1:1 (Prologue: Odysseus) Edit
Three Klingon birds of prey decloaked, between the disabled ship and the USS Cooper.
"This is Captain Richard Malcolm calling the three Klingon vessels, please respond."
"I repeat, this is Captain Malcolm calling the three Klingon vessels, please respond."
"I repea-..." Captain Malcolm was interrupted by his tactical officer.
"Sir the Klingon vessels are powering weapons."
"Tactical, raise shields and ready weapons," Malcolm ordered, "helm, attack pattern delta four." The Klingon vessels opened fire, and as the bridge began to shake Malcolm gave the order to return it. Focusing phaser fire on the centre bird of prey in an attempt to push through their lines to aid the disabled ship, draining it's shields first then come the torpedoes to inflict maximum damage to any opposing vessel. The Klingon lines buckled in the centre as the Cooper pushed through, now being flanked on both it's port and starboard sides.
"Ops, ready on the transporter, sets of 20 each," Malcolm orders, receiving a 'yes captain' in response. Malcolm scans the viewscreen waiting for his opportunity. As the ship baring down on their port side became disabled, the third Klingon vessel broke off it's attacks and recloaked itself in retreat. "Lower the shields, begin transporting the Kobayashi Maru crew over, but don't wait for my orders to raise them again, we need to move quickly."
Only a dozen or so seconds past before six more Klingon vessels decloaked off the starboard side, firing torpedoes slamming into the neck and pylons of the USS Cooper and Kobayashi Maru.
"Sir, the Kobayashi Maru's core is about to breach!" The tactical officer reported as the bridge crew reorientated itself after the shock of the impacts.
"Did we get the crew over?"
The Klingon vessels circled round the two federation ships, just as the Kobayashi Maru's core breached and a brilliant flash engulfed the Cooper.
KOBAYASHI MARU SIMULATION COMPLETE
The light diminished leaving Malcolm alone in what was once the bridge of the Cooper, now transformed into a bare, perfectly rectangular room. Malcolm reached for his padd attached to his belt to view his results on the test.
CMDR: RICHARD MALCOLM
PLAN OF ACTION: ENGAGE IN COMBAT, ONLY IF PROVOKED
ENEMY DESTROYED: 0
ENEMY DISABLED: 2
ALLY CREW SAVED: 40 -TRANSPORTER
OUTCOME: ALLY WARP CORE BREACHED IN COMBAT, DESTROYED BOTH SHIPS.
Few hours past, Malcolm, how out of his cadet uniform and in his civilian clothes, returned to his apartment on the 2nd floor. Scanning his access card and stepping in, he greets his wife, Ellie Malcolm.
"Hiya..." she called from the lounge, "how'd it go?"
"It's the Kobayashi Maru," she noted in response, "it's a no-win senereo, meaning no one passes."
"Oh I know that," Malcolm replied while throwing his bag in her general direction pretending to aim for her. "I mean the administration felt that my results did not recommend me for command."
"Oh no!" She exclaimed.
"Yep," Malcolm looked over at a door at the end of the hallway, an orange light casing through the doorway. "How's Paul been?" He asks Ellie.
"He has good days and bad days. Today..." She raised each of her hands, "could be both. Honestly not sure how to ask."
Malcolm pushed the the door opened slowly revealing a man in his mid-twenties, Paul Miller, rummaging through his draws for pencils or pens. Paul had always been considered a bit off, twin brother of Ellie, she was encouraged to take up medicine to look after him. While Ellie, however, had a medical approach, Paul had always been for interested in engineering, how things work, how things linked with each other. They were always there for each other, so when Ellie and Richard moved in together, so did Paul. Malcolm did not particularly like this, not that he'd ever admit that of course. He understood how important Paul was to Ellie.
"Hi Paul," Malcolm said gently while knocking on the side of the door.
"Yes, erm, hello Richard," Paul awkwardly stammered.
"You been okay?"
"Erm, no I've hit a block while trying to compensate for the manfuncution in the deflector dish." Paul responded rubbing his head, "For some reason in the simulations, whenever it reaches 40%, the dish kind of... Well explodes."
"Maybe if I just had a fresh perspective," Paul interrupted, "I just nee-"
"Paul," Malcolm said, a little bit more assertively this time, "You were transferred off the Shinwari, the modifications you made didn't work, the overload injured several crewmen."
"But I can fix it this time, I just need a second chance."
"Paul!" Malcolm stopped himself realising that shouting would not get him anywhere. "When was the last time you ate?"
"Oh I had some toast before."
"Yeah? That was this morning, you telling me you haven't ate in over twelve hours?" Malcolm moved forward and picked up a new padd he had never seen before. "What's this you're working on?" Turning it on, he read the title 'Odyssey' before Paul stanched it from his hands.
"My new I idea, I'm planning to pitch it to Starfleet in the morning."
Ellie was woken by the sound of her alarm clock, looking over at the other side of her bed seeing a note laying on the pillow aside her. Picking it up, she read the words:
"Sorry, early call, see you tonight- Rich xx"
Ellie moved into the kitchen and saw Paul sitting at the table reviewing a padd.
"Hiya twinsies," Ellie said while rapping her arms around him. "Watcha reading?"
"Oh I'm looking over the my presentation for Starfleet."
"You're going to do great," Ellie said supporting, "You're not going to tell me what it is now are you?" Paul put down the padd and looked over in response.
"Will you be there for me?"
"I'll be watching in the audience if you want." Ellie knew that he would rather it be her doing the presentation than him, despite his hesitation to share that the presentation is about even about. Probably in worry of what she might say. Paul right now has only been comfortable with telling her the title: 'Odyssey.'
"The Sagittarius Spheroidal Dwarf Galaxy," Paul told the room just as Ellie sat down next to the fat faced admirals and fresh off the line captains that comprised up the audience. "A dwarf galaxy orbiting our own, around 60 thousand light years from the edge of federation space. In recent months, Starfleet intelligence and vessels on the outer edges of our space have begun to receive this message..." Paul then pressed a button on his remote and what sounded like a digitised scratching and mess of various noises that hurt Ellie's ears and evidently caused discomfort to the rest of the crowd. "A compressed data stream. Evident of an advanced civilization. Starfleet intelligence has estimated that the signal originated in the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy and I propose that we investigate."
"Well as you said, Mr Miller," an admiral said from the crowd opposite Ellie, "Starfleet intelligence has already begun to investigate this matter."
"Sir I do not believe that we can know all we need to know by analysing data streams," Paul interjected, and prepared himself for saying what he knew would cause the most amount of uproar. "I propose that we investigate... by sending a ship."
This caused a considerable response for the audience. Some of the crowd were enthusiastic, some, unfortunately what seemed to be the majority, had reservations at best.
"This is preposterous," called out another one of the admirals, "it'll take our fastest ships decades to make that kind of journey, and even then we don't even know what we will find." Ellie knew all too well who the admiral was, Admiral Galeb, he was the one who had Paul and Ellie transferred off the Shinwari after the accident, there were rumours that he was a Section 31 collaborator however those rumours mysteriously disappeared.
"What if I told you that I could reduce that journey time to one twentieth?" This caused a mutter spread across the crowd. Admiral Galeb looked over his shoulder and looks back.
"Go on Mister Miller."
"Introducing 'project Odyssey'" Paul clicked on his remote again and displayed a diagram of the innards of a starship but almost completely redesigned. "Named after the mythical traveller Odysseus. While using the data on the Borg transwarp conduits and the Underspace utilised by species in the Delta quadrant, collected by the USS Voyager, I have been able to calculate the conditions required to create a modified warp field that could theoretically propel any starship within the field extraordinary speeds. Essentially turning the starship to be inter-galactic capable. We are explorers, are we not? My calculation will open up a whole new frontier to explore."
Some of the crowd started to clap at this point and a captain in front of Ellie raised his hand to ask a question.
"So what does it say?" He inquired, a subject that Paul strangely has avoided. "The message signal I mean."
"We don't know," Paul said quietly. "Starfleet intelligence has been unable to..."
"So you are suggesting that we send a ship on a years long journey to another galaxy and we will not know if there is even anything there until we arrive." Admiral Galeb interrupted.
"Sir this could be evidence of another advanced sentient life form beyond inter-galactic space." Paul insisted, "is that not worth checking out? Think of the technologies and cultures we could discover!"
"Yes, Mister Miller, it could be another benevolent species that could help us and guide us like the Andorians or the Vulcans," the admiral said starting to become annoyed at Paul's insistence, "but on the other hand, which I believe is far more likely, could be another warlike species that would like nothing more than to destroy our way of life such as the Klingons or the Dominion. We have growing threats here now, Mister Miller; the Klingons are refusing to give up the lands they annexed from the Cardassians during the Dominion war; the Tholians have began a push into unclaimed space; and leaked information on the actions of Captain Sisko have resulted in the Romulans backing out of their alliance with us. We need every ship and resource available securing the safety of every world under our protection. I appreciate the thought but the last thing we need right now is another Dominion becoming aware of our location. And that is not even taking into account the fact that your proposed engine might not even work." The Admiral stood up from his seat and declared this meeting over. Paul closed his eyes as many of the admirals also got up and left, clearly being shook by Galeb's words.
Paul was silent throughout the entire journey home. Ellie did not like it when he was in this state, trying to raise his spirits by talking how interesting the idea was.
When they arrived at home, Paul went into his office room and refused to speak to Ellie. She did not see Paul for several hours until she eventually had enough of what she considered childish behaviour. You cannot just shut yourself away just because something doesn't go you're way. He was gone, the window left a jar. Ellie felt stupid letting him out of her sight for this long while he is in this state, he could be anywhere. Ellie quickly got onto the comm network and asked to be put forward to Malcolm.
"Hey El," Malcolm's voice came over the comm.
"Hiiiii sweeeettiee," Ellie said trying to sound positive, "Paul has gone disappeared, can you do me a favour?"
At Starfleet command, Ellie was being escorted though a corridor towards a communications centre.
"In there, Lieutenant commander," said an ensign gesturing towards the far doorway. Inside were various stations surrounding a central monitoring table. Malcolm and security officer Lieutenant Penvil, an Andorian, were around the central table.
"Have you found him?" Ellie asks as she moves up to the table.
"Well as you know," Penvil responded, "Certain Starfleet officers are implanted with a dissolvable comm in the right ear. For security reasons, these have also been fitted with a subspace transmitter. Obviously we don't use them to track individuals because privacy laws and ethics-"
"Have you found him or not?" Ellie insisted. Penvil nodded.
"Your brother is here," Penvil punched up a map of the outer edge of San Francisco, specifically the industrial zone. "It's a factory owned by Starforge Industries, a private manufacturing organisation who manufacture phase rifles, shuttle craft and specifically warp engines."
"What would he be doing out there?" Malcolm intervened.
"Starfleet did not recommend his plan, so he must be trying to get it built to prove it could work." Ellie figured out.
"Lieutenant, download the location to my tricorter." Malcolm ordered, "El, alert Starfleet of the situation."
Paul had already hatched a deal by the time Malcolm had arrived at the manufacturing floor.
"Jennifer Gillan, representative of Starforge Industries," A young woman said far too enthusiastically, shaking Malcolm's hand. "And you must be?"
"Richard Malcolm, I'm Paul's brother-in-law," he replied feeling muddled at the situation. He expected something more sinister, thing Paul had gotten into something he didn't understand, but instead he simply came across a nice clean meeting place on the edge of a sophisticated manufacturing floor.
"Splendid," she continued, "So I've gone over the details with Paul, you know I'm surprised Starfleet didn't jump at the chance."
"I'm sure we have our reasons."
Malcolm was led into the meeting room to where Paul was looking over documents for the mission. "What are you doing here?" Paul said rather abruptly.
"I'm here to take you home Paul."
"Oh I've only been gone for a few hours," responded Paul brushing it off. "If I just get this deal sorted and the engine working, then maybe Starfleet will go through with it." "Starfleet hasn't made a decision yet, but it's best that this doesn't become public knowledge too soon."
"Well why not?" Paul protested. "This could be the greatest mission of exploration since Archer launched the NX-01."
"You just can't go behind Starfleets back on this," Malcolm said starting to get fed up now. "You may have been transferred off the Shinwari but I still outrank, Lieutenant, now come with me."
"Oh don't try to p-"
"That's an order Lieutenant," Malcolm interrupted. Paul moved over to him, realising that arguing would not help in this situation.
"Richard please," Paul said quietly and with a look of desperate sincerity in his eyes. "If I don't have this chance, then Starfleet will never green light the mission, Galeb had too much influence over the other admirals. Please."
"Luckily for you, Admiral Galeb doesn't control the federation, and your stunt has caught the attention of the person who does." Malcolm touched his ear and called up on the comm. "Shuttle One, two to beam, energise."
Across the Atlantic in the earth capital of Paris, in the presidential office, Admiral Galeb was addressing President Janeway while she looked over Paul's documents and plans for the mission. Malcolm led Paul into the office.
"The plan is futile," Galeb was saying to the president, "Even if the engine works the way Mister Miller has described, and I have to stress if, there is no guarantee that there will even be anything there."
"Certain members of my crew," President Janeway responded calmly, "also believed that attempting to get home was futile." She turned her attention to Malcolm and Paul as they arrived. "Ah Commander Malcolm and this must be Leuitenant Miller."
"Ma'am, Admiral," Malcolm nodded to each respectively.
"The Admiral has been briefing me on Leuitenant Miller's proposal and I must say it is a fascinating concept." The president said.
"Thank you ma'am," Paul said gratefully.
"Despite my recommendation," Admiral Galeb specified.
"The way I see it, Admiral," the president intervened, "is that the private sector is already aware of the project, and if Starfleet turns this down then they would never forget. But most importantly... it is worth checking out..." Paul was relieved to hear that he had the president of the federation herself was on his side and has informed him that construction of a specialised ship will begin if, and only if, his quantum warp engine was proved to have worked.
1:2 (The Romulan Crisis: Test Flight) Edit
Months past of working on the prototype stages of testing, Starfleet engineers worked with employees from Starforge Industries with Paul at the helm for designing and redesigning the engine prototype. The calculation worked, that's the thing, in all simulations the engine was capable of opening a window into Underspace and form a quantum warp bubble, but actually turning those simulations into a reality proved for more difficult than expected. All the while, the infamous signal grew stronger but began to show signs of corruption making decrypting it harder every week. But finally the prototype was complete, the NX-208804, codenamed "Miller One.'
Paul oversaw the control room while the Miller One was docked at a launch platform at high earth orbit, being piloted by Leuitenant Penvil and the captain that spoke up during the pitch meeting all those months ago, Dean Rown. Rown had been looking over the project since the meeting, Paul suspected that he intended to push to be the commander during the mission.
"Alright everyone," Penvil called over the comm, "this baby's got one chance to prove herself, remember to keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times."
"C'mon now Leuitenant begin launch prep," Rown replied from across the cockpit. Paul gave the go and the countdown began. "Miller One to control, we are go for launch, all systems are in the green, exiting the barn now." The Miller One undocked from the platform and moved away to a safe distance before engaging the drive.
"Five..." The operator called to the pilots.
Penvil monitored the power levels.
A beeping began to come from some of the monitoring equipment.
Rown asked about the situation.
Penvil responded that they are detected a spike it and said it wouldn't be a problem.
Penvil detected the spike again.
Rown engaged the drive just as the spike reached critical.
"Wait-" Penvil called out but just in a flash of light, the control room lost connection with Miller One and the small ship was gone.
"Where are they?" Paul asked the operator, desperate not to see months of work gone and possibly the deaths or disappearance of two friends. "W-What happened?"
Paul caught up with Malcolm as he was about to leave the Starfleet Command building, unfortunately he did not stop for him.
"Any news?" Paul called after him.
"They are scrapping the programme," Malcolm replied but still not turning back.
"No they can't do that, not after the months of work we've done."
"Your good old friend 'Admiral' Galeb made a convincing case, Starfleet is going to divert resources to the Rodney class of warship, they want us to posture against the Romulans like it's the bloody 2150s." Malcolm said mockingly. "That shallow faced self centred egotistical-" Malcolm stopped himself before saying something too disrespectful, "he's like a virus you can't shake."
"But the work we did, we were so close."
"Paul, two officers are missing, one of which was my friend, if we find them safe and alive, and you figure out what went wrong then we'll push ahead to Miller Two."
Dean Rown was awoken by the sound of a continuous beeping from the broken console and flashing lights.
"Penvil..." he said while trying to reach across, patting him on the shoulder. "Come on wake up."
Penvil started to stir, clutching at a head wound. "Ugh what's that noise?"
Rown checked the system and discovered that it was a commission from a nearby ship.
"This is Captain Fisher of the USS Scotsman, please identify yourself."
"We read you Scotsman," Rown responded, "Captain Dean Rown and Leuitenant Penvil on Miller One, NX-208804."
"Recieved Miller One, we've been looking for you for nearly a day, we will intercept your location in 20 minutes, see you then."
The two officers were able to engage thrusters to provide limited movement for now, the Miller One was a small ship, a little bit larger than a runabout class shuttle but most of that space taken up by the quantum warp core.
The sensors started picking up another target, suddenly appearing on their scopes, heading straight for the Miller One.
"Scotsman come in," Rown hailed over the comm, "we have an unidentifiable boogie baring 2-4-96-12, can you confirm?"
"Negative, Miller One," Scotsman replied, "must be out of our sensor range. You are on the edge of our side of the Neutral zone so it could be a Romulan vessel."
"That'll explain how they suddenly appeared, I'll try to hail them."
"Erm cap," Penvil called over, "the Romulans are powering weapons." Two green plasma torpedoes were fired from the unidentified vessel, skimming the Miller One's hull and straight towards the brightest star in visual range, but it was not a star, it was the Scotsman.
"Scotsman you've got two torpedoes heading right for you," Rown hailed desperately.
"Negative Miller One, we do not read any torpedoes." Captain Fisher responded.
"They aren't appearing on our sensors too, cap," Penvil reported.
"Are yo--" The comm went dead, the Scotsman lit up after impacting the green lights. Rown couldn't believe what he saw, Galeb was right, the Romulans are acting against us and how have just torched an entire starship.
"The Romulans are firing again," Penvil reported.
"Right that's it, I'm engaging the drive," Rown quickly punched in the return codes and engaged the drive. The space around the Miller One distorted and in a flash it was gone just as the torpedoes were about to hit.
"At 1945 hours, the Martian long range sensor outpost detected the Miller One appearing around the rings of Saturn. The ships logs and eyewitness reports from Captain Rown and Leuitenant Penvil show the Romulans have created a new form of plasma torpedo. An advanced long range stealth weapon, capable of allowing the casing to reflect all sensor beams and report zero detectable sources of energy. Unfortunately the largest threat from this is not the weapon itself, but rather the ship it was fired from. We call it the Romulan Shadowbird, from what we can tell, the USS Scotsman was incapable of detecting the ship, it was a miracle that the Miller One detected it but we can only guess that it was because of such close range when decloaking. Reports of visual contact of undetectable ships have came from outposts across the Neutral Zone but this was the first offensive move taken by these new ships."
The lights rose and the officer stepped down allowing the meeting of admirals to begin after the briefing.
"Thank you, Ensign." Admiral Galeb spoke. "What are our options?"
"The Romulans have made the aggressive move against us, we should show them our strength and how we are willing to defend ourselves if necessary." One of the admirals suggested.
"Well we are currently working on a new starship, USS Rodney, which I have full confidence that it will be able to subdue any Romulan posturing on the border." Admiral Galeb addressed the table, "the best plan of action for us right now is to redeploy the fleet to our outermost stations until the Defender is complete, from there that should make the Romulans rethink their war path."
"War?" The fleet admiral interrupted. "No one wants war, least not the Romulans. They are focused on the restoration of Romulus and the rehoming of their people."
"With all due respect, this new weapon was capable of destroying a Dominion War era Nebula class starship, draining it's shields in one shot, breaching the warp core in another." Admiral Galeb said. "The Federation is the most powerful organisation in the quadrant-"
"And how would redeploying the fleet prove that?"
"It will show the Romulans that we will respond in kind to any acts of aggression against us. This new stealth technology will tip the balance of power of the entire quadrant."
"If we deescalate the situation now, then Romulus will follow suit." The fleet admiral said calmly but Galeb had enough and called for a vote on which policy to follow. Calling for people to raise their hands on redeploying the fleet, 5 raised their hands, Galeb had some of the admirals and most of the representatives on his side. Calling for those who support deescalation, same result, 5 raised their hands. "Well, this means the deciding vote goes to the president, ma'am your vote?" The fleet admiral said turning to Janeway who had been sitting at the end of the table remaining silent.
After a long period of silence she finally answered. "No one asked for this," Janeway said solumely. "For this great alliance of Romulans, Klingons and Federation to fracture apart over the hidden treachery of one of our own, who only committed those acts to ensure the security of the values we hold so dear in our most darkest hour. And now we face a time when the quadrant may be thrown into another devastating conflict that could only result in the the sacrifice of our ideals and values. We are at a crossroads, either we defend ourselves and possibly prevent a war, or attempt to deescalate and left completely unprepared for further possible attacks." Janeway looked down at the briefing report and starting tapping onto the desk with her nail, "The president... needs more time to decide on her vote." And with that she rose from her seat and left.
In the following days, tensions between the federation and the Romulan Star Empire continued to escalate, with president Janeway failing to give an answer on her vote, the vote would be pushed to a public referendum. The debate on how to descalate the situation with New Romulus continued, both Fleet Admiral Collins and Admiral Galeb drew up separate plans in case the vote swings their way. Fleet Admiral Collins had plans to open up negotiations with New Romulus and offer relief aid to build new relations. Admiral Galeb drew up a plan to set up a defence perimeter on the federation's side of the Neutral zone, a line of weapons platforms and sensor probes control by patrols of starships in groups of three. This would be called the Galeb line, a plan to deter the Romulan fleet by demonstrating a determination and ability to defend the borders from any threat.
Leuitenant Paul Miller continued with his work on the quantum drive, now with a whole team working on it's development, which, Paul believed was actually slowing him down. But even Miller had to admit that the work had tripled since the data came back from the Miller One test flight, and final designs had already been drawn up for the Miller Two, the NX-208805, a six hundred metre Star ship built for the mission to Sagittarius, the USS Odyssey. Every day the signal became stronger and stronger, now no longer outlying bases could detect it but also federation worlds fairly deep inside the borders had also began to report even their least sensitive sensor equipment had begun to pick it up. Miller had created a routine at this point, analyse the signal one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon, every day with no luck of the decryption.
With tensions rising along the Neutral Zone, the USS Armstrong's Step, older Sovereign class ready for retirement, was sent as an escort to Deep Space Sixteen to ensure the safe transport of vital parts needed for both the Odyssey Project and the new Rodney class of heavy cruisers set to replace the old Prometheus class.
"Transmitting clearance codes to DS16 now sir," helmsman Anderson Reece told the captain.
The captain gave the order for the transports to begin docking procedures with the station and the loading of the resources on board.
Anderson Reece was the fourth helmsman of the vessel, the captain, William Meers, had seen his time, bred and disciplined during the catastrophe at Wolf 359 and now commands his old ship in hopes to maintain the fragile peace, Reece however looked up to him. He grew up on stories of the most violent time in federation history and Meers was one of the finest examples of the generation of war-time captains.
Hours past and the final transports had began to depart the station as a perimeter alert was raised by the station.
"Captain, Deep Space 16 is reporting a Romulan war bird has decloaked in our perimeter and is heading towards the convoy." Reece reported.
"Set an intercept course," the captain ordered.
The Armstrong's Step moved away from the station and towards the new vessel. The captain gave out a warning to the Romulans to retreat out of federation space immediately. This was met with silence and then with phaser fire, impacting the shields with minimum damage. The Armstrong's Step began to return fire, soon able to force it to recloak.
"What are they trying?" Meers asked, "they must know they don't have the fire power or the defences to destroy us."
"Sir, DS16 has raised the battle alert, and is reporting loss of shield power on the starboard peer." Reece reported.
"Set view, full magnification," Meers ordered, and the view screen switched display. Revealing a series of bright green lights sweeping across space impacting the peers, shutting down the shields in each section hit. The origin of these lights was a shiny black vessel shaped like a swooping vulture sitting a fair distance from the station, it's hull pulsating with a white energy that refracted the surroundings. "Ops report."
"Sir our sensors are ineffective," the ops officer reported. "I am picking up no readings at all."
"So it appears we are against the Romulans new toy," Meers said. "Turn us around, arm torpedoes."
The Armstrong's Step swung around, and headed straight towards the station in distress. After having their warning message be met with silence, the incoming torpedo fire certainly forced the Romulans to manuver but it was ultimately too little too late as three direct impacts caused significant damage to the Shadowbird that forced them to pull off their attack. This should have made the Shadowbird to recloak or at least pull away but it simply targeted the new biggest threat; the USS Armstrong's Step.
Having that the Shadowbird is impossible to scan, Meers employed the same tactic captain Picard used over two decades ago when facing the Scimitar, full spread of phaser fire and scanning for any impacts. However the battle was short. Unable to evade the enemy torpedoes, the federation shields fell quickly, and both the Shadowbird and the warbird circled before firing a final torpedo that ran right through the naccelle and left the Armstrong's Step disabled and useless as the two finished off the station.
1:3 (The Romulan Crisis: Talkathi Lauch) Edit
Reports of the distruction of DS16 soon reached Earth, LT Miller was in his workplace when the news came in. Nevertheless, Paul encouraged the fellow scientists to continue their work, however failed to comfort those who had lost friends or family on that station, nor did he even understand what they were going through as Paul had never lost anyone. What remained of the scientists and engineers made little progress all day, sometimes making simple mistakes that Paul tried his best to forgive. Progress on the construction of the Miller Two had almost stalled completely with the attack on the convoy leaving DS16.
At around 1800 hours, Malcolm entered his science-engineering lab having just come from Starfleet's briefing on the situation.
"Knock knock," he said, of course not actually having knocked on the door. Paul greeted him as he approached the other side of his desk. "Can I talk to you privately?"
"Yes of course," Paul said, he then turned to the room. "Erm excuse me everyone? Can-" Paul was being too quiet so Malcolm clapped loudly to get their attention.
"Right thank you, now I would like to talk to LT Miller," Malcolm said while unpinning his commander combadge and displaying it so they can all see. "In private." He said, gesturing towards the door.
The engineers and scientists all shuffled out, Malcolm nodded as one of them muffled "could have just spoke to him outside."
"Right," Malcolm said repinning his combadge and turning back to Paul. "I've already spoken to El about this, but Starfleet Command has made the decision to make a move against the Romulans. We are deploying the Rodney."
"Is that what we are now?" Paul said, "soldiers? A military organisation?"
"Paul, tell me, if we are not the military, then who is?"
