on board. The red alert klaxons blared. "What's going on?" Arkcana said, alarmed.
"Explosion detected level twelve, section fourteen. In the armory."
"Security forces to the armory," Arkcana ordered. He got up out of his chair. "I'm going down there. Commander, you have the bridge."
He got up and ran into the turbo lift. "Level twelve," he said as the doors shut. As the lift started to move, he pulled off his comm-badge and threw it on the floor. Then he tapped into the computer access panel on the wall. "Computer, activate Anti-Iluminati Takeover Scenario program. Engage Arkcana transport one."
He disappeared in a purple transporter haze.
* * *
"Communications systems online," Commander Janxton said.
"Good," Commander Calloway said, as she walked onto the bridge. She sat in the captain's chair. "Send out a distress signal."
Lieutenant Kazintski popped his head up from behind the navigation station. "Megan?"
"Get those engines online, mister. We have a mission to complete."
He got up. "Megan, this ship is in no condition to complete its mission."
Kazintski raised his eyebrows, and then went back to repairing the navigation station.
* * *
He re-materialized in the shuttle bay. He quickly opened the hatchway to the nearest runabout and walked inside, and sat at the pilot's seat, engaging the power systems.
"Computer, engage flight program setup. Set engine activation time for 15 minute wait. After that, launch from the shuttle bay, and set a course for a geo-synchronous orbit around the Grahalla III moon. At that time, power down all non-essential systems. Set program, authorization Arkcana lambda-four-seven-tango."
"Program set," the computer replied.
The runabout powered down its systems. He got out of the shuttle, and noticed that someone else was in the shuttle bay. He quickly ducked inside, and opened up one of the computer access terminals in the door of the shuttle. After a few changes in the curcuitry, he slapped the panel shut. "Computer, engage Arkcana transport two."
He dematerialized, and then shimmered back into existance inside transporter room three. He was surprised to see Lieutenant Farrigut standing at the console, re-wiring it.
"Commander, why aren't you on the bridge?"
Farrigut looked up, then pulled his phaser. "Wrong lieutenant Farrigut, captain."
"From the Protostar? How did you get on board?"
"I woke up a few minutes before they beamed you over. I had a personal transporter in my quarters, and it wasn't hard to track your signal here."
Arkcana got off the transporter pad. "Good work, lieutenant. I need help."
"Help?" Farrigut said with a laugh. "Help getting back to your little universe of yours? Oh yes, I know all about that. I figured it out when I saw my double on the bridge monitors."
Arkcana held up his hands. "Now wait a minute, lieutenant. I put that behind me a long time ago. I'm here for the same reason you are."
"Oh, and what would that be, captain?"
"To destroy the Protostar."
Farrigut put his phaser down. "Captain, I'm usually not one to judge character. But things are looking pretty bad for you right now."
"Don't worry," Arkcana said, joining him in re-wiring the transporter console. "I have a plan."
Just then, the transporter room doors opened, and a contingent of security officers walked in.
"Computer, activate Arkcana transport three, now."
Before the transporter field could take him, he grabbed onto Farrigut. The transporter buffer re-programmed itself for double transport, and the two of them re-materialized on the bridge.
Right in the middle of a full security force.
With a phaser pointed in Arkcana's face.
On the other end was commander Orielis.
"Captain on the bridge," Orielis said. He was not grinning this time.
"Really, captain," Orielis said with a sneer. "You don't really think that after spending nine years in Starfleet, we would have left your little mutiny-escape program active. I had a feeling you would move against us."
Arkcana stepped right into Orielis's phaser. "I'm not going to let you open that wormhole, Orielis. I'm not going to give them the chance to take over this universe."
Orielis scoffed. "What do you care about this universe? You don't belong here."
"I don't care," Arkcana said. "I'm not going back. Do you know how many nights I spent, listening to the screams of those people? Being tortured? Ripped to pieces?"
"The Klingons are animals, captain. They deserve it."
"They deserve to be free."
"Oh, and who's going to lead them? You? You know, I think it would be better if you didn't come back with us. I think I'll just kill you right here." He pressed his phaser hard into Arkcana's face.
"Go right ahead. I'd rather die then go back."
Arkcana could see the tendons in Orielis's hand strain, getting ready to press the trigger. Then he pulled the phaser away.
"No," he said. "That makes no sense. If you really would die now, then you would have no way of stopping me. Which means that you have something planned."
Arkcana smiled. "You know me well, Compton."
