USS Tamerlane

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:44 pm 
Artist: Nova Trek
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Location: Charleston,WV,USA
Season Three: Episode One

"Starship Lost"

Ship’s record; Stardate 5112.02: Two days ago, we picked up cargo on Villox-IV for delivery to Orlan mining colony number five on Billian-III.
The company's owner, Milas Orlan, suggested a flight plan he said would be quick and uneventful.
He was half right...

Phaser beams flashed past, reflecting off the hull plates as Enterprise ducked and dove under M'ress' hand. In the pilot's seat, with her red hair reflecting the cockpit's lights, Janet Kirk lined up the aft phasers and returned fire. Behind the two, with her own silvery-white hair reflecting the console lights, Shev monitored the ship's systems, her Andorian antennas almost shivering as another phaser beam shot past. "I said it before; life aboard this ship certainly isn't dull!"
Janet glanced back at her with a crooked smile. "You're the one that likes a little excitement in her shore leave."
The ship rocked from a near miss and everyone grabbed for a hand hold. The FSS Venture's helm officer glanced toward the human as she responded."I think I may change my mind."
The three attacking ships split up as the Enterprise's aft phasers fired again, grazing the hull of one of the attackers.
"What I want to know, "M'ress said as she altered course once more, "Is where did these guys come from? Orlan said this was an empty sector- 'Not even a rogue asteroid', he said."
The ship rocked as enemy shots struck the shields. Shev's eyes were on the monitors as she spoke."Well, all I know is, if the shields and phasers hadn't been Starfleet surplus, we would've been dead by now."
"Remind me to send Uncle Frank a 'thank you' note," Janet replied as she fired the aft phasers again- destroying one of the attackers.
"There's only one way this makes sense, "M'ress stated as she put the Enterprise into a tight, climbing turn that no normal cargo ship of her class could handle.
Janet nodded."They were waiting for us."
Shev looked over at her."That means someone gave them our flight plan."
The redhead nodded once more."Orlan. I thought he agreed to terms a little too easily."
M'ress glanced over at her as Enterprise reached the top of her turn and started back down. "You're saying he never intended to pay us?!"
Her friend of three years nodded. "he expects his men to scuttle us and salvage his cargo. All he's out is the operational cost of those fighters- which he'd probably put down as a 'business expense'."
Shev shook her head and her antennas shook slightly with her movement. "Makes me glad I went into Starfleet instead of following my family into the corporate sector."
The Enterprise completed its turn, coming in behind the two remaining fighters. Phaser beams shot forth, hitting and destroying one as the other dove clear. "he's breaking off, " M'ress noted.
"Just as well, "Shev noted. She looked over at Janet." The shield emitters took a beating. Another ten minutes and we would have lost the shields entirely."
"Computer, do you have any information on those fighters?" Janet asked.
"They're not space-based craft, "the computer replied. "Their design allows for atmospheric maneuvering. The closest planet they could have come from is Billian-III."
Janet looked to her friends. "That ties it to Orlan even more."
"There's more, Janet," the computer added." I've identified their point of origin based on materials used and method of construction. The ships are Andorian built."
Shev felt a sudden tightening in her stomach."Computer, there are only three major shipyards on Andor. Were you able to determine which one was the actual manufacturer?"
"Affirmative, Shev," the computer replied."The Tar'laren Shipyards."
Janet and M'ress both looked back at Shev and they could see the anger in her face."What is it?" Janet asked.
"Tar'laren's my family name, "Shev told her. "Give me an hour at your work station and I'll have all the information you need to bring Orlan down for this."
Janet just nodded as M'ress' attention was drawn back to the flight console and the readings it was showing her."Your family concerns may have to wait," the Caitian noted.
The ship's owner and captain turned toward her. "What is it?"
"Something just came into our sensor range, "M'ress said. She looked over at Janet as her tail whipped about behind her."Something a lot bigger than we are."
Shev pointed toward the viewport. "There- that white shape."
The three watched as the object drew closer and Janet's brow furled."It...can't be, "she whispered.
M'ress glanced at her, then back at the object- and her own eyes went wide."Not possible," she whispered.
"I thought they finally shut down the program last year, "Shev noted.
Janet's eyes were on the object as she answered."That's what was reported."
"Could they have continued in secret?" M'ress asked."Once out of the media's spotlight they'd be free to slow down- take their time to do things right."
But Janet shook her head."No. You couldn't hide something this big- there'd be a paper trail somewhere." She pointed."There- look. The ship's name."
The three women looked at the name, in blocky Starfleet letters. It read "USS Defiant."
"U.S.S.?" Shev asked.
M'ress shrugged. "Maybe Starfleet changed the designation- from "Federal Starship" to "Union Starship"?"
Janet shook her head once more. "No- they'd have to go back and change every ship in the fleet to match."
The computer spoke up then. "Janet, I'm not scanning any lifeforms aboard that vessel."
The three females traded glances."If this one's like our Constitution, it should have held a crew of 430,"Janet noted.
"Could this have been an automated test flight?" Shev asked. "Considering what happened to the Constitution..."
Janet glanced back at the Andorian as she answered. "That still doesn't tell us where this one came from. You don't build something like this without someone finding out about it.
"Computer, is there an atmosphere aboard that ship?"
"Affirmative, Janet. According to my scans, it's Union standard."
Janet looked to Shev."All the same, break out a couple of environmental suits just in case."
The Andorian nodded and as she left the small cockpit, Janet looked to M'ress. "I know, I know," the Caitian said, "I'll watch the ship."
The redhead shrugged."At least till we can afford an environmental suit that can accommodate your tail."
M'ress' frown was unmistakable."Next time we're on Cait, I'm going to buy one if I have to take out a loan." Then she met Janet's gaze. "Be careful over there."
The Human nodded. "You can come over as soon as we confirm the computer's scans."