"What's the target then?" Paul said looking away from Malcolm who pulled up a holographic diagram of a Romulan station.
"Deep Space 16 was not just a manufacturing station, it was repurposed to be the central nerve of an advanced long ranged detection grid, how the Romulans got this intel is unclear, but the matter is that they found out and destroyed it. However, the grid has recently detected a new Romulan station on their side of the Neutral zone. That's our target. From what we can see, or rather what we cannot see, it is the staging ground for the Romulan Shadowbird's, it's where they are deployed from, where they are repaired, we take out this target then we level the playing field and hopefully we can stop this ridiculous measuring contest."
"When are we going?" Paul asked.
"You are not going," Malcolm said, "I will be leading the boarding party, El will be a medical officer on board the Rodney, so you will be left alone for a few weeks. Captain Rown will command the Rodney, I suppose after this mission he will be reassigned to the Odyssey." Malcolm turned to leave but was stopped as Paul spoke out.
"I don't want him though."
Malcolm turned back round to look at Paul.
"I want you to captain the Odyssey, I trust you."
Malcolm smiled and said "I'll talk to Starfleet about it." And hugged Paul before leaving the lab.
Paul turned off the hologram as the engineers re-entered the room, rubbing the back of his head. He was trying to kick start a new golden age of exploration, he thought, and this conflict between the federation and the Romulans has separated him from his sister and brother-in-law, and the construction of the Odyssey has almost completely stalled before it really started, but enough of the convoy escaped to allow for another warship to be launched. Paul overheard the news report on the scavenging ships the USS Armstrong's Step returning for repairs and to replace the crew. Paul then pressed the comm and said "Get me Miss Gillan."
The shuttles left to transport the command crew up to the Rodney that sat in drydock.
"All crewmen on board, captain, just waiting on your orders now," Malcolm said turning off the comm.
"Very good commander." Rown replied. Malcolm nodded and moved to the rear part of the shuttle where Ellie sat.
"I hope Paul is going to be alright." She said as he sat next to her.
"Yeah because he's the one leading a boarding party of an enemy stronghold." Malcolm joked and Ellie lightly punched his arm. Malcolm pretended to overreact, jokingly saying "ow domestic abuse against a superior officer."
"You did tell him why we are going?" She asked. "I just don't want him to think we are leaving him."
"Don't worry, he'll be fine, I told him now let's just focus on the mission ahead."
"We are coming up on the drydock now sir," the pilot said to Rown, and Malcolm and Ellie moved to the front of the shuttle to catch a glimpse of the ship.
A large greyed silver ship sat in drydock, very few windows over the hull as the armour covered the surface however still enough small windows to give all a full visual in all directions. A massive weapons pod sat where the neck should be, along with several weapons platforms that loaded the rail phaser cannons designed to punch through even the most advanced shields. The naccelles hugged the secondary hull, underslung instead of the standard overslung design. Two large shuttle bays, one sat in the aft secondary section, and the other sat in the front of the saucer. A single ring was now being fitted to the deflector dish which controlled the previously classified spore drive connected on board. Inscribed on the hull in front of the bridge module wrote the letters "U. S. S. R O D N E Y." Twice as large as a Galaxy class, essentially built as a mobile battle station, command cruiser and carrier, this ship was not built to fight wars, it was built to win them. The shuttle landed in the forward shuttle bay, and Rown and Malcolm was escorted towards the bridge as Ellie was forced to make her way to the medical bay alone.
Ellie moved down the corridors, security officers guarded certain sections and patrolled the ship, the interior was lined with the same greyed silver and light greys that made up the hull outside, and sealable bulkheads were set up every hundred yards to prevent any decompression or incursion on the ship. It was definitely no Galaxy class, no comfort living can be found here.
Ellie found the entrance to the medbay and overheard commotion inside.
"-bunch of amateurs! I swear if I were your chief you lot would be off this ship, as soon as he arrives-"
"As soon as she arrives," Ellie interrupted, "and no you are not." The man shouting at the other officers turned politely, a tall scruffy man whose uniform as clearly too baggy on him, to offset Ellie's apparent lack of height and false pretence of tidiness.
"Apologies," he said giving the smallest nod possible. He then presented his hand as an offer to shake and said "Lieutenant James Coal."
"Lieutenant Commander Ellie Malcolm," She said shaking his hand, "your chief of medicine hopefully temporarily. So for now you can take your complaints to me."
"Of course chief," LT Coal said politely. "These other 'officers' are a mess of incompetence and unprofessionalism. Look at this" Gesturing towards a tray of medical equipment. "Regenerator only half a power cell left, medical tricorter and it's accompanying sensor node not kept together, laser scalpel not with it's cap on, the 1mm hypospray kept with the 3mm hypospray, even the sensor equipment is completely out of alignment. In this state it won't be the Romulans killing our crew."
"Its been along time since someone said no to you, now has it?" Ellie simply responded.
On the bridge, Rown and Malcolm took their places and gave the order to begin on their course. As the Rodney was released from space dock, it glided through space to the edge of the Sol system and engaged it's warp drive.
LT Miller met up with Miss Gillian the next day at the conference room in the Starforge factory, across the table projected a hologram of the Armstrong's Step gently rotating.
"So we managed to pull some strings, called in a few favours, personal or otherwise," Jennifer rambled way too quickly. "And now the wreckage of the ship is now going to be the baseline for the Miller Two. Because of the Romulan attack on the convoy, we simply did not have the resources to actually build the thing but now we do since the basic structure has already been built." She pressed a button and the Armstrong's Step morphed into a new ship.
"I'll sort out the plans to account for the Soveriegn frame," Paul nodded as he watched the new ship now gently spin.
By the end of the week, construction of the Miller Two officially began, the Armstrong's Step was renamed and the ship was almost completely gutted. Across the quadrant, the USS Rodney dropped out of warp comfortably close to the federation side of the Neutral Zone. Inside, Rown addressed his staff in the conference room.
"We are now located at the very edge of our territory, simply at warp the Romulans would detect us and intercept us. But, using a small shuttle with a cloaking device we are confident that it can slip by undetected." Rown addressed the staff. Around the table sat Malcolm, Ellie, Coal and 5 other crewmen who had survived the attack on DS16 and had volunteered for the mission.
"I thought Starfleet couldn't use cloaking devices," Ellie commented.
"That was because of a treaty between us and the Romulans," Malcolm said. "Which all seems pointless at this point, don't you think?"
"Exactly," Rown said, "but breaking that will do nothing for negotiations so it is very important that it does not go south. That is vital. Understand?" The officers all nodded. "Good, now Comander Malcolm will lead a small boarding party of the station and sabotage the docking clamps holding the Shadowbirds in place. Once succeeded, piloted by Leuitenant Coal, the Rodney will initiate a jump using the newly fitted spore drive technology, and engage and destroy the station." Rown stood up from his chair and spoke loudly to give a impression of authority. "Now, you know the plan, get to work people."
Malcolm stepped on board the shuttle and five security officers stood to attention. Each of them named themselves as "Riley", "Stayson", "Peters", "Flint", and "Clark."
"You'll do," Malcolm said while stepping past them to the pilot position. "Bridge, we are ready to go."
"Acknowledged," Malcolm heard over the comm as he placed a picture of himself and Ellie on the control console, he was more certain on returning alive than taking lives, almost completely disingenuous with the idea of going to war. "Remember, you have 48 hours to sabotage the docking clamps, if they are still unlocked then we'll have no cover for the assault on the station."
"Understood bridge, firing engines now," the shuttle took off from the bay, and once cleared the Rodney, engaged the cloak and warp drive.
Ellie began loading four hypospray's with the Prototaxites Stellaviatori augment syrum as Coal sat on the medbed.
"So why did you volunteer for this?" Ellie asked.
"I think that a doctor who is not prepared to go through with what he puts his patient through is no doctor at all," he said. "What kind of man would I be if I make someone else go through this but won't myself?"
"What you trying to say?" Ellie said sarcastically, making the first injection.
"No I didn't mean-"
"It's okay, roll up your sleeves," Coal rolled up his sleeves for the second, third and fourth injections. "Its just my husband's sarcasm coming through."
"So you are married to the commander," Coal said, "isn't that a conflict of interes- Ow" Ellie made the injection pinch more that it should and smiled, Coal suddenly changed the way he spoke. "I mean how did you two meet???"
Ellie smiled and just said "He got injured a lot on his missions when we both served on the Shinwari. I mean, A LOT."
"How you holding up without Richard and Ellie?" Jennifer asked once the turbolift arrived at the mess hall at the Starforge factory.
"I've been sleeping at the lab." Paul said.
"Yep," Paul responded, moving towards the replicator queue. "Its not comfortable at home right now."
"You can stay at mine if you want, you know, you just need to ask."
"Absolutely," Jennifer said, "oh and a man called for your earlier today, Anderson Reece."
Paul moved across the hangerbay towards the Miller One prototype now sat where Anderson Reece said to meet up.
"The visionary!" He called out towards Paul from across the hanger. "There he is! The visionary of a mission to another galaxy! Far beyond our mortal comprehension, we should all thank him from taking away your ship that half your friends died on!"
"Anderson, I did not mean it that way."
"Well I took it that way," Reece said. "William Meers died protecting that convoy."
"So surely he would want his ship to help the project he died protecting."
Anderson looked down for a moment and tried to move on, "You'll still need a pilot."
"You will need to re-apply for that." Paul said, turning around to walk away.
"I'm already the helmsman!"
"Yes well it's not the same ship anymore!"
"We are arriving, thirty seconds," Flint called to the near of the shuttle where Malcolm stood on the transporter pad with Clark, Peters and Riley.
"Right we've only got 6 hours to shut down those clamps," Malcolm said. "Clark and Peters, you two handle the starboard dock. Riley, you're with me. Stayson, I need you to monitor communications, ship movements, local changes, if one of those ships undock or the station seems alerted then I want to know. And Flint, keep the engines running. Understood people?" Everyone nodded. "Good. Energise when ready 'Scotty'."
Riley and Malcolm transported into a corridor near the port dock, phase rifles extended in case of any Romulan officers on guard. Luckily for them there was no officers in sight.
Malcolm nodded forward and the two moved silently down the corridor. Flinching at any sound or impression of movement.
Malcolm gestured towards a opening to what appeared to be a Jefferies-Tube and gave Riley the order to start cutting through. "Hopefully we can get our baring in this place." He said.
However as soon as the tube was breached, alarms were tripped and automatic disruptors began firing in their direction. Riley was hit square in the chest, and Malcolm quickly dragged him into the tube and re-sealed the breach.
"Should keep them out," Malcolm commented before looking over at Riley clutching at his wound. Malcolm moved closer and encouraged Riley to let him take a look at it. "Well at least you won't bleed to death, the disruptor appears to have corterised the wound."
"Are you a doctor, sir?" Riley responded, clearly weak after the trauma.
"No but my wife is," Malcolm said. "Can you imagine how annoying that can get? Every scratch and I get a lecture on how to keep it clean and recommendations for ointments, it's a nightmare. Plus I've had a similar incident with a missfiring Klingon disruptor and my left shoulder, I'm no longer ambidextrous because of that."
"Permission to speak freely," Riley said and Malcolm nodded. "That was full of bullshit." Malcolm laughed and asked how could he tell. "You talk too much and you sweat when you lie, Dr Malcolm gave me some pointers before we left in case you tried it."
"Well of course she did," Malcolm laughed. "You ready to move?" Riley reluctantly nodded and they put their arms around each other to take some of the strain off him.
"Alright just wheel it in over there," Coal said while trying to gide the crewmen who were moving the spore drive navigation chamber into the medbay.
"Oi Coal," Ellie called for his attention. "How about you lighten up and let them do their job?"
"Have you not read the report on the medical effects of this thing? White matter build up in the brain, hallucinations, complete sensory overload, I just want to make sure it isn't damaged by clumsiness and that it actually works."
"Coal please, they only had 23rd century medical technology at the time, we can circumnavigate the side effects." Ellie said. "Just relax, you'll do just fine."
"If I can't then the mission fails," he responded. "I'm just trying to make sure nothing goes too wrong."
After what must have been an hour of crawling through Jefferies Tubes, Riley and Malcolm finally reached a ladder to ascend to the next deck. Malcolm did not think Riley could manage to climb up so Malcolm chose to scout ahead and come back for him.
"You told me that Starfleet would not be able to mount a defence," a voice said concerned. Malcolm could hear the conversation happening below and so he moved closer to the grate to allow for the UT more audio to pick up. Peering through, he noticed that that the voice came from a Cardassian. "And now reports indicate that they have begun to prepare for a counterattack."
"Calm, ambassador, please. The Federations are not known for their machine of war," the Romulan commander responded turning to a holo map of the Romulan/Federation border and where the neutral zone is least wide. The Romulan commander was almost Shakesparean in the way he spoke and acted. "A hidden enemy, disguising the most powerful and destructive military in the quadrant as a peaceful science envoy. But make no mistake, dangerous though it is, my prototypes will neutralise their armada while they squabble."
"My government cannot wait as long as you," the Cardassian said moving closer to the commander. "The reparations payment date is only in a few more years, they will cripple Cardassia, you promised to ensure that will never happen."
"And it won't, ambassador, and it won't." He responded. "When the Federations come, and they will, we will be ready."
Malcolm crept back, trying to make as little noise as he could. 'Did the Romulan know of the incoming attack?' He thought, this only ment that it was even more vital that he shut down the operations to the docking clamps.
Dropping down the ladder, Malcolm immediately noticed that Riley was looking pale and drowsy.
"Hey, I need you to stay awake Riley," Malcolm said trying to sound reassuring. "Come on stay awake, hey what about your family? Tell me about them."
"No family anymore," Riley struggled to say. "Only my sister and her son."
"Oh yeah? How old?"
"Four." He said.
"Old enough to be bossy but young enough to still be cute?"
Riley chuckled at this that ended in a cough. "Yeah. What about you?" He asked clearly exhausted.
"Nah, I was a single child. Didn't have any siblings or nephews or any of that. Nah, just ma and dad." Malcolm replied now glancing up the ladder again. Time is short, he thought. "Right, we need to reach that docking control, I overheard the commander talking to a Cardassian. They might already know about the attack, so we have to move, you think you can move?" Riley attempted to move but the pain overcame him and he fell back into place. Malcolm checked the wound again and he saw that the flesh around it had begun to turn purple, his body was sending too much blood to the wound.
"I'll take that as a no then."
"Sir," Riley said. "I'm just going to slow you down."
Malcolm looked up at the ladder again, considering what he heard what the commander said. "I will come back. I promise. I will come back." And he climbed back up the ladder.
"So here's the problem," Paul said as he entered the room with Jennifer and . "I think we've unestimated the power consumption required for the jump from normal space. Imagine attempting to walk, but your brain does not provide enough electrical impulses to the legs. You don't move but you keep trying, forcing the brain to send a massive surge and you kind of spaz out. I think that's what the prototype did. The engine isn't being provided with enough power so the circuits short out. The prototype literary was forcing itself to make the jump and it also kind of spazzed out."
"But the circuits are already running at their maximum capacity as it is," One of the engineers interjected.
"I know but they aren't going through enough cycles per second to actually engage properly, and I do not think I can figure out on my own."
"Oh what"s that?" One of the engineers mocked. "You're actually asking us for help?"
"Yes I am."
"We are some of the greatest engineers on the planet and finally you ask us for help on your problem, unbelievable." Him and a group of engineers left the main group and headed back for their stations.
"Don't mind him," Jennifer whispered to him as the others began to move away. "Only a few months ago he was the leading expert on Slipstream technology, he's still hung up on being forced to play second fiddle to Quantum Warp. He doesn't think it would work."
"Quantum Warp does work, it just needs refinement and to fix this power problem." Paul said.
Nearly an hour past as Paul continued to work on solutions when a woman walked up to his station
"Here," she said handing him a datapadd. "If we cross the power cell with the injector, bypassing the secondary converter, then that should eliminate half of the cycles needed to maintain the jumps."
Paul looked over the mathematics and nodded slowly in approval. "This is not such a terrible idea. It will not solve the problem but very good start. What is your name?" He said as he brought up a projection of a holosimulation and added the modifications.
"Catherine, friends call me Katie." She said. "It wasn't just me, Charlie and Samantha also helped."
Paul nodded and pressed "begin simulation" on his console. The simulation recorded that the ship would maintain the high velocity for 12-15 hours before the bubble either collapsed or disintegrated the ship, however the initial jump and the following 8 hours were stable.
Malcolm didn't have much time to lock down those clamps, with less than an hour to go, Malcolm received a report from Clark and Peters that they had successfully locked down the starboard clamps and the Shadowbird docked there now won't be able to undock, and they had now returned to the shuttle. He now approached the control room now, the room was empty which Malcolm found suspicious but could not afford to not take advantage of the situation. He entered the room and quietly moved towards the control panel. The layout was of course unfamiliar to Malcolm, with the codes and command labels being in Romulan. Malcolm pulled out his tricorter that translated the console for him and he entered the command code to lock the dock down however the console would not accept. He tried again and again but still nothing. An alarm alerting all nearby officers to his presence now rung. Desperate for this to work, Malcolm opened the lower panel of the console and hooked up his rifles power cell into the system so that if the Romulans attempt to launch the Shadowbird, the power cell will overload the entire system and hopefully set off a chain reaction. He quickly darted out the room after placing the panel back in place, but before he could reach the end of the corridor, several Romulan officers circled him already with their disruptors out.
Malcolm was now the Romulan's prisoner, his hands locked behind his back, with two officers either side as they dropped him in front of the commander in what appeared to be a command centre.
"A number of hours ago, there I was receiving a report that unauthorised movement on one of the lower levels triggered the automatic turrets to activate. Naturally I assume that any intruders would want to take the command bridge, so I increased security here. But lo and behold when controls for one of our docks becomes locked and encrypted with a Starfleet algorithm. Naturally I booby trapped the only other docking control room we had and then comes a Federation with a useless rifle. Allow me to introduce myself, I am General L'Rol of the Romulan Star Empire." The commander now turned around and lowered himself to so he was at the same level as Malcolm, staring directly at him. "Commander Richard Ellis Malcolm, is it not? I must say, Commander, you certainly look better than your service record shows."
"Well that picture was taken years ago so..." Malcolm tried to joke but L'Rol interrupted.
"What is the key to decrypt the Starfleet algorithm?" Malcolm did not answer this and L'Rol just rose back to his feet making himself above Malcolm. "We will be able to decrypt it soon, maybe not before your attack comes but we will."
"An 'attack'?" The Cardassian stepped forward and interrupted. "What do you mean, an 'attack'?"
"Come now ambassador," General L'Rol said in response. "A Starfleet commander appears on a secret military target and attempts to lock the support crafts docks down so it cannot engage? The real question is who he was working with." He stared down at Malcolm and had a brief smile. "Run a decloaking scan." He ordered. An officer reported that there was a disturbance indicating a cloaked vessel.
"Activate a tractor beam on the target and open a channel." One of the Romulan officers complied and nodded once the channel was open. "Speak to them or I will open fire." L'Rol threatened.
Malcolm waited for a couple of seconds, staring back at the Romulan general stood over him before eventually giving in to his threat. L'Rol was clearly not one to mess around with or yo give out false threats. "Shuttle one, this is commander Richard Malcolm, shuttle one, please respond. Identific-..." He paused for a brief second as he looked away from L'Rol's stare. "Identification Alpha-Three-Zero-Charlie-Four, i-6-1-5."
After what felt like a minute of silence, the shuttle at last responded. "This is shuttle one, they've locked a tractor beam on us, commander what's going on down there?"
"Tell them to transmit the decryption algorithm." L'Rol ordered.
"Absolutely no-" Malcolm tried to say until the two guards either side of him punched him in the stomach.
"Do it." He repeated. Malcolm just met his stare and refused to speak. Having nothing clever to say. L'Rol sighed. "Weapons lock on that signature. Prepare to fire."
"Wait!" Malcolm shouted. "Shuttle one, transmit the decryption algorithm to the Romulans."
"Excuse me, commander, but I can't do that."
"Just do it, that's an order. We've lost this."
"Very good," L'Rol said. He waved his hand towards a station and the officer confirmed that the decryption algorithm had just came in. "Be pleased, commander, if I didn't get the key to decrypt the algorithm, I would have killed everyone on that shuttle. Now I will let you and everyone live, and soon negotiate for your return to the federation. After, of course, I destroy your incoming warship."
Coal climbed inside the spore navigation chamber, hooking himself into the system.
"Medbay to bridge," Ellie said. "All readings good down here."
"Confirmed," Captain Rown responded. "Engineering report."
"Spore drive primed and ready." Engineered called in.
"Good, tactical, ready torpedo launches and the forward phase rail guns, target their weapons systems and shields." Rown ordered. "Ops, ready on the shields, I want them up as soon as we arrive. And navigation, black alert."
The navigation chamber filled with Prototaxites Stellaviatori and the control ring around the deflector dish began to spin.
"Last chance to back out," Ellie joked.
"It feels strange." Coal responded. "It kinda calming." Coal activated the navigation chamber and suddenly his mind felt disconnected from his body, he could see the entire quadrant, if not the entire galaxy, worlds he knew and worlds he could not have even hoped to recognise. Entire civilisations untouched by the quarrels of the quadrant and extraterrestial life. The brilliant light of burning stars and the crushing darkness of black holes. Asteroid fields, nebulae, the great abyss where the basic laws of physics no longer function, and the thread that weaves it all together. And within the end of a split second, the Rodney jumped across the neutral zone and arrived at the coordinates of the battlestation.
"General, a Starfleet vessel just appeared of our port side." A Romulan officer reported.
"Have we decrypted the algorithm yet?" L'Rol asked. A voice responded 'affirmative'. "Then launch the Talkathi."
The Shadowbirds began to undock. The starboard ship was going through the procedure just fine, however the port dock began to suffer problems. The entire system began to overload, the controllers could not abort the system before the powercells ignited. The explosions detonated the fuel lines leading into the Shadowbird itself, crippling the ship and sending white hot debris across the docks impacting the second Shadowbird. The Rodney of course took this opportunity to open fire on the station, the explosions disabled the stations weapons systems and the pemmeling from the Rodney soon dealt with the stations shields.
Malcolm took the advantage of the commotion to make a run for it, grabbing the disruptor off the now fallen guards around him with his still bound hands.
Making his way into the turbolift, the doors slid shut just in time to get in the way of the incoming blast from L'Rol's disruptor.
Malcolm carefully positioned the stolen disruptor next to the bindings and, set to the lowest strength, discharged and the bindings broke free. Now with his hands unbinded, Malcolm sighed in relief that his sabotage actually worked, worked better than could be expected. The station shook and rumbled from the pounding outside, he needed to get Riley and get back to the shuttle as soon as possible, he thought.
Malcolm found his way back to the Jefferies Tube, a slid down the ladder. At the base of the ladder, he saw Riley laying there unconscious and pale as milk. Running out of time, Malcolm rummaged through Riley's backpack and pulled out the transporter enhancers. He activated them and they two were soon on the shuttle again.
"The shuttle is free, captain." Helm reported. "And they are requesting urgent medical attention."
"Alright cease fire, let them on board." Rown ordered. "Make sure the wounded are transported to Dr Malcolm and Dr Coal immediately."
Coal stepped out of the navigation chamber, head in hand as if attempting to nurse a headache.
"Coal, oi, we've got a wounded coming in," Ellie said.
"I feel like I'm missing something," Coal responded. Ellie walked over to him and made a quick scan with her medical tricorter.
"White matter readings are elevated but you should be fine, now come on." She dismissed.
A voice over the comm spoke out in the medbay, "transporter room to medbay, prepare to receive wounded."
The bed light up as a body materialised, the wound was a Romulan disruptor blast impacting the lower chest, the wound had not been cleaned so the burnt flesh had become infected with bacteria unusual to human biology.
Malcolm stepped out of the turbolift and onto the bridge and took the operations station. The battlestation had began to go critical and the remaining Shadowbird had undocked and began to limp away from the Rodney. Rown gave the order to fire a warning shot. A quantum torpedo sore across the crippled Shadowbirds hull, soon a tractor beam locked onto the vessel to prevent it from escaping.
1:4 (The Romulan Crisis: Find the Elusive Few) Edit
With the USS Rodney tractored the Shadowbird in place, Captain Rown's crew began to take the Romulan commanders prisoner and lock them into the Starfleet command carriers brig. Captain Rown and Commander Malcolm watched as the Romulan General L'Rol and his Cardassian associate were being escorted into the most high security cells on board. The two must have attempted to flee the crippled battlestation as the reactors went critical.
"So what can you tell me," the captain asked.
"His name is L'Rol, he seems to have access to Starfleet military personnel reports and files, from what I heard he designed the Shadowbird classes and the torpedoes they fire." Malcolm responded.
"How did he get access to the files?" Rown said.
"I don't know, but he basically quoted my file." He said. "Listen Dean, his Cardassian friend mentioned reparations?"
"Well the Treaty of Bajor imposed substantial reparations onto Cardassia for damages during the war. The Klingons wanted to sack their entire empire so the reparations was a compromise."
"I don't think he sees it that way. I'm going to speak to the prisoners, see what information I can get." Malcolm said and Rown nodded in approval, the two separated but an ensign approached the captain.
"Captain can I speak to you for a moment?" She said and Rown told her 'of course.' "Ensign Julia Corborough? She didn't turn up at her station this morning."
"That's strange, thats the 15th officer to fail to report for duty." He said. "Well thank you for reporting that, we'll begin searches but it's a large ship so it may take a while."
Malcolm stepped in front of the cell L'Rol paced up and down in. The Romulan commander spoke a few words and phrases Malcolm did not recognise. 'Ah ah' Malcolm mocked, raising his hand, before pressing a button on the side of the cell, activating the universal translator.
"It is an impressive warship this is," he said.
"Starfleet does not do 'warships,' this is an advsnced Tactical Command Carrier." Malcolm replied.
"Sounds like a warship to me," mocked the imprisoned Romulan. "But then if Starfleet doesn't build the federation warships, then who does, commander?" Malcolm just stood there as L'Rol repeated a similar line he gave to Paul only a week ago.
"How did you know my personnel file?"
"Oh you think I don't have eyes and ears within Starfleet itself?" He said. "And yes I have read your personnel file. Son of David and Amy Malcolm? Born on the Lunar Colony? As a child you saw the second Borg Cube cover the skies, corpses of vessels around it, heading straight for that blue marble in the sky you humans call Home. Must have been so scary for you, I too know the feeling of losing ones home."
"We are done here," Malcolm said immediately turning round to leave.
"Oh it will never be over, Richard! Not for you!" He called out after Malcolm.
The Head Admiral Collins strode through the corridors of the UFP headquarters to the presidents office where Admiral Galeb now resided.
