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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 2:10 pm 
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...Some background - actually written some years ago, then lost, and then dredged up from the memory banks. Thoughts, comments, and ideas ALWAYS welcome.











STAR TREK:
THE LAST STARSHIP

By Mike Kozlowski

Author’s Note: This novel takes place between the events portrayed in the films Star Trek V: The Final Frontier and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Please adjust your stardates accordingly…

STARDATE 8454.20
USS POSEIDON NCC-2911
THE MUTAARA ASTEROID FIELD



They call them all Starships now, and that was the problem.

Once, there had only been fourteen of them, the most advanced, capable, and graceful spacecraft the Federation had ever built, and they were the most coveted assignments in Starfleet. When you heard the word ‘Starship’, you knew – knew with all your heart, hearts, sentience, or any combination of the above – that they were indeed something special.
Trouble was, times changed. And one day some genius got the idea of painting it on the sides of every ship. STARSHIP USS SARATOGA, perhaps, or STARSHIP USS PETR VELIKY, followed by the words, UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS. And as time went by, every ship in the Fleet, from the hulking Dreadnaughts down to the knifelike destroyers, ended up with that proud phrase on the side and it was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, every last being in Starfleet could say with pride, “I serve aboard a Starship.” On the other hand, when the Federation Council wanted something done and demanded Starfleet do something about it, Fleet Staff could look them in the eye and say, “We’re sending a Starship.”

And then send a ship like the Poseidon.

Poseidon was a Clio-class destroyer, superficially resembling one of the big cruisers, but far smaller – downright cramped, as a matter of fact, two hundred and eight beings stuffed into a space that the Federation would have decried as unlivable planetside but was perfectly acceptable out here. And the larger ships may have been able to indulge themselves as instruments of peace and exploration, but the destroyer crews had no such illusions. At best they were instruments of enforcement, but all too often they were the only thing between the citizens lightyears away from the Home Worlds and the numberless beings, fleets, and…things… that wanted to harm them. Destroyer crews, however, take a perverse and unquenchable pride in being ordered out into deep space in their ‘tin cans’ and doing the impossible, especially when their usefulness is questioned by the no-good layabouts on the bigger ships – but that’s a discussion for another time. Right now, Poseidon had a job to do, and she would do it well. The job in question was officially known as Mutaara Patrol, but the crews who pulled it, destroyermen all, reduced that to two far more descriptive words:

Gonzo Station.

It was a term that went back, way, way back, to the old United States Navy and had come to represent a mission that made little or no sense whatsoever, except to the senior officers and politicians who had come up with it in the first place. The commodores who ran their respective flotillas tended to frown upon the term. Irreverent, they said. Disrespectful. Poseidon’s captain, Commander Edward Ellison, had a different view – quite reasonably, because he was there. Destroyers assigned to Gonzo Station pulled ninety day tours just slowly circling the massive field of rock and energy created when the Genesis planet tore itself to shreds a few years before, and after about the tenth day boredom set in. One could only polish the decks and inspect the crew so many times, Ellison thought, and recreation facilities aboard the destroyers were…limited. Ellison snorted to himself at the thought; there was a small gym big enough to handle perhaps ten percent of the people who would want to use it at any one time, and a small compartment with a dozen or so computer and holo games – as long as the Poseidon’s computer core wasn’t rationing drive space again; a depressingly common occurrence since the Starfleet engineers who designed her had been a bit stingy with computer core size. Now, the library was nice – pretty much every book ever written, and a good selection of vids, but the novelty tended to wear off pretty fast. The only thing to look forward to was a runner, the nickname for the people who for whatever insane reason decided they just had to get to Mutaara.

