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>> Star Trek fan fiction >> Columbia >> Under the Microscope

Under the Microscope

Captain's Personal log,
Stardate 50802.4

It's like a warm bath. I'm back in my old ready room, in my old chair, drinking coffee from my old mug. It seemed like a good time to finally get around to recording a personal log. The Columbia has been restored, and in two weeks we'll be off again, though it's likely to be someplace quiet. Which is just fine with me.

The Columbia should be floating junk right now. Utopia Planitia was about to recommend she be scrapped, because of the horrific damage the Borg had done. Not on my watch. There are some great rumors floating around, about how I got Admiral Kozlov to change his mind about the Columbia. Some flattering, some...not so.

The truth is alot simpler. I mearly walked into his office, and started talking. No fist pounding, no drawn phasers. Just talk. I told him the Columbia may be an old, beat up Excelsior, but it was my old, beat up Excelsior. That ship had saved my life more times than I could count, and dammit, I was going to return the favor. I would not allow her to be scrapped. Something bold like that. The Admiral said, "You forget yourself Captain, you have no say in what happens here." He seemed to consider the matter closed. Rumors of shouting and breaking glass are greatly exaggerated. Well, at least the glass part. Anyways, I ended up calmly explaining the Columbia wasn't a ship to me. It was an old friend. At that, something seemed to change in the Admiral. He stood and walked to his window, in time to see a brand new Steamrunner pass. "Captain" he said, "I used to Command a Miranda Class." Then he walked over to a model on a stand and picked it up, he seemed quite fond of it. "Called the Majestic. Big name for a little ship. Still in service today, as a matter of fact." When I looked at him, I could swear he was misty eyed. He continued. "That ship was home, family and friend to me. I do miss her". He looked out the viewport again. "I was on the fence about Columbia. Perhaps we can spare a dock. I'll recommend Columbia be repaired." I probably shouldn't have hugged him, but it seemed appropriate.

I'm not ashamed to admit, at least to my log, that I got staggerin drunk with Davis and Mushahsi that night. On beer, the real stuff, with real alcohol in it. Mr Davis went home with Mushashi, and I went home alone. Again. Oh well, with Columbia I don't need sex. If I say it enough, I can convince myself.

We had another, somewhat larger party for Mushashi. She is a great tactical officer, and it has paid off for her. She's been promoted and shiped off to the Repulse. She'll be the first officer. I'm really proud of her. I'm expecting her replacement anytime now.

Hmm, what else? Oh! my Mother has shown some improvement over the past few weeks. The doctor seems to think it's because of my presence. Unfortunately, I won't be around for her much longer.

Captain Rees ended her log on that sad note, and began checking the latest intelligence reports on the Dominion, when her door chimed.

"Come in" she said. She thought it would likely be Mushashi's replacement.

It was. The door slid open to reveal most of her visitor. The top of his head was blocked from view by the doorframe. He ducked in and said, "Captain, Lieutenant Raj Ramast reporting for duty."

He was huge, as were most of his race. The Brikar were from a planet of the same name on the edge of federation space. They'd been members for about 15 years. The average Brikar male was 6 foot 9 and weighed 500 pounds. Raj Ramast was just average. Brikar strength was already becoming legendary, thier muscle density was incredible. That accounted for thier high weight, and very low body fat content.

It was the first time Rees had seen a Brikar up close, and she tried her best not to look impressed. This guy could step on a Ferengi and not notice.

"Welcome aboard Mr Ramast."

"Thank you Captain."

Rees started on the small talk. "Have you been to your quarters yet? They're not Galaxy Class by any means, but I like em."

Ramast could only respond with, "No, not yet ma'am."

"Hmmph. Well, I'm sure they'll be satisfactory, by the way...