"You went over my head, launched a military incursion into Romulan territory by bypassing my orders." He said, slamming a report onto Janeways desk.
"I believe you cannot give her orders, she is the president." Galeb tried to say being met with Collins glare.
"But I can decide where and when my fleet is deployed."
"Admiral, please listen, the Romulans destroyed a Starfleet research station, we had to act and you weren't moving." Janeway said. "Anyway, Intelligence said that attacking this single station is the minimum lost of lives lost with the maximum damage inflicted needed to hopefully encourage the Romulans to get to the negotiation table."
"You should have came to me first." The Head Admiral said. "Does the Council know about this?"
"The majority the Council now supports me," Galeb said.
"You've no idea what you have released here." Collins said. "Get the Romulans to the table before a retaliation begins."
Paul was working at a station in the hangerbay as Katie and her two friends, Charlie and Sam, fitted the new modifications to the quantum prototype. Two individuals approached the group, Paul looked up and saw it was Miss Gillian and Anderson Reece.
"Are we ready?" She asked.
"Should be," Charlie said. "The modifications should give us a stable bubble for a series of hours, Miller is creating protocol algorithms that should protect us from instability."
"Good," she responded.
"So this is the one gonna pilot it?" He asked pointing towards Anderson Reece.
"Yeah apparently I am now," Reece said shaking Charlies hand.
"I'm going to be the co-pilot," Paul announced.
"Are you sure that's safe?"
"Absolutely," Paul said. "I need to be on board to monitor the power out put and I cannot do that remotely. Besides I programmed the safeguards myself."
Jennifer turned to Reece and asked if that was okay. "Yeah fine, let's get on with it."
Malcolm strode down the corridors of the Rodney, thinking back to what L'Rol had told him. How did he have access to the personnel files? How did he know about the attack before it came? And what else does he know? He thought. His mind raced and came to one conclusion, that there must be a spy in Starfleet. Malcolm had been called to the captains quarters.
"You know this 'displacement activated spore-hub drive' was originally used for specialised missions during the Klingon war." Rown said reading the information of a padd as Malcolm walked in. "But it was deemed an unsafe and illegal form of travel because of the human augmentation involved and classified under the highest levels of security. Section 31 continued to use it for the last 100 years, covert missions, information gathering, that sort of thing. Just enough to ensure the security of Starfleet without compromising security. Of course after the fall of Section 31, all their secrets were released to the public, there was civil unrest, wondering why it wasn't used to prevent Wolf 359, prevent the Dominion war, Voyager. Then Starfleet reluctantly agreed it have one ship be fitted with it to minimise the human augmentation. Sorry if it seems I'm just ranting but it does seem that you're destined to serve on ships with unusual engineerings."
"Excuse me, sir, I don't understand," Malcolm responded.
"The mission to Sagittarius? Project Odyssey? Lieutenant Miller's Quantum Warp drive? I've been pushing to be captain of that mission for months, but now I see that you have put yourself forward for captain, with Lieutenant Miller's backing." Rown said.
"He recommended me for captain, he trusts me," Malcolm justified.
"Of course," he responded in disbelief. "15 officers have failed to report for duty, they aren't responding to comms and they aren't in their quarters. Find them."
"Aye sir," Malcolm agreed.
Malcolm entered the medbay where a much healthier Riley now sat upright. Ellie stood over him and was administering a hypospray.
"Doctor, crewman," Malcolm said, nodding to each respectively. "You feeling better?"
"Yeah thanks to Dr Malcolm." He replied. Ellie smiled and walked to the over side of the room.
"Listen, you did good over there," Malcolm assured him. After Riley commented that all he did was get shot. "You did more than that, you gave me motivation."
"Okay so you're free to go," Ellie told Riley. "If you feel light headed then come back here to see me, you understand?"
Riley nodded as Malcolm spoke, "Good because I'm gonna need you. 15 officers have gone missing. Ensigns, crewmen, Lieutenants, engineering, medical, male, female, human, not, there seems to be no connection, I'm going to have security teams sweep the lower decks, I need every man on this."
"Yes of course," he said.
"Good, get yourself a new uniform and report in," Malcolm said. "I'm going to work with Lieutenant Penvil to look over the security footage."
"All systems are set, we are ready to go." Anderson Reece said to the comm as Paul primed the quantum warp drive.
"Miller One you are clear for launch." Control said over the comm.
The Miller Two itself had almost finished construction, using the Armstrong's Step as a base line had greatly sped up the process but at this point the ship was almost unrecognizable. Increased by over 50 percent in size, removal of the second set of naccelles in favour of a single set of advanced warp naccelles. Most of the touch screen technology had be replaced with more tactile and holotech based systems. If this engine modifications hold up then the Odyssey project can push ahead to it's third and final stage.
"Beginning countdown," Paul said whilst monitoring the power readings and priming the final stages for launch. "20 seconds."
Like a hawk, Paul monitored the power output, scanning for any anomalies. Anderson piloted the Miller One to a safe distance from the orbiting launch pad as the computerised countdown hit 15.
"Miller? Can I ask you a question?" Anderson asked. "If you have to." He responded, still staring at the readings.
"What happens if we experienced a power surge during the jump?"
"Well either the safeguards will immediately shut down the drive..."
"Or the safeguards will not kick in and we will be propelled at unimaginable speeds in any direction and could turn up anywhere in the quadrant."
"Glad I asked."
Admiral Galeb entered the control room unannounced. Gillian was surprised at this and tried to tell him that he could not be here right now but the admiral just brushed her off, explaining that Starfleet will want to see results from the project they have been supporting for the past few months.
"3 seconds," Paul said over the comm. "Engaging drive."
The prototype suddenly lit up, the instruments in the control room could no longer trace the ship, and a bubble formed around the Miller One and the ship sped off at incredible speed. Minutes past slowly, the operators scanned for incoming subspace messages that might indicate if the test was successful. Eventually in the silence, Galeb sighed in disappointment.
"Well that's quite enough then," he said.
"Admiral we need to give them a little more time," she insisted.
"Please Miss Gillian, this is the second time this has happened, more officers miss-"
Before Galeb could finish, one of the operators called out, reporting that they are receiving a subspace messages from a Vulcan replay station. Jennifer gave the order to open a channel while walking away from the admiral.
"NX-208804 Miller One prototype hailing Starfleet launch pad 4," Anderson's voice came over the comm. "We read you," Jennifer responded. "How was the flight?"
"Good if a little bumpy, Paul seems to think he can compensate for that with the inertial dampeners."
"That's good news Miller One, do you want us to send a ship out there to go get you?"
"That won't be necessary Control, we can make our own way back, I need to get used to flying at those speeds anyway."
Dr James Coal was sitting in the mess hall watching the stars slip by, picking at a replicated beef burger, with a side of lettuce and chips. An easy meal that always made him feel right again, however since the jump, he had not been feeling straight. He felt like he was missing something, as if he had forgotten something vital. He had tried to push these thoughts to one side to not allow them to infringe on his duties as a starships medical officer, but he could not forget how he felt useless while helping crewman Riley, and he just could not shake the feeling.
He listened to the sound of the ship, the sound of the bending space-time to glide through space at amazing speeds manifested itself as just a gentle hum. Coal attempted to tune out the white noise around in the mess hall, the clanking of knives, the mutter of officers enjoying their food, the beeps of the replicators, but all through that noise, Coal couldn't help up over hear the conversation between the two sitting directly behind him.
"Its okay if he doesn't want to show, if he can't see how much effort you put in then he doesn't deserve you." Coal overheard, he turned around to the unusual sight of a Tellerite comforting a woman.
"Not that it's any of my business but what's going on?" Coal asked as gently as his gruff voice would allow.
"Just stay out of it man," the Tellerite said aggressively but the woman cut him off.
"No, it's okay, it's alright," she said wiping her eyes. "I had an argument with my boyfriend a couple of days ago, so I've been trying to call him to apologise, but I got no response, I went to his quarters, he wasn't there."
"Maybe he's just wrapped up in his duties, we where just in a combat scenario."
"That's just it, I went to the engineering department, they say he hasn't reported for duty since before the battle."
Something clicked inside Coal. A sudden wave of realisation and dread washed over him, if he had not been seen since before or around the time of the battle, then he himself could be responsible.
"I am so sorry," he said as he shot up out of his seat. Darting across the room, ramming into a couple of officers in his way, he tapped his ear twice to activate the comm system. "Captain I need to speak to you immediately."
Malcolm entered the security control room, a room that was filled with screens, displays and monitoring equipment analysing all functions on-board the ship including power control, environment, and more, but most importantly for Malcolm's goals, the security footage. Lieutenant Penvil had already began to look over as much of the footage as he could, however it is a big ship, the biggest Starfleet ever built, and it could have taken days for one to look over all that.
"Any news?" Malcolm asked, pulling up a chair.
"Well to narrow the search down, I began by looking at predictable locations for people to be." Penvil explained.
"The mess hall, main engineering, medbay, their quarters." Malcolm guessed.
"Exactly, now we don't have any recording equipment inside anyone's quarters but we do have them in the corridors outside them. So I brought up Julia Corborough's quarters and this is what I found." Penvil brought up the footage and pointed towards the screen. It showed footage of an empty corridor, the camera was partially focused on the door to her quarters. The doors suddenly slid open as if someone was about to walk through it, but instead of a figure, a crack of blue and white light shot through the doorway, and the door soon door simply slid shut again. Penvil continued to explain. "Now I thought, some of the missing are from engineering right? So I pulled up the footage from main engineering and sure enough..." New footage appeared, and the same events played out, the door opened, blue and white light, door closed again.
"Okay that's weird."
"Here's the thing, both of these happened at the same time, and both coincided with the sounding of the black alert."
"You think they are connected?"
"Must be, otherwise its a hell of a coincidence."
On the bridge, Coal explained his theory to the captain. He believed that the missing was due from a error in piloting the spore drive. That as he moved the ship, some of the crew didn't come with them. Just now finding out that there are more than one missing crewmen, and the news from Malcolm that they all disappeared around the same moment the jump was made, Coal's fears had just been confirmed.
Malcolm stepped onto the bridge just as ops reported that they are picking up a Starfleet transponder signal originating at the coordinates they had made the jump.
"Drop us out of warp," the captain gave the order and the stars ceased to zip by and suddenly halted as the hum of the warp engines powered down. Specks on the viewscreen, a number of them, glicened, several objects floated in space several thousand kilometres from the Rodney. "Magnify," Rown ordered and the viewscreen enlarged and magnified on one of the specks.
It was a body, they all where, less than a kilometre apart, all of them frozen and boiled in space, various faces of shock and terror, and all in Starfleet uniforms. Many of the bridge crew looked away from the viewscreen, variations on looking down at their stations and feet, and just straight up shutting their eyes. Malcolm swallowed and gently and quietly told ops to begin transporting the dead inside. But before they could respond with the standard 'aye sir' power all over the ship suddenly dropped.
Many of the crew had began to see their missing friends or colleagues floating outside in space, many of the rightfully confused and upset. In the medbay, Ellie tried to calm the woman who had lost her partner.
"Dr Coal said "I am sorry' before he ran off," she said. "This has something to do with him and that device." She pointed at the spore navigation chamber.
"I know nothing more than you," Ellie responded as calmly as she could.
"Really? Where is he?"
"I don't know, maybe on the bridge or..." Ellie was cut off as the lights suddenly dimmed and then went out. "What the." She went to the nearest console however none of the buttons would respond and the screen was completely out. She then opened a small box attached to the wall and pulled out two flashlights and handed one to the other officer.
"Power must be out." She said quietly.
"Dr Malcolm to bridge," Ellie said, tapping her ear twice, however she received no response. She repeated the request but a voice spoke from the darkest as someone entered the room.
"Doctor Ellena Malcolm. But of course that's not your real birth name, now is it? "Malcolm' is the name of your husband and the good commander. You were born Ellena Miller." So stepped out of the shadow was General L'Rol, free of his prison, pointing a stolen phaser at the two.
"This was you?" Ellie asked carefully.
"An ally did, unfortunately, I did nothing." He responded, clearly pleased with himself.
"What do you want?" She said firmly.
"Compensation," he responded. "I want to make sure the good commander does not kill me as soon as I escape this ship. So of course who else better to take hostage?"
L'Rol immediately turned to the other officer, a orange stream left his phaser and impacted her in the chest. She collapsed onto the floor. Ellie crouched down and felt for a pulse, there was none, she immediately died from the phaser shot. L'Rol knelt down and spoke softly to Ellie.
"I do not negotiate. You are a means to an end. This warships weapons are down, your security cannot trace me, I can just walk out of here but I need you. You must see, it is not the Malcolm I am interested in, it is the real you, it is the Miller I need."
Engineers had slowly began to get power to comms and sensors back online. Malcolm and the rest of the command crew were trapped on the bridge but as soon the comms were back up, he attempted to contact the medbay. He repeated his requests for contact however he was met with no respond. Ops reported that one of the shuttles have launched from the forward hangerbay.
"Can we lock a tractor on them?" Rown asked.
"Negative sir, we haven't got power to that system yet." The shuttle crossed a long distance from the Rodney before jumping to warp, leaving the ship behind.
1:5 (The Romulan Crisis: Treachery) Edit
"We have just got our warp capabilities back online," the operations officer told the command crew. Captain Rown, Commander Malcolm, Dr Coal, LT Penvil and more sat around the conference room table. The operations officer was providing them a presentation of the extent of the sabotage. "Weapons, shields, long range sensors have received extensive sabotage, we will have to return to drydock for repair in those systems. Environmental is holding but the CO2 scrubbers are working beyond their recommended speed. We preformed a crew head count and all members accounted for except Lieautenant Commander Ellena Malcolm, head of the medical department. We can only assume that the prisoner L'Rol kidnapped her and escaped in the shuttle."
"Thank you ensign," Rown said. "You can go." The operations officer nodded and left the room.
"Who did this?" Malcolm said with his hand over his face.
"We don't know, the Romulan General escaped so must have been waiting for it."
"You reckon one of ours did it?"
"Whoever it was knew exactly where to hit us, it only makes sense. Maybe it was Dr Malcolm, she could have worked with him and then defect."
"No she wouldn't," Malcolm said dropping his hand. "El was taken against her will, she's not a Romulan spy."
"Well we can't know for sure, the security footage went out with the power." The captain said.
"I know for sure," Malcolm insisted raising his voice. "Their warp signature is still fresh, we need to follow it and get them back."
"And do what?" Rown asked. "Our weapons and shields are down, we were ordered to engage one target, if we go rogue now we could turn the Neutral Zone into a war zone." Malcolm clearly seemed disappointed. "You can go find the one who did this before we get back to earth."
"We need to interrogate anyone who spoke to went to the brig or might have spoke to L'Rol." Malcolm suggested.
"Get on it," the captain replied. "Lieutenant, look through the logs, I want to know who's access code was used."
"Aye captain," Penvil agreed.
Ellie lay on the cold hard floor, green flashes of from behind a ventilation system woke her up. She at first could not see anything through her hair, the ringing in her ear and a burning headache. Back in the medbay, Ellie had taken a full stun blast to the face, that she put together was the reason for all this discomfort. She slowly stood up and she saw she was left in a small, rectangular room halved off with a glass wall and a table and chairs on each side of the glass. Ellie was unfortunately not on the side of the glass that did not have the door to exit the room that she noted now slid open. Through the door stepped General L'Rol.
"Good you are awake," he commented. "You've been asleep for a couple of days but now we can begin."
He sat down in the chair on the other side of the glass. From the side of his table, he pulled a device out and used it to open a hole in the glass, he then pushed a padd through the hole before closing it back up again.
"What is this?" She asked sitting down on her side.
"I'm sure you should recognise it, your brother I believe is obsessed with it."
Ellie looked at the information displayed on the padd and soon realised that it is an analysis for the data stream signal that Paul had been analysing for months and has been the source for the Odyssey project and the Sagittarius mission.
"Tell me doctor," he insisted. "What does that look like to you?"
"Looks like some kind of repeating signal," She said trying to sound clueless.
"Its an advanced, long range, compressed sequence of information that even our, and your, best minds cannot decrypt. Now I know that your brother is working on it for Starfleet."
"So what? You want me to decrypt it?"
"No of course not, you're a doctor after all, your work is with the physical, biological, mental. Not an engineer. This is why I bring this to your attention." L'Rol pressed a few buttons on his display and Ellie's began to focus on a specific band of the signal. She recognised the pattern now displayed.
"That's infrasound," Ellie said. "That's been linked to the causes of paranoia, delirium, hallucinations."
"Precisely," he said leading forward. "Imagine a weapon using this signals base frequency, carrying infrasound through the vacuum of space, we could defeat our enemies without firing a shot. Immobilise an entire crew almost instantly." He snapped his fingers once he reached the word 'instantly.'
"OUR enemies? You mean YOUR enemies."
"Doctor I did not start this crisis. But if one side is not swiftly dealt with, this crisis could turn into a quadrant wide war. Then there will be no victory." L'Rol said, looking nothing but disappointed. He then stood up and prepared to leave. "You will come round, or we can use one of the many unpleasant ways to make you come round."
Malcolm must have seen up to five or six officers, he gave all of them the same overly polite hello, seeing each of them individually. He asked simple questions like how they where, trying to make it seem has a simple friendly chat before finally bluntly asking the question he wanted answered.
"What where you doing speaking to the prisoner L'Rol?"
Some of them just shrugged off the question, most of them said that the prisoner attempted to engage in conversation but they terminated the interaction whilst on guard duty. Realising he was getting nowhere, he soon just told them to leave the room and he simply placed his head in his hands. The spy not only had to have been aware of the mission, but also the conversation he had with Paul before they left, and enough technical access to sabotage systems across the entire ship simultaneously. He came to the conclusion that they must have had access to the monitoring/control room.
"Thank you for seeing me, captain." Penvil greeted Rown and they both sat down in the captains ready room.
"Of course Lieutenant," captain Rown responded. "I take it you have your report for me?"
"Yes I do."
"Well spit it out lad."
"Captain, the authorisation code to overload those systems and bypass the safeguards? It was Commander Richard Malcolm's."
Across the quadrant, Paul was returning home from working in the Starforge factory. The modified quantum warp engine was now being fitted to the Miller Two, the USS Odyssey. The engine had been tested and approved, the space frame superstructure had been tested and approved, finally she would be ready for launch as soon as Richard and Ellie returned. From beginning of construction, it only took nearly 6 months to finally be complete, due to advances in efficiency and that the Odyssey was given one of the fastest construction crews Starforge and Starfleet had to offer. Paul was happy to hear that Starfleet had approved development to begin on three more Miller classes; the USS Aquarious, the USS Star's Light, and a third currently unnamed ship, all to begin development by the end of the year.
Stepping into the threshold, Paul called out "hey!" meant as a greeting to inform Ellie and Richard that he was home, however he took it back when he realised that they two were still off world. But to his surprise, a voice called from the living room.
"In here." It called. Paul cautiously approached the living room door, the room was dark and appeared empty, however turning the lights on revealed Admiral Galeb was sitting in Malcolm's favourite chair. "Hello Lieutenant." He smiled.
"How did you get in?"
"Oh I just let myself in."
"What do you want?"
"You know I like you Paul, may I call you that?" Galeb said, he was looking over papers and notes he took from Paul's home office. "You are determined, you will do anything to get things done your way. I haven't done anything until now because I didn"t think you could do it but you did, your engine works. But the mission, your signal? Cannot actually be gone through with." "That signal is evidence of an intelligent species possibly attempting to contact us." Paul defended.
"It could be anything, even if it was, you could be alerting a powerful enemy to Earth's location."
"Well we won't know that until we go."
"There's no point in arguing with you, now is there Paul?" Galeb sighed. "So I have come to propose an ultimatum. The USS Rodney is returning from it's mission in the neutral zone, however it's captain is reporting that Richard Malcolm's authorization code was used to sabotage systems to allow for the enemy commander to escape with Dr Malcolm. Now they both are under suspicion of espionage. Do you think it will be a stretch to say that you had some involvement as well?"
"We did nothing, you know that."
"Maybe, but it's not about what I know, it's about what the court decides. Now I could ensure that your sister is returned safely from enemy territory or I could see both you and your brother-in-law thrown in prison, your sister remain in enemy hands, and the Odyssey melted down for parts. All you have to cancel the mission. Choose." The admiral walked past leaving Paul to his thoughts.
Malcolm was being escorted down the corridor towards the brig, two guards either side of him, with the captain and LT Penvil too as he attempted to plead for his innocence. He was quickly pushed into a containment unit in the brig and activated the forcefield.
"How could you do it, Richard, we trusted you." The captain said in disappointment.
"I told you I'm innocent."
"I would very much like to believe that, it was your authorization code used to sabotage the ship."
"Then I was set up, but I am not a spy!" He said raising his voice. "It was my wife who was taken."
"It was you who jumped to her defence, you both could be working together!" The captain shouted.
"I was set up!" Malcolm returned at equal volume. Captain Rown scoffed at this, shaking his head and taking the padd Penvil held. Tapping the screen an audio file played: "This is Commander Richard Malcolm. Identification Alpha-Three-Zero-Charlie-Four, i-6-1-5." He tapped the screen again and ended the audio file. Malcolm recognised as his own voice.
Captain Rown commented on how they will arrive at Earth within the end of the day and walked out of the room, Penvil turned and began to follow him until Malcolm spoke out.
"Penvil," he said. "Please, you were there, you know I didn't do this."
"I can't know that," he shook his head. "You left right before the black out, you have no alibi. I'm sorry, commander." Penvil then simply left the room.
Malcolm paced for a moment, sat down on the bench and place his head in his hands. Looking through his fingers, he saw the figure in the cell in the other side of the brig stand up and walk to the edge of the cell forcefield. Focusing on the figure, he saw that it was the Cardassian ambassador, evidently L'Rol had not rescued him in his escape.
"What are you looking at?" Malcolm said.
"A Federation on the same level as a Cardassian for the first time in decades." The ambassador said smiling. "My name is Kaden."
"I don't care," Malcolm said laying himself down on the cell bench.
Doctor Coal was searching down the corridor, immediately spotting Riley, he began to jog after him.
"Crewman!" He called out after him. Riley stopped and turned on his heel. "You hear about what's happened with the commander?"
"Yeah they are saying he and doctor Malcolm are Romulan spies." He replied.
"I did just meet Doctor Malcolm a few weeks ago but I don't think she's a spy, I don't know about you."
Riley just shook his head and said, "The commander left me alone for most of the mission but he could have left me to die on that station, so I trust him."
"Exactly what I was thinking, why would he help destroy the station, why not just let us be destroyed?"
"What do you want of me?"
"Can you get me access to the monitoring station?"
Malcolm continued to simply lay on the bench in his cell, out of the corner of his eye he repeatedly glanced over at the Cardassian ambassador Kaden. He noticed that the ambassador was doing the same and this frustrated him.
"You know if you fancy me or something that's fine but can you not gush over me please," Malcolm joked. Kaden snorted at this.
"Don't flatter yourself, Richard isn't it?" He responded, Malcolm rolled his eyes at Kaden's attempted use of his first name. "So why have your crew turned against yo-"
Malcolm got frustrated and stood up, speaking over Kaden, "No this is an actual question: What the fuck is Cardassia doing trying to cause a war between the Romulans and Starfleet?"
"Its complicated," Kaden said suddenly staring down at his feet.
Kaden paused for a moment and took a deep breath. "After the end of the war, Cardassia was left decimated, our territories were carved up and our people were hated across the quadrant. Claiming we had turned our backs on on the rest of the quadrant. Then the Treaty of Cardassia came along, and the reparations Starfleet proposed, we knew it would bankrupt us but we had no choice. We found intelligence of a Cardassian agent who was stationed on Deep Space Nine during the war and knew Benjamin Sisko's actions to trick the Romulans into joining on their sides, so we took our chance."
"So you would see millions die in a war over reparations?"
"I don't want to see anyone die, but I would do anything to prevent my people from suffering any more than they already have."
Riley opened the monitoring room for the doctor, bypassing the security systems, the door slid open. The room was thankfully empty, so many of the screens were therefore left on standby. Coal pulled up a chair and turned on the security footage as Riley secured the lock again.
"What are you looking for again?" Riley asked.
"I'm not sure yet, I'm guessing I should start by looking at the commanders movements before the black out." He brought up the footage of Malcolm entering the monitoring room before the blackout, fastforwarding the footage until he walked out the room, however the moment the doors slid open, the footage turned to static, and footage from there to the bridge turbolift was in the same state.
"Well doesn't that prove it then, he has no alibi." Riley commented.
"Maybe," Coal sighed. Riley noticed an anomaly in the source feed and quickly pushed Coal out of the seat.
"Wait a second," Riley mumbled to himself as he switched the footage to that of when the prisoners were first taken aboard.
"What is it?"
"Look at this," he said pointing to the screen. The Romulan General was being taken to the brig and for a split second, the footage appeared to loop back on itself, it as nearly unnoticeable if Riley had not pointed it out, it not just happened once, but twice. "Oh that's smart."
"The footage of the commander moving to the bridge would be obvious to find, the footage is encrypted, cut and even having the cameras shut off entirely. However this was folded in onto itself, removing the footage but appearing to just be a glitch. This would be much harder to find but easier to undo."
"I can, gimme a minute," Riley said. He began to scan the piece of footage, and tapping the console screens in a way that Coal just found like nonsense. Eventually he said he was done and played the raw footage. The Romulan General was escorted, the commander and captain spoke for a few minutes, and the two disbanded. Suddenly, an Andorian red shirt walked down the now empty corridor, half way down he lent down and picked up a small object off the floor. Riley replayed the footage and focused on the grid the object was picked up from. The two saw that the Romulan General dropped a small data chip, and that was what was picked up by the Andorian. Suddenly the door slid open behind them, a security officer holding their phaser out.
"Captain wants to speak to you two," he said.
"Good, because we need to speak to him," Riley responded confidently.
Riley and Coal explained the situation to the Captain. He sat and listened, watching a repeat of the footage over and over and over. He recognised the red shirt in the footage as Lieutenant Penvil, the same officer who had told him that it was commander Malcolm's authorization code that was used, so he had called for the lieutenant to be brought to his ready room and a search of his quarters to begin for any object that resemble that chip. The Lieutenant entered the room rather confused but stood at attention.
"You called for me, captain?" He said. Rown remained silent and just turned the screen around so it was facing him. Penvil's face dropped. "Captain I can explain..."
"Can you?" The captain eventually asked. "You told me that my first officer was a Romulan spy, you manipulated me into turning on him. Am I wrong?"
"You edited and manipulated evidence, you conspired to free an enemy commander that resulted in the capture of a Starfleet medical chief. Am I wrong?"
Penvil took a deep breath and simply said "no."
Suddenly the door opened and commander Malcolm along with another security officer stepped inside.