In the cargo hold, dressed in an environmental suit, except for her helmet, Shev looked up from the transporter console as Janet came down the ladder. The Andorian handed her a matching EVA suit as she nodded toward the cockpit. "She doesn't like staying behind."
Janet shrugged as she pulled her suit on."I know- but it can't be helped right now." Once she too was suited up except for her helmet, she stepped over to the console and activated the intercom."Computer, compare scans of the Defiant with our records of the Constitution. Is the ship's main bridge in the same location?"
"Affirmative, Janet. According to my scans, everything matches."
Janet glanced over as Shev as she spoke. "Continue your scans and let us know the moment you find something that doesn't match."

The sparkle of transport faded, leaving Janet and Shev standing on a bridge neither had ever seen before. Everything was sleeker, more stream-lined than the Daedalus and Dakota- class bridges they knew. Yet, it was clearly a descendant of those designs. Light blue walls, red railing, red helm console trimmed in black. No goose-neck viewers sticking up out of the consoles- and a square viewscreen dominated the forward bulkhead instead of one with a thick frame and rounded corners.
There were skeletons, too- lying everywhere.
"What's left of the crew?" Janet asked in a hushed whisper. She felt like she'd beamed into a tomb.
"Must be," Shev replied in an equally quiet tone."But the uniforms are not right."
She was correct. Instead of the collar pips to indicate rank, the skeletons all had various amounts of gold braid on their sleeves- and the male crew wore pants that ended at the top of their boots.
"So close and yet so different,"Janet muttered. She indicated the crews' remains."Looks like a power struggle- or mutiny."
Shev looked around this strange bridge- seeing it as the battlefield it had been. "Wonder which side won?"
As they traded glances, Janet's suit communicator - built into her helmet- bleeped. She reached for the switch, located near her faceplate."Kirk here."
"Computer, Janet. I've completed my scans of the Defiant."
"What'd you find out?"
"Materials used, method of construction- all match the records for the Constitution program."The Enterprise's computer paused before it continued." Analysis of the ship's hull, however, suggests that it has been drifting for 42 years."
Janet and Shev traded glances once more. "Not possiable,"the Andorian protested.
The redhead glanced around."Maybe not. The "USS", the uniforms, the hull's age- and I've followed Starfleet close enough through Uncle Frank to know there's never been a mutiny..."
"No."Shev declared."There hasn't been. You can't keep news of something like that quiet."She studied her friend."What are you saying then?"
Janet shrugged."I don't know...a "gut feeling" that this ship isn't one of ours- it doesn't belong- maybe not even in our universe." The Human looked around as she spoke into her comm unit. "Put M'ress on."
"M'ress here."
"Contact Uncle Frank," Janet told her."Send him everything we've got so far- and tell him he better get a couple of ships out here as quickly as he can, because if anyone else shows up to claim this thing, we don't have the firepower to hold on to her.
"Then grab every scanner you can find, put computer in control of the ship and get over here. I want to do a complete scan- inside as well as out- before someone does show up. We're too damn close to the Klingon border here."
"Understood," M'ress replied. "be there as soon as I can. Out."
"Out."Janet turned off the comm unit and glanced around, her gaze coming to rest on the command chair. Slowly, she approached it, resting one gloved hand on one arm. For a moment, she just looked the chair over- the buttons, the brushed silver metal, the black leather and real wood arms- then she closed her eyes and shook her head.
Shev couldn't help noticing."Are you all right?"
Janet turned at her call and shrugged."The strangest feeling- almost like De'ja'Vu."She shook her head. "Probably just a result of all the time I've spent studying the Constitution." She looked around the bridge once more- and shook her head again.