They came by chartered ship, or tramp freighter, occasionally in ships not much bigger than a shuttle, and sometimes in ships a damned sight smaller than that. Their reasons tended to vary from ship to ship, but they narrowed down to the same thing: there was a secret out here. For some, it was a miracle cure for…well, anything. More than a few times, ships on Gonzo Station stopped and/or rescued people who by all rights should have been in hospitals, or for that matter in a hospice, believing that something out here might heal them when the best doctors in the Federation couldn’t. For others, it was supposed to be the fountain of youth – people in their 120s and 130s coming out here thinking that there was something that might make them young again. And on at least a few occasions, the boarding parties would go aboard and find a corpse. Or two. And the explanation would be that they had heard that someone had come back from the dead out here, and they thought…

They didn’t think, Ellison reflected as he looked over a stream of reports on his computer screen. That was the problem. Yes, a famed Starfleet officer and his ship had experienced a very bad day out here. Yes, he had been gravely injured and ‘come back’, though how much that had to do with poorly understood Vulcan physiology and even more poorly understood Vulcan mysticism nobody was sure – at least anybody who was talking. Either way, something very, very odd had happened out here, the patrol skippers knew that much – otherwise Starfleet wouldn’t keep perfectly good destroyers out here doing racetrack patterns for three months at a crack. But if there was anybody who knew what it was, they weren’t sharing it with a bunch of junior ‘can skippers, and any questions no matter how discreet were always greeted with long faces and quiet suggestions to change the subject. Now. And of course, that sort of enforced silence ended up on the front pages of the tabvids and encouraged the people they were ordered to stop. The most technologically advanced and well-educated people in all of history, Ellison reflected…and they were risking their lives to come out here to Sector Godforsaken in hopes of some kind of miracle.

And in spite of the mystery, Ellison thought as he tapped the computer screen, life goes on. For instance, how does my ship manage to go through several hundred kilograms of bacon in a week? Strictly speaking, it wasn’t bacon like he’d grown up with – this stuff was based on the old Smithfield traditional bacons, formed in the replicators - but still…Hell, some of his crew hadn’t evolved to even digest bacon, much less know what it was. Oh well. As long as the crew wasn’t actually griping about the food, Ellison was fine. When the chow started getting complaints, then you had a problem. In the meantime, while on the subject of bacon it would be nice to get a decent club sandwich out of the replicators sometime.

Tapping a close to the last report, Ellison checked his incoming mail. Empty today, he thought. One of those things. Some days there were a dozen, or you could go a week without anything. He looked at the picture of his family just to the right of the computer screen and remembered for a wisp of a moment how much he missed them. Couldn’t dwell on that for too long, though. Too many responsibilities, too many ways it could hurt your performance. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, though, when no one else could see it. Maybe it was time to pack it in, Ellison thought, leaning back in his chair. He could ask for a planetside slot after this cruise, maybe even back home on Earth, and then retire at twenty years, watch the kids grow up, get a place in Hawaii and watch the rest of his life roll by. There were plenty of places to get a good job and enjoy things. Hell, he had – what, another good sixty or seventy years. His dad, a former civilian engineer for Starfleet, was still going strong in his late eighties, for crying out loud, going up to the Starfleet Museum on a regular basis to keep the old girls there in good shape.

Tagging along with his dad one day had been what motivated him to do this in the first place. Ed Ellison had a lot of good memories with his dad, but the best was a day when he’d been ten years old and on summer vacation when Dad woke him up early with a huge grin and told him to get dressed, he had a surprise. And what a surprise it was – he was going up to an honest-to-God starship, in spacedock high over San Francisco, and Eddie could come along as long as he behaved himself.

Not like there was any question of that, Ellison grinned. He was at his angelic best all the way through Starfleet HQ as Marine guards gruffly checked his ID and then gave Dad a wink, all the way through the shuttle ride up there piloted by a young Ensign named Sulu awaiting assignment to his first ship. Sulu couldn’t resist showing off just a little, rolling the shuttle over the spacedock so Eddie could see the strong black letters across a gray saucer:

U.S.S. CONSTELLATION
NCC-1017

The crew treated him like CINCStarfleet himself, and even grim old Matt Decker, brand new Commodore’s stripes on his jersey, came out smiling to give him a tour of the bridge, even letting him sit in the captain’s chair for a glorious minute. Ellison never forgot it.

He never forgot either how hard he cried the day his dad sat him down and, as gently as he could, broke the news that Constellation and Matt Decker were gone, fighting hard against something that had wanted to come to Earth to hurt them. Dad let him get it out of his system, then told him that if he wanted to remember them…be like them. After that there was never any question of where Ed Ellison’s future lay. The Academy was tough – wouldn’t have been any point to it otherwise – but it was worth it, especially in his senior year when one of his instructors turned out to be Matt’s son Will, waiting for his ship to come out of refit. After that first class, Ellison told Will his story, and it turned into a long day of Will happily sharing memory after memory, and as much advice as he could offer. A couple months before graduation, Will sat him down just before going orbitside and told him that once he graduated, give him a call. Ed Ellison had a slot waiting for him on the Big E.