"Ah commander," the Captain said. "I assume you've got the evidence I asked for."
"Of course," Malcolm said pretending to be cheery. Holding up the data chip. "Its an audio file, taken from that Romulan battlestation. While I was on the bridge, I gave my authorization code as a bluff, they must have taken that. All it took was to allow for the Lieutenant to get the data chip as discovered by crewman Riley and Dr Coal." Malcolm turned to the two and nodded, "thanks for that" he said honestly.
"Before you arrest me, I would like it to be put on record that I did what I did for the federation. We are guilty for what we did to the Romulans, we are responsible for every Romulan death during the war, and we need judgement." Penvil commented.
"Yeah well plenty of people seem to feel like that nowadays." Malcolm commented but Rown stood up at this.
"Lieutenant Penvil, you are under arrest on charges and admission of these charges of espionage, conspiracy to frame a fellow Starfleet officer, and treason. Security escort him to the brig." The captain said and the security officers walked Penvil out.
Across the quadrant, deep within a secret Romulan research base, Dr Ellie Malcolm was unwillingly working with General L'Rol to weapons the infrasound system after being given a mind-altering syrum. Malcolm and Rown took their places on the bridge as the helm reported that they were approaching Earth. Long-range sensors were still down so they had expected to have no reports from Earth. Dropping out of warp, the bridge crew were taken aback to see in the viewscreen that a D'deridex class Romulan battlecruiser sat in high orbit around the blue Earth.
1:6 (The Romulan Crisis: Rising Tides) Edit
The D'deridex slowly moved itself to be positioned in front of the Rodney, beginning to scan the Starfleet ship. Captain Rown gave the red alert and began asking for weapons and shields. Ops reported that shields were still offline but they had managed to restore minimal weapons. Deciding that the chances of victory was slim at best, Rown chose to hail the Romulan ship to first give it a chance to leave peacefully.
"This is Captain Dean Rown of the Federation carrier Rodney, you are trespassing in Federation core world space, return to the neutral zone immediately or you will be fired upon." In response a rather scorned looking Romulan appeared on screen.
"Excuse me??" He said in shock and disgust. "You summon us to earth for a peace summit and THIS is how we are welcomed?"
Rown glanced over to Malcolm at the security station and he appeared just as confused. Rown turned back to the viewscreen, gave a quick cough and said, "standby while we confirm the situation." The screen turned off as Rown asked the comm to report.
"Starfleet Command is telling us to stand down, sir." She said.
"You might have thought to tell us that earlier, crewman." Malcolm commented purposely to freak her out.
"It just came in, sir."
"Okay put me back on," Rown said and the viewscreen turned back on as Rown tried to give his friendliest smile. "Apologies for the misunderstanding, our long range comms were down for repairs so we were not aware of any summit, it won't happen again."
"You better make sure of it captain," the Romulan scowled before turning the screen off again.
This was indeed a peace summit that what was about to begin on the planet's surface. For the first time since this crisis began, Romulan and Starfleet representatives met face-to-face to attempt a diplomatic solution. Around the federation's side sat the federation fleet admirals, including Head Fleet Admiral Collins, Admiral Galeb, President Janeway and members of the Starfleet council. On the Romulan side of the table sat the representative of the Praetor, and several ambassadors and chosen representatives.
"We cannot agree to that," Janeway insisted.
"Those are our Praetor's terms," the representative said. "The federation will hand over three systems in the Neutral Zone to the Romulan Star Empire as payment for the three colonies destroyed during the dominion war, reparations of no less than 470 billion credits to be paid annually over the next 10 years to the Romulan Star Empire, and the federation shall rename the Captain Benjamin Sisko as a war criminal."
One of the Romulan ambassadors turned to him and said, "this is pointless, they will never agree to peace, they showed as much when they destroyed our station."
"The attack on that station was a retaliatory action taken in response to the destruction of one of our own, we hope that we can now move away from such violence," Fleet Admiral Collins said.
"Perhaps we should begin with something simple, a prisoner exchange?" Janeway suggested. "We have the Cardassian ambassador Kaden, you have Lieutenant Commander Ellena Malcolm."
"Why would we give up a Starfleet hostage for a Cardassian hostage?"
"The ambassador has confirmed us that Cardassia is in alliance with New Romulus, so I suggest not bothering." Admiral Galeb said. The Romulans spoke privately to each other to consider the proposal, and soon they made an edition.
"We return your officer, and you return the Cardassian and every prisoner you took from our station," they said.
"Absolutely not," Galeb attempted to say before Janeway cut him off.
"Agreed," she said.
"Ma'am I'm sorry but that is not a fair trade." Galeb insisted.
The representative of the Romulan Praetor stood and walked himself over to President Janeway's seat, reaching his hand out. Janeway took his hand to solidify the agreement.
"We will allow you to send one ship into our space to retrieve your person, I will have my people send you the coordinates of the base she is being held at."
In high orbit around Mars, the Utopia Planitia shipyards towed the USS Rodney into it's dock for repairs after the extensive sabotage. Many of the crew stepped off the ship, Malcolm embraced Paul before he could even greet him. Malcolm was simply relieved to be home.
The two walked down the corridors of the Utopia Planitia, this vast network of stations and drydocks connected with thousands of corridors windowed on as many surfaces as possible so the occupants can observe the majestic starships being constructed. As they talked, Malcolm did notice that Paul must have been leading him somewhere. They talked about the events of the mission, how Ellie was taken, until Malcolm mentioned how he was going to convince Captain Rown to take the Rodney to rescue her.
"Well maybe you won't have to convince him," he said stopping at a window that looked directly into a particular drydock. "You can take the Odyssey."
Malcolm observed the ship as Paul listed off facts and design features he had memorized and Malcolm hardly paid attention. Roughly 500 metres in length. The Odyssey was designed to be compact and nimble, despite it's size and adopting a much flatter profile than other Starfleet designs. It's pylons connected at the neck and swept back from there, however connecting near the rear of the naccelles, meaning the naccelles and the sourcer overlap with each other. A large shuttle bay is located in the back of the neck capable of holding six uniquely specialised shuttles, each an experimental design constructed by Starforge Industries. A secondary shuttle bay is located in the aft section. This aft shuttle bay is only capable, however, on holding and launching a single runabout class to act as a secondary craft. The crew consisted of a total of 385 personnel. Just over a hundred of which are Starfleet officers, a further two hundred of the crew consisted of Starforge personnel to maintain the ships systems and was a result of the ship being built in cooperation between Starfleet and Starforge Industries.
"You said I can take her?" He said.
"Yes, Starfleet has accepted my recommendation. You are going to be a captain."
To Paul's surprise, Malcolm turned and hugged Paul, simply saying "thanks man."
Recognising the importance of Ellie's retrieval was to Malcolm, Starfleet assigned the Odyssey to the mission to the revealed Romulan base to bring Ellie home. Nervous, Malcolm had only a week since he found out he would become captain, and since then he had his promotion ceremony. Since the Odyssey was designed for a long term mission, Starfleet had issued a new specialised uniform. The uniform he had been wearing on the Rodney had been much darker, coloured a sort of dark bluish grey, with department piping that ran across to reach each shoulder, and a diagonal piping to signify the edge of the zip edge of the jacket ran across the chest. The fabric was a higher density material as it was ment for military combat purposes. On the otherhand, the Odysseys uniform was considerably different. For instance the material of the jacket was much softer feeling with thin padding across the chest and a thicker padding on the shoulders. Where this thicker padding was were the department colour was. Red for tactical and security, yellow for engineering and operations, blue for science, and the medical uniform was a solid white for the entire uniform with grey detail and sectioning. The captain had the option of either red or a white shoulders. The coloured shoulder sections stretched from shoulder to shoulder, and contained within a white piping that met in the upper chest and followed each other straight down the front and around the bottom of the jacket and straight up to split off around the collar, the purpose to hide the zip attachments of the jacket.
Malcolm zipped up the jacket to where the bottom of the coloured shoulder pads where it was most comfortable, he saw next to him that Paul was zipping it up all the way up to the collar.
"Ready?" Paul nodded.
"How many is it again?"
"Around one hundred Starfleet officers."
Malcolm gave a loud breathe out.
"You nervous?" Paul asked.
"No no why would I be nervous? What made you think that?"
"That nervous reaction to the number of Starfleet officers you are about to address."
"I am fine Paul," he responded. Paul cautiously nodded. "Okay let's do this."
The doors opened revealing a wide hall filled with one hundred officers. At the end of the hall sat a large closed airlock under a window that displayed the sight of the USS Odyssey. All the officers turned to their captain as he walked down the middle. The Starforge workers were already onboard, preping the ship for the crew to join them in command of the ship. Approaching the airlock, Captain Malcolm turned around to face the crowd.
"Now I'm not a good public speaker," Malcolm sighed. "So I'm going to keep this short... When I first heard of Lieutenant Miller's idea, I didn't think it would be realised. I certainly did not think I would be the captain of that realisation, and now I stand in front of all of you. That idea was a simple one: to explore, further than any man or woman had gone before, although that idea has been challenged and thrown into question, I expect each and everyone of you to work towards that idea as I will. If it is the neutral zone, the edges of federation space, or even another galaxy, we will show the dame commitment to that idea. And that will be the legacy of the USS Odyssey."
The crowd clapped as Malcolm sighed in relief, he nodded to Paul as he inputted a combination that the airlock unlocked and slowly slid open. Malcolm stepped into the corridors followed by the crew. The floors were well carpeted, and the walls were curved upwards in silver aches backed with grey paneled walls. The ship was well lit and evidently designed for a long term mission and for comfort with still a sense of professionalism and formality.
Malcolm had Ambassador Kaden transported on board to the brig, Starfleet was not comfortable with exchanging the final prisoner until they received Ellie. The Romulan D'deridex remained in orbit as the Romulan prisoners we moved on board.
"Captain on bridge!" Riley shouted from the tactical station on the bridge. He had been promoted to the rank of ensign and assigned to what Malcolm was on the USS Shinwari, head of security, he saw alot of himself in Riley. The rest of the bridge crew stood to attention. At the Operations and Engineering station sat the only non-starfleet officer, Miss Jennifer Gillian. She had been assigned to the crew as the leader of the just under 200 Starforge crew. At the helm was Ensign Anderson Reece had managed to get himself assigned with plenty of skill and experience. Captain Malcolm was yet to choose a First Officer and was considering many candidates.
Malcolm approached the captains chair. Staring at it for a second, running it's fingers along the leather before slowly sitting down on it and the rest of the crew sat down at their stations. Malcolm scanned his hand print on a screen on the side of the captains chair that activated it's features. He clicked a switch marked 'Engineering' and opened a comm line down to that department.
"Lieutenant Miller, you ready." He asked.
"Er yes yes we are ready down here, warp core primed and on standby," Paul reported. Malcolm acknowledged and reflicked the switch and closed the comm line, and nodded towards helm.
"Take us out, Ensign," he said. "Set a course to the coordinates, warp 9."
"Aye aye captain," Reece said. "Undocking from Utopia Planitia, activating manuvuering thrusters, guiding us out."
A gentle hum filled the room as the Odyssey began to push forward out the dock.
The Odyssey shot through space, expanding and compressing space-time around us to allow us to see stars fly by. Paul said that the Odyssey's top warp speed was around warp factor 9.997 but the quantum warp drive, which was currently offline, could easily surpass that. Captain Malcolm allowed for the bridge crew to operate themselves as the ship peacefully flew through space. Days past until Malcolm finally went down to speak to Ambassador Kaden.
"You know, ambassador, I've had a thought." Malcolm said sitting in front of the cell.
"That maybe you would want to upgrade me from a cell to some quarters?" He responded. Malcolm gave a possibly insincere chuckle.
"No," he said bluntly. "I was thinking, what side would Cardassia have been on?"
"Excuse me? I don't follow."
"Well you couldn't have really thought that Cardassia would have remained neutral if the worst case scenario happened."
"I suppose not."
"And you certainly wouldn't have sided with us," Malcolm continued as Kaden began to piece together what he was trying to say. "You say that you will do anything to stop your people from suffering, do you think fighting an unwinnable war is the path to that? Just think about that." Malcolm stood up out of his seat, Kaden watched him as he walked out of the room realising the hypocrisy of what he just threatened the Cardassian with, but hopefully in the long run it will prevent another crisis.
Across the quadrant, the talks had just disbanded their fourth meeting. The two sides agreed on minor points such as the exchange of prisoners, and the immediate retraction of military assets along the Neutral Zone. However as soon as the issue of reparations, and territory was brought up, neither side could reach an agreement. They were stuck at a deadlock. Admiral Galeb had requested that the representative of the Praetor to speak to him privately in his office.
"You requested my presence, Admiral," the Representative said entering the room.
"Yes of course please sit," Galeb said. "Now I want it to be known that I am only tell you this in respect for this peace." Galeb tapped a button on the console attached to his desk, and out from the speakers played a loud digitised screeching noise, it was the Sagittarius data stream.
"What is that," the Representative said as Galeb turned the speakers off again.
"That has been the interest of people in my government for almost a year now. Intelligence has estimated it to originate in the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy over 50 thousand light years from earth. It started at first on just the boarder of our space, now reports indicate that our mid and core world's have started to detect it."
"Ah yes some of our ships in the Neutral Zone have reported some interference, I assumed it must have been just a supernova or another cosmological event but members of our science division took interest in it, I could never figure out why."The representative commented.
Galeb continued. "Despite my recommendations, my government has invested in two new methods of transportation. One being a revival of a 23rd century piece of technology retrieved from the fall of Section 31, the second is a revolutionary engine that can fly a ship estimated 20 times faster than the most advanced warp engines."
"And this engine is to find the origin of this signal?"
"That is just the thing," Galeb said leaning forward. "Shortly before the ship hosting the engine was completed, the designer cancelled the project. And yet Starfleet hasn't only launched it, but also have begun development on three more. I fear that my government plans to use these engines to swiftly conquer New Romulus. I have ensured that this ship was the one sent into your space to retrieve our people. I'm telling you this because for this is your best chance to destroy it before it can be used against you."
The representative looked concerned and stood up. "Thank you Admiral, I will discuss this matter with my superiors." He said before swiftly exiting the room. The admiral remained in his chair and smiled, he knew his attempts at manipulation had planted concern and paranoia into the Representative for the Praetor himself. And now he was one step closer to removing New Romulus as a quadrant power once and for all. Galeb tapped the console screen and the data stream was played on the speakers. He closed his eyes and listened closely. He often found it to speak to him if he paid it as much attention as it wanted. At first he found the noise to be disturbing but now it was nothing less than relaxing.
The USS Odyssey continued on its path through Romulan space. Malcolm had Gillian checking continually long range sensors to track any Romulan vessels in the vicinity. She noted that there was one Romulan light warbird following them since they entered their space however it kept it's distance. Malcolm thought that there could be hundreds of Shadowbirds surrounding them and they would never even know.
Helmsman Anderson Reece reported that they were approaching the coordinates and the Odyssey dropped out of warp. They were currently stationary around a dead planet. A lifeless world with no breathable atmosphere to speak of around a red dwarf star. The planet was comparable in size to a moon, and was compose primarily of nickel and iron. No life could survive there, possibly microorganisms living in the frozen subterranean oceans, the only structure was in the southern hemisphere, an expansive metal complex that dug deep into caves and passages beneath the surface.
"Right that must be where the Romulans live," Malcolm said, before flicking a switch marked 'shuttlebay one.'
"Lieutenant, prepare for launch, I want you and Ellie out of there as soon as possible, don't hang around down there."
Down in the shuttlebay, Paul sat in the co-pilot seat of the transport shuttle. Starforge equipt the Odyssey with six unique purpose built craft, each one designed for any outcome they could predict. There was the Aero-shuttle designed for atmospheric flight. What Malcolm has nicknamed the "Dragonfly" as he believed it resembled one, it didn't, and was designed with the most advanced shielding to pass through unstable space and nebula. The next was a small, two-man Fighter designed for combat. There was the fastest shuttle, the nicknamed the Miller One, as it was the only one capable travelling at Quantum Warp. A small science-dedicated shuttle, built with the most advanced sensors of the six. And the transport shuttle, the largest and slowest of the shuttles but capable of transporting up to 30 officers comfortably and came equipped with a medical bed in case of emergencies.
Paul nodded to the pilot after receiving Malcolm's message and they launched out of the shuttlebay. The transport flew down to the complex that emerged out of the side of a mountainous region. Several small Scorpion fighters were launched from the base and escorted the shuttle down to a landing pad. The shuttle jalted as they past through the atmospheric shield. The pilot extended the landing gear as the shuttles entry kicked up rock and dust.
Awaiting Paul, along with several armed guards was General L'Rol, nicely cleaned up and looking imposing in his uniform.
"Lieutenant Paul Michael Miller!" L'Rol shouted in greeting as Paul stepped into the landing pad, leaving the pilot to hold the fort. "The brilliant Paul Miller, I've heard plenty about you." He reached out his arm and Paul took it, contrasting L'Rol's loud friendly greeting with his own quiet and self conscious outlook, avoiding eye contact as much as he could. "And I hear the good commander has been promoted, now captain of that magnificent ship in orbit. However let it be known that simply being captain doesn't make you the most valuable person on the ship, eh?" He said as he patted Paul on the back.
"I would like to see my sister now," he said quietly.
"Oh of course!" L'Rol cheerfully said. It was at this point that Paul realised what L'Rol was doing, he was purposely attending to make him feel as uncomfortable as possible and make himself seem above Paul by being as loud and abrasive as he was. "Of course you didn't come down here to chat, follow me and I will show you to her."
The Romulan General ordered his men to disembark as he did not believe Paul would be any threat. He escorted Paul into the base, down through the complex, passing development labs and construction bays. Paul soon realised that this must be the base that the Shadowbirds are being built. Soon L'Rol started talking once again, however much more seriously than the act he put on whilst on the landing pad.
"Your sister and I had great plans, it's such a shame," he said. "She's brilliant, your sister. It must run in the family, are your parents the same?"
Paul didn't answer, he simply looked at the floor and attempted to avoid eye contact. L'Rol seemed disappointed in this.
"No of course," L'Rol said quietly. "It is a shame. Although your sister and I could have done great things together, it's nothing compared to what you and I could have done. Together we could have reshaped the quadrant."
Paul finally looked up from the floor and gave the Romulan some eye contact.
"Perhaps," L'Rol lamented, "in another time, one which we were not on opposite sides. We could have gone down in history."
L'Rol stopped and gestured towards a door. Paul walked through it and entered a small room. The walls were paneled with screens and displays. In the centre sat Ellie, staring blankly, with headphones around her ears and was gesturing around the holographic display surrounding her.
"Ellie!" Paul called, running across the room to her. He pulled the headphones off and held onto her arms, yet she continued to stare blankly. "What is wrong with her?"
"A mind altering syrum," L'Rol said. "My own recipe, perfectly harmless, it should ware off in a few hours."
Paul was frustrated at him, and pulled Ellie up and put her arm around him.
"We are going back to our ship," he said. "We will transport the ambassador down when we get back on board."
L'Rol simply smiled and said "of course."
Paul sat Ellie in the shuttle, strapping her in before sitting next to her and told the pilot to launch.
The shuttle shook as it passed through the atmospheric shield again and entered orbit. Paul attempted to contact the Odyssey yet he was just met with static. He kept looking back at Ellie continuously before moving to the back of the shuttle to where she sat.
The pilot brought the shuttle to the bay doors and Ellie gave a reactionary gasp.
"Ellie?" He said in relief, holding her arm in his hand. She however remained blank faced. Approaching the shuttlebay on the Odyssey, Ellie removed a small device from the inside of her sleeves. Paul recognised it as a detonator.
In panic, Paul grabbed the detonator but Ellie held on, the best he could do was to prevent her from pushing the switch.
"What's happening back there?" The pilot called back as he landed the shuttle, he ran back as soon as he saw what was going on. The pilot scanned Ellie and reported "Its a spacial detonator, it could destroy the entire shuttle bay."
"You go and evacuate the deck." Paul told him.
"What about you?" The pilot asked.
"Just go, I'll be fine."
The pilot nodded and left the shuttle, leaving Paul to think of what to say.
"Ellie," he said looking up at her. "You know this isn't you. It's the Romulan syrum, you know it is." She continued to look blankly forward. "You promised that you would be back in only a few weeks, and I have waited months to see you again, and I don't believe that you would kill me after all that." Paul started to become desperate as he felt Ellie trying to push on the switch. "You know when we were kids, back when we were in school, I had gotten into a fight. I lost. And I hid at the end of the field with a broken hand and a black eye. I didn't want anyone to find me, but you found me. You helped my eye with some water and put my hand in a makeshift bandage with your coat. You remember what you said to me? You said you would never let anything hurt me, and if you've forgotten about that, then go right ahead." Paul relaxed his grip on the detonator and closed his eyes, anticipating the explosion to come. Second past and nothing happened.
Suddenly Paul felt something, however it was not what he expected. Ellie had put her arms around him and had dropped the detonator.
"Hiya twinsies," she said softly.
From the comm, Malcolm's voice filled the shuttle. "What's going on down there?" He asked.
"Is that Rich?" Ellie asked as Paul moved over to the comm.
"Don't transport the ambassador down," Paul said. "L'Rol has just tried to destroy the shuttle, we need to get out of here as soon as possible."
"Acknowledged," Malcolm said. Up on the bridge, Malcolm gave the order for Reece to take us back to federation space.
"Captain the warbird has locked weapons on us," Gillian said.
"Red alert. Raise shields, Mr Riley ready weapons." Malcolm ordered.
The bridge shook as the warbird's weapons impacted the Odyssey's shields. The federation vessel began to swing itself around as Reece gave Riley full clearance for the forward weapons.
The Odyssey's phasers struck the warbird and forced it to pull off their attacks and they began to fly back to the planet. Reece began to notice what the warbird was doing and recognised the tactic.
"Captain," Reece said. "They are trying to draw us into a trap and focus our attention on the warbird so they can deploy a Shadowbird."
"How can you know?" Malcolm asked.
"Because it's the same tactic they used against the Armstrong's Step." Reece said turning around in his seat. Behind his head, the viewscreen displayed a green light being aimed directly towards the Odyssey.
"Hard to port!" Malcolm ordered as the light grew larger and larger. Reece turned back round and quickly manuvered the ship so the light flew past the hull. Almost immediately a black shadow of a ship scrapped over the bridge. "Mr Riley return fire!"
"Negative captain, I can't lock onto either target. It must be a Shadowbird." He responded.
Malcolm thought for a second, they could not detect the Shadowbird or it's torpedoes, however they could still see them. He had an idea and opened a ship-wide channel.
"Attention this is the captain," he said, addressing the entire crew. "Any personnel who is currently not on duty, I need you to go to the nearest window, and report in. We need a full 360 degree visual contact."
Reece spent the next few minutes trying his best to avade a target he could only guess where it was. Eventually the Shadowbird adapted to the Odyssey's rapid movements and open fired. The stealth torpedo impacted the Odyssey's ventral side.
"Damage report," Malcolm asked for. Reece reported that the shields were draining and they could not take another hit like that.
"We won't have to," Gillian said. "Everyone has reported in."
"About time, Miss Gillian create a three dimensional grid around the ship based on the visual contact that the crew reports in. Riley, and Reece use the grid and coordinates of the Shadowbird to keep us safe and fight back. Understood." The bridge officers nodded in agreement. "Good, let's get to work people."
Miss Gillian called out the coordinates of the Shadowbird and that of the torpedoes. Reece used this information to avoid the torpedoes and to give Riley the best shots possible, and Riley in turn took those shots. The phasers struck the Shadowbird continuously, Reece thought that the pilot was at the very least equal to his own, comparing the fight to more of a dance of colossal starships. Riley peppered the Shadowbird with the ventral phase cannons, the advantage of the Shadowbird has is their stealth technology, but this does mean that the ship has not equipped with any shield technology. Riley told Gillian to divert power to the forward phasers, to produce an overload shot that cut through a buckled hull and burnt through decks and relays, crippling the Shadowbird.
"The Romulan vessels warp core is about to breach." Gillian said.
"Helm, get us back to Federation space, warp 8." Malcolm ordered.
The Odyssey engaged her warp engines as the Shadowbird's warp core ignited in a brilliant, blinding blue explosion.
Earth sat on alert. The president had been moved to her situation room in the Paris UFP building. The civilian population in major cities were being moved to the old Dominion war era bunkers as the Starfleet Council convened in San Francisco Starfleet Command. The council a stood around a holo-table that displayed a map of high orbit around the city, analysing the D'deridex.
"What the hell is going on," Head Admiral Collins asked.
"Captain Malcolm has reported that they were engaged in combat by the Romulans. Now the Romulan vessel in orbit has raised shields and is not responding to our hails." An admiral reported.
"We were at the negotiations table, how could this have happened?" Collins said in anger.
"Does it matter?" Admiral Galeb interjected. "It's obvious that the talks were a ploy to draw us into a disadvantage, we have lost our prisoners, we have one of our most advanced starships trapped on the wrong side of the Neutral Zone, and we have an Imperial warship in orbit around our homeworld."
"Admiral I do not have time for your war mongering right now," Collins said.
"Maybe you should," Galeb said moving towards Collins, meeting him straight in the eye. "It was under your design that we are in this situation, you invited the Romulans here."
Collins looked around the room and saw that the admirals had begun to whisper amongst themselves. He realised he had to make a stand against the Romulans to regain the council's trust in his strength.
"What is the status of our defences?" Collins reluctantly asked.
Galeb moved away from him and returned to the table and answered his question.
"The nearest ship capable of challenging them is still half an hour out, but our orbital and surface phase cannons are aimed and ready."
"Any success in hailing the Romulans?" Collins asked the communications officer.
"Negative admiral," she responded.
"We are waiting on your order, Admiral." Galeb said, looking at Collins' uncertainty.
Collins waited for a nearly half a minute, putting his hand on his hairline before reluctantly giving the order to fire.
At first the orbital defence grid engaged, phase cannons fired towards the D'deridex, typically this colossal warship would be capable of withstanding combat against federation weapons, however the overwhelming firepower of the planetary defence network crippled the ship. One of the orbital weapons platforms fired a quantum torpedo that impacted the D'deridex which pushed the ship further and further into the planet's atmosphere. As a desperate last move, the Romulans fired a barrage of stealth torpedoes as the hull began to heat up and break apart.
Although the council let a sigh of relief as the Romulan D'deridex was destroyed, but was was short lived as reports of green lights shining in the skies over major cities including New York, London, Paris and San Francisco.
Galeb desperately ordered to intercept the torpedoes with the surface phasers however they were having trouble locking on due to the stealth technology.
The council watched in horror as the torpedoes entered low earth atmosphere, approaching the major populated areas.