Personal record; Stardate 5112.03.As I move through this visitor from another reality, I can't shake my feelings of unease. It’s like walking through a haunted house with a ghost at your shoulder- you know it's there, but you can't see it or touch it.
There's more to what I’m feeling than a simple case of deja' vu- like a dream turned nightmare, I can almost put my hand on the problem- but it's always gone before I can touch it.
As I near the captain's cabin, I find myself hoping the answers are waiting inside...

Janet paused when she reached the cabin that once belonged to the captain of the Defiant. Part of her wanted to go in- and part of her was almost afraid of what she'd find. Shaking her head, she reached for the switch and watched as the door slid aside. Once through it, she paused as the unit slid shut behind her. She looked all around, taking in the sparse work area and sleeping arrangements. A frown came to her face. It fit the layout in the plans for the Constitution, but for some reason she was expecting something more.
She slowly walked through the cabin, seeing one of those circular storage units set in a corner. There were no viewports and the realization of that made Janet feel almost claustrophobic.
Turning back to the work area, she slowly sat down at the desk. The silence was overwhelming. She reached for the desk top monitor, hitting a switch at random. There was the clatter and click of computer relays that made Janet jump after the silence. "Dammit," she whispered.
The human's head came up and around."The computer's still functional?"
"A-firm-a-tive," the system answered in a stilted, female tone.
"I wasn't talking to you." Janet shook her head."Can you play back the captain's last message?"
There was the hum and click of relays."Wor-king," the computer stated. "Both the ship's log and the Captain's personal log are available. Please spec-i-fy."
Janet leaned back in the chair, convinced now, that there was no immediate threat."Ship's log first, then the captain's."
There was more clicking and clattering before the monitor lit up with a shot of the bridge and an older human male sitting in the command chair. Janet listened as he told his story: The star charting mission they'd been on, the distortion/rip in the very fabric of space, of being trapped in that rip and being helpless to do anything as the damage to the very fabric of space slowly drove his crew mad.
The final entry consisted of gibberish and paranoid rants as the captain himself succumbed to the madness.
Janet turned off the monitor in mid-rant. "My god..." Then she swallowed. "Computer, when was that last entry made?"
"Unable to respond to query," the computer replied."Scans of known stars on which to base temporal calculations are only 0.9657 percent accurate. Conclusion: Vessel is not in known space."
"Give me your best estimate then."
There came the clatter and click once more. When it stopped, the computer said, "Seven months, Seven days, six hours, twenty-three minuets, fourteen seconds ago."
Janet's eyebrows rose. The Enterprise's computer said Defiant had been drifting for 42 years."I guess time passes differently wherever you call home."
Her comm unit bleeped and with her helmet removed- she'd taken it off upon entering the cabin- she reached over to where she'd laid it on the desk to activate it."Kirk here."
"It's Shev. I need you down in Main Engineering."
Janet rose to her feet as alarms began going off in her mind."What's wrong?"
"It's M'ress," the Andorian said."She just... attacked me. It's like she's gone crazy!"
Janet's gaze went to the monitor, her mind to the captain's story- then she ran from the cabin.

As she ran for the turbo lift, Janet's mind was racing, Was the Defiant still caught in the spatial rip? Did M'ress wander into a fragment or pocket of distortion? Could there be others? Janet shook her head as a wave of dizziness swept over her and her vision blurred. When she could see again, she stopped in her tracks.
She wasn't on the same deck she'd been on a moment ago. She was in some kind of ship board lab with crewmen walking past and moving around without even acknowledging her. A blond female crewman reached toward her- and through her- to a shelf behind her."Here it is, Doctor."
They couldn't see her. She didn't exist here- wherever here was. She quietly turned and reached for the same shelf the woman had reached for- and Janet's hand went right through it. "How in the hell-?"
"How much time do we have left, Doctor?"
"Hard to tell, Christine. Maybe only a few hours. After that, this damn madness'll have us all."
Janet turned back around at that. Madness? Was she on some past version of the Defiant?
"If only the Defiant's doctor had been able to leave some sane record of his work, "The nurse- for that was what Janet now took her to be- was saying.
"It would have saved some time," The doctor replied with a sour expression.
Janet stepped toward them- and her comm unit bleeped. Realizing only then that she'd grabbed her helmet as she left the captain's cabin, she activated it even as she noticed that no one around her had heard the bleep."Kirk here."
"It's Shev. Where in the name of the gods are you?! I just had another run-in with M'ress. It's like tracking a wild animal."
"I'm not on Defiant."
"Then where are you?!"
It was then that Janet's gaze fell on the container the nurse had reached for earlier. Now open, the lid lay to one side- the ship's name conveniently stenciled upon it in clear black print."I'm aboard the USS Enterprise,” she told Shev."There must be pockets of spatial distortion throughout the ship. I'm close enough to their dimension to see and hear them, but they can't see or hear me."
Janet stepped closer to the doctor and looked over his shoulder as he worked."It looks like this Enterprise is fighting the same madness that got to the Defiant's crew- and M'ress."
"Any chance of a cure before M'ress slashes my throat?"
"Even if there is, the only things I can touch are the things I brought with me, "Janet answered as she put her hand through the doctor’s head."If they find a cure, I'll have to memorize the formula and hope Defiant's sickbay is just as well stocked."
"Provided you can get back," Shev pointed out.
Janet shrugged."If I go back exactly the way I came, I should end up back on the Defiant."
"Computer cutting in, Janet. Long-range scans are showing two Klingon battle cruisers approaching."
The redhead swore. "Dammit. How long till they get here?"
"Two and a half hours at most."
Janet sighed in frustration."Alright. Understood. Shev, keep looking for M'ress- stun her down if you have to."
"If she doesn't slash my throat first," the Andorian replied.
"Kirk out." As she lowered her helmet, Janet looked to the Enterprise's doctor. "Alright, Doctor, how fast are you at finding an unknown cure for a previously unknown disease?"