Ellison’s thoughts stopped for a moment as he remembered what came next. Will Decker, relieved on the bridge of his own ship, for God’s sake, then…’missing in action’. There was a brief ceremony at the Academy where another Decker was added to the long black monument, and that was it. Over and done quickly, because Starfleet didn’t like to see it’s officers crying.

Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, though, when no one else could see it.

Ellison closed his eyes, intending to for just a second but letting it turn into a luxurious few moments…where it was warm and quiet in his cabin, the sounds of the ship merging into a smooth, soothing background hum…and nobody was asking for him…. and the General Quarters alarm wasn’t going off GODDAMMIT GENERAL QUARTERS as the whoopwhoopwhoop of the alarm rattled through the speakers and off every single surface in the cabin. Leaping out of the chair more by reflex than intent, Ellison grabbed his jacket and swatted the comlink in one fluid motion. “Bridge, this is the Captain! What do we have?”

“Sir, this is Ensign Alcala –“ Ellison had to think for a heartbeat, then remembered a dark, slim young man from Nueva Espana and right out of the Academy who’d had a few problems with self-confidence – “We’ve got a bogey!”

“How far out?” GQ for a bogey?

“Sir…it’s inside the Field!” Right. That explains that.

“On my way!” With that, Ellison pounded through the door and into the crowded passageway, next stop the cramped circle of seats and computers that was the heart of the Poseidon. And with every step, his mind just kept repeating the same thing:
Inside the Field? You can’t get inside the field. How the hell does something get inside the Field?

The swoosh of turbolift doors opening, the bosun’s call of “Captain on the bridge!”, and Ed Ellison was in his element. Every station manned, a team of focused, hypertrained professionals training every sensor and every sense on…what? As Alcala leaped out of the Captain’s chair to make way for Ellison, the captain took a quick glance at the big main viewscreen. There, for the most part, was what they always saw filling the screen – the rippling bands of blasted rock and frozen magma that had once been the Genesis planet, now smashed into several billion trillion pieces of fused rock, covering nearly a half million kilometers in any one direction. And, off center and towards the bottom of the screen, in bright red letters and symbology, BANDIT ONE. A red triangle, with a rotating circular aimpoint hovering over it, telling the phasers and photon tubes that this was where to shoot. Below that it said, NO POWER EMISSION NO LIFE SIGNS NO SENSORS DETECTED. As Ellison was absorbing that, he realized that his executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Terracis, was already at his side.

Okay, Ellison thought, let’s figure this out. Shutting off the alarm, he turned to Torres and asked – as gently as he could, because the poor kid looked terrified – “Okay, Ensign – from the beginning.” Alcala – Ellison remembered now, he had him pulling a few extra shifts as Officer of the Deck until he got over his first-cruise jitters - was shaking a little as he took a deep breath and said, “Sir, everything was routine until a few minutes ago when we started getting little blips in the sensors – like something was popping in and out in front of us, but it wasn’t staying long enough to get an ID. I had Sciences run a Cat 4 diagnostic and it was coming back fine when the fire control sensors actually picked it up. As soon as the computer classed it as a bandit, I went to GQ.” Alcala was still at attention, and Ellison thought the poor kid would burst if he didn’t relax. With the most encouraging smile he could muster, Ellison replied, “Okay – you did good. Take your station and let’s figure out what we have.” Alcala visibly relaxed, a proud smile coming to his face as he sat down at Weapons. Ellison turned to his XO and then quietly asked, “Good morning, Mister Terracis – your thoughts?”