One by one the defences intercepted the torpedoes and the council cheered as the last one was safely shot down.
"The torpedoes have been intercepted," an officer reported however he was interrupted by the communications officer.
"Paris has been hit," she said and a wave of shock and grief ran over the council.
The Odyssey fled from Romulan detection, they were deep inside their territory and it would take a few weeks to return to Federation space without being followed.
Malcolm entered the medbay where Ellie rested. They saw each other and embraced.
"So you're a captain now," she said cheerfully.
"Yeah, er, Paul actually recommended me for the position."
"I still can't believe that this has all came from him. The USS Odyssey." She commented.
"El, why wouldn't L'Rol just fire on us, why would he do that whole thing with the explosive?" He asked.
"I suppose he wanted to make it be me who would destroy Paul's designs. Sort of a cruel irony."
"Still," Malcolm said trying to cheer up the situation. "At least you're safe now, we need to get you have to Federation space for debriefing."
"Does this mean I have to change my uniform?"
"Of course," Malcolm said smiling, gesturing to his uniform. "It's too stylish."
Ellie laughed as the alarm for the comm rang.
"Bridge to medbay," Jennifer's voice came over the comm. Malcolm responded and Jen continued, "Captain we are receiving an open broadcast from Command, you are gonna want to see this."
"I'll be right up," Malcolm said. "Come on, cab you walk."
"Yeah I should be able to," Ellie responded.
The two walked out of the medbay towards the turbolift.
Stepping into the bridge, Malcolm and Ellie recognised the voice of Admiral Galeb that played on the viewscreen. The admiral was sitting in his office addressing the ships of the Federation.
"And so," he said, "the Romulans left us no choice but to open fire on their ship of delegates over the homeworld. With their betrayal in assaulting our people who were promised safe passage to receive Starfleet prisoners, to their attacks on stations across our side of the Neutral Zone, they have demonstrated a complete disregard for the peace between our peoples. But most damaging of all, the attack on Earth that resulted in the destruction of the great city of Paris and the UFP headquarters. Estimated civilian casualties have risen to 1.4 million with more coming in every minute, including the death of our President, Kathryn Janeway. Time and time again we have tried to find a way out of a conflict with the Romulan Star Empire, however we have been forced to act and meet the challenge. In the last hour, Head Admiral and acting chief of the UFP until elections can be held, William Collins, has met with the ambassadors of various core worlds, and has come to the agreement that we are at war with New Romulus. A force of 34 starships have been deployed to the Neutral Zone to challenge the defences and intercept the warships of who are now our enemies. I shall be taking command of the USS Rodney to reinforce our defences on the front lines. I now call all of you, for the safety and security of the Federation, so our children and grandchildren may live in peace, to challenge them across the quadrant, to stand up to uncertainty and tyranny, until victory has been won and we have proven ourselves in our strength in our unity." The viewscreen went blank and Malcolm looked about at the bridge officers surrounding him in silence.
1:7 (The Romulan Crisis: Dark Days Part 1) Edit
"The days before us are dark days. For the second in the lives of many of us we are at war. But we must not let that topple us. We will show New Romulus what we are willing to stand up and push back against their tyrannical rule, and we will stand together." Collins addressed the Federation worlds, putting on a passionate performance for the ambassadors and the people he needed to speak for, however was internally disappointed in himself for simply using admiral Galeb's written speech for him. But he knew that what the people needed now was a strong and supportive leader that could make them feel safe.
Admiral Galeb had taken command of the USS Rodney. He had been authorised to strike at the heart of Romulan space. Rown simply had to stand back on the bridge and remain silent as the Rodney made a spore jump directly above New Romulus. He had managed to convince the admiral not to target the civilian population, but in one swift move, the Rodney fired a barrage of photon torpedoes and bombing military bases and construction sites, then spore jumping out of the system before the defences could respond.
Amidst all this chaos, the Odyssey sat in the atmosphere of a gas giant. The sulphuric acid and high levels of carbon dioxide were a strain on the hull plating but it masked the Odyssey's warp signature and Paul insisted in closing the naccelles unless Malcolm wished to cripple the coils.
The senior officers met in the ships conference room. Capatin Malcolm, Paul, Riley, Ellie, and Anderson Reece all sat around the table, on the other side of the room from the captains seat was a wall screen that displayed news updates and reports of the current situation.
"Earlier today, the USS Rodney commanded by Admiral David Galeb engaged the New Romulus defences and destroyed several weapons platforms in response to the attack on Paris..." Malcolm turned off the screen.
"What the hell is going on?" Malcolm said confused.
"I guess Galeb got what he wanted, a war between the Federation and New Romulus." Ellie said in response.
"That greasey two faced-" Malcolm muttered under his breath but stopped himself mid sentence. "I presume this is why L'Rol tried to kill us."
"Timeline does not match up," Riley said. "L'Rol probably made the first move."
"So what do we do now people? We cannot just stay here," Malcolm sighed.
"It is vital that we get back to the Federation," Ellie said. "I can't remember much from my time with the Romulans but L'Rol was making me work on some sort of weapon, using infrasound found in the Sagittarius data stream."
"What's infrasound?" Reece asked.
"Sound waves below the human threshold for hearing but has been linked to causes of paranoia and hallucinations. Often has been tied to ghost sightings." Ellie explained.
"You reckon that this may be the cause of this mess?" Malcolm asked.
"What kind of weapon was L'Rol developing?"
"Well infrasound alone cannot travel through space, however he found out that the data stream was able to carry its effects even through the vacuum of space. I believe he wanted to use this incapacitate a ship, a station, maybe even a whole planet without even needing to fire disruptors."
"Can he finish this weapon without your help?"
"Rich, I really do not recommend underestimating this Romulan in anything. Which is why we need to get back to Starfleet to warn them."
Malcolm stared at Ellie for a second before nodding and standing up.
"Alright," he said. "I want to remain on Yellow Alert until we are back safely. Mr Reece, set a course for the nearest Starfleet outpost, Mr Riley keep a constant weapons on standby, I don't want to be ambushed unprepared. Miller restart the naccelles."
With the captains orders clear, the senior officers disbanded and returned to their stations. Riley pulled Malcolm aside to speak to him on a more private matter.
"Captain it's been days since we should have delivered the ambassador, he's starting to get suspicious."
"You're right, he deserves to know what's happening, send him to my ready room, I will tell him."
Former Captain of the USS Rodney, Dean Rown sat in mess hall, nursing a raktajino. The Rodney led a task force of nine other starships patrolled the battlegrounds that was once called the Neutral Zone.
Doctor Coal saw him and walked over to speak to him.
"Captain," he said, sitting opposite him.
"Not captain anymore," Rown commented.
"Oh come now, no one actually respects that war hungry maniac. The crew knows who was the captain who launched this ship on its first mission. The admiral may be the one in the captains chair but you are the captain."
Rown was tapping the table with his nail as he started to get fed up at Coal's attempts at comfort.
"Aren't you supposed to be in the medbay? You know in case we need you to teleport us across the quadrant?" Rown said, and Coal took offense to his attitude.
"Okay there is no reason to-"
"I need to get back to the bridge," Rown interrupted before taking one last slip of his drink before walking away. However before he could reach the door to the mess hall, the Red Alert sounded. Rown turned round as the ship began to shake, out of the window they watched as a force of Romulan warships three times the size of the Federation task force dropped out of warp and began to open fire.
Ambassador Kaden was escorted into Malcolm's ready room by Riley. Malcolm nodded to Riley to dismiss him from the room.
"Ambassador, I understand that you have questions on why you have not been returned to the Romulans, and you deserve to know why," Malcolm said as he pulled out a padd. He thought for the second whether this was still a good idea before handing it over. Kaden watched the footage being displayed on the padd.
First was the Admiral Galeb's speech: "The Romulans left us no choice but to open fire on their ship of delegates over the homeworld."
Next was footage from a female reporter on the destruction of Paris: "Casualty reports are still flooding in but they are numbering in the tens of thousands, the question of what happened here today and could it have been avoided have rightfully been asked across the planet."
Next he saw Head Admiral Collins UFP address: "We will show New Romulus what we are willing to stand up and push back against their tyrannical rule, and we will stand together."
Next was the report on the attack on New Romulus: "The USS Rodney commanded by Admiral David Galeb engaged the New Romulus defences and destroyed several weapons platforms."
Most recent was a distress call from what had been ironically named the battle of the Neutral Zone, the engagement with the Federation taskforce: "This is Captain Karen Silva of the USS Atlantia, we have been engaged by thirty Romulan war vessels, requesting reinforcements to any Federation vessels in range."
Finally and what Malcolm found most important to show him, a news report on the situation between the Federation and Cardassia: "With the Battle of the Neutral Zone continuing to escalate, the question must be asked, what about Cardassia? They sparked this conflict, we must consider them a threat to Federation security."
Kaden sat in silence, Malcolm placed the padd back in his desk and rubbed his head.
"So it's official?" Kaden said.
"Yes the Federation is at war with New Romulus," Malcolm said solumely.
"Can I send a message to Cardassia?"
"Erm, yes of course, I will send a recorder down for you," Malcolm said as he brought Riley back in to escort Kaden back to his brig.
Being a carrier, the USS Rodney deployed it's 50 strike craft to support the other ships. She was by far the largest of the Federation taskforce and so took the brunt of the attacks. The Rodney was determined to hold off the Romulans until the reinforcements arrive.
On the bridge, Rown took the helm station as medics removed the previous officer off the bridge. He pulled the Rodney to port as the Atlantia's warp core ignited.
The Romulans engaged the unprepared taskforce at extreme close quarters, resulting in the USS Venator impacting a Romulan D'deridex and crippling both ships.
Katie, Charlie and Samantha were all assigned to the Odyssey at launch, which none of them found surprising they were responsible for the quantum warp engine to be as stable as it was. They had just gotten off shift, heading down to the mess hall whilst just chatting.
"No seriously, Linguini's makes the best pizza in San Francisco." Charlie said to Sam as they walked down the corridor.
"Well we aren't in San Francisco anymore, so on this ship, that responsibility falls to me," Sam responded.
"The responsibility to make the best pizza?"
"Yeah you know, sticking up for my people."
Charlie laughed and said, "You realise that you're only like half Italian, there is probably someone in the crew that's more Italian than you."
Katie remained silent as they walked, she saw her boss the chief engineer, Lieutenant Paul Miller, walk past. He glanced over at her and gave a quick smile before increasing his pace to the mess hall.
"How about we have dinner at yours and you can try to make one, and when we get back to earth I'll take you to Linguini's and we can see which is best?"
"Guys," Katie said. "Do you think we could sit there?" She pointed towards the table that Paul sat at.
"Katie that's where our boss is," Charlie said.
"I know he seems lonely."
Charlie sighed and then turned back to Sam, trying to ignore Katie's request.
"So how about it?" He said.
"I think I'll pass?" She said putting on a apology smile.
"You two, seriously," Katie frustratingly asserted.
"Fine," Charlie agreed. "I knew you were the type to sit with your teachers at lunchtime."
"Oh har har, we are the same age as him."
The three walked up to the replicator and ordered their food on bulk. Charlie carried the tray as they moved through the half empty mess hall to Paul's table.
"Do you mind if we sit here?" Katie asked. All Paul could get out was a unsure "erm" before he was interrupted by the three sitting down anyway. Katie and Sam sat opposite Paul, while Charlie sat next to him, placing the tray on the table and each of them took their food off. Paul tried to look down and only focus on his own tray.
"Good days work?" Sam asked.
"Erm yes," Paul awkwardly answered.
"Those Starforge workers are a hassle, aren't they?&" Charlie joked.
"I know what you are trying to do," Paul said quietly.
"Hm?" Paul started to struggle to breathe, slightly shaking.
"Miller are you okay?" Charlie asked.
Paul felt surrounded, sitting in the corner, he had no clear way out from the table. He could hardly breathe and he felt like he was going to be sick. He was having a clausaphobic attack.
"Okay move move move," he repeated as he pushed Charlie out of the way.
Paul scuttered across the room, he heard the three following him but he did not see as he smashed into a large brawly man.
"Oi what do you think are doing?" The man said, he was not wearing a Starfleet uniform so Paul assumed he must be a Starforge worker. The man knocked Paul down onto the floor. The man was about to take another swing before Charlie stepped in front.
"Fellas come on," he said putting his hands up and out. "There's no need for this."
The Starforge worker started to turn around before returning to punch Charlie in the face. He fell to the floor, clutching his nose.
Suddenly a loud whistle filled the room, it came from Jennifer who had clearly just entered to the commotion. She didn't look prepared to stand up against him but she was his superior and that gave her confidence.
"You crewman, you are confined to your quarters immediately." She said. He turned and just stared at her. "Go now!" She increased her tone. He suddenly straighten his back and nodded before leaving the mess hall. "Paul, crewman Marteez, are you two alright."
Charlie just waved her off. Paul on the other hand stood up and darted out of the room before anyone could stop him.
Malcolm entered his quarters, he saw Ellie sitting in front of the large monitor. On the monitor displayed updates on the battle raging in the Neutral Zone.
Malcolm approached the monitor and turned it off. Ellie looked up at him and buried her face in a cushion she held.
"James is in that battle," she said.
"Doctor Coal?" Malcolm said pretending to act jealous.
"You know what I mean," Ellie said, not quite realising that he was joking.
He walked over to the stereo and played some 23rd century Jon Carval, in Ellie's opinion, the best Martian musician.
"This was the song that played in the mess hall of the Shinwari, it was our first dance," she remembered.
"I know," Malcolm said walking back to Ellie and reached out his hand. Ellie looked at it and smiled.
"Really?" She said. Malcolm nodded.
Ellie put aside the cushion and took his hand. He pulled her up, taking her left hand in his, and placed his other hand on her hip. Ellie placed her head on his shoulder. The two gently swayed to the music.
Ellie knew what he was doing, he was trying to take her mind off the fighting and death, just to remember that he was still there for her, which she found incredibly sweet. Ellie brushed the hair out of his eyes and kissed him. They held on for a few moments before pulling off.
"You need a shave." Ellie said.
"Yep," Malcolm responded as Ellie started backing to the bathroom.
"I am gonna go freshen up, you don't go anywhere."
"Yes, that is a fantastic idea," Malcolm nodded.
On his personal comm, Malcolm received a message from Ensign Riley.
"Captain are you there?" He said.
"Ensign I would like to request privacy mode for the next hour or so," Malcolm said.
"Okay sir but Ambassador Kaden has finished his message, I was wondering if you wanted to take a look at it."
Malcolm thought for a moment and agreed for it to be sent to his computer. He sat down In front of it and played the recording.
It shown Kaden sitting in the brig as he put on a fake smile.
"Hello Lavivia," Kaden said who Malcolm assumed was his wife. "I assume you've heard of what is happening where I am now. I'm afraid that I will not be coming home any time soon, in fact, I am afraid I will never see you again. I like to believe that the Federation will not bomb Cardassia but the truth is I don't know. But I will fix this. Just remember that. I will do anything to fix this. Goodbye my love." The message ended.
Malcolm looked over to where Ellie stood a few minutes ago and where they just danced, and then looked back to the computer.
"Malcolm to Riley," he said tapping his ear twice. "Move Ambassador Kaden to his own quarters, will you?"
The second fleet arrived at the battle, led by the USS Enterprise and consisting of 43 ships of various sizes and classes. With the arrival of the reinforcements, this forced the Romulans to pull off their attack however still continued to engage at long range as they regrouped. This gave the Federation force the opportunity to recover from the extreme close quarters combat.
Receiving the signal that the third fleet had begun to warp towards the combat area, the Federation struck back at the Romulan force before their reinforcements could arrive.
Paul entered Main Engineering just before his next shift started. He liked to always be a little bit early. He relieved the head of the night shift and took his station. Everything appeared normal, the warp core was operating under normal standards, the quantum engine was offline as usual. It had never been tested on a spaceframe this large, and this made Malcolm hesitant to try it out. But Paul was hopeful that soon they could actually activate it.
Paul looked up from his station and saw that Charlie was already at work. He noticed that there was a scar over Charlies nose, must have been from where the Starforge worker punched him. Paul wished to thank him after he ran off but couldn't find the words.
The words would ultimately not matter when the room shook violently and the red alert was sound. Engineering shook once again, this time an explosion ignited from one of the relays. A fast and loud pulsating sound filled the room.
"It's about to overload, disconnect that relay from the warp core now!" Paul shouted.
A crewman ran over to the nearest console, frantically trying to disconnect the relay, but when he tried, the console exploded in his face, knocking him to the floor with burns all over his body. Charlie dove to underneath the warp core, attempting to disconnect it manually. Ripping out a cord, the sound slowly ceased, and the pulsating blue cylinder turned grey.
"Medical teams to main engineering," Paul said tapping his ear twice. Both Charlie and Paul ran over to the fallen engineer, Charlie pressed his fingers against the engineers neck, checking for a pulse, and simply shook his head. He was dead.
The room shook again, the red alert remained. Paul tapped his ear twice once again to contact the bridge.
It was the Romulans. A heavy warbird approached cloaked and had assaulted the Odyssey's engines to force her to drop to impulse. They had been driven to normal space in range of a Romulan disruptor platform that immediately began to open fire.
Riley engaged the warbird over the platform as it was obviously the bigger target but the platform was in fact causing a huge burden to the shields. One in a while firing a phaser at the platform however each shot absorbed the phaser energy and recycled it to increase its own weapons strength.
If the platform was able to continue, the shields would surely be drained soon. Charlie and Paul had come up with a plan. But simply their repore came to the conclusion that the weapons platforms must incorporate some sort of network that could identify Starfleet vessels. Paul suggested that they mask their warp signature onto the Romulan ship. Charlie spun a better idea, that they mask their own signature with the Romulan signature and reconfigure the network give a manual target lock on the warbird.
They explained the plan to Malcolm, who immediately agreed to any way to get out of this situation. In terms of firepower, the Odyssey and the heavy warbird matched each other but the platform had tipped the balance of the fight in favour of the Romulans.
Reece continued to attempt to get ahead of the turn rate of the platform, but this did not prevent the warbird and the platform from landing multiple shots. Suddenly and miraculously the platform ceases as the Odyssey's shields had dropped to 30%.
"We have manual control," Engineering called over the comm to the relief of everyone on the bridge.
"Captain the warbird is cintinuing to pursuing us," Reece reported.
"Good," Malcolm said. "Full torpedo spread, let's force them to divert shield power to their forward sections."
The warbird did exactly what Malcolm had predicted, the platform landed several critical shots before the warbird pulled away and began to assault the platform.
"That's given us the chance to get out of here helm," Malcolm recommended however he was interrupted by Paul on the comm.
"Negative, the Romulans knocked out our warp drive," he said. Paul looked at Charlie who just nodded at him. "The quantum warp engine is still operational."
Malcolm thought for a second and then agreed to it's activation.
Paul ran across engineering to a sectioned off area, in the centre sat a silver quadrangle, with one side sloping up and the other sloping down into the wall itself. On the side of the engine controller was a tactile control, requiring the hand print of one of the senior officers, the device began to hum gently and the lights dimmed ever so slightly.
This gave Reece power to the quantum engine. This side of the helm was almost entirely tactile based, flicking switches anf inputting the coordinates.
Outside the ship, the warp coils were covered as shutters closes over them. The bussard collectors turned from red to a plasma white.
Finally, Reece placed his hand on a red roller and gently slid it forward.
A bubble formed around the Odyssey, and with a brilliant white light the ship sped off into Underspace.
Back on Earth, Head Admiral Collins stood in the situation room. Admiral Galeb, still on board the USS Rodney, spoke to the council, updating them on the battle.
"With the arrival of the third fleet, we easily overwhelmed the Romulan defences, however they seem to be throwing minimal reinforcements. After the initial engagement, they almost immediately fell back and we have began to push into Romulan space." Galeb reported.
"Their forces don't reflect our reports on the size of their fleet," an intelligence officer said to the rest of the Starfleet Council. "The question is why hasn't New Romulus deployed their forces properly yet."
"Halt our push into their space," Collins ordered. The rest of the looked over at him.
"Admiral, with all due respect, we cannot give up our advantage right now," Galeb insisted.
"Establish a beachhead where you are now until we figure out what is going on, return the Rodney to earth for repairs with any and all wounded or dead the fleet sustained. Those are my orders, clear." Collins demanded.
The rest of the council nodded in agreement and Galeb reluctantly said "Yes sir."
An officer wearing the grey variant of the new uniforms, Intelligence, entered the room. He scuttled past the admirals and representatives and whispered something in the ear of the Intelligence admiral.
"I see, show the rest," he said. The officer ported a file from his padd and a hologram rose out of the table.
It displayed a distinctively yellow and orange world, from the planet's orbital shipyards flew long convoys of ships leaving the system.
"This is footage from around 20 minutes ago where a convoy of an unknown number of warships, frigates, and light destroyers have begun to leave Cardassia. Their estimated tradjectory shows that they are not heading for federation space. 10 minutes ago, we received reports that a similar event happened over New Romulus. Both fleets will intercept each other three days from now in unclaimed space."
"This confirms that the Romulans and Cardassians are working together, Cardassia has declared war on us," Galeb said.
"Enough admiral, get the Rodney back here. Gather the fourth fleet, I will head the fleet myself. We need to intercept the fleet while we have the chance." Head Admiral Collins ordered.
1:8 (The Romulan Crisis: J-51L Part 2) Edit
The Odyssey was almost at Earth, Captain Malcolm felt it was important to first speak to Ambassador Kaden about the situation. He was after all, still technically a prisoner but Malcolm wanted to make sure where he stood.
"You see, I could either tell Starfleet the truth and you will be handed over as a prisoner of war, or I could say that the transaction of prisoners happened before L'Rol opened fire on us and I no longer have you in custody."
"And what do I have to do?" Kaden asked.
"Well you said you would do anything for the safety of your people, well if this war continues any further then the Federation is going to make a move against Cardassia. I need your help when the time is right."
Kaden thought for a few moments. He had began to trust the captain over the past few days, he did not have to tell him the threat on Cardassia, or allowed him to send a message to his wife.
"If you don't help me stop this, New Romulus bombs Earth, Earth bombs New Romulus, soon maybe Earth will end in bombing Cardassia. Please help me stop that."
Kaden nodded and agreed.
"What is your plan?"
"I have not got a plan yet, but as long as I have a feeling it's a good idea to have you on my side." Malcolm commented as the view outside the window changed from a warping stream to a static star field. "We must have arrived at Earth."
They had indeed already arrived. The quantum warp drive had knocked off days from their journey. The USS Rodney was already sitting in orbit under going repairs from the battle in the Neutral Zone. Around it, the fourth fleet gathered. Currently consisting of the newly arrived USS Odyssey, the USS Rodney, Sau Paulo, Valiant and led by Head Fleet Admiral Collins in the USS Independence. Up to 50 ships have been ordered back to earth to make up the bulk of the fourth fleet. Ships from the first, second and third fleets have also been diverted, however the majority of that force has been pinned at the beachhead by a force of Shadowbirds.
Ellie was debriefing the admirals on the situation she faced while in enemy hands and the dangers that L'Rol's weapon could face.
"So as you can see, this weapon if developed correctly would have the capability to incompacitate a humans cognitive functions and compromise their mental state." She said.
"How long should this weapon take to develop?"
"Unknown," she responded. "My best guess is a few months, in a best case scenario."
"Well this just means that we need to take out New Romulus before they can finish the weapon," Galeb said.
"Admiral I do not believe that the entire Romulan government even knows about the weapon, I'd say that it is only L'Rol who is aware of it." Ellie insisted. "But I think we have a great threat to worry about, because that bandwidth has been inbedded inside the Sagittarius data stream. Soon out outermost planet's and outposts will start suffering from sporadic panic attacks and hallucinations."
"I don't know, maybe ten years," she said.
"Ten years?" Galeb said.
"We have ships beyond our space closer to Sagittarius, why haven't they been effected?" Collins asked.
"Because the hull of starships does not vibrate under such low bandwidths." She explained.
"I'm sorry but we have more pressing matters to attend to than the speculation of a Lieutenant Commander. Cardassia has joined forces with New Romulus, we need to intercept that fleet while they are still out in the open as soon as the fourth fleet is ready."
"I know you mean well, commander," Admiral Collins said. "But the fact is the Romulans are developing weapons that could compromise someone's thoughts. Our people have analysed the Sagittarius signal for almost a year and Intelligence says that it is not a pressing issue. We didn't start this war, but for the sake of our security and future we need to win it, and unless you can provide me with any suggestions on how to achieve that quickly, please leave the war strategy to us."
Ellie was dismissed from the debriefing and she left feeling annoyed and misunderstood in what she was trying to say.
As fleet continued to gather, Paul stood in the medbay. The doctors zipped up a body bag that now contained the corpse of the engineer that died during the attack.
He paid his respects and the walked across the room to where Charlie sat. Another one of the doctors ran a dermal regenerator over his nose where the Starforge worker punched him. The scar slowly faded away until it seemed like it was never there.
"I never said at the time but thanks for standing up for me in the canteen," Paul said.
"Yeah it's fine," he responded. "I totally could have taken him."
"I'm sorry I just had a claustrophobic attack, I couldn't handle it."
"I understand, really it's fine."
The comm signalled to Paul, he tapped his ear to respond.
"All senior officers report to the conference room." A voice over the comm said.
Malcolm and his senior staff sat in the conference room watching the screen on the opposite side of the table to the captains chair. On the screen displayed Admiral Galeb giving out battleplans for the engagement of the Romulan-Cardassian force. It is estimated that the fleets will be roughly equal in size however the federation ships will have vastly more advanced ships.
"Make no mistake, this will be a difficult fight. In the battle in the Neutral Zone we have lost just as many ships as the Romulans, we took one, they took one, but we cannot allow this to flag us. We have a duty to ensure the safety and security of our people within our space and beyond. New Romulus and Cardassia believe their alliance is enough to defeat us and burn our world's down, but together, all of us, will show them that our unity is our strength. To definitively demonstrate that we are a United Federation." The transmission ended. The rest of the senior officers turned to Malcolm as he slowly brought his hand down from his chin.
"You all know the dangers," Malcolm said. "If we fail, we die."
"How do we even can be sure it will work?" Paul asked.
"Because no man rules alone." Malcolm commented. "Galeb may think he has control over this war, but there's one man above him and he is worth convincing. But what he doesn't realise that the people below him have more control. The Prince may have manipulated the King, but he cannot achieve anything if we stand up against him. A Prince does not build roads, does not fight wars, we do. But I can't force any of you to do this, so anyone who cares about their lives you can transfer out, I won't stop or judge any of you." Malcolm looked around the room. None of the senior officers moved.
"We're in," Riley said confirming Malcolm's hopes.
"Good, now let's get to work."