Ramast couldn't concentrate. Beads of sweat broke out all over his bald head. He squeezed his hands into fists, his breath became short, erratic. Was he dizzy? Yes! Steadying himself on the back of a chair, he studied her further. Oh, she was gorgeous! Beautiful, deep green eyes. Small, smooth hands. A wonderfully proportioned body, so...enticing. Her hair, just touching her shoulders, and it was red...RED! He watched her lips, still moving up and down. Even her eyebrows were seductive, although now they seemed to be forming a frown. A frown?

Rees repeated herself, "I said, are you alright Lieutenant?"

"I'm fine, yes Ma'am."

Rees thought she'd let him off the hook. "Alright Mr. Ramast, why don't you go sort yourself out."

"Certainly Captain." Raj said, not moving.

"You're dismissed." Rees replied, slightly bemused.

Ramast mumbled, "Of course." He finally started towards the door, only to hit his head on the doorframe with a loud CRACK.

Rees had her hand over her mouth. He'd hit it so hard, she thought. He must be about to pass out. The Brikar kept walking, apparently unaware he'd just cracked his Captains doorframe. Actually he probably had no idea, considering the extreme thickness of his skin and skull. She shook her head and picked up a datapadd, hoping Mr. Ramast wasn't as bad as his first impression.


"I'd like to pull a 6 more crewmen from alpha shift to work on it sir." 67 year old Lieutenant Franklin Dalhousie said has he looked alternately from Commander Davis to the floor.

"Is that really necessary Dalhousie?" Davis questioned. "It's not like we're pressed for time out here."

"Well no Sir, that's the truth. You never know when we may not have the time, however. I'd like to get all these little things done before we get shot at again."

"Who said anything about getting shot at?" Rees asked.

"Well Ma'am, this is Starfleet. We seem to be getting shot at alot lately.

Rees and Davis looked at each other. Rees shrugged, a motion that suggested to Davis "up to you".

Davis relented. "Alright, you can have the help, but let's not make it a habit to pull overtime like this."

"Yes sir! Thank you both sirs!" With that, Dalhousie quickly left the ready room, off to find 6 unlucky participants to help him improve the ships subpar sublight efficiency. Rees thought he was an excellent engineer, if a bit of a busy body.

"We'll have to keep an eye on him, he'll run everyone ragged." Rees said.

Davis nodded. "I guess everyone's looking for something to do. It's abit lonely out here in sector 421." He handed Rees a datapad. "Heres what the latest scans of the federation frontier found."

Rees looked at the data as it scrolled before her. Absolutely nothing unordinary. Hell, for that matter, not much of anything ordinary. Not even any shipping activity for the last 6 and a half hours. This area of space didn't have any major shipping lanes, but still, this was getting ridiculous.

Davis yawned. "Gotta love shakedown time. Maybe I'll have a nap." He proceeded to make himself comfortable on her ready room couch.

"Well, at least our shakedown time won't be as long as a brand new ship. This one is only about 40 percent new."

"I hear ya. Dalhousie sure loves that new core doesn't he?" Davis did an immitation of Dalhousie's english accent. "6.5 percent more efficient at warp 7!"

Rees chuckled, "that's pretty good Commander. Lieutenant Ramast is very impressed with our new sensor package too."

"That's not the only package he's impressed with." Davis said cryptically.

Rees hardly noticed, she was looking at her datapad again. "Oh what else does he like?"



"He likes you." Davis wore a thin smile.

Rees didn't like where this was going. "You mean he thinks I'm a good Captain, he likes my style of Command."

"Oh I'm sure he does." Davis stood up, stretched and ordered coffees. "Two coffees, one black, one double sugar." The replicator dutifully filled the orders. Davis gave the Captain the double sugar.

"Mitch, get on with it," she said, and took a sip of coffee.

"He's in love with you."

Danielle Rees was overcome by a coughing fit, as she breathed in an ugly mix of coffee and oxygen. "You are... not...funny sometimes."

"Oh I'm afraid this is no joke Captain." Davis replied as he slapped his commanding officers back. "Don't tell me you haven't noticed."

Rees finally go hold of herself. "You mean the way he looks at people?"