Last edited by mdbruffy on Sat Sep 26, 2009 4:32 am, edited 1 time in total.

PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:45 pm 
Artist: Nova Trek
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Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2008 2:17 pm
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Location: Charleston,WV,USA
Personal record, Stardate: unknown. A half-hour- as I measure time- has passed since I ended up on this USS Enterprise. I’ve learned that our unsuspecting benefactor is Dr. Leonard McCoy- the ship's chief medical officer.
He’s determined to find a cure- and he's worked non-stop since I’ve been here to accomplish it.
As for me, I’m helpless in this ghost-like state. i couldn't even help when the doctor's own orderly attacked him.
I hope something turns up soon- I’m running out of time too damn fast...

The Defiant
Shev moved carefully as she entered Main Engineering once more. She had searched the rest of the section and even now, her antennas twitched as she strained to pick up any sound of another presence. The lights were dim and there were far too many shadows to hide in."M'ress?" The Andorian swallowed in a frightened throat. Walking around in the dark was NOT her favorite pastime."M'ress, it's Shev."
She tried to move quietly, sensitive to the slightest sound. A bare paw on the deck plate, claws clicking against the deck- or a low growl from around a corner."M'ress?"
Walking past the huge Engineering Dynamos, Shev paused and her antennas twitched once more. Turning, she spotted M'ress crouched down between the large pieces of equipment, looking more like a wild animal than any intelligent being. "M'ress? It's Shev. You remember me, right?"
The Andorian carefully moved toward the Caitian, fully aware of her extended claws and her own ripped clothing from their previous encounters. There was an uneven gleam in M'ress' eyes as she glared at this blue-skinned being. A low growl in her throat brought Shev to a stop."Okay. I won't come any closer. But you've got to fight this- we don't have time for it.
"Think. You're an intelligent being- fight whatever this is. I know you can."
The Caitian tilted her head, first one way and then another as a second growl escaped her. She reached for her head and closed her eyes as if in pain."You're not going to hurt me..."
"Of course not," Shev told her."I wouldn't hurt my friends."
M'ress shook her head as sanity and madness warred within her. Then with a scream and a roar, she lunged...

Meanwhile, Janet continued to pace the USS Enterprise's lab as Doctor McCoy and Nurse Chapel worked. A the moment, they weren't doing much. McCoy shook his head."The hardest part of all this is waitin' for the results."
At that point, the lab door swooshed open and a technician in a pair of coveralls came in and handed McCoy some kind of tablet. "lab results, Sir."
McCoy barely glanced at the tablet before he started nodded. "Good, good, Mike. Tell the lab to start to work on it immediately. I want it given to Chekov first- then everyone else depending on the severity of their condition."
"Yes, sir."
As the crewman ran out, Janet stepped over to see the tablet and her eyes went wide. "How in the hell am I supposed to memorize all of that?!" She raised her helmet and activated the comm unit. "Kirk to Enterprise."
"Computer here, Janet."
"Listen up." The redhead then went on to read off the formula- finishing just as Nurse Chapel picked up the tablet and moved it to one side."...Did you get all of that?" Janet asked.
"Good. I'll be asking for it in a little while. Kirk out."
Stepping back, Janet turned and walked back over to where she first arrived. She then walked through the area-
- nothing happened. She glanced around. Nothing had changed."What the hell?"
She was still stranded on the USS Enterprise.