The Odyssey detached from the ESD station along with the rest of the Fourth Fleet. The doors to the enormous station slid open and one by one, with the USS Independence in front, fifty ships followed each other out of the system. Each of them engaged warp at full power intending to intercept the enemy fleet before they could reach Romulan space.
The stars zipped by the window, Ellie sat in the quarters at her computer. She had opened a subspace connection to the medbay on the USS Rodney, there she spoke to Dr Coal.
"How you're handling over there?" She said noticing that he had a scar over his eyebrow and singed grey hair.
"As good as we could, the battle hit us hard. Only a few days ago this room was overflowing with the injured."
"Well you wanted the job," Ellie said cheerfully.
"Yeah don't remind me," Coal said sarcastically. "How about you?"
"It's alot more comfortable than the Rodney to be honest," she responded. "But I'm doing good, but L'Rol's mind control took a toll on me, some nights I can't sleep."
"Have you spoken to Richard about this?"
"No," she responded shaking her head. "He's got too much to worry about right now."
A voice called Coal off screen for his attention.
"Sorry I have to go, bridge wants to make sure we're ready for any outcome."
"Bye." She said as Coal nodded and turned the screen off.
Ellie sat there for a minute, thinking that may be the last time she could see him.
The door rang and Ellie moved across the room to the door, opening it on approach. Jennifer Gillian held a padd and looked surprised when Ellie opened the door.
"Oh Doctor, I was looking for the captain." She said.
"I think he's gone down to the kitchens, he doesn't like replicator food." Ellie responded.
"Well I just wanted to deliver this to him," Jennifer said handing over the padd.
"Thanks I'll make sure he gets it," she said looking at the information on the padd. It displayed the named and departments of the 31 individuals who had transferred off the ship. She noticed that all of them were employed by Starforge. "You know, you don't have to do this, you are not Starfleet, this is our fight not yours."
"I understand," Jennifer nodded. "But most of us want to help, and I have trust that captain has a plan." Ellie nodded and Jennifer dismissed herself as she had preparations to make before the upcoming battle.
With the collapse of the beachhead in the Neutral Zone, the remains of the First, Second and Third Fleets have been redeployed along with the Fourth Fleet. These three fleets only consisted of around 30 combat ready ships and had already engaged the Romulan-Cardassian fleet who had been identified around the star known as star J-51L.
Collins heard this news, and ordered the Fourth Fleet to increase power to warp speed while dispatching the Rodney and the Odyssey to push ahead of the fleet to reinforce federation forces. The Rodney engaged a spore jump to star J-51L, and the Odyssey dropped out of warp, as Reece moved other to the tactile section of the helm and inputted the coordinates. The shutters closed and the bussards turned white as the Odyssey engaged the quantum warp drive.
Even with the increased speed of the quantum drive, it still took another 10 minutes for the Odyssey to reach J-51L. However dropping back into normal space, Malcolm ordered the immediate raising of the shields.
"Red alert. Hold us back, Mr Riley provide supporting fire for our people," Malcolm ordered.
The bridge crew acknowledged as the Odyssey began to pepper the enemy fleet with phaser cannons and beams. Gillian reported that the fleet was over 300 ships, outnumbering the federation force by 10 to 1, Starfleet Intelligence had underestimated the enemy force. The Romulans had dropped many of the disruptor weapon platforms and plasma torpedo variants across the battlegrounds to overwhelm the federation force. The USS Rodney had deployed it's strike craft to attempt to destroy the platforms but, as the Odyssey found, the platforms shields redistribute the energy of enemy weapons into it's own weapons.
The repore continued for another 10 minutes, until eventually the USS Curiosity's warp core ignited and exploded in a shockingly blue light that was almost as bright as the star in the background. This forced the two fleets apart that gave the federation force a chance to pull back and retreat.
Just as the federation began to pull back, the Fourth Fleet dropped out of warp. Many ships flew past the Odyssey as it remained between the two fleets.
"Captain, the Independence is ordering us to pull back to the federation line and get into position." Gillian reported.
"Stay in position," Malcolm said. He flicked the comm switch. "Security, get Ambassador Kaden up here. Engineering, report."
"We need another minute down here," Paul said over the comm.
"Captain, the Independence is hailing us." Gillian said.
"Respond audio only," Malcolm ordered as Collins spoke over the comm.
"Malcolm what is happening over there, you are in the cross-fire, pull back now." He said.
"Sorry, admiral, negative, we are suffering issues down here, cannot comply." Malcolm gave the kill gesture and Gillian cut the channel before Collins could respond.
"This is engineering, we've got target control." Paul said. They had taken control over the Romulan weapon platforms like what they had done days earlier. The viewscreen displayed the Romulan fleet getting into formation as the Odyssey remained sitting between the two fleets.
Malcolm stood up from the captains chair as Kaden was brought in onto the bridge and walked up to stand next to Malcolm.
"Mr Riley, target lock every ship out there with every gun we have, Romulan, Cardassian, and Federation." Malcolm ordered and Riley complied.
"Captain the Independence and the Rodney are hailing us again," Gillian reported.
"Open a channel to every ship out there." He said.
"Malcolm what do you think you are you doing? What side-" Galeb's voice said as Malcolm interrupted.
"Attention people of New Romulus, Cardassia and the United Federation of Planets, this is Captain Richard Malcolm of the United Star Ship 'Odyssey.' I have taken control over the weapons platforms deployed by the Romulan fleet, and currently have every phaser and torpedo pointed at every ship in the system. You all know what kind of fire power that combination can create. If anyone wants to fight today then we will all die together."
Malcolm swallowed hard and waited for any response.
"The Romulans have broken their target lock on us," Riley reported.
"Hail the Independence and the Romulan lead ship, put them on screen, keep the channel open to the fleet," Malcolm ordered. Collins and General L'Rol both appeared on the viewscreen. "So. Now I have your attention, I would like to give Ambassador Kaden a chance to speak." Malcolm nodded to Kaden and moved back to the captains chair.
"Thank you," Kaden said. "There is no reason for all of this, believe me, not long ago I thought it would be justified. But I was scared, but now I understand. I thought that the only way to ensure the safety of Cardassia and it's survival is by causing all this, but that is not the way. The truth is Cardassia does need help, and all this did was put attention on New Romulus. All this will do is harm my home, so because of this, I stand before you today, on the front line, to make the push for peace. To quote Legate Damar; Cardassians have never been afraid of war. But war is not the answer. Some may say I am a traitor for standing on the bridge of a federation starship, but I am proof, am I not? So I ask you, if you want to know how this is possible, then I invite both of you to come on board to talk peacefully."
Malcolm cut the transmission and nodded towards Kaden.
"Do you think they will take it?" Malcolm said.
"Well they aren't shooting us, they are interested." Kaden said.
And they certainly where. Malcolm greeted Head Admiral Collins and Galeb in the transporter room who had come over to the Odyssey as Kaden greeted General L'Rol and the leader of the Cardassian fleet in the shuttlebay. Malcolm's superiors scolded for him for his actions and assured him that he will be arrested for war crimes if this goes south.
Malcolm and Kaden brought their respective leaders into the conference room. Each of them glared at each other while Malcolm and Kaden shook hands.
"Set for record we are in attendance of Head Fleet Admiral Collins, Admiral Galeb, General L'Rol, and...?" Malcolm asked the Cardassian leader.
"... Legate Tuba," she said.
"Now we've done the formalities, we can begin." Kaden said.
Acting as neutral party in the talks, Malcolm and Kaden would suggest or bring up subjects and the four representatives would discuss. The first point Kaden brought up was the reparations imposed on Cardassia. Despite Galeb's objections, Collins had agreed to provide loans for Cardassia to pay off the reparations. Malcolm began to notice that Collins was purposely ignoring and dismissing Galeb. He clearly was secretly thankful that Malcolm, threatened them or not, had gotten the Romulans back to the negotiations table.
The two sides reached a compromise to the idea of making Ben Sisko's manipulation of the Romulans to join the Dominion War public knowledge. The history and the facts of the event would be taught and students would be able to get their own interpretations on if it was right, without having any single opinion being pushed. Slowly Malcolm and Kaden introduced what they believed to be their killer.
"All space taken by the federation during the battle of the Neutral Zone shall be declared as part of the federation side of the New Neutral Zone." Kaden said.
"What?" L'Rol asked in outrage. "Ambassador that is just preposterous."
"I knew you wouldn't like that," Malcolm said.
"My government will not agree to this." He insisted. "We have not been given anything comparable to this."
"You haven't let me finish," Kaden said. "With New Romulus handing over the space to the federation, in return, the federation will allow for a Romulan Embassy to be built on Vulcan."
This peaked L'Rol's attention but Galeb was furious.
"Absolutely not." He said.
"I knew you wouldn't like that either," Malcolm said.
"Vulcan is one of the Federation founding worlds," Galeb said. He turned and saw Collins rubbing his chin. "Admiral, you cannot be considering this!"
"You cannot tell me what I can't consider, Galeb!" Collins shouted, fed up of Galeb completely. "If you think you can then return to your ship, I will speak to you later."
Galeb realised that trying to outmatch Collins will not get him on his side so he quietly tried to speak to him but Collins did not play.
"Admiral, you need to reconsider," he whispered.
"I will speak to you later," Collins said louder. "Now return to the Rodney and wait for further instructions."
Galeb slammed his hand on the table and left the room quickly. Collins remained in his seat, evidently thinking it over.
"Admiral," Malcolm said softly and respectfully, leaning in. "This can be the push we need to begin Reunification."
Collins sat there for a moment, noting that the Vulcans will probably not like the idea, parodying Malcolm's comments during the negotiations, eventually and reluctantly agreed.
L'Rol and Collins both stood up, Collins reached his hand out but L'Rol instead chose to turn to Malcolm.
"Captain, you fascinate me. I will discuss this with my superiors." He said.
L'Rol walked with the two Cardassians through the Odyssey back to the shuttlebay. Kaden however remained on the Odyssey as the Romulan shuttle launched and returned to their lead ship.
For the next hour, the two fleets remained static, Riley stood on yellow alert. Malcolm's orders was mad. Literary MAD. Mutually Assured Destruction. So that if any ship on either side fires upon the other, the Odyssey will use the Romulan weapons platforms and it's own weapons to fire upon and destroy every ship in both fleets. A concept that came into being with the invention of nuclear weapons. And Malcolm was pissing himself in hope that this would be enough to prevent anyone from trying anything.
Collins stood on the Odyssey's bridge, clearly acting much more serious and professional than Malcolm was.
The operations station began to beep and alert, Gillian reported that it was a proximity alert.
Malcolm leaned forward. Raising his hand to Riley to hold the orders.
He stared at the viewscreen. It changed to a shot of the Romulan fleet. For a brief moment, Malcolm believed they were about open fire, but was glad he held Riley's orders as each Romulan ship pulled away. One by one they turned around and jumped back to warp.
"Captain," Collins said turning round to him in the captains chair. "I should arrest you for treason, but I'm sure I can make it known that you probably saved hundreds of Federation lives. Good work, Malcolm."
Collins shook Malcolm's hand and walked himself to the turbolift down to the transporter room. Malcolm stood and placed his hand on Gillians shoulder. He stood blankly for a brief moment until he suddenly just collapsed onto the console in relief, laughing to himself as if he's had no sleep for the past year.
As the federation fleet prepared to depart, Rown and Coal entered the captains quarters on board the Odyssey. Malcolm greeted the two, and Ellie hugged Coal.
"Hey Jay!" Ellie said. Behind her back Malcolm mouthed 'Jay?' questioning the nickname she has given him. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah yeah of course," he responded.
"Can you two give us some privacy?" Rown asked.
Ellie nodded and walked with Coal out the room to the corridor, heading in the direction to the Replimat.
"She's a good ship isn't she?" Malcolm said.
"Not as roomy as the Rodney now is it? The uniforms are way more colourful."
"What's everyone's problem with the uniform?" Malcolm jokingly said.
Rown let out a laugh and continued. "I wanted the captains chair of this ship, but I suppose if I got it then we'd be still be at war."
"Well it's not like the grand journey this ship was built for, but just saving the federation." Malcolm humbly bragged.
"I'd be lying to say I wasn't still a bit jealous of your position." He responded to that.
Kaden had just finished communicating with a Cardassian transport in the transporter room. He of course did not have any luggage or anything of his own. He spoke to the transporter operator and stepped onto ring pad. He looked about the room and smiled as the ring lit up and he demateralised.
One by one the Federation fleet jumped to warp. First the Indepence, then the Valiant, then the Rodney, then the rest, until only the Cardassian transport that Kaden was on board was left to jump to warp. Leaving the USS Odyssey alone around Star J-51L.
On-board the USS Independence, Head Fleet Admiral Collins sat in his quarters, he took a drink and removed the jacket off his uniform. The Independence was named the flag ship nearly ten years ago, after the decommissioning of the Enterprise-E. He had commanded the ship since its launch and that exhausted him. He had transmitted the agreement reached to the Federation council and construction of a Romulan Embassy will begin in the coming months.
Since the attack on Earth, he had taken responsibility of the acting-president and Collins was relieved that elections were to be held early next year. He regularly had thoughts of retiring from Starfleet but knew that Galeb would probably weasel his way into the Head Fleet Admiral position.
His comm signalled for his attention, he sighed. He had hoped to get a night of privacy to relax, but the job of the Head of Starfleet never ends.
He tapped his ear twice and was suddenly overcome with a high-pitched digitised noise. The sound pulsated through him, forcing his head to twitch backwards. It felt as a thousand needles pushing down his back. His eyes turned from an aged grey to its natural green. The incapacitated Collins began to recognise it as the Sagittarius signal. A much stronger version of it. He tried to lift his hand up to his ear but he could not do it.
Slowly the noise turned from an indistinguishable pain to a much more calming voice.
"€0//!#$... C0//!N$... C0LL!NS... Collins..."
1:9 (Mirrored: 2400) Edit
One of the latest Federation starships, the USS Odyssey was stationary at the edge of a hydrogen K-21E class nebula. Their sensors had predicted that soon an abandoned and unstable Borg transwarp conduit will pass by and disrupt the nebula's structure with its gravity-well. The sight would be spectacular but the science department hoped that this would increase their understanding of how gravity influences objects and gravity-caused time dilation, and the data collected could increase the accuracy of their simulations. This of course was what Captain Malcolm had been told by the science department, but all what he could think of was that it would be the perfect celebration of the New Year party.
Because of this, the bridge was nearly empty, the only officer on deck was the head of science, Reka, a recently transferred Qucio who was performing precheck scans on the nebula. Quciee culture was almost entirely dedicated to the advancement and accuracy of their understanding of the universe, hence did not understand the captains lack of interest in this rare phenomenon, instead choosing to see it in a sort of party trick. But alas he was grateful for the silence on the bridge and the break from Captain Malcolms complete unprofessionalism.
As the bridge was, the same could not be said for deck 10, where the majority of the crew where. The lights had been dimmed and speakers were placed throughout the corridors and rooms. The off-duty crew, out of uniform, chatted, laughed, drank, danced and partied across the entire deck. A rule was put in place that the party must be contained to deck 10 so that it would not interrupt the skeleton crew looking after the ship or anyone who did not wish to be at the loud party, not that it mattered because it seemed like the entire crew except for select science officers who had chosen to observe the nebula.
The observation lounge was packed with people dancing and drinking and partying, balloons of yellow, blue and purple hung round the room and ran freely with the numbers "2400" printed on them, some of which where being kicked around as a game of football. Captain Malcolm stood behind the buffet serving out food cheerfully with the large wall length window overlooking the deflector dish and the nebula behind it.
It had been months since J-51L, the Romulan Embassy had been constructed and there were even rumours that certain Vulcan Ambassadors had met with the Praetor to discuss the possibility of Reunification which was all the buzz of the ship.
Ellie, throughout the madness as people parties and danced, quickly came up to Malcolm at the buffet.
"So miss what can I get you?" He asked as he reached beneath the table to take out a wine glass.
"Hah have you seen Paul?" She said over the noise. Malcolm just sort of shrugged at his. "I haven't seen him all night and it's not like him to miss something like this." Ellie noted that the nebula had already begun to be flung apart by the gravity-well.
"El, he can handle himself. Make tonight yours." He insisted as he started looking for something below the buffet table. "Erm where has the wine bottle gone?"
Where indeed had it gone. A mere two decks down, Charlie, Paul, Katie and Sam stood in the Main Engineering next to the pulsating blue cylinder that was the warp core. The four chatted, told stories, and joked. Three of them watched in anticipation as Paul took his first awkward sip of the wine.
The four- well I suppose three laughed as Paul tried to join in before Katie finally interjected.
"It's 5 minutes to midnight," she said. "We should probably get back to the party."
"Ah I've actually had a better idea." Sam mentioned, she reached into her pocket and brought out a a couple of small rounded disks. She proceeded to place them in position along the railings that surrounded the warp core and snapped her fingers. Each disk lit up and a projection of coloured light shone from the disks. They met half a ft above the railings and formed a full 3D holo projection of the nebula outside being dragged, pulled and shot out onto empty space.
In the observation lounge, on Malcolm's que, Ellie cut the music off as he stepped out from behind the buffet to address his crew. The crowd stopped dancing and chatting and gave space to their captain to speak.
"Now, we all know what day it is." He said walking in large circles slowly around the crowd. "December 31, 2399" he said and the crowd cheered. "Which means that we have officially come to the end of another great century of our history history." Malcolm was not a particularly confident speaker but over the months had learnt several tricks to over come this, one of which was to engage with the audience and Ellie noticed he was doing by by encouraging the cheers.
"Now," he continued. "It's no secret that the past fifty years have been some of the most damaging in the Federation's history. We have all lost someone or something, and it is important to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice." The crowd and Malcolm was gave a respectful minute of silence for those who had died during the many wars and incursions that accorded during the past half century. Once the minute was up, Malcolm continued. "It is always a good idea to remember those who have died, healthy in fact to morn them, but it is important that we push forward and look to the future. And what is a better way to look to the future is to celebrate the brand new century number 25?" The crowd cheered once again. "Which is why you all of are getting tomorrow off. The first day of the new century is yours, relax, read, learn a new language, ask that co-worker you like out, spend the day in the holodeck, whatever it is, make it about you."
Malcolm stepped back as the crowd cheered again, everyone started counting down from 30 in anticipation of the new year.
"Captain, message just came in for you from Cardassia," an officer told Malcolm over the comm.
He told the officer to send it to his tricorter and Malcolm left the lounge to a much quieter and less crowded corridor. He pulled out his tricorter and viewed the message as it was uploaded. The crowd reached 5, and just as the message loaded, they reached one and the music and dancing continued.
Malcolm smiled as he saw the message said "Kaden- Happy New Year, Captain."
Hundreds of light years away, deep within Federation space and on the shining blue marble called Earth, fireworks shot up into the sky as they too celebrate the brand new century. Sitting on the balcony overlooking San Francisco in the night was a twitching and silent William Collins.
In the months since being exposed to the Sagitarrius signal he had been hearing a voice in the back of his mind. He had driven his wife out of his home. Many of his co-workers at command had began to notice something wrong and his change in attitude.
"Collins... Collins... Collins..." the voice in the back of his head.
He tried not to listen to it, he knew it was not there. Whenever it spoke, he would always, not see, but feels an impression of a dark figure in the corner of his eye. But whenever he glanced over, it vanished. He was to close his eyes and the voice appeared to become stronger and clearer.
"Collins... Bill?" It said sounding much more like the voice of his wife's. This jerked him back into consciousness. The image of the Odyssey sitting between the two fleets around Star J-51L flashed in front of his eyes. The image of Captain Malcolm standing with a Cardassian ambassador on his bridge, shaking his hand in the meetings, the Romulan General turning to Captain Malcolm at the conclusion. Then he remembered how calm Galeb was and how aggressive he had been to him. Had Malcolm manipulated him into turning against Galeb? Collins began to think.
Most of the crew had either gone to bed or joined the night shift, the observation lounge on board the Odyssey was nearly empty with only small groups left. Malcolm and Ellie slow danced together in the middle of the room gently swaying to the music.
Their dance was interrupted when Malcolm's comm signalled for his attention. He stopped and mouthed "sorry" to her.
"It's okay," she said, pulling away from him. "You might have given everyone a day off but I've got a feeling that there are going to be a lot of people coming in the morning with headaches."
The two broke apart and Malcolm walked out of the lounge, tapping his ear twice.
"This is the captain," he said into the comm.
"Captain, we have been monitoring communications from outposts outside our space and two of them have gone dark in the last hour," they said.
"Okay, set a course for the nearest one, let's see what happened to them."
The journey was to take well over two days to the nearest outpost, however the Quantum Warp drive had reduced that to only a few hours. The outpost was a Vulcan science station monitoring for gamma ray bursts and to calculate the risks they could pose to any planet's caught in their path. Naturally as gamma ray bursts travel at the speed of light, in order to be an effective pre warning system, the outpost had to be positioned so far outside Federation space.
A skeleton crew operated the Odyssey's functions, only a select few such as mamy of the bridge crew, multiple engineers, medics, and operation personnel, the minimum amount of people required to keep the ship operational.
Paul had, of course, wanted to be a part of the skeleton crew, not thinking that he required a day off, but Katie, Sam and Charlie have been trying to encourage him to try new things and to relax more. This of course had resulted in Katie taking Paul for a day in the holodeck for some fencing.
"Why are we doing this?" Paul said.
"Come on you can't work every day." Katie said. "Now put your helmet on." She did the same as Paul reluctantly did the same.
She stood in the ready position and he did not even move.
"You've never done this before have you?" She responded. Paul shook his head. "Just follow my lead, okay?"
Paul took a moment and copied Katie's ready position. The two stared each other down, holding the fencing swords out so they were almost touching. Katie swiped at Paul from below and Paul quickly hit it away.
"Good reflexes," she said.
She made three quick swipes at Paul who hit away the first one but was too slow for the second and third which impacted his arm and chest.
"Okay, I'm going to run you through some techniques," Katie said.
"They taught basic hand-to-hand in the academy," Paul pointed out as Katie stood beside him.
"This isn't about practising what you already know, it's about learning a new skill, it'll help you become more confident in yourself when you step outside your comfort zone now get into your ready position." She said and Paul reluctantly complied. "Now your form is good but you're very rigid, you are so focused on catching the first one but you are unable to adapt..."
Katie was interrupted by the room gently shook. Paul looked cross as he pulled off his helmet and headed to the comm.
"Miller to Helm, what was that?" Paul said.
"Sorry Lieutenant, we just dropped back into normal space." Reece explained over the comm.
"Yes I noticed that," he shouted. "But that tremor shouldn't happen, that was the inertial dampeners working overtime because the window for re-entry was too small, or were you trying to blow out the relays?"
Katie pulled him away from the comm and tried to tell him that Reece knows what he's doing and the engine will be fine. Paul, much too worried about the ability of his engineers to fix whatever problem there might be, insisted on doing this another time and left the holodeck.
The Odyssey arrived in the system of the Vulcan outpost. Reece brought the ship to a full stop over the planet as science officer Reka performed scans. The planet had a oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere and was roughly 0.879 times the size of Earth so there should be no reason to set up an environmental dome. Reka reported that the station was positioned on the northern hemisphere on the largest continent.
"Captain I am picking up no lifesigns in or around the compound." Reka reported.
"What do you mean no lifesigns?" He responded.
Reka reported that energy readings indicated that there must have been phaser fire not long ago and speculated that it must have something to do with no lifesigns being detected. Gillian confirmed that they received no message from the surface.
"Alright, have Dr Malcolm meet me in the transporter room," Malcolm said standing up out of the captains chair. "Miss Gillian you're in charge until I get back."
"Captain I must protest, as you are yet to decide upon a First Officer, in the absence of the captain, command falls to the next officer in line." Reka said pointing out that he was at the rank Commander.
"Captain I don't want to cause anything." Jennifer said.
"It's okay you'd do great," Malcolm said and turned back to Reka. "And you won't be able to command because you're coming down with me, meet me in the transporter room in 5 minutes." Malcolm tapped Reka on the shoulder and headed to the turbolift.
The bridge crew turned round and looked towards Jennifer. She glanced around and awkwardly just said, "Well get back to work."
Malcolm, Ellie and Reka were beamed down to the planet, at the edge of the tree line surrounding the compound. The three stepped over a fallen tree trunk and approached the buildings that now lay in ruin. The sensor dish had been torn down and there were several places where the metal had completely melted. The front entrance had been blown off from the outside. This was definitely an attack.
Malcolm turned on a flashlight and entered the dark structure. There was green blood splattered on the walls, which Reka confirmed was Vulcan DNA. They continued and saw many corpses laying about the rooms and corridors with scorch marks covering their bodies. Soon Malcolm stopped at a body and knelt down over it.
"This one was stabbed," he said. "Stabbed in his kidney."
"Heart," Ellie corrected. "That's where the Vulcan heart is."
"Whoever did this knew exactly how to kill a Vulcan then," he said.
"No," Malcolm said in response, he pressed his hand against the wound. "Bat'leth's blades are much too wide to cause a wound like this. This one was pieced straight through with a long thin blade, Klingons typically slash not stab."
Malcolm noticed the Vulcan moving his mouth ever so slightly, as if he was trying to say something. He was still alive. Malcolm moved closer, placing his hand on the Vulcans chest, to attempt to hear what he was trying to say. Without warning, the Vulcan grabbed Malcolm's face, placing his four fingers at carefully chosen locations on his head and Malcolm felt his mind going back.
He saw the Vulcans perspective, from his very eyes. He felt the suppressed panic and the sound of phasers being fired. Humans had breached the outpost and had begun slaughtering the Vulcan officers. Before Malcolm could start realising that he recognised some of them, a figure grabbed him from behind and rammed their sword right through the Vulcans heart. As he fell, he caught a glimpse of the attacker, and he definitely recognised that face, the one face he would never forget. It was Ellie.
Confused, Malcolm snapped back to reality and the Vulcan lumped back. He gave Malcolm hid last strength the show him that but when Ellie asked what he saw he did not answer.
In low planetary orbit, the Odyssey remained stationary. Paul had cleared out Engineering lab Alpha, the section of engineering that the quantum warp engine sat just to check on it. Katie entered the lab, she felt worried about him when he stormed out of the holodeck, and she feared that she might have done something to provoke it.
"Hi," she said cautiously.
"Yes hello," Paul said glancing at her and immediately returning his attention to the engine, fiddling with wires and circuits and tools covering the floor.
"You left before we could finish." She said. "I got worried."
"Yes well I needed to check to see if the engine was okay, Anderson took us back into normal space without allowing the window to open wide enough."
"Have you found any damage yet?"
"No but that doesn't mean there isn't any."
Paul had not looked up at her, so Katie knelt down next to him.
"Look, you have engineers who do this stuff, you don't need to push yourself this way." She said.