"He only looks that way at you, Danni."

All she could manage was, "Oh no."

"What?" Davis said, smiling. "Imagine your children! Wouldn't you like to have some one hundred pound two year olds running around? I suppose childbirth would be hell, but..."

She tried to give him an evil look, but failed utterly when she was wracked by another bout of coughing. Then the Brikar's voice could be heard over the comm system. "Ramast to Captain Rees."

"Rees here, go ahead."

"Captain, we've arrived in the Funama system. We've just recieved a distress signal.

Perhaps sector 421 was about to get interesting, she thought. "We're on our way."


The Funama system was relatively unremarkable. Rees had decided to pass through and do some more comprehensive scans. Starfleet had sent the Grissom to have a look a few months ago. They found a Red Giant, alot of asteroids, and 8 planets. Two of them M-class. That was what the Columbia found now. Plus a distress call.

As the C.O and X.O walked onto the bridge, they saw Lt. Thievin at ops, Ensign Telar at the helm, Lt. Ramast at Tactical, and Lt. Dalhousie working at the engineering station. On the viewscreen were thousands of asteroids and a lovely blue gas giant.

"All stop, put it on speakers Lieutenant." Rees ordered.

A good deal of static, and some completely unintelligible language could be heard.

"It was much cleaner before Captain, it seemed very weak, got stronger, then became weak again." Ramast explained.

"What's the source of the signal?" Davis asked.

"It's bearing 010 mark 109." Ramast looked confused now, his great brow furrowing, making wrinkles run halfway up his bald head. "This is strange, the source of the transmission appears to be just 1000 kilometers away...inside the asteroid field surrounding the sixth planet."

The Captain tried to work it out. "That doesn't seem right does it. It would have to be an exceedingly weak transmitter to give us a terrible message so close. Scan the area again, check for ion trails. Perhaps someone is in there with a small ship and we haven't noticed them yet." She listened again to the distress call. "Mr Thievin, why hasn't the Universal translator figured that out yet?"

"It's probably the poor signal Captain. It's only getting about a quarter of the words it needs to create a proper translation matrix. I'll try to boost the gain, see if I can't clean this up alittle."

Davis turned to the Tactical station. "Your scans find anything?"

"No sir."

Thievin spoke up. "Captain, the signal is just too weak. I can't get anything else out of it."

"Mr Ramast," Rees said. "You told me the signal was very weak, then gained strength, then became weak again. Correct?"

"Yes Captain..."

"Well, it shouldn't do that, not at sublight speeds. Unless the message really was very weak, but very close. Ensign, back us up. Half impulse."

Telar complied with her customary "Aye sir."

The Columbia reversed herself, and the signal gained strength until finally it was free of noise. "All stop," Rees commanded. It was true, it wasn't weak because of great distance, but because of the miniscule size of the transmitter. Who would build such a tiny thing?

With some real information to go on, the Universal translator began giving them Federation Standard within minutes.

"...require your assistance..(unintelligable) imminent danger. Please assist. "

"Hail them Lieutenant" Rees ordered.

"They are responding Captain."

"On screen."

They were hairy creatures. Actually more like fur, with large forward facing eyes, very large hairless ears. Almost like a ferengi. Tiny noses, barely visible through the fur, and small mouths. If Rees had to describe them in one word, she'd say...cute. Unlike any alien she'd seen before however. This was first contact.

"I'm Captain Danielle Rees of the United Federation of Planets.."

Before she could finish she was interrupted. "I am Flin, leader of Forger colony. On behalf of my people I say to you Welcome!"

"Thank you Flin," Rees replied amicably, "but I'm somewhat confused. You say you have a colony there? How many of you are there? And where exactly are you?"

Flin smiled. "Well well, inquisitive people aren't you? They are good questions though, you bet they are. First off, there are oh, about 20,000 of us. Second, we're about 1000 kilometers from your current postion."

Davis spoke everyone's thoughts. "Sorry, but that's impossible. 1000 kilometers from here there are only asteroids. There's no way 20,000 people could be on one of those."