Terracis made a noncommittal face. “Alcala did well. He could have moved more expeditiously, but on the whole it was an adequate performance.” Ellison grinned at that one; Terracis was a demanding taskmaster whose crew members could never move fast enough of aggressively enough for her, so that was high praise indeed. “Duly noted, Mister Terracis,” Ellison replied, “but right now perhaps we should focus on our newfound friend out there.” Andorrians didn’t shrug – it was a gesture that their society never developed – but Terracis could have used one as she replied, “Captain, I do not know. I have Sciences running a full scan to get us more information. I do, however, believe that whatever is out there is not hostile. It appears to be keeping a constant speed – that is; drifting – and appears to be taking no maneuvering actions at all. My guess would be a derelict of some kind.” There was a disappointed look on her face, and Ellison wasn’t surprised. Andorians lived for combat, and Terracis would have loved an excuse to light up the phasers. Ellison looked at the screen again, and the information hadn’t changed. Okay, no harm. Resting his chin on one hand, Ellison said, almost to himself, “This is damned peculiar…derelict it may be, but how the hell did it get in there? That’s gotta be a few thousand clicks inside the field – if it’s big enough for us to spot, then it’s too big to just slip in there…” Then, after a moment, he turned and said, “Mister Soltek?”

Soltek, a quiet, typically efficient Vulcan, was seated at the Sciences station, his hands dancing over the controls like a pianist at his keys. Without looking up. Soltek said, “Stand by, Captain. The ambient radiation levels are, as always, causing serious problems with any readings. May I request more computer space?”

“Easy call, Mister Soltek. Granted.” The rec room, library and chow hall had just lost a good chunk of their computer access, but it couldn’t be helped; this was business. A few moments later, Soltek turned. “Captain, would you please come to the station? I believe you should see this.”

Now Soltek had his attention. Ellison and Terracis stepped up to the Sciences station and leaned over the array of controls and viewscreens. It wasn’t as fancy as what you’d find on a Constitution or a survey cruiser, but more than a few tin cans had contacted civilizations or made important discoveries, and Soltek was the master of his little corner of the bridge. With a slight flourish, Soltek touched one screen flowing with data, and gestured towards one line of colored bands descending from the top of the screen. “Captain,” Soltek explained, “there is a discrete radiation band inside the field – faint, but detectable. As you can see, it appears to be streaming from the bandit’s approximate position. Comparing them to the radiation signatures we have on record, they are clearly not a match to the protomatter or previous nebula signatures.”

“Fission or fusion products?”

Soltek nodded. “One of several possible explanations. The others would be related to weapons detonation byproducts, though I know of none in this area after the orginal incident, and they would have long since faded into the background radiation."

“Okay.” Ellison reflected on this for a second. “A runner got past the patrols, got inside the field –“

“Exactly how, Captain? It would require powerful shields to get much closer than we are right now,” Soltek pointed out, “and that would require a vessel of considerable size. Runners, as a rule, use vessels that are small and therefore by definition, unable to generate that much power.”

Man had a point, Ellison thought, and then an idea popped up. “Soltek”, he asked, “you said that was a discrete radiation signature?”

The science officer nodded. “Indeed, Captain.”

“Analyze it. I want to know everything that can be learned from it before we call Starfleet.”

“Of course, Captain. I enjoy a challenge.” With that, Soltek went to work as Ellison turned to Terracis and said, “Stand ‘em down from General Quarters. We ought to be able to figure this out from here.” Terracis nodded and replied, “Yes, sir,” with a look that suggested disappointment that the Poseidon wasn’t going to shoot at anything today.

With that, Poseidon downshifted back to normal routine as Soltek worked his magic. They were staying their usual cautious distance from the outer edges of the field, and over the next fifteen minutes the destroyer kept its sensors locked on whatever it was in there. Ellison was watching the big screen intently when he heard Soltek say, “Captain?” Ellison looked at his watch as he left the captain’s chair – fifteen minutes and change from the initial alarm. Soltek’s getting slow.

Ellison stepped up to the sciences station and leaned over Soltek’s shoulder. The Vulcan motioned to one of the display screens and quietly said, “Captain, this is…most odd. The radiation is indeed from an engine – to be precise, a damaged warp core.
“A Starfleet warp core.”

Ellison’s jaw dropped almost down to the deck. “Soltek, are you sure?”

The Vulcan nodded gravely, his voice low. “There is no question, Captain. Please notice the ratios of dilithium-23, deuterium, and anti-deuterium to each other – precisely seventeen percent to one another. The actual amount of the byproducts will vary from ship to ship and engine type to engine type, but the seventeen percent ratio is as distinctive as a fingerprint.”

Ellison said, with some disbelief in his voice, “The only Starfleet ships out here are…well, us. There hasn’t been anything else out here since they set up the Mutaara watch.”

“As true as that may be, Captain…the facts are what they are.”

Ellison kept his eyes on the displays as he toggled an intercom switch. “Engineering, this is the Captain.”

“Engineering, Chief Barry. What can I do for you, Sir?”

“My compliments to Mister Singh. I’d like him on the bridge quickly and quietly.”

“Aye, sir.”

Moments later the turbolift doors swooshed open and Gundram Singh, all smiles and turban, strode purposefully onto the bridge. Ellison motioned him over to Sciences with a brief wave and a finger held briefly to his lips. “Mister Singh,” Ellison said, “I need your professional opinion on something.”

“Of course, Captain. What do you need?”

“Take a look at these intermix byproduct ratios and tell me what kind of engine they come from.”

Singh gave Ellison a look of some skepticism, but leaned forward to look at the display. There were a few ‘hmms’, and a satisfied ‘ah’, before turning to Ellison and quietly but directly saying, “Captain, there is no doubt in my mind that these are from Starfleet standard engines, likely larger ones than ours. Something has clearly breached a warp core – ordinarily you would get these products through field emissions, but these are…how would you say it?’raggedy’. They would be much cleaner had they been properly intermixed. Does this have anything to do with…” And at that, Singh looked up at the display screen and put two and two together. Ellison nodded. “Yeah. Let’s keep this down for right now, but what I need to ask you is if there is any possible way to determine what ship they came from? I know we can determine if they’re Klingon or Orion or what have you, but I need to know if we can ID one of our own ships.”

Singh thought on this for a moment, stroking his luxurious beard, then his eyes brightened. “Absolutely, Captain. Mister Soltek, may I sit with you for a moment?”

“Please.”

Singh took a seat and reflected on things for another second or two then said to Soltek, “I would like you to access the Starfleet Propulsion Systems database, in particular Annex Ten.”

“The reason being…?”

“Because the intermix signature of every engine ever installed into a Starfleet vessel is in there. That way when repairs or installation are being done away from the original yard, the shipfitters have the ability to properly tune the warp core and the intermix systems. Remember, for all our technology, starship-sized engines are still not what anyone would call ‘mass-production’. The combined technical abilities of the Federation can still only produce a few dozen units a year, and that means that every engine is almost unique in one way or another.”

Ellison said, “Mister Singh, one nice thing about this job is that one learns something new every day. Mister Soltek, hit it.”

“I would be happy to, Captain, except…”

“…you need more computer space. Granted, as much as you need.” The poor souls getting chow or using the sonic showers were going to be unhappy for a few minutes, but that was tin can life. Soltek worked his fingers for a moment, then began searching for the information they needed.

One minute.

Five minutes.

Eight minutes.

“Soltek, is it taking that long?”

“Given that the nearest node with a link is several hundred parsecs from here, and that node is in turn a few hundred light years away, I think –“

“Soltek, it’s fine. Please, press on.”

And within a few heartbeats of that, there was a soft ping on one monitor, and Soltek shot a self-satisfied look at Ellison. Singh leaned forward and touched the screen. “My goodness,” he said with mild surprise, “it appears to be an experimental engine.”

“Say what?”

“Indeed, see here - Fairbanks-Morse Cochrane LN-64 Mod 1X – basically, the first of their type installed on a starship. Everything after this would be a Mod 1A, etcetera.”

“Okay,” Ellison said, absorbing this information. “This will tell us where it was installed, right?”
“Affirmative, Captain,” Soltek said, and he touched the screen – which hiccupped once and began very slowly loading from the top. While they waited, Ellison looked at his officers and said, “Okay, now this makes sense…”

The screen now showed TOTAL INSTALLED UNITS: 2 and continued to crawl downward.

“…It’s an experimental rig on a test sled, got away from the engineers, and wound up here…”

And then a line appeared that said SHIPBOARD INSTALLATIONS, followed by an NCC number and name.

There was absolute silence around the science station for a moment while Ellison and Singh looked at each other – first in amazement, then in stunned bewilderment. And then they heard Soltek, in as close to emotion as he would ever get in their presence, say with a quiet gasp and one eyebrow trying to ascend clear off his forehead, “Fascinating….”