Orielis grinned. "And I respect you. But let me make it very clear that you owe it to this crew to get them home."
Arkcana frowned. "I'm sorry, Compton. There's nothing I can do."
"Damn it, Arkcana, the answer is lying right in your face."
"Computer, re-initialize Anti-Iluminati Takeover Scenario program."
Orielis laughed. "Is that all? Don't bother, captain. I deleted all of your evasive commands."
"Did you delete yours?"
His eyes grew wide.
"Computer, engage Orielis Transport one."
The transporter beam took hold.
The captain and lieutenant re-materialized in the runabout, now in orbit of the Grahalla III moon.
"I think I've had quite enough of that universe," Farrigut said.
Arkcana quickly sat at the pilot's seat. "Don't count your blessings too soon. They've detected us. They will intercept us in about two minutes."
"Can we outrun them?"
Arkcana laughed. "Lieutenant, that may be the funniest thing I've ever heard. This ship couldn't outrun my grandmother."
"Then what are we going to do?"
"Let me put it this way: Commander Orielis loves a good game of patty cake."
The runabout changed course, this time directly for the Protostar.
"You're on an intercept vectorÖ"
Arkcana kept his eyes on the controls. "Duh!"
As the runabout came within weapons range of the her, the Protostar fired twin phaser beams at them. The runabout shuddered under the power of them. Arkcana returned fire with an array of micro-torpedoes across her warp drive. The Protostar responded by locking a tractor beam on the runabout, and firing one torpedo at them. The torpedo hit the back end of the runabout, and the ship began to dissolve from the back end forward.
Arkcana looked at the back. The walls around him began to lose their molecular cohesion. As he began to have thoughts of how it would feel to die, he felt his own molecular structure being torn apartÖ
Only to re-materialize onto the transporter pad of the Protostar.
Commander Calloway was at the transporter controls.
"Oh damn," she said. "I guess I saved your life."
* * *
Captain Arkcana stepped onto the battered bridge of the Federation starship Protostar. Commander Orielis stood up from the captains chair.
"Captain on the bridge," he said happily.
The captain walked over and sat down in the chair. "Commander, I don't ever want to hear you say that again."
Farrigut snickered as he took the navigation station.
"Report," the captain ordered.
"They're coming about. Shields are up, weapons are online."
"Raise ours, lock phasers and photon torpedoes on their engines."
Lieutenant Kazintski looked up from the ops station. "Shields are only at nineteen percent and rising. But all our weapons systems are still off-line."
"Well, bluff them."
"Sir, they're entering warpÖ" Kazintski called out.
On screen, the Protostar shot into warp.
"Pursuit course, maximum warp! Engage!"
Farrigut turned to him. "Sir, warp drive is still off-line."
Arkcana slammed the armrest on his chair. "Damn!" he exclaimed. He hit a button on his console. "Bridge to engineering. Ethan, how are the impulse engines?"
"They're at eighty percent, sir."
"I need at least ninety. You got two minutes. Helm, lay in a course for the Observatory, maximum impulse."
"Aye, sir," Farrigut replied.
The Protostar limped its way across the horizon of Grahalla III.
A few minutes later, they entered orbit around the station.
"Report," the captain ordered.
"Scanning," Kazintski said. A few moments later, "It looks like the station is preparing to fire a major poleron beam from its main deflector array."
"How long until the photon launchers are back online?"
"The automation system is overloaded, sir," Kazintski replied. "It will have to be replaced when we get back to spacedock."
"Can they be fired manually?"
"Yeah, but it will take a few minutes."
"Do it. You got five minutes. No more."
"I'll do it in three," Kazintski said, as he left the bridge.
As the turbo lift door closed on one end of the bridge, the door on the opposite end opened, and lieutenant Steplo stepped in, and replaced the person at tactical. Arkcana got up and walked over to his station.
"How are you feeling, lieutenant?"
"I feel like a Cardassian vole."
Arkcana grinned. "I know the feeling. Do me a favor, keep a bead on any ships that might enter this system. Let me know if you pick up anything unusual."
"Sir, might I remind you that the Protostar is equipped with a cloaking device."
"I know. I've used it a few times. Unfortunately, when the AITS is engaged, it leaves a permanent imbalance in the phase transition coils."
"Oh, I forgot. You missed this mornings excitement. Well, don't worry about it. Just keep your eye out for any distortions in subspace."
"Sir," Farrigut spoke out, "The station is firing their poleron beam."
On the screen, the station began firing a massive red stream of energy into some far off area of space.