Flin was still smiling. "Well certainly not people of your size, oh no no no. For us? Oh it's quite large enough. You see, we are but a fraction of your size. I hope this comes out properly in translation. We are one centimeter tall.

Rees couldn't believe it. She'd just made first contact with a race that was about as large as the width of her little fingernail.

Act 4

The bridge was silent for a few seconds, as the crew exchanged incredulous looks. Finally Davis managed to speak. "Impossible...that's unbelievable."

Ensign Telar turned in her chair at the conn. "Commander, to say 'impossible and unbelievable' are both illogical responses." She looked now at the Captain. "Sir, we should not think every race in the universe will be similar in size to us. There are sure to be some smaller, and some larger". She looked at Ramast as she said the last.

"Ensign, Mr Ramast can hardly be compared with these...what do you call yourselves?"

Flin said "Forgers will do quite well ma'am, thank you."

Ensign Telar spoke again, "it seems unlikely, and perhaps it is quite rare Captain." She gestured at the viewscreen. "Yet there here is proof."

"Beings of this size must very very rare," Thievin responded, "otherwise wouldn't we have found some before?"

Flin chose this time to speak. "Let me ask you this. If you were our size, would you want to be found?"

Davis chuckled, "He's got ya there Greg."

"Mr. Ramast" Rees said, "do a sensor sweep of the area, see what you find."

Ramast nodded in answer. In just a few seconds he had answers. "Captain, there are indeed 20 miniscule habitations on one of the asteroids.

The Captain turned back to the viewer. "Why would you want to be found now Flin?"

"Because," Flin bowed his head as he spoke. "We are in danger."

"What kind of danger?"

Flin sighed, and looked abit sad. "A long, long time ago, we set out from our home planet to set up colonies on the 7th planet. There was one large ship, carrying many of our people and terraforming equipment. We were doing quite well, until we experienced engine problems a short distance from here. We decided to try a landing on one of the asteroids before we fell into the atmosphere of the Blue planet. We managed to crash land on the asteroid we occupy now. We lost communications after the landing, and have no contact with the homeworld since. It took many generations for us to get to this point. Self sufficiency." He walked around what looked like a control room and smiled widely. "We have schools, hospitals, libraries! We've dug mines, processed the ore, and built new habitats. We've even managed to build a few small ships. All on an asteroid with no atmosphere. Of course, we needed a way to defend ourselves from other meteors. Most of them are in a stable orbit, but occasionally there are roques. So we built a laser defence system, which worked perfectly for us many times. Until last week, when it failed completely. Several of our generators have gone down. We don't know why yet, but I have been assured they will be online before day's end. None of this concerns you Captain. The thing is, we need your help. Our tracking system has picked up a rather large asteroid on a collision course. It will impact Forger in two hours. You can see our dilemma.

Rees quietly said "Indeed."

Flin heard the disturbence in her voice. "Of course, it shouldn't be much trouble for you to destroy the meteor. Even push it away, I'm not too fussy of course!"

"I see" she replied, quieter still.

"So you'll help us then Captain?"

"No Flin, we will not."

Act 5

Captain Rees and Commander Davis sat in the ready room. Neither had spoken for what seemed like five minutes. Davis was beginning to see his Captain in another light. A decidedly unflattering one. He tried to keep the anger out of his voice. "You won't help them because of the Prime Directive?"

"Why do you sound so disbelieving Mitch? You know as well as I do they have no where near 20 us developmentally!"

"Captain...Danielle. Maybe we would be violating the Prime Directive if we did assist these people, but we would only be violating the letter of the law. Not the spirit."

Rees stood and clasped her hands behind her back. She walked to the viewport and looked down at the asteroid field. Lieutenant Ramast had confirmed the two asteroids were on a collision course. He had also confirmed there were 20,102 people on Forger. "My hands are tied Mr. Davis. You know we have no options here, we can only let them solve thier own problems, or..."