What happened next was pretty much by the book, though Ellison would later reflect that there was nothing in the book that would have prepared him for this. Communications were, of course locked down, with the exception of an abrupt and hastily composed message back to the nearest base station. Using every trick in the book, it would take two hours to get there, God alone knew how long to get Higher Authority’s approved response, and then two hours to get back. In the meantime, nobody on – or off – the bridge except for restroom breaks, and then make damned sure you let the Skipper know you were going. Leaving the Navigator as the OOD, Ellison left for the briefing room, a space behind the bridge just big enough to hold all his staff – of them. And they were there - Terracis of course, Singh, [STOP FOR NOW]


Mike

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Last edited by MikeKozlowski on Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 3:45 pm 
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Interesting. Looking forward to the next part.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:02 pm 
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I think I know the number and the name of THE SHIP it was installed on.

Excellent start.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:30 pm 
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More more!!!!! A. Dry well written piece, you've taken something completely convincing off the bridge of a modern warship and transplanted it into Trek. Well done!

Now write more! :D

(Fairbanks-Morse-Cochrane indeed! BZ Mike)

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:01 pm 
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Nice !

More, please ? What you can, when you can...

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 1:48 pm 
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What they all said. Darn good, want MOAR!!!!

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:06 pm 
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I don't know much about the Trek universe but I'm liking this :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:02 pm 
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MORE .......please


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 5:53 am 
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...Just a quick note - the Universe In Question is the Trek Prime Verse (ENT, TOS, GEN, VOY, DSN, ST-TMP through ST-NEM). The JJVerse didn't happen here and it ain't going to. :D


What happened next was pretty much by the book, though Ellison would later reflect that there was nothing in the book that would have prepared him for this. Communications were, of course locked down, with the exception of an abrupt and hastily composed message back to the nearest base station. Using every trick in the book, it would take two hours to get there, God alone knew how long to get Higher Authority’s approved response, and then two hours to get back. In the meantime, nobody on – or off – the bridge except for restroom breaks, and then make damned sure you let the Skipper know you were going. Leaving the Navigator as the OOD, Ellison left for the briefing room, a space behind the bridge just big enough to hold all his staff – of them. And they were there - Terracis of course, Singh, Soltek, Lieutenant C’relle at Communications, and Lieutenant Commander Hardy, ship’s doctor. They were all there ahead of him, rising as Ellison entered and motioned for everybody to sit.

Ellison sat for a moment to collect his thoughts, and then addressed his staff. “Friends, I am not exaggerating when I say that I haven’t the foggiest damned idea what that ship is doing out there. And I will be at even more of a loss when Starfleet asks me why – and they WILL ask me for an explanation, believe me. Mister Singh, can you think of any engineering explanation that makes sense?”

Singh shook his head. “Captain, I only know what was officially released on that vessel’s loss, and we were told that her captain activated the self-destruct protocols. There should have been almost nothing left.” Those words sent a quick, unmentioned chill through everyone there; self-destruct didn’t happen anywhere near as often as the videos and novels would have you believe, and the total in Starfleet’s history was probably less than twenty-five – but it was a horror that always lurked in the back of your mind, right behind all the others. And it was supposed to be a sure thing, which made this whole matter that much more mysterious.

“As you know, in most starship classes, there are a series of interlocks around the warp core that in the event of a self-destruct command simultaneously open all the intermix chamber valves. This in turn terminates antimatter confinement, and that…is that. However, the heavy cruiser classes and up are slightly different – their larger size requires a design that physically dismantles the vessel, because even a full warp core breach can leave some substantial sections of the vessel intact. There are charges placed in the turbolift shafts, activated during the protocols. This should – at the very least – blow the ship into several large pieces, and every simulation has told us that it will destroy the structural integrity of the engineering deck, opening up the warp core and resulting in a breach that should tear apart the ship. The popular conception of a warp core going off in some apocalyptic blast is of course a bit over the top; smaller ships of course would be almost erased, but larger ones will still have some identifiable components –“

“Hold it.” Ellison held up a hand and leaned forward. “Simulations? Just ‘simulations’? I understand that nobody wants to blow a starship clean out of space just to prove a point, but surely we tested something somewhere along the line?”