Arkcana hit his communicator. "Arkcana to Kazintski, are those torpedoes ready yet?"
"I need at least a few more seconds, sir."
"Make it quick," he said as he moved towards the helm. "Mr. Farrigut, can we block the beam with the Protostar?"
"Our shields are only up to forty percent, we won't last long."
"Do it," he ordered as he stepped up to the command chair. "Mr. Steplo, raise shields. Mr. Farrigut, take us in, best possible speed."
The Protostar moved directly into the path of the beam. The shields could only partially reroute the energy away from the ship. The deck beneath them began to shudder. Deep inside the torpedo bay, Kazintski and Janxton shoved the last torpedo into the firing bay. Kazintski hit his comm-badge.
"Kazintski to bridge, torpedoes armed. They've been set for contact detonation."
"And not a moment too soon. Lock onto the Observatory's main deflector array and launch."
Janxton opened the manual targeting panel and programmed the coordinates in manually.
"Coordinates locked," he said.
"Fire torpedoes," Kazintski replied.
Janxton hit the large, red button under the launch controls.
They heard the whoosh of escaping air.
The mechanical clang of torpedoes launching.
The two torpedoes flung from the torpedo bay, and found their home on the main deflector array of the observatory. The poleron beam died down. After massive electrical surges all over the power grid, the main reactor blew.
The Grahalla Observatory exploded in a brilliant white cloud of light.
On the bridge, Arkcana relaxed back in his chair.
Only to be knocked out of it by the shock of a phaser hit a moment later.
"Hard to starboard! Return fire!" Arkcana yelled, as he got back up in the center seat.
Kazintski and Janxton stumbled onto the bridge. Janxton activated the engineering station behind the tactical station. "Sir," Janxton said, "she can't take much more of this pounding. Shields are at seventeen percent. Phasers and torpedoes still off-line."
Arkcana threw his hands up in the air. "I should have stayed on the other ship. All right, Mr. Kazintski, evasive pattern delta. Try and keep ahead of them."
The Protostar flung to the left, just as a torpedo flew aimlessly past them. As the Protostar swung right, the other Protostar caught them in a dual crossfire of phasers.
Janxton grabbed hold of his console as he almost fell out of his chair. "Impulse engines at fifty percent! Shields are starting to buckle!"
As the Protostar from the alternate universe flew across the bow of the USS Protostar, she fired one last torpedo at them, which struck and latched onto the shuttle bay. The back end of the ship started to dissolve.
"Shields are gone! Direct hit on the back end of the ship, the entire shuttle bay is gone!" Janxton reported frantically.
"Don't worry," Arkcana said, "We still have impulse engines, if we can out-maneuver them long enough, we'll be fine."
The ship trembled again. Kazintski looked up with a grin. "Impulse engines off-line."
Lieutenant Farrigut turned to the captain. "I've lost helm control. The ship is adrift."
Arkcana laughed. "Okay, now we can worry."
Kazintski lost his grin. "They're coming around for another pass!"
"Abandon ship," Arkcana said. "All hands toÖ" He was about to finish when lieutenant Kazintski interrupted him again.
"Sir, I'm detecting another ship entering the systemÖ. It's the Enterprise!"
* * *
Captain Jean-Luc Picard sat down in the command chair of the Enterprise-E. The new holographic view screen showed the badly damaged USS Protostar about to take another hit from an attacking vessel that resembled a Federation starship. They had been patrolling the Romulan Neutral Zone when they received the distress call from the Protostar only a few hours before. It looked like they had reached them just in time.
"Lieutenant Yorel, lock phasers onto their weapons array and fire."
The Enterprise flew gracefully between the two Protostars, firing a massive phaser burst at the attacking one. The beam hit home on the torpedo bay, and the force of the impact was enough to knock the ship off its course.
"Number one, hail the Protostar."
"Aye, sir," first officer William Riker replied.
A few moments later, the face of captain Arkcana appeared on the screen.
"Your timing was wonderful, Enterprise," Arkcana said.
"What is your condition, captain?" Picard asked.
"We've lost weapons, propulsion, shields, basically we're a big chunk of metal floating in space."
"Where is captain Hammond?"
"He was killed in the first attack."
Suddenly the sensor alert alarm went off. Commander Data turned to captain Picard. "Sir, I'm detecting a massive energy surge on the attacking vessel."
Picard got up out of his chair. "On screen."