"No they will just mess it up." He insisted.
"I understand this is your engine but there's more to life than work." She promised.
"There is nothing but this. This is the greatest achievement of my life, I cannot use it to travel to Sagitarrius so all I can hope for is to hold onto this."
"Why are you afraid to open up to over people?" She insisted.
Paul dropped his tool and stood up from his place. He walked over to a console to begin scan the software systems.
"Paul!" She shouted.
Paul sighed and stopped his work. "I've lived apart from everyone for 27 years, it's worked so far. The only person I've ever felt I can trust is my sister, that's it." Before Katie could answer, Paul glided her out of the lab and locked the door.
Back on the planet, Malcolm finished buring the last of the bodies, Reka stood over a crater near the compound what was around the size of a small house and nearly as deep.
"Commander have you found anything?" Ellie said walking up to him.
"This crater was caused by a photon torpedo," he said sliding his tricorter shut.
"You mean like Federation tech?"
"The crater and the phaser marks on the bodies have a federation signature."
"Why would one of ours do something like this?" Ellie asked, she turned to face Malcolm who stood another thirty metres away over the graves and seemed to be talking on the comm. "I have a feeling Richard is not telling us something, I can tell."
Malcolm walked back to Ellie and Reka, he told the individual on the over comm and tapped his ear three times then held it on the third. A light shone out from his ear piece, a heads up display rose up over his eyes, it scanned the the ground between the three. Jennifer appeared in holographic form.
"Show me the message." Malcolm said. Jennifer nodded and she disappeared to be replaced by a screen.
"This is Captain Gregory Ward of the USS Delaney, we tried answer the distress call of a civilian vessel, but we have been engaged by-" The message was highly compromised already but it was cut off before the captain could verify what was attacking them.
"That distress call was detected only minutes ago," Jennifer said as she reappeared. "We should be able to respond before the Delaney is destroyed if we reach Quantum velocity."
"Do it, contact engineering, tell them to engage once we are on board."
The USS Odyssey left the system in a rush. The journey using the quantum engine only took a couple of minutes but when they still arrived after the aggressive ship had left the system.
The USS Delaney was a Sentinel class which made it nearly 150 metres larger than the Odyssey. The ship had a wing shaped secondary hull which was unconventional compared to the typical cylinder. It had two naccelles directly below the saucer section.
Despite the Sentinel classes strength and toughness, the Odyssey noticed that the ship was crippled with minimal life support, no weapons or shields and was not responding to hails. Reka scanned that there was a trace of a plasma trail that suggested that whoever attacked them had retreated.
Malcolm issued a large security team and a smaller medical team led by Riley and Ellie respectively.
Riley took point, holding out his phaser rifle forward as Ellie walked just behind him with a smaller hand phaser.
The Odyssey dispatched itself and began to follow the plasma trail. It only took minutes until the Odyssey arrived at the edge of a nitrogen cloud. Malcolm ordered a full stop and opened a channel to the cloud.
"This is captain Malcom of the USS Odyssey, you have assaulted a Starfleet vessel, under the authority of the United Federation of Planets, I am placing you under arrest."
Riley and Ellie walked through the shattered corridors of the USS Delaney. Turning a corner, they saw a security officer standing over a body.
"Crewman?" Riley said.
The officers eyes darted towards the two, panic stricken, he backed up quickly before completely sprinting down the corridor.
Ellie knelt over the body, it was an Andorian, pieced right through with a long thin blade just like some of the Vulcans on the base.
Suddenly a team of ten security officers ran back down the corridor, brandishing phaser rifles.
'Hands up! Drop your weapons now!" They said pointing their rifles at Riley and Ellie.
The USS Odyssey sat at the edge of the cloud. Continuing to transmit their message inside. Gillian reported that a ship was emerging. The configuration was familiar. In fact too familiar. A saucer and secondary section with two naccelles flowing back. Immediately recognisable to be Starfleet. Malcolm soon realised the ship was a Miller class. The only difference between the two was that it had a sickly yellow and red paint striped across the hull. The registry read it as the ISS Odyssey.
"Red alert, I suppose we're cancelling everyone's day off," Malcolm commented.
1:10 (Mirrored: Hidden Defences) Edit
The two ships sat facing each other. The Federation USS Odyssey repeated it's message while the Terran ISS Odyssey remained silent. Malcolm must have seen the Terran Ellie kill those Vulcans at the outpost, which relieved him greatly. He looked about his bridge and saw that many of his crew did not have any idea what this meant.
"We need to get our people off the USS Delaney ASAP." Malcolm said, giving Reece the order to begin to back up.
Reece confused and concerned, he readied the forward thrusters.
"Captain, the enemy vessel is hailing us sir," Gillian said.
Malcolm thought for a moment. Knowledge of the Terran Empire had been kept a classified secret since they were last encountered. Whatever version of himself commanded that vessel, it was best that he dealt with this alone.
"I will take it in the conference room, alone," Malcolm said.
Gillian nodded and transferred control to Malcolm's tricorder. He left the bridge and stood in the turbolift, it took only seconds before the lifts doors slid open and Malcolm turned a corner as crewmen scrambled panicked to their stations.
Entering the empty conference room, Malcolm opened his tricorder. He looked at the control for a second, thinking of what sort of man he would be in the Terran Universe before casting the hail towards the screen on the conference wall.
"So Richard, you seem to be just as pathetic in both universes." The ISS Odyssey captain said, Malcolm was shocked to not come into contact with another version of himself, but sitting in the captains chair was a shortened hair, scared and covered in golden armour, Ellie.
"El?" Malcolm said in surprise, and Terran Ellie looked disrespected.
"My name is Captain Ellena Miller, commander of the Terran Imperial starship Odyssey."
"Okay sorry I wasn't expecting you."
"Are you mocking me swine?" She said.
"No, no of course not."
Captain Miller rolled her eyes and said "So I assume everyone in this universe is as pathetic as you, those Vulcan lambs were easy enough to slaughter."
Malcolm snapped out of his normal attitude and cut straight to the point. "Okay how did you cross over and what are you doing here?"
Captain Miller smiled and lent forward.
"You figure it out, Captain."
The transmission cut off and the ship began to shake and rumble. Malcolm ran back to the bridge.
"What is going on?" Malcolm said entering the bridge.
"The enemy vessel has begun to open fire on us, they are targeting our engines." Gillian reported.
"Target their engines back, full torpedo strike," Malcolm ordered pointed at the tactical officer in Riley's absence.
The ISS fired several phaser pulses to their naccelles before jumping to warp before the USS could launch their torpedoes.
"They are gone, sir." Reece reported.
Riley and Ellie was being escorted through the USS Delaney. Security officers surrounded them as they met up with Captain Gregory Ward.
"Captain what is the meaning of this?" Ellie insisted.
"Don't!" He cried in anger. "No! You don't get to ask questions, why did you attack us?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Your ship attacked and boarded us! My crew saw this man and soldiers wearing your uniform slaughtering all non-humans." Ward said, point at Riley with a sharp finger. "So now all of you are going to the worst and most horrible prison the federation is comfortable with building."
"All the non-humans are dead?" Ellie asked in shock.
"Captain, we have repaired the our comms and the Odyssey is hailing us." A communications officer said.
"Put captain Malcolm on screen, let's see what he has to say for himself." The captain said returning to his chair.
"USS Delaney I cannot even imagine what has happened to you, but if you need any assistance..." Malcolm said over the comm but was interrupted.
"I must warn you, Captain, I have sent a subspace message to Starfleet warning them of the situation." Ward lied.
"You don't understand, I am willing to explain to the situation to you but I need to know if my people are safe." Malcolm said.
"We're fine Richard but whoever did this only left the human crewmen alive," Ellie called out.
Ward gave the kill gesture and the comm was cut out.
"The are blocking us, Captain," Gillian said.
"Try to get them back!" Malcolm ordered and the Delaney didn't respond to the hails.
Malcolm lent against Gillians station, hiding his face in his arms.
"What are we going to do?" She said softly as Malcolm stood back up again.
"Well now we know that they are on the bridge, beam our people back before they move them." Malcolm moved across the bridge to the helm. "When they are back on board set a course for these coordinates, maximum warp." Malcolm said placing a set coordinates into the helm.
"Sir those coordinates are in unexplored space," Reece said.
"Not quite, now do it."
As the USS Delaney did not have their shields operational, it was easy to beam their people off. The enemy warp signature was faint, evidently caused by the damage they sustained, but it was enough to estimate their location, Reka had done this within minutes and so wondered why their captain was taking them in the opposite direction.
The captain sat with his head in his hands, being incredibly quiet as the crew were expected to continue with their duties. Coming up from the transporter room, Ellie entered the bridge in a huff.
"Okay what the hell is going on?" She said approaching Malcolm who looked up at her but yet did not provide an answer. "Why did captain Ward think we killed a third of his crew?"
"It's classified," he said quietly.
"No Richard!" She said sternly. "Don't give me that, something happened over there, the dead on the Delaney had the same wounds as on the the Vulcan outpost, and they think we did it, we deserve to know!"
Malcolm looked through his fingers at the rest of his bridge crew. They were all staring at the two. Malcolm could see that they all agreed with Ellie. It wasn't fair that they were being left in the dark.
"You're right," he conceded, pulling his hands down from his face and sitting upright again. "You all deserve to know, so I'll tell you everything."
Malcolm stood from his chair.
"Comupter, open file T.E.-1, special authorisation Malcolm-2-4-4-alpha-1, broadcast shipwide." He said.
"Comply," the female computer voice replied.
The viewscreen changed suddenly and how displayed a logo, a an image of Earth being pieced with a blade.
"The Terran Empire." He said. "In 2256, the USS Discovery NCC-1031 encountered a violent, xenophobic imperium who exist in a alternative timeline running parallel to our own."
"Parallel universe?" Riley asked.
"Scientists have been pondering the existence of different of parallel universe's for centuries, it is possible." Reka explained.
"We've been aware of this universe for centuries, but all encounters have been kept strictly classified because Starfleet Intelligence believed that knowledge of another universe being out there, one of which those loved ones we've lost could still be alive, would cause chaos. Currently we've encountered two diverging timelines, one that was encountered by Captain Kirk only ten years after the USS Discovery arrived back in our universe. That resulted in the ambassador Spock of that universe overthrowing the Empire. The second one is what we are most concerned about, in this timeline the Terran Empire crushed the rebellion. The diverging moment seems to be when the USS Defiant NCC-1764 was transported across via a Tholian spatial interphasic rift. This gave the Terrans technology one hundred years beyond their own."
"What does this have to do with what's happening now?" Ellie asked.
"The timeline where the Terrans, they developed technology to be able to transport individuals from one to the other, the Empire must have discovered a way to transport entire ships across. You see, the reason why Ward believed we attacked his ship is because we did. It just wasn't us who did it. It just wasn't us. Our universe's seem to be remarkably similar, coincidences happen in both but everything is mirrored in a way. United Federation of Planets in one and the Terran Empire in another, USS Odyssey and ISS Odyssey, Doctor Ellie Malcolm and Captain Ellena Miller." Malcolm said making gestures in the air representing their universe and another. He paused, his eyes darted about the bridge. "Does that answer everyone's questions?"
"What do we do now?" Reece asked. "I mean if this is all kept classified then Starfleet would come after us."
"You're right." Malcolm conceded. "Until we can come up with proof that we didn't do it then we are criminals in their eyes. But luckily for us, there was a classified allianced, above top secret of three ships to perform recon and surveillance of the Terran Empire, and in the case of a situation like this, lead a taskforce to defend ourselves. The Klingon K'Vark, the Cardassian Gullet, and the Federation Shinwari."
Word of what was happening spread throughout the ship. Many of the crew were now uneasy, particularly the human members, knowing that Starfleet had brandished them as alien-murdering criminals. To avoid leaving any solid warp signature, the Odyssey travelled at Quantum Velocity out of federation space to the coordinates that Malcolm had inputted. But little did they realise that the ISS Odyssey had planted a tracking device onto the Odyssey's starboard nacelle. The Terran ship followed much slower, unable to match the quantum velocity but still following.
They re-entered normal space at a unmarked star. It did not appear in any of the charts or sensors. There were no planet's in orbit and any asteroids must have fallen into the star a long time ago. Within the system there was a small mass and Malcolm ordered to approach it. Coming into visual range, they saw that the mass was a small docking station three ring ports. The structure was tiny, Reece thought, there must have only space for two or three rooms. But nevertheless Malcolm ordered them to dock.
Malcolm, Ellie, Paul and Riley stepped out of the Odyssey airlock and into a large control room. The lights remained off and the consoles were silent.
"Control for power are behind that bulkhead," Malcolm said.
Paul removed the bulkhead and shone a flashlight into the circuitry.
"Can you get power back on?" Malcolm asked.
"Just give me a couple of minutes," Paul said. He unrolled his tool kit and began to fiddle with the relays. Malcolm stood in the centre of the control room, looking around with the light of his flashlight until Ellie approached him.
"How long have you known about this?" Ellie asked him quietly.
"About seven years, when I was first stationed on the Shinwari." He answered.
"Hang on so you've been going on recon missions into the this alternate universe for seven years?"
"No of course not, the last mission into the Terran Empire was five years ago and this place hasn't been used since, and we're lucky life supportive is still working, but I'm hoping that if Paul can get the power back on then we can send the signal out to the other ships."
"So can you promise that you haven't been on a single mission there in the time we've been together?" Ellie asked and Malcolm took her hands into his.
"I promise I haven't been going on secret spy missions into another universe behind your back." He said, he then lent in and kissed her as the lights suddenly turned on and the room began to hum and beep.
"Nice work, Paul," Malcolm said, pulling off the sheets cover the consoles. He activated the communications on a secure channel. "This is Richard Malcolm authorisation Malcolm-2-4-4-alpha, we have a code one, I repeat a code one."
They began to transmit that message over a secure channel and hopefully it will reach the ships they were looking for.
Down in the situation room at Starfleet Command on Earth, Head Admiral Collins was stood over a report of the attack on the USS Delaney.
"Captain Gregory Ward is reporting that Captain Richard Malcolm on the USS Odyssey attacked and boarded his ship. One third of his crew was killed, but what is unusual is that every crewman that was of a non-human species was the only killed. Not a single human was killed."
Collins listened to the report, holding himself steady. The voice had been quiet for a day now but now it returned.
"Bill, he's a murderer, Bill. He's betrayed you," it whispered. "He betrayed all of you."
Collins closed his eyes as the whispers drowned out the report. Every time he opened his eyes the shadow was in a different place until eventually it stood right in his ear.
"He must be removed," it said and Collins briefly broke down.
"Admiral? Are you okay?" The lieutenant asked.
Collins regained his strength and looked about, the shadow had vanished.
"Yes yes," Collins said. "Continue."
"Near to where the USS Delaney was attacked, we traced the Odyssey's warp signature leaving the system, then a high energy reading that suggests the Odyssey travelling at Quantum Velocity towards uncharted territory. We have estimated at least twenty possible trajectories that they could be heading."
"Deploy the USS Callister and the USS Valiant to investigate those locations. Find them immediately." Collins said. Before the lieutenant could respond, he left the situation room.
Hours past on the docking station, soon Reece reported a proximity alert. Three starships had just dropped out of warp. The Gullet of the Cardassian First Order, the KDF K'Vark, and the USS Shinwari. Malcolm extended the docking rings out so the small station could fit all three starships. The Federation and Cardassian ships docked in the two remaining docking rings, while the Klingons beamed on board.
Walking into the control room from one of the three airlocks was Captain Oweye, the commander of the USS Shinwari and Ellie's former captain. He was an aging captain but still appeared strong and commanded respect from merely entering the room. He walked up to Malcolm and shook his hand.
"Congratulations on your promotion, captain, I apologise I could not attend it in person." Oweye said. "I heard about what you did in the battle of J-51L, excellent work."
"Thank you, I wasn't certain it would even work." Malcolm replied.
"Nevertheless, you did a brave thing out there, a lesser man would have followed his commanders orders no matter what and not do what he believed was right," Oweye said.
"Well I learnt from the best."
A transporter beam activated the operations pad, a Klingon appeared and stepped off. He was a good ft taller than Malcolm and Oweye, he was shaven on top of his head, revealing the forehead ridges folding over the back and down his spine, and the many scars and burns he sustained during battle. But for what he lacked in hair, he made up for in one of the strongest beards in the quadrant. Flowing down to his chest, each strand was perfectly braided and dyed a cold red in memory of the enemies he has killed. His name was Karvok and he had not lost a single battle in the long years he has fought. He approached Malcolm also and embraced him in a big bear hung.
"Richard Malcolm you brave fool!" Karvok laughed. "Oh if only if I could have seen you, standing alone as enemy fleets surrounded you on all sides, it will be a story for the ages!"
"I wish you could have been there instead of me," Malcolm said.
"Now captain, I would have done anything to fight beside you that day, but the Tholians have attacked our world's and we have to show them who they are dealing with. Also, it saddens me to say that my grandfather fell to illness soon before, he showed have died in battle but it was not to be. In respect I shall forever shave my head before battle just like he did, so if what you say is true, I knew how to prepare."
As Karvok greeted Oweye, a short, thin Cardassian woman. She appeared to be tough yet deceptively delicate. She greeted Malcolm with a friendly kiss on the cheek and she turned to Ellie.
"You must be El! Last time we met Richard was telling me all about you and the first time he saw you," the Cardassian woman said.
"And you must be?" Ellie asked.
"Yes my name is Tirivia, I used to organise these trips across the universal plane."
After the pleasantries were over, Malcolm got the attention of all three.
"Now, I'm afraid to confirm that we are in a code 1 scenario, a Terran Imperial warship has crossed over into our universe. They have begun to slaughter any non-terran they can find on any ship or outpost. They are identifying themselves as the ISS Odyssey. I've made contact with the commander, I expected to talk to myself but instead I met a Captain Ellena Miller," he turned to Ellie and then glanced back. "She told me to figure out why they are here myself and my best guess is that they are a scouting party, to test our defences and identify key targets, sew descent within out ranks as they prepare for a larger full scale invasion force. But since they are remarkable at covering their tracks, my crew have been blamed for their attacks so they needed to know what was going on."
"What did you tell them?" Tirivia asked.
"You broke protocol then," Oweye said firmly. "But I would have done the same in your position."
"So what's our move?" Karvok asked.
"I'm sure if we explain the situation to Starfleet Intelligence then they would pardon your crew." Tirivia explained.
"No, I tried to the captain of the USS Delaney and he didn't want to listen, he was violent and paranoid." Malcolm said.
"I knew Gregory Ward for years, he was a very measured man, that does not sound like him at all," Oweye commented.
"I actually have a theory about that," Paul pointed out and the four turned around now remembering that he was even there.
"Well don't keep us waiting Lieutenant Miller," Oweye said.
"Well we know that the basic structure of the Sagittarius signal contains infrasound. Ellie said that infrasound has been linked to a cause of paranoia, aggregation, hullusinations. And the USS Delaney was stationed relatively close to Sagittarius when we first picked it up." Paul said.
"Paul my calculations predicted that it would take at least ten years to compromise the neural passages enough to cause those effects." Ellie pointed out.
"Well if you were exposed to a refined or directed version of that, would it be possible for the effects to take effect faster?" Paul asked.
"Theoretically." Ellie said. "But we'd need more than a theory." Ellie turned to Malcolm. He figured out what he was suggesting.
"No, I don't think so," Malcolm said.
"L'Rol is the only one in the quadrant working on the signal, or at least he's the closest to cracking it." Ellie insisted. "If we don't figure out this signal, then even if we prove our innocents now, there will always be suspicion against us until the evidence would not matter to them."
Malcolm sighed and rubbed the side of his head.
"Okay but we can't just walk up to his base uninvited." Malcolm commented, he suddenly came to an idea and snapped his fingers a couple of times. "Tiri can you contact one of your ambassadors-"
Malcolm was interrupted when the room shook violently and the power went out. Karvok transported back to his ship as bulkheads began to blow off. Malcolm attempted to contact the Odyssey bridge but gained no response. The roof began to cave in as the officers all ran back to their respective ships. Just as the Odyssey's airlock closed behind Malcolm, they felt the docking station explode from what looked like a barrage of weapons. The Odyssey, Gullet and Shinwari were pushed away from the station as it was ripped apart and Malcolm ordered an emergency transport of himself to the pad in the corner of the bridge.
"Report." Malcolm said as he ran over to the captains chair.
"The Terran warship dropped out of warp and immediately opened fire on the docking station." Gillian reported.
"The Shinwari has sustained major damage from the explosion and the K'Vark is moving into attack position against the Terran ship." Reka said.
"Signal the Shinwari and the Gullet to pull back, tell them not to engage," Malcolm ordered. "Helm, swing us along side the K'Vark."
The Odyssey readied weapons as the Klingons began to pepper the Terran ship with disruptor blasts. Minimal damage to the Terrans shields. Reka reported that there was a build up of electro-graviton particles in the Terrans deflector. A blue wave was projected from beneath the saucer on the Terran ship that swept over the Odyssey and the T'Vark.
"Complete power drain on shields, engines and weapons." Gillian reported.
Both ships were disabled. The ISS Odyssey launched a barrage of torpedoes and Malcolm gave the order to brace for impact, but they were not intended for them. Each one slammed into the K'Vark, severing the boom and the nacelles. No one could have survived as the Klingon ship ignited. Malcolm looked down as Karvok was killed, and the way the Terrans killed him was just such a dishonourable way.
"Captain, the Terrans are transporting over attack groups on board," Riley said. "We've got intruder breaches on decks 3, 4, 6, 9 and 11 through 18."
"Scramble every security team we have," Malcolm said. He ran to the back of the bridge and opened a weapons locker on the wall and threw a phaser rifle over to Riley who caught it. Riley followed his captain into the turbolift and the doors slid close.
The engineering decks were a battleground. Shots were being fired across the corridors, officers in Starfleet uniforms exchanging fire in golden plated armour. At first the Terrans targeted exclusively non-human targets but once the security teams arrived and pushed them back, they began to target anyone they came in contact to. Up to 20 Odyssey crewmen had been killed by the time Malcolm and Riley on the deck.
Malcolm held point as Riley protected the rear as they moved quickly towards the fighting, turning a corner, Malcolm spotted a glint of gold and immediately fired his rifle. A red pulse left his rifle and flew through the air to impact a Terran soldier in the upper chest, melting the amour as he fell to the floor.
Malcolm stepped over the body, not looking down but Riley did.
"That's me," he said, seeing his own face staring back at the ceiling blankly with cold glass eyes. He knelt down over his own body. Malcolm stopped to turn around.
"Whoever that is, they is not you," Malcolm said. He put his hands on Riley's shoulders. "That man is a soldier, more of his people are attacking our crew and we need move."
Riley nodded and stood to follow him.
Paul held himself up in Engineering lab Alpha, he armed himself with a single hand phaser locked to stun. There was sounds of fighting right outside the door, the shots sounded like they were getting closer and closer. Soon the sounds got so close that a figure entered the room. It was Charlie, clutching his shoulder and phaser, along with Malcolm pointing his hand phaser out into the corridor as he backed in.
"Captain!" Paul exclaimed. Malcolm didn't look back but Charlie moved to the rear of the room.
"There you are, come on we'll get you to safety," Charlie assured.
Paul nodded and put down his phaser. For a moment he thought he was safe but then he saw that Charlie was wearing the red variant, instead of the engineering yellow. Their phasers were also slightly modified and were bronze glazed instead of the Starfleet silver.
"Wait." Paul said.
"We need to go now!" Malcolm shouted, still having his phaser pointed at the door.
"You're the Terrans aren't you?" Paul questioned, slowly pulling his phaser out.
Charlie sighed for a moment.
"I knew this was the wrong uniform," Charlie said, pulling his phaser out and stunning Paul before he could react.
Malcolm and Riley moved together through the corridors. The federation Malcolm suddenly halted as he saw the Terran Malcolm carrying an unconscious Paul on his shoulder.
"No!" Malcolm shouted, raising his rifle. But before he could fire, the Terran Malcolm fired shots at the bulkhead next to him that blew a coolant pipe that incapacitated Malcolm for a fee moments. By the time Malcolm had regained to his feet, he saw the final stages of a transporter beam that took away the Terran Malcolm, Terran Marteez and his Paul Miller.
The ISS Odyssey left the system at high warp once all their people were brought back. With the USS Shinwari tractoring the USS Odyssey, the three remaining ships desperately jumped out of the system to attempt to follow.
Hours later, the USS Callister entered the system. At Earth, Head Admiral Collins received the reports from the Callister. They scanned the system and saw that there was a wreckage of the K'Vark.
Collins did not question why there was a Klingon vessel so far out of Klingon space and ordered more ships to the search of the USS Odyssey.
1:11 (Mirrored: Shattered) Edit
Paul Miller slowly opened his eyes, weak under their own weight and turned off from this blinding light above him. He lay across a bio-table, strapped down at the arms, legs and neck. He looked around and saw that he was in a room very similar to the Odysseys medical bay but it was twisted in a way. The lights were dim and the air felt colder. The room was filled with crude equipment and sharp instruments. Facing away from Paul, there stood a short gruff man, looming over what looked like the dissected corpse of a giant rodent creature on the bed next to Paul. The smell appalled Paul however the doctor did not seem to be bothered by it.
The doctor dropped his knife, pulling off a pair of bloody gloves and turned around to Paul.
"Ah good you are awake," he said. This man was the definition of scruffy, Paul thought. The doctor carelessly grabbed Paul's face and placed a retinal scanner over his eye. The device felt as if it were piercing through his eye and then healing the damage behind itself, the pain was immense. It took every bit of Paul's strength not to scream on pain and his arms and legs violently twitched.
It had been days since the encounter with the ISS Odyssey. The Gullet of the Cardassian First Order rendezvous with the USS Shinwari and the USS Odyssey carrying a special visitor captain Malcolm had requested. Stepping off the transporter pad, Ambassador Kaden was greeted on his arrival to the federation vessel. Kaden had with him a tall Cardassian woman along side as he shook Malcolm's hand. Malcolm recognised the woman as Lavivia, the woman from Kadens message who he guessed was his wife.
"How have you been, captain?" Kaden asked.
"I assume Tirivia has briefed you on the situation?" Malcolm said.
"It's very fascinating," Lavivia said. "Parallel universes, this Terran Empire, I must say my research team back home will want to hear all about it."
"My apologises captain, she gets very excited," Kaden said.
"Well I'm glad you're here then, my operations officer is the same way," Malcolm said glancing back to Jennifer. "The more help we have the better."
Malcolm gestured towards the door and escorted the group out of the transporter room.
Paul rose from his unconsciousness once again after the operation. This time he was in one of the engineering labs of the Terran ship. He was no longer strapped down and was able to move. In the centre of the room was a double helix structure with a pulsating orange glow running in the centre of it. In the glass surrounding the central structure, he could see his own reflection. His left eye was soar and swollen from the surgery the doctor performed, a metal collar wrapped around his neck. Stepping out from behind his reflection, there was the Terran Paul Miller. The two were nearly identical, of course some minor differences that can come down to differences in lifestyles, for instance his hair was long and greasy and of course Paul had noticed the smell.
"Most interesting the similarities between you and I, don't you think?" Terran Miller said, smiling. He walked around the double helix and reached his arm out. His hands were blackened from oil and grit as Paul did not take it and Terran Miller retracted his hand. "Ah yes when we were assigned to this mission, I was most interested in meeting myself."
"This 'mission' to murder hundreds of Starfleet officers?" Paul said.
The Terran Miller just shrugged it off and laughed. "You'd call that murder?" He walked across the room and swung around a console display towards Paul. "I assume you would want to know what this is."
"It is some kind of subspace negative-matter transporter technology, not unlike my own quantum warp engine, but capable of using Underspace to pass across the pan-universal plane." Paul said looking over the schematics.
"Impressive," Terran Miller said. "Twenty years ago, the ISS Voyager came across a very interesting piece of technology and acquired it from the local indigenous lifeforms. Their poor narrow perspective could not comprehend the possibilities that they were sitting on and it took a more advanced mind to unlock it. From what I've seen, both of us have found unique applications for it."
"This is now you crossed over," Paul commented.
"And now it's being fitted to an armada just waiting for our message to cross," Terran Miller said smiling.
"So what is the problem?"
"Well crossing over the pan-universal plane has burnt out the drive. And the captain is starting to become restless as we cannot report back to the Imperial Starfleet. But I cannot figure out what is wrong."
"So you need my help?" Paul said. He continued to look over the schematics and cracked a smile. "No."
The Terran Miller suddenly broke his pretence, pulling out a knife from his belt and pushed Paul against the wall. The Terran placed his knife right underneath Paul's throat, a phycotic look in his eyes before he pulled back, drawing a small remote on him. Paul would soon find out that this was the control to the collar he was wearing, and that sent agonizing pain through his body that made him uncontrollably confulge for a full minute before Terran Miller deactivated it. Paul was curled up on the floor as the Terran knelt down and placed his hand on Paul's head.
"We are in the a most pressing situation," Malcolm said across the conference room. In attendance was Ambassador Kaden and his wife Livivia, Captain Oweye of the USS Shinwari, Lieutenant Charlie Marteez, Miss Jennifer Gillian, Doctor Ellie Malcolm, and Tirivia of the Cardassian First Order. "My crew have been called criminals and wrongly been blamed for the attacks on a Vulcan science station and the USS Delaney and now long range sensors have detected four federation ships sweeping their boarders but luckily we've got one ahead of them with our more advanced sensor systems. It is priority one that we intercept the ISS Odyssey before they strike again, but as Doctor Malcolm said, even if evidence, eventually that won't matter. That is why I am sending you ambassador with Doctor Malcolm in the Miller One to get to his base as fast as possible. Tiri you will follow them at standard warp, by the time you arrive they should have the evidence we need and you will ferry them back to us."
Ellie, Kaden and Tirivia all nodded to signify that they understand.
"The USS Odyssey and Shinwari will engage the Terran vessel in the meantime," captain Oweye said. "Lieutenant, the Terran ship had some kind of electro-graviton pulse that can disable any ships shields, engines and weapons capabilities."
"Well I should be able to modify the dish to deflect any electrolised graviton particles before they could interfere with our systems." Charlie said.
"Maybe a day, no more."
"Work with my engineers, I want both ships resistant to that pulse by the time we engage them."
Charlie nodded and dismissed himself.
"What about Pau-" Ellie stopped herself and corrected while in the presence of Oweye. "What about Lieutenant Miller?"
"I will personally lead a boarding party to retrieve him." Malcolm said.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Ellie asked.
"Out of everyone here, who else has had the most experience with the Terrans? I've been to their universe, I know how they think I can blend in."
Ellie sighed in agreement and Malcolm dismissed the conference. Each of them shuffled out until only Oweye was left.
"You do realise what it means if our theory is correct," he said to Malcolm.
"Yes I understand." Malcolm said.
"This is the only ship what could reach the origin in time, but it will still take years."
Malcolm dismissed himself, he did not want to consider this yet until the current situation had been dealt with.
Kaden and Ellie launched from the Odyssey in the Miller One. The Cardassian ambassador was apparently a very competent pilot so before they left Reece gave him a brief run down onto how to fly at the Quantum Velocity. The Miller One departed from the three ships, set coordinates for the research base L'Rol was commanding before the war. It was their best guess where he might be.
The journey to the lifeless world took around 8 hours to complete. They dropped back into normal space in orbit of the planetoid and immediately identified the atmospheric shield and the structure beneath it on the southern hemisphere.
"This is Ambassador Kaden of the Cardassian Third Order calling General L'Rol, please respond," he said. They sat in orbit for nearly an hour. When the USS Odyssey was sent here, the base had enough time to prepare, but the speed that the Miller One was traveling at, the base received no such warning. Soon their wait ended when a proximity alert sounded.
"That's odd, I thought federation sensors could not detect the Talkathi," Kaden commented.
"This one has it's transponder active, they want us to know they are there," Ellie said. "They are hailing us."
Kaden nodded and the face of General L'Rol appeared on the screen.
"Ambassador, Doctor, I must say I have not been expecting you." He said.
The captains quarters felt empty, specious but empty without Ellie making a clutter. Captain Malcolm stood in front of a holo-mirror, he shaved the sides of his head with a razor to almost a buzzcut while keeping the top's length, an approximation of what he saw was the haircut of the Terran Richard Malcolm, but at the same time he liked to believe it was in honour of Karvok, shaving his head before battle as what his grandfather did. He also wore the golden plated armour over the black combat suit that the Terrans use as standard uniform. He snapped his fingers and the holomirror vanished.
Hidden in a compartment under hid bed, there was a sealed box that required a thumbprint from Malcolm himself to open. Revealed inside was a deadly looking dagger, leather handle and a wide sharp blade with a engraving of the Earth on the guard. Malcolm rolled it in his hand, never thinking that he'd have to use this replica of a Terran knife from his missions into their universe again, and then holstered it in the belt.
Jennifer Gillian knew the plan, and so they were returning themselves to the hydrogen K-21E class nebula that was intercepted with an unstable Borg transwarp conduit. They were sending out a false signal to give away their position to draw the Terran ship in. She sat in the captains chair of the bridge, her restless leg in full effect as she nervously anticipated the incoming Terran ship and the fight to come. They hoped that the entering the nebula would disrupt their shields and sensors enough to transport on board.
Malcolm had been testing her over the past few months, so he felt he could trust her to take command in this mission. He believed that if they made it out of this then he would name her as the first officer on board.
Long range scanners detected the ISS Odyssey approaching the nebula at high warp. Paul was on that vessel, being reluctantly forced to help the Terran Miller restablish their drive to get back to their universe, to contact their fleet. Each time Paul refused to work, he suffered agonising pain due to the collar. This forced him to be smarter than that, create minor setbacks and sabotage that cannot be traced back to him until rescue can arrive.
While at work, suddenly the battle stations sounded.
"What's going on?" Paul asked.
"We're going to destroy our competition," Terran Miller said smiling. "We left your ship alive because it was no longer a threat, but now it is sending out a signal to your faction trying to explain themselves. Plus our captain loves a fair fight."
The Terran ship dropped out of warp on the edge of the nebula. The USS Odyssey sat at the mouth of the Nebula with the Shinwari nowhere in sight.
Malcolm was ready in the transporter room. The Terran ship fired upon the Odyssey, firing pulse phasers that slammed into the shields as Gillian gave the order to Reece to fire the thrusters to swing the ship around into the nebula.
"The Terran ship is following us, prepare for transport," Gillian said over the comm to Malcolm.
"Understood," he said. He crouched down on the transporter pad and readied his phaser. The pad lit up and he fet himself bring demateralised from the federation transporter room to an empty cargo bay of the Terran ship.
General L'Rol escorted Ellie and Kaden down corridors of his research base, down towards the live subjects. Maddened screams lay in those labs.
"Exposing subjects to the signal unfortunately did not have the desired effects," the General explained. "But our work together Doctor has allowed me to unlock the mysteries of it."
They entered a brig, a tortured Romulan was strapped to a chair for, what L'Rol said, his own protection. He rocked back and forth, panicked and muttering to himself.
"Decrypting the signal, provided some much intriguing results," he said. "Exposure to the pure, unencrypted signal first induces in the subject intense paralysis. This is only the first stage and fortunately only asks no more than an hour."
"What's the second stage?" Ellie asked.
"The subject before you is in stage two." L'Rol said. He clicked a comm switch and spoke to the Romulan. "Subject 13, report what are you seeing."
"A shadow!" He repeated over and over.
"What's your name sir," Ellie stepped in to attempt to calm the Romulan down.
It took a moment before the Romulan would speak again as he struggled to say "Chria'Le."
"Okay Chria'Le, my name is El, I'm a doctor, and I need you to slow down and breathe." Eventually the Romulan slowed and began comply but still appeared terrified beyond belief. "Okay good, now you mentioned a shadow, can you explain what you meant?"
"A dark shadow. In the figure of a man. It's always in the corner of my eye." The Romulan said.
"What is it doing?"
"Whispering to me. I can't block it out." He began to panic again.
"Chria'Le I need you to remain calm." Ellie said.
"You're on its side! It's right next to you!" He shouted.
Ellie looked around confused, no one had came in to the room, there was just her, the General and Kaden.
"Chria'Le please there's no one else here, I cannot see any 'shadow' it's just in your head."
"What do you want from me?!" He shouted before he started twitching and turning violently in shock. The monitoring equipment alerted.
"What's happening?" Ellie asked in panic.
"The third stage." L'Rol said, a calm tone suggested that he knew this would happen. Ellie ran past him and deactivated the shield. She ran in and attempted to do what she could.
"Doctor I would not advise that."
"He's going into shock, his epinephrine levels are dangerously high," Ellie said scanning him with her tricorter. "He'll suffer incredible heart palpitations if I don't get them down, his heart could stop."
"Please doctor don't bother," L'Rol said.
"He could die!" Ellie said. She unstrapped the Romulan from his restraints.
The Romulan stopped moving and simply lay still, breathing returned to a normal rate and he appeared calm and peaceful.
"Epinephrine levels are stabilising," she said performing a rescan. "In fact everything is stabilising; heart rate, breathing, neurotransmitters are firing at a normal rate, everything. He's becoming perfectly healthy."
Suddenly Chria'Le reacted. He grabbed Ellie by the throat. He held her as she choked under the force of his fingers. He looked into her eyes and she saw a complete unfamiliar determination.
A flash of green. Chria'Le relaxed his grip as she gasped for air. His chest was smouldering and his eyes fell cold, still staring at Ellie. The Romulan fell to a disruptor set to 'kill.' There on the other side of the room was L'Rol holding that disruptor.
"What was that, General?" Kaden asked as he assisted Ellie back to her feet.
"Stage three." L'Rol said as he holstered his disruptor. He moved over to the body and gently crossed his hands across the body's face to close it's eyes. "Oh I wish you listened to me. The first subject to reach stage three acted as if it had passed, when they entered the room, let's just say that they didn't make it out again. Some of them are more intelligent or subtle than others but it appears that they all serve the shadow Subject 13 speaks of."
"What happens if they refuse to." Ellie asked.
"Then they die."
L'Rol brought the ambassador and Ellie into the communications control room in the labs. There were Romulan officers in the surrounding consoles as the General took them to the central monitoring station.
"So as long as we don't allow this to be decrypted then it will not be a threat," Kaden said.
"Then what about captain Ward? What made him act like that?" Ellie said.
"Yes about that," L'Rol punched into the station and brought up a holographic analysis of the Sagittarius signal. "This was the sound three months ago when you doctor worked on it." He entered another command into the console and the display changed subtly with the modifications highlighted. "This was the signal as picked up only 6 hours ago."
"What does this mean?"
"It means ambassador, that as it increases in strength, it appears to be unlocking itself."
"Best case scenario, five years until the effects become irreversible."
"Five years? My calculations predicted at least ten." Ellie said.
"How can we stop it?" Kaden asked.
"There's no way to stop it on this side. It must be shit down at the origin and since it originated in another galaxy, we have no ships that could reach it within the next half century."
"We have one ship that could." Ellie commented.
"General, a Cardassian vessel has dropped out of warp in the system," a communications officer told L'Rol.
"That's our ride, we need to get back to Captain Malcolm." Ellie said.
"Before you leave," L'Rol said. He pulled out a small data rod that contained a copy of his research and the best estimation of the signals origin within the Sagittarius Galaxy. "If what you say is true, and you can reach the source before the effects of this become irreversible, then your good captain will need this." The Romulan General handed it to Ellie.
"Thank you, General." She responded.
"I wish you could stay. You, your brother and I could achieve anything we could set our minds to, I have no one in my government I consider an equal. But alas this is more important for us all. Safe travels doctor, give my best to Richard."
Ellie nodded and L'Rol turned to Kaden.
"Goodbye my friend," Kaden said. L'Rol took his hand and pulled the Cardassian towards him sharply.
"Don't think I forgot that you betrayed me, ambassador." He whispered before releasing him.
The USS Odyssey ran on quiet mode in the nebula. Using only thrusters to slowly glide through the soup of hydrogen.
"Why can't we find them," the Terran Captain Miller asked frustrated on the bridge of the ISS Odyssey.
"The nebula is interfering with our sensors, we cannot get any definite readings out there." The Terran Anderson Reece reported.
The captain slammed her fist against the side console and ordered to display visuals 360 degrees around the ship before standing it of the captains chair.
Six displays came up on the viewscreen, each revealing another section of the environment around them. Terran Ellena scanned the displays before pointing to the starboard display.
"There." She said. She pointed out the distortions in the hydrogen being produced by the USS Odyssey. "Target that distortion. Fire quantum torpedoes."
Three bright blue lights left a point above the Terrans deflector dish and flew towards the Odyssey. Immediately, the Odyssey engaged the impulse engines and shot forward. The Terran ship followed the Odyssey through the nebula.
The two ships exchanged phaser fire. The shields still offline, the phasers caused massive damage to the Odyssey.
Suddenly the ISS was hit from phaser fire coming from above the two ships. It was the fighter onboard the Odyssey deployed and swooped down. The fighter swung themselves back and targeted the forward torpedo tubes of the Terran ship, crippling their ability to fire quantum or photons. This distraction gave the Odyssey enough freedom to push out of nebula and re-establish shield power.
With the Terran ship hot on their tail, there was the USS Shinwari guarding the mouth of the nebula, previously hidden behind the unstable Borg transwarp conduit.
"Captain there is a build up of electro-gravitons in their deflector," Reka reported.
"Bridge to engineering," Acting-Captain Gillian said. "Lieutenant, the Terrans are preparing to fire."
"Acknowledged, I've made the modifications to the shield generators on us and the Shinwari." Charlie said.
A blue wave was projected from the Terran's deflector dish, it passed over the Odyssey and Shinwari unaffected, and the two ships opened fire against the Terrans, causing enough damage to make it appear a convincing attack but still remembering that they have people on board.
Malcolm searched the ship for any sign of where they might have taken Paul. He had been on board the Terran ship for almost 3 hours at this point. It was difficult to move through the ship without being spotted and from what he saw, the Terran version of himself was a high ranking security officer on board.
Malcolm entered the brig. The security officer that was on guard of the brig lay on the floor, shrapnel from a blown out bulkhead pierced his chest and burns all down his face. Malcolm recognised him, he was Ensign Flint, the pilot that flew the shuttle during the mission to the Romulan battle station in his time serving on the USS Rodney. Malcolm checked the various cells and found no evidence of Paul.
The ships continued to battle outside the nebula. Although the Terran shields were clearly superior, the bombardment of the two federation ships was enough to shake the ship under the stress.
"What was that?" The Terran Miller asked as the lab shook and a bulkhead blew. He moved towards the comm and spoke into it. "Miller to bridge, haven't you destroyed that ship yet?"
Paul took advantage of this distraction. He sprinted across the lab and jumped on the Terran, knocking the control remote for the collar across the room.
The two struggled, but Paul's limited hand to hand training was nothing compared to the Terrans lifetime worth of skill and experience. The Terran Miller threw Paul across the room and slammed into the glass cylinder around the double helix structure in the centre of the room. He grabbed Paul by the hair and put all his weight down into a punch right on Paul's temple, knocking down to the floor. Disoriented, Paul watched as the Terran unholstered his knife. Paul made an attempt to get back onto his feet, but the Terran rammed his knife directly into Paul's lower chest. He twisted the knife and Paul slid against the bulkhead.
"Shame," Terran Miller said. He left the knife inside Paul. "No Terran should have to die like one of your beloved flithy aliens, but your people have been diluted and tainted. You Federations have forgotten what it means to be Terran."
Paul grunted in pain as the Terran pulled his knife from his chest and raised it to strike a killing blow.
Before he could plunge his knife into the helpless Paul, an orange beam leapt across the room and impacted the Terran in the back. He flinched and fell to the ground next to where Paul lay.
"Paul!" Malcolm said, he dropped his phaser and ran across the room.
"That device... overload it... before... they contact the empire..." Paul struggled to say as he coughed up blood.
"We need to get you back to the Odyssey," he said, removing his belt and wrapping around Paul's wound.
"They have an armada waiting for their signal, Richard please."
Malcolm nodded and lifted Paul to his feet. He helped him over to the control console and Paul began to set the system to overload. The double helix began to spin and rotate.
The light within the device slowly increased and a hum resonated through the glass. Malcolm dragged him out of the lab and into the corridor. Paul coughed and spluttered blood as Terrans ran down the corridors, they were desperate to get where ever they need to be and yet completely ignored Malcolm and Paul.
They took the turbolift down to the deck Malcolm had transported to. However shortly before they could reach the cargo bay doors, they were stopped by a voice at the end of the corridor.
"Stop!" They called. Malcolm turned and saw that there stood an identical face; the Terran Richard Malcolm. The Terran unholstered his knife. "You cannot leave this ship human."
"How long until the engine overloads?" Malcolm whispered to Paul.
"Five to ten minutes." Paul said still clutching his wound.
"Can you walk?" Malcolm asked and Paul nodded. "There are transporter enhances in the cargo bay. Go now."
Paul let go of Malcolm and limped to the cargo bay. Malcolm slowly began to walk towards his Terran counterpart, discreetly pulling a small grenade-like canister from his back.
"You were the one who killed my friend Riley wasn't it? I will take great pleasure in killing you. You don't deserve my name." The Terran said.
"I was about to say the same to you, buddy." Malcolm said.
Malcolm began to run forward, he tossed the canister above the head of the Terran. A flash dispensed from the canister blinding the Terran for a brief moment. The flash caused the Terran harm as Malcolm moved in and knocked him against the bulkhead. Stumbling back, the Terran blocked several of Malcolm's hits, using his knife to slash at Malcolm. The knife scrapped against the golden armour. Malcom grabbed the knife and managed to overpower still blinded Terran. Malcolm slammed the knife into an open bulkhead and coolant sprayed out and filled the corridor.
Malcolm backed off as he heard the Terran scream from behind a wall of coolant. Malcolm spent no time retreating bsck to the cargo bay.
The USS Odyssey had sustained significant damage from combat, they continuously attempted to fall back behind the Shinwari but the Terran ship would not let up. The Odyssey had depleted most of their torpedo reserves and the phasers were only at 30%.
They would not have to fight for much longer as the Terrans power began to overload. It's weapons went offline and the Terrans began to drift towards the conduit.
"Malcolm to bridge, we have a medical emergency in the transporter room. Get us as far away from that Terran ship as possible, we've set their engines to overload."
Paul lay on the transporter pad, the belt slowing the bleeding. Suddenly the collar he wore activated and he began to be overwhelmed with agonising pain. Malcolm ran over to Paul and requested a emergency transport to the medbay.
The two were engulfed with the orange light from the transporter as the Terran ship fell into the transwarp conduit before the explosion could impact the two vessels.
Paul slowly opened his eyes, heavy under their own weight. He glanced around and saw that he was in the medical bay. His medical bay, not some twisted Terran replica. At the end of his bed, he saw his sister sitting in a chair with her head resting on the bed in her arms.
"Oh Hey," Paul said putting his hand on her head as she looked up. She rose to her feet and put her arms around Paul.
"Hiya, are you feeling okay?" She said.
"Oh I was only stabbed in the gut, no big deal." Paul said.
"Nurse Calahad patched you but it's your eye that we couldn't retrieve. The Terrans placed a sensor in your eye that must have triggered the collar when you left the ship. Richard called it a 'portable agonizer collar.' We removed the trigger but we couldn't save your eye."
Ellie passed him a mirror. There was little scaring around his eye but he saw that one of them was blue instead of the brown it used to be.
"We had no matching synthetic eyes in storage, but at least it suits you." She said reassuring.
"What happened to the Terran ship?" Paul asked putting down the mirror.
"Their transdimensional drive overloaded when they passed into the Borg conduit. And the conduit collapsed due to the overload so we have no way to know what happened to them." Ellie explained.
"Let's hope they were destroyed."
In the following days, the Odyssey and the Shinwari were undergoing repairs from the battle. Malcolm overlooked the data they retrieved from General L'Rol.
"You understand what you must do?" Oweye asked.
"From what this shows, there's no other way." Malcolm said.
"Only you need ask and I will relieve you of duty, I will command the Odyssey on his mission for you." Oweye promised.
"No. It's my ship, I must stay in command, this is vital."
"Very well, but there is the question of your crew." Oweye said. "Some of them, many of them, may not be so confident to go on a such a long mission."
"I can give them a choice."
The two stood from their seats and shook hands. Oweye saw the uncertainty in Malcolm's eyes.
"Fear not captain." He said. "All of us, each day, we live in the void. It takes a great deal of strength to own the void and we do it as our duty for those not strong enough."
Paul walked down the corridors of the Odyssey. Engineers were putting back together bulkheads and repairing systems. The lights appeared brighter than they should have, everyone told him it was a byproduct of the cybernetic eye but he could tell the difference. Paul oversaw the repairs as he saw Katie working with the crew.
"Ensign Staan," Paul said referring to Katie.
"Chief." She said bluntly.
"Can I talk to you for a moment?" He asked.
"You don't have to say anything."
"Please I'm sorry for how I acted," Paul said. Katie still did not even look around to face him. "Look it was just too much for me. I have had to deal with a lifetime of isolation do I'm still very new to all this. I am afraid, afraid that people would no accept me for me, but that doesn't excuse treating you three that way."
"Come on Katie please, for the first time in my life I finally am comfortable enough to feel like I had a friend. I will not like to ruin that. I'm sorry."
Katie turned to Paul. "Really?" She said.
"Really," Paul said. "So how about some fencing lessons?"
The intercomm sounded as the voice of the captain filled the corridors.
"Attention, Starfleet Officers, Starforge crew, this is your captain. Heads of departments, senior officers and anyone who wishes to attempt, please come to the observation lounge in 10 minutes. I will address you on our plan for the future."
It did not take long until people began to shuffle into the observatuon lounge on deck 10. Malcolm stood with his back to the window that was below the saucer and above the deflector dish showing the impressive size of the ship. A crowd gathered in the room, forming a semicircle around the captain. It consisted of people from all departments and ranks on the ship.
"I stand before you all today to present a choice," Malcolm said. "I must admit that we have only worked together for a few months and I hoped to get to know you all better someday. But in light of recent events, that may not be possible. Starfleet is hunting us, and currently we cannot prove our innocence. And even if we could, the dangers posed by the Sagittarius signal, as you all know, is most pressing. They may accept the truth but day after day, that naggling feeling of distrust against us will build until the truth will no longer matter. Research has shown that the only way to shut down the signal is at its source. Which means embarking on the 5 year journey into the void. Further than any other Federation has voyaged. The ultimate unknown. But I cannot force any of you to risk your lives every day for ten years to do this. So any of you who does not wish to do this, the USS Shinwari and Gullet has ensured any of your safety from Starfleet, there are isolated colonies in Cardassian space will take you in. Make your decision by the end of the day."
Malcolm finished and immediately several members of his crew left to pack their things.
The San Francisco Starfleet Command complex was quiet. Many of the captains and admirals were simply disgusted that a Starfleet captain would abandon their principles and kill non-humans in massacres. But the Head Admiral was not concerned about this. He had locked himself away for over three days as the shadow in the corner of his eye had grown more and more.
"Bill... We all know he's a traitor..." The voice said. Collins stumbled across the quarters, knocking over chairs as he grasped his head and covered his ears.
"Stop!" He shouted.
"You cannot trust him."
Richard Malcolm had betrayed him, Collins thought. He must have been some sort of Romulan spy, even captain Rown knew this when he was arrested on the Rodney but he somehow managed to walk free. He encouraged them to give the Romulans favourable terms. He gave the report that encouraged Earth to fire and start the war, a decision that costed the lives of millions. Collins slammed against a mirror but he saw that his reflection was replaced with the shadow.
"What do you want with me?!" Collins screamed. A great pain washed over him. He collapsed as images flooded his mind.
A great city ship. The two galaxies and the empty void between. The USS Odyssey ripping through space on a mission to kill a species. The USS Rodney and Doctor James Coal stepping into the spore navigation chamber. Admiral David Galeb in command.
The pain passed away and Collins finally heard silence. He rose to his feet and straightened his back. For the first time in twenty years he felt strong and healthy again. He looked into his own face, not a shadow. But although it was gone, he somehow knew what he needed to do.
"This is Collins, get me Admiral Galeb on subspace." He said into the comm.
Many of the crew quarters on board the Odyssey were now empty, but the ship still felt busy. Malcolm sat on the bridge and watched as the USS Shinwari said their farewells and jumped to warp.
"Helm..." Malcolm eventually said quietly. "Set a course. Maximum Quantum Velocity."
Reece moved his chair across the helm station. He inputted the coordinates, and outside the ship the warp coils were closed behind shutters and the bussards turned as a white plasma. He reached for the red activation roller but Malcolm's hand brushed Reece's away from it and placed his own on it.
"Broadcast this ship-wide." Malcolm said. "You all know the dangers that are ahead of us. The truth is that we do not know what we will face, if anything at all. But staying to complete this mission shows me that each of you are braver than I would know. We are the one crew, on the one ship that could do this. So I have no doubt that each and every one of you to put everything you have into this as I promise I will. And as I told you once before, this will be the legacy of the USS Odyssey."
He slid the roller forward and a bubble formed around the Odyssey. With a brilliant white light, the Starfleet ship shot off at unimaginable speeds into unexplored space.