Shev ducked and dove to one side, avoiding M'ress' claws by centimeters. She rose to a crouch to see the feline hunched over- nearly on all fours as she watched the Andorian's every move."This is definitely not good," Shev muttered.
M'ress shook her head, bared her teeth and lunged again. Shev dropped and rolled, once more barely avoiding claws by the smallest margins. Her back was to the grill covered viewport showing the impulse engines. As she watched M'ress, Shev's eyes narrowed slightly.
The beast that had been M'ress lunged again- going low in anticipation of her prey's expected maneuver.
Except that Shev jumped as high as she could and did a summersault that allowed her to land on her feet behind the crazed Caitian. "I think I'll take my next R&R someplace safe and quiet, "Shev muttered. "I've heard Kronos is nice this time of year."
The crazed gleam in M'ress' eyes was unmistakable as she howled in fury - and lunged.
There was a ripple in the air-
Shev dove to one side-
-and Janet tackled M'ress in mid-leap! there was a scream of insane anger and then the sound of a Caitian head striking the deck-
-and M'ress was out cold.
"Where's you come from?!" Shev demanded as the Human knelt by the Caitian.
"That other Enterprise," Janet told her. "I couldn't get the distortion to work until I remembered that when you called me, I ran from the captain's cabin. My heart was beating harder, more adrenalin was being pumped. I had to let myself be lost in all of that again before I could get the distortion to work."She looked around. "And it still didn't work right."
"I'm not going to complain."Shev replied.
Janet nodded as she checked M'ress' pulse."How much time do we have before the Klingons arrive?"
Shev shrugged. "About an hour and a half."
Janet activated her suit's comm unit."Kirk to Enterprise. Beam the three of us to Defiant's Sickbay."
"Acknowledged, Janet. Energizing."

Personal record; additional; As soon as we arrived in the Defiant's Sickbay, Shev and I carried M'ress to a bed and strapped her down. we then headed for the nearest lab and with computer reading back the formula I'd read to it earlier, we carefully recreated the antidote Doctor McCoy had devised.
After that, it was just a matter of Shev and I taking a dose as a preventative and then filling a hypo for M'ress...

M'ress was conscious again and fighting against the restraints. For a moment, Janet just looked down at her, then across the bed at Shev. Then she leaned down and applied the hypo. The hiss of the device was loud in the silent room. M'ress closed her eyes and shook her head. She winced as if in pain, eyes closed tight against the gentle lights of the ward. She cried out and then all the tension seemed to leave her. Her eyes opened with restored sanity as she looked from Shev to Janet."What happened? last thing I remember is just stepping off the lift onto the Engineering deck."
"Nothing major,” Janet replied as she and Shev released their friend. The redhead then looked to the Andorian."But now, we've got to get to the bridge. We've only got thirty minutes before the Klingons show up to figure out how to fly this bird."
"Do we dare try to make it up there on foot?" Shev asked."There are bound to be more of these pockets of distortion all over the ship."
Janet nodded as M'ress sat up and took her helmet in hand, activating the comm unit as she did so."Kirk to Enterprise. Beam the three of us to the Defiant's bridge."
"Acknowledged, Janet. Energizing now."