"Or what Captain?" Davis said, his voice growing still. "Let them die?"

Now Rees was getting angry. "Mitch damn it! Don't make this anymore difficult for me." She pointed a finger out the window. "They are at least 200 years behind us. The Prime directive is in place so that Starship Captains don't run around playing God with less advanced civilizations. That's what we would be doing here. I'll have no part of it."

Davis thought there was something else. He decided to test her. "Is that the only reason, Captain?"

Rees scowled at him. "Of course Commander. What else could there be?"

"Well, it's hard to say. We both know there would likely be a formal inquiry, perhaps even a court martial. You'd almost certainly lose your rank."

"You're not suggesting to me I'd let those people die because I'm afraid I'd lose my rank and ship are you?"

"To tell you the truth Captain, I'd almost prefer it. That I can understand. Letting 20,000 people die because they're in the grey area of an abstract principle? That somehow seems worse."

She could barely contain herself. "Get out of here. Now."

Davis made an exaggerated salute, then turned and left.

Rees watched him go, and as she did, she wondered. What was the real reason? If she did nothing, she would retain the ship and her rank, but at what cost? Certainly she would lose the respect of almost the entire crew. Except Telar and Ramast. They both supported her decision. If she saved the Forgers, she would likely lose her Captaincy. Or worse, be kicked out altogether. She rolled it over and over in her head. She sat for 10 minutes thinking of the possibilites. Then she made a shocking and somewhat depressing realization. He was right. She hadn't been thinking about the Prime Directive. What the hell was she worried about? Her Captaincy! Mitch was right. Rees didn't waste one more second.

As she walked on the bridge she said, "Mr Ramast, hail Forger colony for me."

"Aye Captain." He paused slightly. "On screen."

"Captain! Have you changed your mind?" Flin said with watery eyes.

"Well..." She tilted her head slightly. "Have you been crying?!"

"Yes, as a matter of fact. We're all going to die horrible flaming deaths! Do you know what will happen Captain? Our world is about to be broken into chunks of molten goo! None of us will survive. We're all terrified, and alittle upset, so YES we have been crying."

Rees rolled her eyes slightly. They'd tried to make her feel guilty before. This time it actually worked. "I'm very sorry for the delay Flin...Of course we'll help you."

The viewscreen erupted in laughter and celebration as all the forgers in view jumped for joy. It could've been new years eve. "Thank you Captain! Thank you!"

She only nodded and said, "You're welcome."

Lieutenant Ramast spoke over the partying on the viewer. "I have a tractor lock on the asteroid Sir."

"Go ahead Lieutenant." Rees smiled as Ramast engaged the tractor beam. She'd done the right thing today. She'd done what she'd originally come into Starfleet to do.

Back in her ready room, Captain Rees looked over the monitor at Davis, who gave her a wink. "Yes, I understand Admiral." She said.

The Admiral was obviously not in a good mood today. "Hmph. Under normal circumstances, you'd be ordered back to earth. Immediately. These, however, are not normal circumstances. We need every ship, every Captain we have. You're a good one. This is also your first violation. Not like that...Picard." He said his name like a curse. "In short, you're getting off easy. There will be a reprimand on your permanent record. It will likely keep you from ever becoming an Admiral. We will also be keeping a very close eye on you Captain Rees. Do not disappoint me. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes Admiral." She couldn't help herself. She smiled. "Quite clear sir."

"Hrmph. I hope you're still wearing that smile in a couple of weeks."

"What do you mean Sir?"

"Your time in sector 421 is over Captain. Your shakedown is being cut short."

Rees had a sense of foreboding. "Where are we going?"

"To the front Captain. Straight to hell."

Read more from Columbia and Jarret S. Ronning.
Jarret S. Ronning
On Site

Follow Captain Danielle Rees and the crew of the USS Columbia.

Evil Must Be Opposed.
-- Vedek Yassim,

(DS9: Rocks and Shoals)
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