The screen changed to show the other Protostar tumbling end over end, as electrical energy surged throughout the whole vessel. Then suddenly, the ship ripped itself apart at the saucer section, exploding in a massive ball of fire.
"My GodÖ" Picard breathed.
* * *
Arkcana looked away as the flaming remains of his old ship began to fall towards the planet. "Thank God," he said under his breath.
Commander Orielis looked at him. "I'm sorry, Tom."
Arkcana turned back to the crew. "Well, at least one good thing came out of this."
Orielis frowned. "What's that, captain?"
Arkcana shrugged. "I don't know." He grinned. "I just had to say something. May as well been that."
Captain Arkcana stepped up to the podium in the Protostar's main lounge. He looked over the crew, and then lifted the padd in front of him.
"Captain Thomas Dwayne Arkcana, you are hereby requested and required to take command of the USS Protostar, effective this date, signed Admiral V'Chek, Starfleet command."
The crew in front of him clapped. Commander Orielis got up, walked to the podium, and shook the captains hand. "Let's just hope you're not taking command of a permanent hunk of junk," he said, laughing. The entire crew laughed with him.
The captain turned back to the crew. "Well, I was just over on the Enterprise communicating with Starfleet Command. You will all be happy to know that our next stop is McKinley Station for a total refit. And all of you are scheduled for shoreleave."
The crew cheered at that. They then commenced mingling together. Arkcana headed towards the bar, but was stopped by lieutenant Janxton.
"Um, sir, did Starfleet happen to mention what type refit?"
"Well, obviously we are in for a new warp core. And a good one too, just like the one they got on the Enterprise. Both warp nacelles are being replaced. The shuttle bay is being rebuilt, and they have a new design idea they are going to incorporate, and it's going to allow them to add a DEM, which has already been built. And I guess they will be adding a docking port for attack shuttles underneath the saucer section."
"What about the torpedo bays?"
"They're being incorporated into the DEM."
Janxton shook his head. "You know, I really don't know what to thinkÖ"
"Why is that?"
"Well, I'm glad we're getting all this new stuff, but we just got out of spacedockÖ"
* * *
Megan took a sip of her Andorian ale. Kazintski was sitting next to her, drinking whatever the hell he was drinking.
"Look Megan, I'm not saying it would be bad, it's justÖ"
"Tony, your being an asshole."
Just then, commander Orielis walked up and sat down next to her. "Yeah, no kidding. He could have been faster about getting those torpedoes working."
"That's not what I was talking about," she said. "He's afraid of commitment."
Orielis looked at her incredulously.
"That's not what I said," Kazintski said, frustrated. "I just said that I don't think we're ready to go there yetÖ"
Orielis held up his hands. "You knowÖ I don't even want to get into this oneÖ"
Captain Arkcana walked up behind him. "Get in the middle of what?"
Megan turned away.
The captain saw her do it.
"Commander," he said coming up behind her, "I didn't get a chance to thank you, for saving my life."
"Your welcome," she said, without turning.
"Well, I just thought you'd like to know that your request for a transfer wasn't accepted." And with that, he walked away.
Kazintski turned to her. "You signed up for a transfer?"
"No," she said.
* * *
Several hours later, captain Arkcana stood by the windows of the Protostar lounge, watching the stars fly by at warp. Some of them were partially blocked by the view of the Enterprise's tractor beam on them. But that didn't make the scene any less beautiful. In fact, he found the re-modulating tractor beam even more hypnotic.
"You know, it doesn't look quite as graceful as the last one."
Arkcana turned to see Guinan standing behind him. He looked back at the massive form of Enterprise-E. "I don't knowÖ I kind of like it."
"Well, that's probably the standard Starfleet viewpoint. But you never really struck me as the Starfleet type."
He sighed. She was right. He never was the Starfleet type. That's why Admiral Hastor had let him into Starfleet.
That got his attention.
He turned to her. "What do you mean?"
"The look in your eyes, they've changed. Your not looking for that one star that will one day take you home. That look of desperation is gone. It's more a look of admiration now. I'd compare it to the look in Picard's eyes just before Wolf 359. Huh." She turned, and began walking away. "Must come with the command."
As she walked off, he turned back to the window. She was right. He was no longer looking for that one star he could call home.
Because he had already found it.
This whole thing reminded him of the plaque on the bridge of his new command.
* * *
You know a dream is like a river
ever changing as it flows
and the dreamers just a vessel
that must follow where it goes
To be continuedÖ
Be sure to catch Mike Wright's latest work!!
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