Singh nodded, somewhat embarrassed. “Captain, as it turned out…that was the first time anyone had ever fired the self-destruct charges on a cruiser under actual combat conditions. Individual components, and even some complete subsystems were test fired, but that would have been decades ago, and always under what would be called laboratory conditions. Clearly the warp core did not fail beyond what would be expected with the stresses we know the hulk experienced. Given what we know about the immediate aftermath, those simulations therefore appear to have been…somewhat mistaken.”

Ellison’s face was a humorless mask. “To put it gently. Soltek, what kind of size do we have on that thing?” Soltek tapped the screen at his seat, and peered closely at the display. “Precise size is unknown, Captain – as you would expect, -“

Ellison finished Soltek’s words for him with, “ ‘- field radiation is hampering the scans’. I am hardly surprised. What can you tell me?”

If it weren’t for the fact that Vulcans are emotionless, Ellison would have sworn that Soltek had been slightly annoyed with his response. In slightly more clipped tones than usual, Soltek read from the screen. “The object appears to be – approximately – two hundred meters from end to end, this however seems to be fluctuating, whether from stability variances or reading inconsistencies is unclear. From this, I am assuming a displacement of approximately four million, two hundred metric tons. It is still emanating the warp decay products at the previously observed rate, and – surprisingly – maintaining it’s current course within the Mutaara Field.”

Ellison tapped his screen, and up came the plan view, one just about every sentient being in the Federation knew by heart/s. Two hundred and eighty-eight meters. Way too close.

And Starfleet is going to want to know. And know now.

Ellison was silent for a moment before sitting back and folding his arms across his chest. “People, I need some options. All of you here know how…sensitive…Starfleet Command is on this subject. They aren’t going to want to wait the – what, six days it would take to get a proper survey ship out here, so let’s assume we’re going to be the sharp end of this mess, and they’ll expect us to get a positive ID on the damned thing. Ideas?”

“Right now,” Soltek pointed out, “we are at the approximate minimum distance to the main body of the field. Any closer, and actual engagement with debris starts to become a possibility – and given the unusual nature of the Mutaara debris, that is dangerous.”

C’relle and Hardy both raised discreet eyebrows at that, and Terracis stepped in to explain. “There were…certain shortcuts taken during the creation of the Genesis device that leaves the debris itself unstable. A sufficient impact – even against something like our shields – could be enough to explode it, but there is no way to know if a given piece will explode violently or like a child’s toy. With that in mind, we must err on the side of caution.”

“Kind of Starfleet to let us know,” Hardy groused. “Sailing around a minefield is something a ship’s physician should be aware of, wouldn’t you think?” Ellison shot him a sideways glance. “Doc, you know – you know – I’ve never had any problems bringing you in on things you need to know, hell, sometimes I’ve told you things you shouldn’t know. Gonzo Station’s difficult enough; everybody knowing that would have made it worse. And it does not leave this room, understood? So now that we’ve officially established it’s dangerous out there, shall we get back to the subject at hand – to wit, how do we ID that thing in the field?”

A faint purring sound got everyone’s attention as C’relle, a tall, statuesque Caitian, lost herself in thought for a moment. The purring could be distractive, but no one ever mistook it for mildness. At two meters tall, C’relle was anything but delicate, and a fondness for martial arts tended to reinforce that conclusion. She was also, Ellison would proudly tell anyone, the best damned comm officer in the fleet. Ellison discreetly cleared his throat, and C’relle quickly looked up. “My apologies, Captain,” she said. “I tend to forget myself sometimes.”

“Not a problem, Lieutenant. But if you have any ideas, I’d love to hear ‘em.”

“Of course. My thinking is that we don’t have to move in closer – we could use a probe to get into the field and get a good look at the bandit.”

Ellison reflected on that for a moment, then shook his head. “Good idea, but a probe couldn’t get in –“

“Perhaps it could.” Singh leaned forward, turning his desk screen so all could see it. “A Class I probe has terrain-following sensors – we could, perhaps…” - Singh searched for the words – “wrap the sensors around the probe. It could then, with a little luck, hunt its way through the field. Right now, the bandit is in a fairly light area of the field; and might have a good chance of making it through.”

Soltek considered this for a moment. “Mister Singh, the concept is a sound one, but there are some serious potential problems – not least of which would be fuel consumption. Normally a Class I would be able to cruise for several days in a straight line, but with all its reaction control thrusters firing to keep it away from debris impacts that would be drastically reduced – perhaps to as little as a few hours. Communications between the probe and us would also be problematic. They would of necessity be line-of-sight, which still requires us to get in closer and keep station with the probe.”