Upon returning to the Defiant's bridge, all three females turned their attention to the helm/navigation console. Janet shook her head as she took in the lay-out. "This is about three generations beyond me," She admitted. "Even if it is labeled in Union standard. Shev, can you make sense of it?"
The one member of Starfleet in the room, sat down at the console as Janet and M 'ress gathered round."The Venture's new bridge module's a little different," she said as carefully moved her hands over the controls without touching anything. Then, slowly, she nodded and looked to Janet."I can do it. It's mostly the same kind of difference as there is between old and new- only we don't have time for the Owner's Manual."
"Take the time to look it over good," Janet told her."Considering what happened to the Constitution, don't even bother with the warp drive- leave that to the experts. Just see if you can bring up the Impulse Drive and get us moving deeper into federal Space. With any luck, we'll meet Starfleet ships half way."
Shev nodded and turned her attention back to the console.
Janet then turned to M'ress. "try the communications console. See if you can contact any Starfleet ships."
The Caitian nodded as she looked around. "Alright."She looked to Janet. "Which one is it?"
The redhead pointed to the console behind the command chair. "I'll see if I can get the shields up."
As Janet moved off toward the engineering station, M'ress slowly approached communications. Like Janet earlier, she felt a strange...moment as she stood before the console. Then she shook her head and sat down. For a moment, she just took in all the buttons and switches. Then she turned to the only human on the bridge."Janet, can we access the computer through the intercom?"
"I think so. Why?"
The Caitian indicated the console. "It knows how to do all of this, right?"
Janet nodded as she joined her. "When I spoke to it earlier, it didn't respond like ours- it's not an A.I. like ours." She reached for the intercom on the console- the obvious replacement for the goose-necked comm units the Daedalus-class had.
M'ress' eyebrows rose at the sound."Sure doesn't sound like a very advanced machine- does it?"
Janet ignored her as she continued."Can you operate the communications equipment? Contact other ships?"
"There are two Klingon ships heading towards us," Janet said. "Do not contact them. Scan for any other ships in the area."
Shev looked up from the helm console. "Janet, I've got a course plotted. We can get underway whenever you give the word."
The redhead nodded. "Do it."
Then the computer spoke up."Short range sensors are detecting three vessels. One is a small cargo ship. No lifeforms detected."
"Skip that one, "Janet ordered. "What about the other two?"
"They are approaching on course 125 mark 3. Vessels bare some resemblance to Daedalus- class vessels, but size does not conform."
M'ress glanced up at Janet. "Counting the Defiant at least we'll have some edge over the Klingons."
"Computer, identify those two ships," Janet ordered.
The click and clatter already seemed normal as the Defiant's computer carried out the order."Vessels' registry reads FSS Hood and FSS Lexington."
"Contact the FSS Lexington," Janet ordered.
M'ress saw the change on the console first."There's a channel open."
"This is Captain Janet Tamera Kirk to the FSS Lexington. Do you read me?"
"This is Captain Robert Stevens of the Lexington. We read you, Captain. Are you the one that found the USS Defiant?"
"My crew and I, yes," Janet replied. "Captain, we're moving deeper into Federal space on Maximum Impulse. Considering what happened to the Constitution, I didn't want to risk the warp drive."
"Understood. We have you on our screens. We're changing course to intercept and we should join up with you in forty-five minutes."
"Then we have a problem," Janet replied. "We've got two Klingon cruisers closing on us. They'll be in firing range in twenty minutes."
"We can confirm that, Captain. They've just entered our scanning range. We're pushing our engines to maximum- that'll cut our time down to about the same as the Klingons- it's going to be close, but it's the best we can do."
Janet and M'ress traded glances. The day had turned into a race- with the Defiant as the prize."Captain, I only have two people with me: Lt. Commander Shev on leave from the Venture is manning the helm and my first officer is sitting at communications.
"Do you have any recommendations? Other than prayer?"
"I wish I did," the Lexington's captain replied."But I've never laid eyes on a Constitution-class ship. As much as I hate to say it, I'm afraid you're on your own till we can reach you."
"Thanks," Janet replied with a clearly sarcastic tone."Out." She then turned, her gaze going over the bridge."Shev, according to the Constitution's plans, she didn't have any aft weapons. Does the Defiant?"
Shev searched the console in front of her."Not that I can see. Phasers- forward, port and starboard- and torpedoes."She looked back at Janet." That's it."
"Can you use the maneuvering thrusters to turn us around?"Janet asked as she stepped down beside the helm console.
The Andorian looked at her for a moment."I'm not crazy about flying backwards, but you're the captain."
She stared at the console for a moment, then spotted the thruster controls. Janet's gaze went to the main viewscreen as the star field seemed to pull from left to right, then back away instead of rushing toward them. Shev sighed. "Done."
Janet then crossed to the command chair and reached for the intercom she'd seen there earlier."Computer explain how to bring the ship's weapons on-line and prepare them for firing."
"You-are-not -author-ized-for-that-information."
Janet's eyebrows rose in irritation."Computer, your crew is dead. All you've got is the three of us. You've got 2 Klingon cruisers heading towards you- you do recognize the Klingons as enemy aliens don't you?"
"Then tell us how to use the damn weapons before they blow you out of the sky."
A suspicious sound- like a cross between a chuckle and a snicker- came from M'ress' direction, but Janet tried to ignore it.
Shev looked back at the Human."We've got ten minutes before they're in firing range."
Janet nodded- then an idea came to her."Computer, explain the phaser control system for a Constitution-class starship."
Shev's eyebrows rose, then both she and Janet smiled as the computer began doing exactly as it was told. Four minutes later, the lecture was done and Shev was looking at the console in a different light- a light that would not have been possible without her own Starfleet training to support what the computer had said.
Standing by the navigation side of the console, Janet spoke once more. "Computer, explain the operation of a Constitution-class deflector shield control system."A moment after the computer had finished, Janet pressed one last button and sighed. "Well, at least they can't board us now- or blow us up with their first shots."
M'ress spoke up then."Janet, we'd have more of an edge if we'd bring Enterprise into this. She's small, but she still packs a punch."
Janet nodded. "Yes, she does. But I'd rather hold her in reserve."She glanced back at the Caitian. "She does pack a punch- but she's also home. Let's not burn the house down till we have to."
M'ress nodded and a bleep from the communications console called for attention."If I'm understanding this thing right, the Klingons are trying to contact us."She worked for a moment."Janet, their leader- a Commander Kang- wants to talk to you."
"Try to put it on the Main screen."
The screen that took up most of the forward bulkhead blurred and jerked before settling into the image of a Klingon bridge with a male seated in the command chair that Janet had to admit was handsome by the standards of any race."I am Commander Kang, of the Klingon Imperial Cruiser Ka'tan. You will surrender the Defiant now."
Janet glanced at M'ress and Shev as she stepped round in front of the helm console."Commander, there are two things I think you're overlooking. First, there are two Federal starships approaching- you probably have them on your screens by now. Second, you're trespassing in Federal space. If anyone's in the wrong, here, it's you.
"We salvaged Defiant in Federal space. If we choose to keep her or turn her over to Starfleet, that's our choice.
Now unless you want to face of 3 to 2 against, I suggest you go home."
Kang actually laughed."Do not try to bluff when you do not have the cards, Human. You have not been aboard that vessel long enough to learn it's secrets. Surrender it now and I will let you leave alive. Refuse and your two starships will find nothing but a debris cloud when they arrive."
"We know enough about her to defend ourselves," Janet replied."And if we're forced to do so, we will.
We will not surrender her."
Kang actually nodded as if he expected her answer."Very well then. I would have preferred to take the Defiant intact. But if I must destroy her to keep her out of Federal hands, I will do so."
Janet's eyes narrowed."Commander you are in Federal space without Union permission. Any attack you launch will be considered an act of piracy- if not an act of war.
"I don't know if you're acting on orders or not- but I ask you to remember what happened to the last Klingon to cross the border without orders.
"I believe Commander Chang was executed was he not?"
Kang's eyes narrowed. "How do you know this?"
"There were Union representatives at his trial," Jan stated. "Plus my brother and sister-in-law were among the Cestus III colonists he butchered."

