Lieutenant Ada Marquet looked around quietly at the table. The holographic restaurant Chez Michelle was a place the crew had visited many times after its initial activation a year ago. Today, however, the program seemed to run with a huge crowd.
She looked across the table and smiled at Tom, who smiled back. She remembered the conversation they had had not long after the New Risa storm. As they had done on the planets surface, they agreed that it was time to end their relationship. They were no longer a couple, true however, they remained friends. Not the best of friends, albeit, but she preferred some friendship over none.
Especially when my life might end up in his hands someday
"I found the Tarins to be quite amusing looking," Sarah added to the current topic of conversation. She was referring to a species the Dragon had encountered no more than a week ago. "I mean, come on, theyre fuzzy!"
A few of the senior officers laughed, but Kalia replied, "Since when was a fuzzy octopus creature amusing looking?! They were disgusting!" Again, the senior officers laughed.
"They had a most peculiar government," Chris added, laughing. "I mean, have you ever seen a species where the leader of their world goes to each and every new born and presents it to the world wide news network?"
"I bet its going to have a hard time doing that once the population doubles, the way they seemed," Terry said, half-laughing.
"Dont remind me!" Kara Trieal said, rolling her eyes. "Half of the little buggers were hitting on me!"
As the senior staff continued to laugh, with Ada adding a few comments here and there herself, she felt free. For once in her life, things seemed easy going. The Dragon had already established diplomatic relations with over ten species in the past month and a half. They didnt even bother to initiate yellow alert any more!
And, as luck would have it, they ran into a few Bajorans along the way! Kailar Nerissay, the first Bajoran the Dragon crew had encountered on Hintaru 3, was very pleased to have found some more Bajorans. They were all hoping to encounter more along their travels. Not only were the Bajorans happy to see something from their home universe, they also made very good ship officers. Some had already been assigned to the science lab on the Dragon and have greatly improved their scanning abilities.
All in all, since the start of this crazy venture into the Kalium galaxy, things were finally going right for the Dragon crew. No spacial anomalies, no hostile creatures, no hostile planets for that matter she finally got a break from her duties as a security officer!
Suddenly, everything seemed to lurch to one side, which sent both the Dragon crew and the holographic characters to the ground. The alert klaxon sounded from seemingly no where as the ship continued to shudder.
"Red alert," the computers voice stated. "All holographic simulations will now be terminated."
As the crew struggled to stand up in the shuddering, the familiar black and yellow grid of the holodeck returned.
Chris tapped his comm badge and stated, "Harriman to bridge, whats going on?"
"Were encountering some sort of odd subspace distortions," a junior officer replied. She recognized the voice as belonging to Tieran. "Shields are already down to twenty-two percent, and weve got a hull breach along the bottom of the stardrive section!"
"Beam everyone on holodeck five directly to the bridge," he ordered, managing to stand still despite the shuddering of the ship.
As Chris materialized on the bridge, everyone around him moved to their stations. James took over the helm as his hands immediately began to fly across the board.
Chris was suddenly thrown back into his chair as the ship lurched again.
"Shields are down to five percent!" Ada shouted above the shuddering of the ship.
"What the hell is going on?!" Chris shouted in reply.
"Bringing the distortions on screen," Tom stated. Immediately, the view screen showed the stars ahead of them, but they were slightly distorted. "Enhancing the distortions you arent going to believe this."
Suddenly, what appeared to be giant glass shards in space began to appear. They seemed to appear just barely in time for James to maneuver out of the way, and they were moving fast.
"That doesnt look like its random!" Sarah stated the obvious above the shuddering.
"No kidding!" Chris replied. "James, can we come to an all stop?"
"No, sir," James replied, his concentration riveted on his console. "We arent moving fast, the distortions are!"
Suddenly, the ship lurched to starboard, which in turn, due to inertia, threw the crew to port. Light fixtures and consoles began overloading left and right. Chris barely held onto his chair, and was relieved when he settled back down into his comfortable chair. Half of the lights and panels on the bridge seemed to be out, causing the bridge to be darker than usual.
"That one destroyed our shields!" Ada stated.
"The starboard nacelles been breached!" Kalia shouted from the engineering console. "Were venting plasma!"
"Stop drive plasma flow," Chris ordered. "Get emergency force fields up as soon as the flow stops."
"Aye, sir," Kalia replied. "Shutting down warp nacelles."
"James, slow to two-thirds impulse power," Chris ordered. "That should give you some space to maneuver with."
Chriss nerves frayed, he began to go through a Vulcan meditation technique he had learned back in his training at the academy. Hed never seen that kind of damage done to his ship before without whole hull pieces being torn from the ship. Like the original bridge he thought to himself.
He looked around the bridge to assess the damage, and noticed that he was right. Some sort of steam was spewing out of a ruptured conduit. As he had noticed before, half of the lights and consoles had been destroyed. To his horror, he noticed a medical officer scanning Karas unconscious body. He tapped his comm badge, said something, then the two dematerialized.
Angered, he asked, "What is this, some sort of damn mine field?!"
"I dont know," Kalia replied. "All I know is that it ripped a meter wide and eighteen meter long hole into our starboard nacelle and overloaded half of the power conduits on the ship. Thankfully, the impulse engines were reinforced, so they survived. However, life support is beginning to fail on some decks."
"Begin evacuating those decks," Sarah ordered, trying to make her damaged console work.
"I cant get a clear scan of the anomalies more than half a kilometer out, and because they are moving so fast, that doesnt give us much time to do anything," Tom shouted above the ruptured conduit.