“We could send a comms buoy out,” C’relle suggested, “between us and the probe. Opens the distance up a little bit, in any event.” Singh was tapping away at the touchboard at his screen and probably didn’t hear a word of what C’relle said before he turned the screen to the table. “We can do it, Captain. It will take a few hours, and –“

“ – A Class I probe, thank you, I definitely heard that part.” A cruiser might have a dozen Class Is, a proper survey ship forty or fifty, but a humble destroyer on a depressingly routine patrol in a dim, dusty corner of the galaxy had exactly one – twenty point four meters, thirty metric tons and several billion credits of the best sensor technology the Federation could devise, and woe unto the ‘can skipper who popped one off without an exceptionally good reason. But as Ellison looked around the table at the expectant faces of his staff, it was clear that whether he wanted it or not, he had an exceptionally good reason.

Okay, then. This is why you get the good pay and the big cabin with a view.

“All right,” Ellison concluded. “Singh, get to it. Whatever you need out of supply or the computer, you got it, but get it done. C’relle, start checking out the buoys and keep one ear on the comm channels – if Starfleet even sneezes in our direction, I want to know about it before the download’s finished. Terracis, you herd this whole operation, make it happen. Dismissed.”

Without question, no one in the briefing room was bored any more. Careful what you ask for, Ellison thought as he headed back to the bridge.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:00 am 
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Hmm, 288 metres, 1X engines, Mutara Sector, wouldn't happen to be
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the hulk of NCC-1701 Refit
would it now? Naah!

BZ BZ BZ

and....


MORE MORE MORE!!!

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:03 am 
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Starfleet builds them tough

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 9:44 am 
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...FWIW, this would be the opening theme music for The Last Starship:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SRu_anT0PU


And this is USS Poseidon:
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 Post subject: One More Set of Ships...
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:49 am 
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Some of these will appear in ST: TLS:

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 11:56 am 
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LOVING the DN, always the ship (well the DN+ and DNG, not the unrefitted DN which was pants) I loved playing the most in SFB...

so there is a Fleet Tug, a Police Cutter, a carrier (which fighters? F-18s?) and NCL (not Miranda-class...?) all very yummy indeed.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 5:50 pm 
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Ahh, the ships of my youth, fought many times. Beautiful :)

Mind you, a lot was looking at them through a Klingon Tactical Display on a D7 :twisted:


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 7:54 pm 
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I've never figured why Star Fleet had carriers. Marine assault ships, but not carriers.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:11 pm 
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jemhouston wrote:
I've never figured why Star Fleet had carriers. Marine assault ships, but not carriers.


Well, at least in the Star Fleet Universe, it was because the other people had 'em. The Kzinti were first, and then everybody and his brother was building 'em. Starfleet built the last - and best - in the MacArthur class...and managed to lose MacArthur over Remus, Napoleon was a CTL, and only Zukhov managed to make it through unscathed. The other Federation CVs (Julius Caesar, George Washington, and Frederick the Great) were completed as Space Control Vessels.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:17 pm 
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When was the last time the Kzinti actually won a campaign, let alone a war?

Given the loss rate, that should tell everyone about how good the concept actually was.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:27 pm 
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MikeKozlowski wrote:
jemhouston wrote:
I've never figured why Star Fleet had carriers. Marine assault ships, but not carriers.


Well, at least in the Star Fleet Universe, it was because the other people had 'em. The Kzinti were first, and then everybody and his brother was building 'em. Starfleet built the last - and best - in the MacArthur class...and managed to lose MacArthur over Remus, Napoleon was a CTL, and only Zukhov managed to make it through unscathed. The other Federation CVs (Julius Caesar, George Washington, and Frederick the Great) were completed as Space Control Vessels.

Mike

:?
Now I'm really confused... it sounds like you're mixing Ringworld/KnownSpace, Star Trek, and Mote together...

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:41 pm 
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And, in the SF 'Verse, they pretty much had to counter the increasingly advanced fighters of other races. To say nothing of PF's. Those, were a nightmare :P (they were fun as hell, though :) )


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