Aboard the Lexington, Captain Stevens and his bridge crew had been listening to the conversation. The helm officer looked back at his captain."Do we open fire, sir?"
Only the captain's eyes shifted to meet the younger officer's gaze as he answered."No, Mr. Mathews. For one thing, we won't be in range for another two minutes. For another, I won't be the one that starts a war.
"The ball's in Kirk's court right now."
The ship's first officer stepped over to the command chair from his post at engineering."But sir, Kirk isn't trustworthy. She was forced out of the Academy for cheating."
Stevens did turn to meet his gaze."And four years later a review board cleared her of those charges. I looked up her record when we got our orders for this assignment. If things had been different, she'd be wearing the same uniform we are- and I suggest that all of you remember that."
His thirty year old gaze traveled around the bridge."We're on the edge of war right now- and only Kirk can prevent it."

On the Defiant, silence had followed Janet's statement. Now, she continued."This...machine isn't worth starting a war over, Commander. But if one is started, it won't be the Union shooting first. Is the Empire ready to wage war over one ship? Is this machine worth the lives of thousands of Klingon warriors that would be lost in a needless war?"

The other Klingon ship was the Gar'tag under the command of Captain Korag, who was growing restless in his command chair. Like the Lexington's bridge crew, his crew had been listening ,too."Why is he wasting time with this human?" Korag growled. His beard almost twitched with his agitation."We can take Defiant and use it to crush the Union."
he squirmed in his chair."Ch'Pak all this talk! Weapons officer, open fire!"

Shev had kept her eyes on the helm console. Now, her training kicked in as her hands moved over its shinny black surface."Incoming!"
A switch was hit-
- and blue beams of phased energy lashed out, slicing through defenses designed to stand up to Dadealus- class weaponry. Even as disruptor blasts exploded harmlessly against the Defiant's shields, the D-6 Gar'tag was destroyed.
"Hold your fire!" Janet shouted as she regained her feet after the shock wave of the disruptors hitting the shields threw her to the deck."Commander Kang, did that ship fire on your order?"
"No- Captain. It did not."
"Then consider yourself lucky," Janet told him."You've seen what Defiant can do. You have no means of taking her or destroying her.
"Go home, Commander. Before this goes beyond anything we can stop- before any more lives are lost."
For a long moment, Kang stared back from the viewscreen as if studying the human female standing before him. Then he looked off to one side and barked something in Klingon that the universal translator didn't catch. His image was replaced by a debris cloud and a view of the Ko'tan turning away and heading back toward Klingon space.
Janet watched the screen for a moment, then turned to Shev."Shut those phasers off."
M'ress turned from the communications console."Janet? Captain Stevens is calling." She nodded toward the viewscreen.
Janet turned toward the screen as the image of a Dakota-class bridge came into view with a human male in his early 30's seated in the command chair."Congratulations, Captain. I don't know anyone in Starfleet that could've done any better."
"Thank you, Captain," Janet replied."But can we please take this lady some place safe? After seeing what she's capable of, she makes me a little nervous."
Stevens smiled." Certainly. They're waiting for her at Starfleet Command."
Janet raised her hand halfway. "We do need to make one stop first." Stevens raised an eyebrow as Janet went on to explain.

Stardate 5112.05- the next day
Planet Billan III
The office of Orlan Mining Colony Number Five
The atmosphere of Billan III contained various gases that were deadly to humans. But inside the colony, inside the tunnels and living quarters and administration compound, recycled air filled the lungs of every employee.
Milas Orlan would have preferred it otherwise. He would've preferred that only the living quarters and admin compound had air. He would preferred that the miners used EVA suits in the tunnels.
But the miners' organizations wouldn't go along with that, so Orlan had to put out three times the amount in credits to pump air into those tunnels- allowing the sheep to breathe without the suits. A "safety precaution" they had called it.
Milas Orlan called it a waste. But then Orlan was a slob- a rich slob that made his fortune on the backs of his employees. His mining operations allowed him to live as he liked- good food, good wine- none of it replicated- and both a wife and a mistress.
At the moment, he was pacing his office in frustration- the one thing he would have gladly done without. His surviving fighter pilot had returned that morning with news of how their attack on the Enterprise had gone. It was not good news. Who would have expected a damn cargo ship to fight back like that?
He turned his overweight form as the sound of a Federal transporter was heard to see that Kirk woman and a man in a gold Starfleet uniform arrive with two other men in red uniforms behind them. "Can I help you folks?"
Janet scowled."Are you saying you don't know who I am?"
"No, Ms. Kirk. I know who you are."
"Good, because we have business to finish, "She held up her tablet."Twenty crates of equipment for your mine."
"No such order was ever placed."
Janet and Stevens traded glances before she turned back to face Orlan."Then how do you know who I am? I have your thumbprint on the contract."
"Faked. I signed no contract."
Janet's jaw tightened as she stepped toward the man."Then you won't mind if I send these twenty crates of life support equipment into the sun- because it's a certainty your fighters'll never see them."
"That's right." She took a data disc from her jacket pocket. "We were attacked by three fighters as we followed a course you recommended. We analyzed them before we destroyed two of them and found out that you bought them six months ago."She took another step toward him and tossed the disc on his desk."Fighter number 3 is sitting o your landing pad right now- with two shuttles from the Lexington to keep it company."
Captain Stevens stepped up beside her as he spoke."In case it's escaped your notice, Mr.Orlan, Piracy- and attempted murder- are against the law- and since they both happened in space, the whole matter falls under Starfleet's jurisdiction.
"Now I suggest you pay Captain Kirk what you owe her- then contact a good lawyer- `cause you're going to need one."
As Janet held her business pad out to Orlan, Stevens signaled his security detail, who in turn, took a step forward.
With a scowl on his face, the mine owner grabbed the pad from the woman and authorized the payment before tossing it back to her. She checked it and closed out the file as she spoke."Be grateful we ran into the Lexington when we did." She looked up then, meeting Orlan's gaze."Because my crew was ready to come in here and blow this mine to hell and back- with you in it."
"Take him up to the ship," Stevens told his men."Put him the brig. Make sure the Chief reads him his rights. We don't want his lawyer using some loophole we've overlooked to get him off."
"Yes sir," one of the guards replied. It was only a few moments of glittering transport later, that the two captains were alone.
"So, where are you off to next?"The Starfleet officer asked.
Janet shrugged."Once Defiant's safely tucked away, we might pay Uncle Frank and Aunt T'Pel a visit. Then we'll set course for Cait."She met his gaze as a crooked smile came to her face."I promised my first officer that as soon as we had the funds, we'd get her an environmental suit that could handle her tail."
Stevens raised an eyebrow at that."Sounds like you have an interesting crew."
She shrugged."Sometimes." She looked down at her pad." long do you think it'll be before we see our own Constitution-class ships?"
The Lexington's captain could only shrug in return."Not for awhile. Starfleet'll want to analyze the Defiant down to its last molecule. It maybe a decade or more before they even ask permission to start up the program again."
He watched her for a moment.
"Was there something else?" She asked.
He nodded."I was wondering if you'd accept a dinner invitation if I made one, "he said gently.
It was Janet's turn to watch him."Are you making one?"
He nodded.
"Invitation accepted," she replied with a relaxed smile.
He took his communicator in hand, issued the beam-up order and a moment later, the office was empty.

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