"Can we turn around?" Chris shouted in reply.
"No!" Tom shouted back. "If we do, well be bombarded before we can get going again. We wouldnt survive half a second!"
Chris stared at the view screen, noticing for the first time that it, too, was no longer operating. "Then well have to ride it out. James, keep doing what youre doing."
No sooner did those words come out of his mouth than did the ship lurch again, sending everyone forward. Chris landed with a thud on the ground, hitting his head hard. Not another damn concussion he thought as a headache overcame him.
He began to mentally check himself over. To his relief, nothing was broken. He stood up and rubbed his head, finding himself directly between the helm and the Ops station. Last time I ended up here, I broke a few bones
"Hull breach on decks forty two through forty seven!" Vendar shouted from beside him at the Ops station. "Part of our main deflector dish was hit there, too. We wont be able to go to warp any time soon."
"I could have told you that a long time ago!" Kalia shouted from the other side of the bridge.
"Dont panic, people," Chris ordered, moving back to the command chair. To his dismay, when he sat down in it, it rocked a little. Now I have to listen to the damn thing squeak with every shake and shudder he thought dryly.
Suddenly, with out warning, the shuddering stopped. A deafening silence engulfed the bridge, and even James stopped his mad race across the helm.
Chris looked around, wondering what had happened. "Are we still alive?" he asked.
"Weve cleared the distortion field," Tom reported, not bothering to reply to Chriss question. "It appears that were in some sort of spherical area of space completely surrounded by this field."
A sensor alarm sounded, and Ada shouted above the noise, "Incoming ship! Their shields are up and theyve armed weapons!"
"Battle stations," Chris shouted. "Hail them, and shut off that damn conduit!"
No sooner did he say that then did the noise stop. A moment later, a voice on audio came to his attention. Unfortunately, it was an unknown language, and the universal translator couldnt translate it. However, who ever it was it didnt sound happy.
"Get to work on translating that!" Chris shouted, pounding his console. To his surprise, pounding it worked, and it came online. He immediately brought up a tactical view of the approaching ship.
Dammit he thought, finding himself cussing more than he ever had today. To his dismay, the ship had mutliphasic shielding, some sort of triquantum hull, and a weapons arsenal that put even a Britar ship to shame.
"Let me know the moment we can send out a surrender signal," he said quietly, thankful that he no longer had to shout. "Were no match for these people."
The bridge swallowed his words whole, and for a moment he thought he would have to repeat his order, as no sound seemed to reach him.
"Sir, suppose they dont care if we surrender?" Ada asked.
Chris stared at the tactical layout of the surrounding area of the ship. Four more ships were right behind the first one. "Then were dead "
"Already got the translation up," Tom stated quietly.
Chris felt sadness not only engulf his soul, but also his face. He was facing a Captains worst nightmare: losing his or her ship.
The translation of the aliens first words came up on the speakers. "You have breached Rukarian space, you must be purged."
"Signal our surrender," Chris ordered, slumping in his chair. To his annoyance, it made a squeak sound again.
"Aye, sir," Vendar replied quietly. There wasnt a thing neither he nor the crew could do about this one. They were either going to die or have their surrender accepted. "Signal sent."
He waited impatiently moment after moment went by, minute after minute Sweat began to bead his forehead as he noticed that none of the ships lowered their defenses nor slowed.
"Receiving a reply," Vendar stated. "Attempting to translate "
Chris began to hold his breath in anticipation, then realized he better not. He was still feeling light headed from the concussion.
Finally, the same voice as before replied. "Surrender accepted. We are willing to discuss terms."
Chris jumped out of his chair in excitement. "How well does the translator work!?" he asked, moving between the helm and the Ops again.
"You can say what you want, itll just take a few minutes to translate it," Vendar replied.
"Send this, then," he said, happiness entering his voice. "To the kind Rukarians," he began, lying. "We meant no harm to you or your society. We stumbled onto the subspace distortions and realized that the only way out of them was to go through them. All we ask is that we be showed a way out of here, and well never bother you again."
"Translating now," Vendar stated.
Chris sat back down in the command chair and waited anxiously, his hands trembling. He wondered what the response would be, even feared the response. He dreaded that they would not agree and would just blow up the Dragon.
The Rukarian ships stopped a kilometer away from the Dragon, which frightened Chris. That was a very small distance, and their weapons were still pointed at the Dragon.
"Were receiving a reply," Vendar said hesitantly. "Putting it on speakers "
"To Commanding Officer of the alien ship," it started. "We agree under two circumstances. One, no one on your ship may ever be allowed to mention us to anyone outside. The second one, meant only to enforce the first, is that you, Commanding Officer, must remain in our territory." Chriss heart leapt into his throat. "Should we discover that any of your officers told anyone about us, you will be executed. You have no alternative except the destruction of your ship. We await your reply."
Fear gripped Chris, his hands becoming cold and clammy. They were asking that he give up his own life for his crew
"We cant let them do this to us, sir!" Ada stated rather plainly. "We cant let them abduct our commanding officer!"
Chris stood up and turned to look at her. "What would you have us do, then, Ada?" he asked coldly. "Give up the life of every crew member on this ship for just me? We are defenseless against these people, Ada." She looked down at her console, sadness engulfing her face.
He felt Sarahs hand on his shoulder, and he found it difficult to keep the tears from streaming. He had to look brave for his crew He looked into her beautiful eyes, saw tears already streaming down her cheek.
Star Trek Dragon graphics and written
material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered