Page 1


"Yellow alert. Are our shields online?" Nieves shook his head. "Negative, sir." "Petra?" "Sir, I'm trying to reinitialize the emitters," said Petra quickly. "We're being hailed." "On screen." The viewscreen blinked and an angrylooking male face greeted them. "Identify yourselves." Leone stepped forward and replied, "My name is Captain Krystine Leone, of the Federation starship Farragut. We mean you no harm." "You have penetrated deep into the core of Tristnor Hegemony territory. Your vessel is forfeit and your crew is now the property of this ship. Hold your position and prepare for boarding!"


Damn the Torpedoes! by Michael D. Garcia Based on STAR TREK created by Gene Roddenberry Cover Art by David Kraggs

TrekUnited Publishing Content is only suitable for mature adults. May contain explicit language and adult themes.


To visit the author's home page online go to fullspeed.adastrafanfic.net To talk about this book join us on the TrekUnited forum at Trekunited.com To find more great Star Trek fan fiction go to our website at Tupub-books.blogspot.com.au First pdf online edition 10/12/2012

Published for TrekUnited by L'Stok ePress Lstok-epress.blogspot.com.au

This is a fan written work

The copyrights & trademarks of Star Trek are owned by Paramount Pictures, CBS Corporation and their licensee, Pocket Books. Any attempt to sell or rent this book should be reported to the copyright owners for their action


Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead is a member of the United Trek Fanfiction Universe, along with eleven other Star Trek fanfic series, available at http://unitedtrek.org

The original content of this work is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Damn the Torpedoes!"

NCC-60597 (USS Farragut) Present Location Unknown Main Bridge Stardate 43224.74

The wail of the red alert klaxon could barely be heard over the trembling of the ship's hull under her feet. The comfortable chair she sat in carried those vibrations and massaged her back, but she had no time to enjoy it. The blue-green distortion on the main viewscreen looked like a long tunnel for as far as she could see. "Mister Aspinall, reverse thrust!" she ordered, over the din. 1


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

The young helmsman turned his head to call back, "Helm is unresponsive, Captain." He tapped in a few more commands, but the console rewarded him with a negative response. "Braking thrusters are offline!" "Damage reports coming in sections one through thirteen, decks six through twelve!" shouted the ops manager. The tactical officer added, "I've lost weapons, and the shield emitters are offline!" "Structural integrity field at seventy percent and falling." "Damn it," the captain spat. Her right hand balled up into a fist, and she pounded it against the armrest in frustration. "Petra, divert auxiliary power to the structural integrity and inertial dampening fields!" "Aye, sir!" said the chief engineer, seated at the rear engineering station. "Aux power engaged!" The result was immediate. The vibration softened considerably and the background noise level dropped enough to allow the red alert siren to be heard once more. From her station, the ops manager nodded. "IDF stabilized. The SIF is holding steady at sixty-seven percent, but I don't know for how long." 2


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Sensor pod is offline, I'm switching to the lateral array," reported the tactical officer. The viewscreen flickered as he switched the inputs. A few moments later there was nothing but the inoperative holographic display diodes behind the clear screen, and he added, "Sorry, sir, we lost the lateral sensors, too." The ship still strained under the power of whatever it was they were caught inside of. The captain continued to eye the viewscreen, hoping that outside of her ship, the end of the tunnel was coming soon... TWENTY-FOUR HOURS EARLIER... NCC-60597 (USS Farragut) Drydocked at Yard 39A, Antares Ship Yards Navigational Deflector Control Room Stardate 43222

The ship's massive navigational deflector allowed Farragut to traverse the expanse of vacuum without the fear of microfractures caused by small objects impacting against the hull as it travelled at high velocities. From the front, it looked like a huge blue dish carrying an orange-colored serving platter. At least, it looked that way to Saleb, as they looked out from behind the darkened dish. His companion, Belkis, stood over him one level 3


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

up, wearing a rather impatient expression. Saleb gave him a sheepish grin, as he had been caught enjoying himself. Belkis thought of nothing but the mission and the objectives, but Saleb liked to seek out the little pleasures of this particular excursion. They were pretty far from home, anyway, and he would be remiss not to suck every tender bit of information he could from it. Saleb stepped down onto the primary access level and placed his Starfleet-issued carry-all on the deck. He kneeled and touched the access panel's control to allow it to slide out of his way. The deflector's control computer extended like a drawer, allowing him complete access to the key component of the ship's system. Saleb sensed immediately when Belkis tensed above him. When Belkis turned his back to him suddenly, Saleb froze. The door to the corridor opened onto the deck above and someone was talking because he could hear the voice faintly. Their work on the navigational deflector could not afford to be discovered or disturbed. Saleb slowly snaked his hand around the butt of his weapon. He was certain Belkis' hand was moving toward his own concealed weapon, underneath the engineering jumpsuit worn by all the civilian engineers aboard the ship. The good-natured tone of the unexpected visitor floated down to his ears. 4


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Pardon me," said the visitor. "I'm looking for junction two-one-Alpha-three. Would you happen to know where it is?" A barrel-chested bruiser, Belkis tended to intimidate most people he met. He answered with his typical terseness, "It's three junctions forward, one deck up." "Hey, thanks-" The door was closed from their side, cutting off the engineer midsentence. He heard Belkis' boots on the deck and he could feel his stare on him like before. Feeling safe enough to pull his equipment out of the carry-all, he let out a deep breath and retrieved his very unStarfleet scanning device, along with a set of packets mounted on a technical pallet. "That was pretty rude," Saleb noted, not taking his eyes away from the control computer. Belkis hissed. "How long?" Saleb looked at the scanner in his hand. "This is not something we rush, Bel. I need to calibrate the device, first." "Don't call me that!" Out of view, Saleb grinned. "Watch the door, will you?" "Hurry up." 5


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

He rolled his eyes at his companion. "Relax." "You're treating this like it's a pleasure excursion!" "I said relax. The ship launches tomorrow and the navigational deflector is going to pass their rather cursory inspection." "You keep saying that, but I think you're underestimating them!" snapped Belkis as he rubbed at his forehead. Saleb sighed, "We studied them for months, specifically for this mission. They do their little walkthrough, they make their little scans and they're done." For as long as they've worked together, he knew what the big man was going to do next. He grinned to himself in anticipation. "You are an arrogant, aggravating, soulless, little man!" "I love it when you talk dirty to me, Bel." Belkis threw his hands up in exasperation. "Hurry up! We have people waiting for us!" "Did you think I forgot?" He pointed at him from above in a dramatic fashion. "I say it because you appear to need reminding. I don't want you running off to join Starfleet." 6


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Saleb showed his teeth as he smiled. He looked up at Belkis. "Starfleet could use my help." "Just remember that we asked you, first." Of the many qualities a Kasai had, humor had yet to be developed. Saleb sighed. "I'm joking." Belkis grumbled, "You better be."

7


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Act I

NCC-60597/03 (Shuttle Ptolemy) Spaceport Two, Antares Ship Yards Cockpit Stardate 43222.03

Captain Krystine Leone stepped in from the shuttle's passenger compartment. It was one of the type-seven shuttlecraft in use by Starfleet; with its curvaceous exterior, it reminded her of a reversecolored panda bear. She ran a hand across the line of the console in front of her and tapped in a few commands to check on the shuttle's status. The yardmaster promised her a pilot, but she had yet to see him or her arrive, yet. 8


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

The Ptolemy was to be one of forty-seven auxiliary craft assigned to her ship, and just being inside it made her feel giddy at the prospect of assuming command of a Nebula-class starship. The shuttle felt like an extension of her impending status as the newest starship captain in the United Federation of Planets. She stood from her seat and rechecked her stowed gear in the shuttle's storage area underneath the portside bench seat in the rear compartment. Satisfied, she turned to go back to the cockpit when she heard the familiar click of uniform boots on the shuttle's deck. Her eyes looked down at the shuttle's chronometer, counting away the seconds upon the corner display of the console. The clicking stopped, just behind her. She turned her head, ready to introduce herself to the pilot, when she realized that she did not have to. "Wilson," she smiled. Lieutenant Wilson Nieves returned the smile, the skin around his brown eyes wrinkling as he did so. "Congratulations on your promotion, Captain." "Thank you. How are you?" He settled into the pilot's seat and activated the console. "I'm doing fine, sir." "Last time I saw you, you were high-tailing it 9


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

off the Potemkin. I heard you went home." "I spent a few weeks on leave," he nodded. "But then I heard they promoted you and were giving you a ship. So, I decided to cut my leave short so I could at least see you off." She winced, inwardly. He applied to be her new chief tactical and security officer, but he lost to a more qualified officer by the name of Daniel Hunter. "I'm sorry you didn't get the berth, Wilson. I really am." Nieves waved her off with a shake of his head. "No, it's all right, sir. You went with the right man. Danny's going to make you proud." He turned his head, after signaling for launch clearance. "And besides, you've got Commander Elannis, too. So, you're definitely in good hands." Leone grinned. Ariel Elannis, Wilson, and she had all served together on the Excelsior-class starship USS Potemkin, under the command of Captain T'Cirya. When T'Cirya received her promotion to rear admiral, the crew dispersed to different ships in the fleet, as Potemkin's new captain began to assemble his new senior staff. "I know she's already here." "She's been here for weeks. She and your chief engineer have been making use of the time during the final stages of the refit," he informed her. 10


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Control, this is Ptolemy. Engaging thrusters for launch." The shuttlecraft shuddered slightly as the primary thrusters lifted it off of the deck and pass the energy barrier holding the atmosphere inside. They slipped into space from the launch bay. "Petra Bartlet. I haven't had much of a chance to meet everyone... except Commander Kincaid." "Your new first officer?" "Yeah." "I didn't see him on board." "He's still at Starbase Three-One-Zero, waiting for us to pick him up. Actually, most of the crew are there." Nieves asked, "Because of the warp tests, right?" She nodded. Farragut's refit included an upgrade to the warp's core and field coils. It required a warp test to tune the coils to the new core and that would fall to Lieutenant Bartlet and her entire division. In order to accomplish this, they'll need to take the ship out away from any stellar body and engage the engines. "We'll only have a hundred forty-seven in crew, plus the civilian engineers who'll observe and consult. You know, the new core was originally intended for the Sutherland." "You say that with such pride, sir." 11


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Are you making fun of me, Lieutenant?" Nieves smirked, but forced a dispassionate expression onto his face. "No, sir, Captain, sir!" Unable keep a straight face for very long, both dissolved into laughter. Leone placed a hand on his shoulder and smiled. "I'm glad you were able to make it to the ceremony." "I wouldn't have missed it for anything, sir." Under his command, the shuttle banked around the marker beacon for Yard Thirty-Nine-Alpha, where Farragut was dry-docked. The bow of the shuttle swung into view and he knew it would be a special moment. "There she is, sir." Leone looked away from him and out to the scene before them. Cradled within the span of the drydock facility was NCC-60597. From their vantage, she could see underneath the Nebula-class heavy cruiser's saucer, which was an exact duplicate of the saucer one would find on a Galaxyclass starship. She breathed, "Oh, my god..." He expected her response. "Beautiful?" "She looks... cold." Nieves looked at the ship again. None of its lights were on, including the warp nacelles or the navigational deflector. "They're keeping her on internal power, right now. They already did the 12


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

power system tests-" "Two days ago," she interrupted him. "I've been keeping up with the reports." He grinned. "Yes, sir." "Can you take us under the saucer and then over?" "Of course." The shuttle dived below the 'waterline' of the saucer section and the large block numbers of the ship's naval construction contract number were as big as her eyes. Pride surged within her as she reached out with her hand to touch the viewport plexiglass, as though her fingers might pass through so she could touch the hull with her bare hand. When her fingers hit the glass, she pulled them back quickly and gave Wilson a sheepish grin. The underside slowly crawled by the shuttle. They continued on and she noticed a big divot at the very bottom. "Hey, where's my gig?" Wilson looked at the docking port for the missing captain's yacht and shook his head. "I don't know, sir. Probably being delivered later?" She frowned. "Damn. I wanted to take a look at her." "Did you have a name picked out?" 13


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"No. I was hoping I would be inspired, later." "Would you like me to find out for you?" Leone shook her head. "No, I'm sure I'll find out once I'm aboard." "Aye, sir." When they reached the navigational deflector, he announced, "I'm bringing her about, now." They moved along the port side of the saucer and floated up and over the lip. The upper half looked more impressive than the bottom. Ptolemy approached the ship's bridge module and she looked closely at the viewports. "There's my ready room," she grinned uncontrollably. "Yes, sir." The shuttle's speakers crackled to life. A woman with a contralto voice called to them, "This is Farragut Control to inbound shuttle. Please identify yourself. You are entering the approach and landing for our main shuttlebay." He tapped at his console and spoke, "Control, this is Shuttle Three, Ptolemy, on approach. We are inbound from Antares Central." "Your landing code, please." "Code Six-Farragut." The code announced to control that a ranked captain was on board, and additionally, that captain was their new 14


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

commanding officer. "Request landing clearance at your convenience." A different voice replied; a deep male baritone. "Code Six-Farragut acknowledged. Welcome, Captain Leone. Commander Tennyson sends his respects." Leone spoke up. "This is Captain Leone. Thank you, Commander." "Ptolemy, you are cleared to land. Approach vector alpha." Wilson nodded. "Approach vector confirmed. On final approach, now."

alpha,

The cavernous main shuttlebay looked more like a fully-fledged planetside spaceport than its name implied. Shuttles and pods of varying sizes moved within the bay and out, while other shuttles approached and landed on one of the four light strips available for them to do so. Ptolemy approached on the port-side strip and then guided to a waiting compartment where a staff of flight deck personnel burst forth to tend to the shuttle. Leone smiled. "Smooth landing. Thanks for taking me over, Wilson." "Anytime, sir," replied Nieves with a smile of his own. "I'll take care of post-flight. Why don't you look around and get familiar with your new digs?" 15


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Even if he hadn't mentioned it, she would've done so. "I will. See you later?" "Definitely, sir." "Excellent." She didn't wait another moment, instead gathering her gear and making for the exit. "Captain Leone, I presume?" asked the stocky dark-skinned man in the gold uniform with the three pips on the collar. She stepped down the ramp and smiled. "You presume correctly." He smiled and extended his hand. "Commander Robert Tennyson, sir. A pleasure to meet you." "I feel like I know you, already, Commander," she replied, accepting the firm and warm handshake. Since Farragut arrived at the Antares Ship Yards for its five-year refit nearly eight months ago, Commander Tennyson assumed engineering command of the ship. "I've read every one of your reports going back to the beginning of the refit." "Then you have me at a disadvantage, sir," he said as they ended the handshake. "But I do know that congratulations are in order, Captain." "Thank you. Do you prefer Robert or Bob?" "Rob, actually." 16


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Leone smiled and asked, "Rob, where are you bunking me?" "Deck eight, section alpha one." "Nice. Are they ready?" Tennyson grinned. "In anticipation of your arrival today." "Then, lead on." "Aye, sir." He barked, "Yeoman, get the Captain's gear and follow us, please." A yeoman third class moved quickly and offered to carry her duffel and garment bag. She relinquished both to the young enlisted petty officer and followed behind the broad back of Rob Tennyson.

A Saleb finished installing the device and tucked the isolinear connection behind the bulk of the control computer. He began entering in commands on the scanner, satisfied with the response and looked up. Leaning over the rail, Belkis shot an expectant look at him. "Well?" "It's ready." "Are you sure?" 17


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Saleb looked back down at his scanner. "I think so." "You think?" "Look, I've only done this once before." "Lords, help me..." "Do you want to come down here and do it?" Belkis raised both hands in dismissal. "No, no." He sighed. "When we activate it, what's going to happen?" "One of two things, I guess. Either, it'll work and we'll have succeeded..." "Or?" "Or it'll destroy the navigational deflector and possibly the entire bottom half of the ship." "What?!" Saleb ran a few more calculations and then snapped his head back up. "No, wait." Belkis perked up. "Yes?" "I was wrong." He let out a sigh of relief. "Oh, good." "Both could happen. We could succeed and then blow up." Belkis placed his hand over his face and closed 18


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

his eyes. "I should've stayed home."

19


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Act II

"We've been working triple shifts trying to get that new warp core online in time. Lieutenant Bartlet has been instrumental in completing that installation and activation for us," said Tennyson as they moved along deck eight.

Leone kept her eye on their location. Unlike her previous assignment, Potemkin, this ship's corridors were unmarked. The LCARS interface running the length was available in case one got lost aboard the ship, but she felt like it would be an embarrassment to not know where you're going. "Nothing short of impressive, Rob." "Once you've settled in, sir, I'd be more than happy to take you on a tour of the ship." "If you don't mind, I'd like to conduct my own 20


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

tour." Tennyson tilted his head. "That's not necessary, sir. I would be delighted to show you around." "A captain needs to learn her ship backwards and forwards, Commander. I'd prefer to find my way around and get to know her on my own terms." "Of course, sir. If you need any help, please don't hesitate to call me." He stopped in front of the last door at the end of the corridor and pointed. "You're in here, sir." When he tapped on the door controls, the doors did not open immediately. Leone looked at him. "Problem, Rob?" Tennyson chuckled nervously. "Uh, no, sir. Give me a moment, please." He continued to work on it, until the doors finally snapped open with violent speed. "Wow," said a wide-eyed Leone. "When you tell those things to open, you don't mess around." "We'll get that fixed for you, sir." "At your leisure. No rush." She stepped inside and took a look around at her new home. It was twice the size of a normal stateroom, with a small working area that acted as a private office. She would be able to work from here or in her ready room attached to the main bridge on deck one. But 21


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

the view was the most impressive part of the stateroom, showing the entire forward are of the ship's saucer section. As the yeoman entered and placed her things on the couch, she smiled at Tennyson. "This is quite a stateroom." "I'm pleased you like them, sir." He stood behind her and asked, "May I inquire as to when you would like to assume command?" "I was thinking tomorrow morning at around eleven hundred." "Not tonight, sir?" "Are you that eager to shove off?" "No, sir, I only meant that most captains like to take the reins the moment they step on board." Leone smiled. "I'm sure they do, and with a ship like this, I must admit... it's tempting. But I need to meet with key staff and I want to walk the ship through a few times." "Understood, sir." "I was also hoping to meet Lieutenant Bartlet sometime today." "Tennyson to Bartlet," he said, calling to the air. "Report to the captain's stateroom." "Thank you." 22


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"My pleasure, Captain." He dismissed the yeoman and then returned his attention to her. "Anything else I can do for you?" She folded her arms and thought about it briefly. With a smile, she nodded. "Have Commander Elannis report here, too." "Aye, sir." "Thank you, Rob." Tennyson inclined his head before leaving her alone in the stateroom. Leone placed her hand against the bulkhead and felt the smooth finish of the standard-issue Starfleet beige color that lined every corridor and deck aboard the ship. The distinctiveness of Farragut lay in the carpeting. She had been aboard Enterprise, with its beige walls and salmon-colored carpeting. Variations of the color blue, from navy to royal, graced the trim of her carpets and the decks, to give Farragut a somewhat unique look. She grabbed her duffel and tossed it onto her large queen-sized bunk. Yet another change from her last post, where she had a twin-sized bunk to sleep in, and her feet tended to scoot over the edge of it while she slept. The bunk's comforter carried a Starfleet insignia and the words, "U. S. S. FARRAGUT NCC-60597" stenciled upon it. Standard-issue equipment, even for the ship's new 23


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

master and commander. By the time she hung her uniforms in the closet near the bunk, the door chimed. Leone moved into the front room and beckoned her caller to enter. Lieutenant Petra Bartlet wore her brown hair up in a regulation-length pony tail, with all of the hair swept back away from her face. She looked rather unassuming within the confines of Leone's stateroom, as though she were there for some sort of punishment rather than a simple meeting. "A pleasure to finally meet you in person," said Leone as they shook hands. "Yes, sir," replied the chief engineer meekly. Her grip was nonexistent, letting the captain's hand fall away rather than releasing it. Leone made certain her smile was as pleasant as could be. "I have been keeping up with all the engineering reports you've submitted to Starfleet. I must say that I've been most impressed with your work on this refit, and I can't imagine a better qualified chief engineer in the fleet." The praised caused the young woman to blush. "T-Thank you, sir." "In fact, according to your last report, I understand we can get underway tomorrow as scheduled?" 24


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Yes, sir. W-We do a final walkthrough tomorrow morning, after the c-ceremony." "Very fine work," said Leone. "Do you prefer to be called Petra?" "Petra is fine, sir. My mother calls me Pet, for short." "Petra it is, then." The door chime sounded. Leone turned her head toward the door and said, "Enter." A stern-looking lieutenant commander, wearing the same gold-colored uniform as Petra, entered the stateroom and ceremoniously stepped forward. "Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis, reporting for duty, sir!" She stood at attention, heightening the contrast between her own tall athletic form and the short stature of Lieutenant Bartlet. Leone narrowed her eyes at Elannis, and curtly returned the salute. "At ease, Commander!" Elannis' feet spread apart in the proper stance, and her eyes continued to stare up and ahead. She did not make eye contact with Leone. Petra looked between the obviously unsure of her footing.

two

officers,

"Well. I see that Starfleet has decided to punish me by sending over the bottom of the barrel of available officers," said Leone with folded arms. 25


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Elannis could not respond, as she was not asked a direct question by her superior. "I had hoped that they might've asked you to resign, or cashiered your lousy ass out of the service." Elannis said nothing. "Do you have anything to say for yourself?" "Permission to speak freely, sir?" "By all means." Elannis fixed a hostile glare at Leone. "Who do I have to fuck to get off this ship?" Leone shot a quick glance to their would-be chief engineer and read the mortified expression on her face. Enough was enough. "God, Ariel," she said with a wink, "who don't you fuck these days?" She broke her demeanor fully, and embraced her old friend. Ariel laughed, accepting the embrace tightly. "Captain Leone. It has a nice ring to it." "I'm still getting used to the weight of that fourth pip." The confused expression on Petra's face shot a pang of guilt through Leone's stomach. "I'm sorry if we frightened you," she said to her. "N-No, sir..." said Petra with a shake of her head. "It-It was quite entertaining," she added unconvincingly. "May I h-have your leave, sir?" 26


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Of course." Without a further word, Petra departed the captain's stateroom. Leone frowned and leaned against her desk. "I think we might have broken our chief engineer." Ariel looked back toward the door and said, "Shit. We don't have any spares." "Hey," said Leone, changing the subject, "Wilson's here." Ariel winced. "Yeah, did he talk to you about the job?" "I think he understands. He spoke pretty highly of Dan Hunter." "He's actually pretty hurt by the fact that you passed him over," Ariel said, placing a hand on her hip. "He held up his leave to make himself available, and now he's got nowhere else to go." Leone sighed. "Damn." "I don't know this Dan Hunter guy from Adam, so I don't know what he did to convince you to pick him over Wilson..." "Don't get defensive on me." "C'mon, Krys. Wilson's the best tactical officer you've ever served with."

27


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Wilson's also an officer with a good career ahead of him, and he should be getting experience on other ships that don't have me on it," replied Leone tersely. "I'm looking out for him. If he has three tours with me, it's not going to look good." "Like he cares whether or not it looks good. He's a good friend and good officer." Leone wondered if there was more to the conversation than she was letting on. "Are you hurt I didn't choose you as my XO?" Ariel raised her hands. "Hey, I'm just glad I made the cut." "Uh-huh." "Speaking of executive officers... nice pick. Jesse Kincaid's a rather attractive man." "You've met him?" "Not personally, no." Off Leone's look, she continued, "I've seen holos." "I'll bet you have. No sleeping with the XO. That's a direct order." "I am a mature woman. I know what's right and what's wrong." "Except when a semi-attractive person comes within sensor range. Then, you're like a Betazoid in the damned phase." 28


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"You exaggerate." "I certainly do not." Before Ariel could protest any further, Leone raised her hand and continued, "We were on Risa, two years ago, enjoying leave... or rather, you did. You put that stupid statue out and five guys and three girls showed up." "I had a good selection, I'll admit." "You took them all!" "You're just jealous because you're tied down to one guy and have no opportunity to experience an orgy or two," Ariel said, while pointing at her. "I'm surprised you had enough energy to walk after that." "Can we please talk about something other than my libido?" Leone nudged Ariel with her shoulder. "I missed you." Ariel grinned. "Same. So... how's the family?" "Mom and Dad send their love, and wonder what it's going to take for you to visit. They haven't seen you in two years, now." "I know. I feel guilty about that, but..." Ariel gestured around the stateroom with her arms and said nothing more. Leone continued, "John's doing well. He's on 29


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Starbase 6, working on their power systems. Dom's starting school in a week and is looking forward to it. Mom's already planning his eleventh birthday." "Damn. I can't believe he's going to be eleven this year," said Ariel with a shake of her head. "Seems like just last year you were looking for a surrogate to carry him." "I know." "I'm surprised your mom's going all out for birthdays." "I think she feels guilty about not being there to raise me and is making up for lost time with my son." "You should think about bringing him with you. This ship will be carrying some families. Why not let yours join you?" Leone shifted uncomfortably on her desk. "The idea of having John and Dom here doesn't sit well with me. We get into all sorts of scrapes, and I want them to be safe. I'm not really sure I even like the idea of having families on board in the first place." "Seems to be the general consensus among starship captains these days. Then again, you lot are weird when it comes to change, aren't you?" "Aren't we all?" "Point." 30


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"John asked me about the possibility of having them join me before I got here, and the compromise was that for at least a week a year, Dom would get the chance to experience life on a starship." "And he's not coming?" "Depends on work. The Federation has him bounding all over the place, it's hard to really get a hold of his schedule long enough to put some concrete plans into effect. He's going to have to use his vacation time, well in advance, in order to get more than a few days off, let alone a full week." Ariel nodded. "In the meantime, you've got me, right?" "I was just about to say that," lied Leone with a sad smile. Her friend pushed herself away from the desk and stood up, putting her hands behind her back. "Should we walk some decks?" Leone's enthusiasm returned in full force. She stood up, herself and pulled down her uniform top from the bottom of the shirt. It snapped away all the wrinkles that had accumulated whilst seated. "Absolutely." Ariel pulled on Leone's arm and they moved out into the corridor. "Good. Because you have got to see your new bridge." 31


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"I'm looking forward to it." "By the way, could Commander Tennyson be any hotter?" "Ariel, please..."

A One of the aspects of starship refitting was the modular nature of design in Starfleet. Everything aboard a starship could be replaced with a new module with very little effort. Ships of the Nebula and Galaxy classes used the same saucer design, and so modules built for one could be easily transferred to the other with nominal modifications. When the turbolift doors parted to allow Leone and Ariel passage to the main bridge, one of the engineering crewmen working on the ops console looked up and smiled. "Captain on the bridge," he announced. Leone felt her cheeks heat up. "As you were," she said, quickly. Her eyes scanned over the familiar layout of the bridge ultimately ending up at the location of her new chair. Except, it wasn't there. In fact, it was the only chair that wasn't on the bridge. An ensign wearing engineering gold quickly moved down to greet them. "Sorry, sir. There was a minor malfunction in the chair's display unit. We removed it to have it looked at." 32


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"It's all right, Ensign," she said, with a raise of her hand. "I'm just taking a look around." "Yes, sir." "I assume the ready room is... well, ready?" "Oh, yes, sir!" Leone looked back at Ariel and shot her a smile. "Thank you, Ensign." The two officers moved into the ready room. "Wow, they really know how to treat captains around here, eh?" said Ariel, as soon as the doors were closed. "I suppose so," said Leone. Her right hand was already moving along the sleek black mahoganylike surface of the desk, until she was standing behind the desk. "Nice office." "Better than your last one." "My last office was a desk in a closet on deck six." "That's what I mean. Gotta love these new bridge modules." "I was thinking the same thing." "Kind of bare, though, isn't it?" said Ariel, as she looked around the room with her arms crossed behind her back. Her eyes settled on something in the corner. "What the hell is that?" 33


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Leone's eyes moved in the direction Ariel was pointing in. "It looks like a bust of some kind." It was the bust of a man, perched atop a column, in the corner of the ready room between the two couches. Ariel moved to read the inscription. "'David Glasgow Farragut, Admiral, United States Navy.'" "That bust must have been left here by the previous captain," said Leone. "He looks mean." "He was the one who said, 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.'" "I see," Ariel said, her interest moving on. "I never really cared for ancient Earth history." "You should. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from history." "Back to the ready room. We could put some other art pieces in here." Leone thought about it. "On Enterprise, Captain Picard keeps a lionfish in his." "T'Cirya kept a Vulcan harp on display in her ready room." "You saying I should bring my saxophone or something?" "I know you haven't played it in ages, but it 34


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

wouldn't hurt to bring a little personal touch to your area." "That's what your quarters are for." "This is where most of your meetings are going to take place. And I'll bet you spend more time in this room than in your quarters." Leone had not considered that. She'd never had a ready room like this before, and the only times she used an office as an executive officer was to conduct the ship's business and complete all of the paperwork required by Starfleet. "I suppose so." "You're a mighty captain, now. I think your space should reflect your rank a little better." "Well, this mighty captain doesn't feel like there should be a whole lot of pomp and circumstance when it comes to leadership. I plan on keeping things informal," assured Leone. "Hmm." Ariel moved toward the replicator and asked the computer for a cold glass of water. When it materialized, she pulled back and sipped at the glass. "Hey, what's this door lead to?" Without waiting for an answer, she moved toward the single door and it slid open. Leone looked over and grinned. "Aha..." "Yes." 35


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"This is where your mighty captain's ass perches when you're... deep in thought?" "Yes... that is the captain's head. What did you think it was?" "A closet?" "Was I supposed to hold it the entire time I'm assigned to this ship?" Ariel laughed. Suddenly, she snapped her fingers. "I got it. How about a scale model of Majestic?" The Miranda-class USS Majestic was her mother's first command. "Maybe," considered Leone. "I think that would really please my mom, actually. Y'know, for the two times she's going to visit me. Plus, building one would-" "Computer, replicate a scale model of starship Majestic, as it appeared under the command of Commander Angelina Leone," ordered Ariel of the replicator. She set her drink down to retrieve the model. "Please specify scale." "One to six-fifty." The replicator performed as it was requested, and within its materialization receptacle lay Majestic as Ariel specified. It even had a stand to perch it on. She withdrew it from the replicator and 36


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

set it upon a stand between the viewport and the door. "I think it would look really nice right here." Leone sighed. "Well, I would have preferred to build the model myself, but then when am I going to have that kind of time?" "Exactly." "And I think a nice big piece of art over the couch would look really nice, too." Ariel finished her drink and set it down on the replicator pad, where it dematerialized. "Now, you're coming around to the idea. Let's go see what else we can find." They moved back out onto the bridge and aft, toward the observation lounge. They crossed behind the tactical station, which was open and exposing the circuits behind the LCARS panel. A door to the right of the bridge's head, led aft on that deck through a small hall that also provided access to the bridge control systems. The lounge's massive viewports were angled as the outer hull was designed to. It provided a view aft and above the ship somewhat, while the long angled table provided for ten people to sit around it. Viewscreens on the port and starboard side could be used for presentations. Leone could see the scaffolds of the drydock 37


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

facility, as well as the massive sensor pod mounted on the dorsal section of the secondary hull. Shuttles moved in and out of the main shuttlebay below them on deck five. On the opposite bulkhead from the view, were all the ships named Farragut in a brass rendering, including the one they stood upon. The first thing Ariel said when they saw the observation lounge was, "You can keep your cramped little ready room. This is my office."

38


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Act III

Doctor Sovera adjusted the display on her desktop terminal within the office of the chief medical officer aboard Farragut. Four of the sixteen physicians on her staff had already reported for duty, and of the entire staff, only a third had reported in so far. Although she did not feel displeasure at the fact that the rest of her medical staff awaited pick up at Starbase 310, she would have to make do with the four doctors and ten medics. The doors to the main area of the sickbay opened and a loud and raucous conversation suddenly occupied her area. Annoyed by this, Sovera rose from behind her desk and began with a 39


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

simple, "Please maintain a low volume when spea-" She stopped as soon as she recognized who it was. "Captain, my apologies." "No, no," said Leone with a smile. "We were just taking a tour of the ship, and I thought I would drop by and say hello." "I see." "I'm really very glad you were willing to take this assignment." "It seemed like a logical choice, Captain, given the list of available officers." "It wouldn't have been the same without my favorite doctor. I don't let just anyone work on my person, you know." Sovera merely inclined her head. Leone gestured to her companion. "You remember Ariel, right? She's agreed to join us as our new chief of operations." "Good to see you again, Sovera," said Ariel with a wave of her hand. She turned to Ariel and nodded. "And you, Commander Elannis. It is fortunate that you're here. Your last physical was more than twelve months ago." Leone chuckled. "You heard the doctor, Ariel. 40


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Time for your physical." Ariel looked as though she wanted to fight it, but instead let out a breath and nodded. "Fine. Let's get this over with." "I'll see you later, then." "Actually, Captain," said Sovera, "your physical has been overdue as well." "Uh, yes, well..." "I would appreciate it if you would please take care of that, now." Ariel grinned widely. "You heard the doctor." "Yes," Leone said with a hesitant nod. "However, I am going to have to postpone that another couple of days until after I have a chance to see the ship and assume command. Technically, I'm not assigned to this ship, yet." "Hey!" said Ariel. "What kind of switch is that?" "R.H.I.P, Commander," said Leone with a waggle of her eyebrows. "Enjoy your physical." Sovera called after her, "I will hold you to that, Captain." Once she left, she turned her attention to Ariel. "I am expecting to pursue that matter with Captain Leone in two days. Please sit on the biobed, Commander." Ariel pushed herself onto the biobed, as 41


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

requested. "She's just going to shine you on, like always." "I do not understand the human compunction for avoiding regular medical maintenance." She picked up her medical tricorder and ran it over Ariel's body. "You are eating too much fat, Commander. Your cholesterol levels from consumed sources are high." "Oh, damn, Doctor. Don't sugar-coat it for me." "Reduce your intake of foods high in fat, or else you will be in danger of not meeting Starfleet medical requirements for the well-being of its officers." She continued to take her readings. "If you require assistance in this area, I can schedule an appointment with a nutrition specialist once we reach Starbase 310." "Yes, sir." "Have you been maintaining your pheromone inhibitor program?" "Yes, sir. Every day." "Very good." "I think so, too," replied Ariel. "Hey, what does R.H.I.P mean?" "Rank Hath Its Privileges, Commander." Ariel snorted. "Figures." 42


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

A The liaison officer between the civilian and Starfleet engineers was a young ensign named Thaddeus Symonds. He was not a member of the official crew, but on loan from the yard's engineering pool. His job was to coordinate the activities of the civilian engineers with the Starfleet engineers, including seeing to their housing and other necessary accommodations to ensure they were able to complete their work on schedule. Saleb hated him. "He's a humorless man who wouldn't know a good time if it slapped him in the face." "I like him," admitted Belkis with a snort. "He knows how to be efficient at what he does." "You talk to him, then. I'm sure you'll be the best of friends." "Fine by me. At least I know he's not here to do some sight-seeing." Symonds saw them approach and he immediately took out his PADD. His fingers flew across it as he looked at them expectantly. "Report, gentlemen." "Ensign, we have completed our diagnostic on the navigational deflector subsystems," said Belkis. He handed over a PADD to the ensign. "Our final 43


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

report, sir." "Thank you, Mister Belkis. I will pass it on to my superior officer." Saleb forced a smile on his face as the ensign directed his attention to him. He gave Symonds a little wave, to which the ensign did not respond to. Instead, the ensign sniffed at him and returned his attention to Belkis. "Is there anything else we can do for you tonight, Ensign?" asked Belkis. "No, Mister Belkis, Mister Saleb. I have you down as part of the civilian detachment to observe the warp trials tomorrow. You may enjoy your evening until tomorrow morning, oh-eight-hundred hours." "Thank you, Ensign." "Thank you." "Thank you," added Saleb, his tone dripping with sweetness. Symonds grimaced. "Good night." As soon as they were out of his earshot, Belkis grunted. "You shouldn't annoy him." "He is in a state of constant annoyance. I'm certain nothing changes before or after I speak with him," replied Saleb, as they moved toward the 44


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

engineering junction on deck twenty. In the opposite direction, a female Starfleet captain entered the junction and passed by them without paying them much attention. Both Belkis and Saleb noticed her, and their formerly jovial demeanor quickly switched to serious. When she passed out of range, Belkis leaned in and asked, "Was that her?" Saleb's mouth was dry. He didn't realize they would get so close before the time was right. "Yeah." "You're sure this is going to work?" "Damn. It'd better, right?" "For your sake." "For our sakes, Belkis." They continued down the corridor until they reached a turbolift. They shared a junior officers' suite on deck ten, just a few doors down from the lounge at the bow of the ship. Once there, they felt safe enough to begin accessing the ship's primary computer system, and monitored access to the navigational deflector control computer. "I'll take the first shift," offered Belkis. "Get some sleep, and I'll wake you in eight hours." "That's right kind of you," said Saleb with a large smile. "Unless you're planning to torture me in your 45


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

sleep?" "No." "Thank you." "It's better to be awake while your gullet flaps so loud, that I think you're drowning in your own spit." Saleb's smile dropped. "Oh." "Also, you worked most of the day to secure our little project, and I'm sure you could use the rest. Since I'm still lucid, I trust myself to react quickly to any situation that may come up, while you would be wrestling your own fatigue at the same time." "Why, Belkis..." said Saleb, grinning. "You do love me." Belkis did not turn his head from the common area, instead he activated the display and watched. "If you're not asleep in the next ten seconds, I'll be happy to help you lose consciousness." "Night!" said Saleb quickly.

46


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Act IV

Leone read from a PADD in her hands. "To Captain Krystine Leone, from Starfleet Command. You are hereby requested and required to assume command of NCC-60597 (USS Farragut) effective Stardate four-three-two-two-four-point-seven. Signed, Rear Admiral Alynna Necheyev, Starfleet Command." Commander Tennyson called out to the air, "Computer, transfer all command codes to Captain Krystine Leone. Authorization: Tennyson-alphaone-one-niner." "Command codes transferred," replied the computer. The public address system activated and the computer's voice could be heard on all decks. "Attention. USS Farragut is now under the 47


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

command of Captain Krystine Leone, effective immediately." The assembled group within the ship's large lounge on the forward section of deck ten applauded. Captain Leone and Commander Tennyson both wore their dress uniforms, as they finished the change of command ceremony. Tennyson smiled, "Congratulations, Captain. Take good care of her for me." "Thank you, Rob," she smiled. "I will." As Tennyson stepped down and left her standing on the elevated platform alone, she began to address them: "All hands, this is Captain Leone. I want to thank you for being here on this occasion, and to assure you that I will endeavor to continue the grand tradition set by this ship's predecessors. We will be departing Antares within the hour to begin warp trials, and then we will head to Starbase 310 to pick up the rest of the crew. "Until that time, I am appointing Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis as acting executive officer. Department heads, make your initial reports to her. Thank you. Leone, out." She stepped down from the platform and nodded to the other officers as they extended their hands in congratulations. Leone moved toward 48


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Ariel, who embraced her. "Congratulations, Krys." Leone closed her eyes as she accepted the embrace. She didn't really care if people saw them. Friendship was not illegal in Starfleet, and protocol be damned. She stepped back and smiled. "Thanks, Ariel." "Would you care for something to drink?" Ariel asked as she gestured to the flutes of champagne set out by the lounge staff. "No, thanks." She clenched her hands in front of her, hesitating to speak with so many people around. "Uh oh, you've got that look in your eye. What's up?" "I'm itching to get under way." "How may I scratch your itch?" "Take the conn. Have the bridge seek departure clearance from the Yard Control, and then have anyone staying behind disembark." Ariel did not hesitate, recognizing the official tone in her friend's voice. "Aye, sir," she said with a nod, and left without another word to carry out her orders. "Sir," said Wilson Nieves, from behind her. 49


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Congratulations." "Aw, thank you, Wilson. I'm really glad you were here for this." "Like I said, I wouldn't have missed it for anything." He took a sip from his flute and added, "In fact, I'd be more than happy to man tactical during the warp trials. I'm looking for a ride to Starbase 310, anyway." With a grin, Leone chuckled. "I'd like that. I'm sure Ariel will enjoy your company on the bridge. As will I." His demeanor brightened considerably. "Yes, sir. Thank you." When he did not move immediately, she grinned. "Now, please." Wilson put his flute down on a passing tray and nodded. "Aye, sir." She continued to accept the best wishes of the people assembled there, but she did not want the ceremony to continue for too long, lest they delay their departure. Within minutes, Ariel's voice sounded on the public address system, announcing their clearance for departure and for any personnel wishing to remain behind, to disembark immediately. People filed out of the lounge, as did Leone. She 50


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

returned to her quarters and replaced her dress uniform with the uniform of the day. The two piece Class A Starfleet uniform was a welcome change from the old one-piece jumpsuits they wore only four months prior. Captains were afforded variations on the uniform, being in command as they were, but Leone did not like the jackets or undershirts that came with it. Instead, she wore the same uniform as everyone else. "Captain on the bridge," announced the flight controller, Lieutenant (jg) Gregory Aspinall. She knew his name only because of the fact that his mother, Joy, served as the commanding admiral of Starbase Eleven. The Aspinall and the Leone family were cordial with one another, being both Starfleet legacies. Leone said, "As you were," as she moved toward the command center. Ariel had been seated in the center seat, but she rose from it to offer it to her friend. "Enjoy," said Ariel, sotto voce. "It's quite comfy." She moved forward to assume the ops station from the officer manning it. Wilson Nieves called out, "Yard Control signals we can depart when ready, Captain." Leone settled into the seat and admired its comfort. Ariel was right. "Thank you, Wilson. Ariel, 51


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

clear all moorings and disengage the docking clamps." She hit a control on her armrest and said, "Bridge to Engineering. Switch us over to internal power." The lights did not flicker even once as the ship began generating power for itself. The intercom sounded once more as the call came from engineering. "Bartlet, here, sir. We're now on internal power." "Moorings cleared," reported Ariel. "The airlock has been sealed. Disengaging dock." The sound of metal releasing carried throughout the ship, and the viewscreen showed that they no longer had a connection to the drydock facility as the scaffolds moved independent of the ship. "Distance to drydock is ten meters," said Aspinall. "Twenty. Thirty. Fifty." "Hold position one hundred meters from the dock and then ahead slow on the thrusters," ordered Leone. "Petra, can we go to warp speed once we clear the outer marker?" "Yes, sir. Warp speed will be available by the time we reach the outer marker." "Understood." The scaffolds began to move out of view as the ship sailed forward under its own power for the 52


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

first time in nearly eight months of refitting. "We are now free and clear to navigate, sir," said Aspinall. "Approaching the inner marker beacon for the first turn." On the screen, the tiny beacon flashed in the night as it swung into full view. It drew closer and closer, until Leone could read the markings on its side. "Entering the departure lane, Captain." "Full impulse power, Mister Aspinall." "Increasing my speed to full impulse power, aye, sir." The little beacon blew by as the ship engaged its powerful sublight engines. The outer marker beacon was a lot larger and prevented use of the warp drive within its boundaries. Farragut, as well as all other traffic, would be relegated to sublight speeds while operating within the jurisdiction of the Antares Ship Yards. "We are now approaching the outer marker," announced Aspinall. "The warp drive is now online." Leone envisioned the nacelles powering up and coming to life, with the bright red of the Bussard collectors to the bright blue color of the drive assembly. Now her ship was alive, and awaiting the 53


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

order to leap forth and do what she was built to do. "Engineering, stand by for warp speed." "Aye, sir. We're monitoring down here." "We're clear of the outer marker." "Lay in a course for the trial zone," said Leone. Aspinall nodded. "My course is now three-ohone mark one. Course entered, sir." The captain of the Farragut grinned. "Let's stretch her legs, Mister Aspinall. Warp five. Engage."

A "We're at warp!" said Saleb excitedly. Belkis nodded with a grunt. Both of them stood before a display of the master situation monitor with a look of anticipation. "Warp five and holding steady. We should reach the trial zone in under an hour at this speed." Saleb tapped in commands excitedly and kept himself from laughing out loud as he realized how close to their objective they were. "Calm down." "We're really going to do it, Belkis. I mean... a shuttle was one thing, but we're going to try it with a starship as large as this. You realize that we're going down in history for this?" 54


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"One way or the other, I suppose." Saleb groaned. "Seriously, Belkis, you need to learn how to have some fun."

55


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Act V

"We are now approaching the warp trial zone, sir," said Aspinall's voice over the intercom. Leone spoke to the air. "Acknowledged. We'll be right there." She rose and nodded to Ariel. "Let's get back to work." Ariel sighed and gestured to the board as she followed Leone out to the bridge. "Great, now you get more time to plot my demise." The captain shot her a devious look as they sat down at their respective stations. Nieves reported from the tactical station that there were no other contacts. "Thank you, Wilson. Signal Antares Yard Control that we have arrived. Helm, slow to full 56


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

impulse." Both officers acknowledged as the viewscreen's stars became dots instead of streaks. "We're now at full impulse power, Captain." "Antares signals reported Nieves.

acknowledgement,

sir,"

"Bridge to Engineering," called Leone. "Bartlet, here, sir," said Petra from the turbolift doors. She walked to the aft engineering station and activated it. "I'm ready when you are, sir." Leone stood up and announced, "Petra has the conn."

A "Full impulse power- no, they're slowing to an all stop," said Saleb with his eyes locked onto the helm monitor they had established in the shared quarters on deck ten. "We have to move, now. As soon as they slow to stop, they're going to cycle the warp coils for pre-tuning procedures." "How long do we have?" asked Belkis. He grabbed the carry-all with their equipment and headed for the exit. Saleb replied, "Ten minutes." They exited into the empty corridor and walked briskly for the turbolift. "Auxiliary navigational deflector system, 57


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

deck sixteen, section ten."

A "Warp coil cycle complete," announced Petra. "Nebula baseline warp procedure loaded and engaged. Helm, zero mark zero-nine-zero." Aspinall replied, "Course laid in, Lieutenant." "Thank you. Captain, we're going to field saturate the warp engines for-" "Sir, the navigational deflector has gone to onehundred-fifty percent of normal," reported Nieves suddenly. "Confirmed," said Ariel. "Forward sensors are detecting a large tachyon surge approximately one thousand kilometers off the bow." "Petra?" asked Leone. "It's not part of the program, Captain. I don't know why the deflector would be-" Ariel called, "A quantum field is forming, Captain." A large, blue-green field shifted in and out of visual range, like a ripple against a very dark pond. "Shut down the navigational deflector," ordered Leone. Petra entered in a quick set of commands from 58


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

her station, but the console would not let her have her way. "The shutdown command is not being accepted by the control computer, Captain." "Then send someone down there and pull the damned plug!" "A rift is forming, sir. I'm reading quantum-level manipulation of the space-time continuum through the field," said Ariel in a worried tone. "Gravimetric forces are starting to pull us in." "Helm, back us off, full impulse," said Leone, reseating herself in the center seat. "Full reverse, aye, sir." "No effect," said Petra. "We're not moving away from it." "Distance to the event horizon?" "Nine hundred kilometers. Eight-fifty," corrected Ariel. "Damn, it's getting stronger. Seven hundred." "Petra, can we go to warp?" "We need to veer the bow off so we can point the ship away from the rift." "Helm, hard starboard." "Sir, the helm is not responding." "Three hundred kilometers, Captain." "Red alert. Shields, Wilson." 59


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Shields are up." "Two hundred. One hundred." Leone called to the ship's intercom, "All hands, brace for impact!"

A The wail of the red alert klaxon could barely be heard over the trembling of the ship's hull under her feet. The comfortable chair she sat in carried those vibrations and massaged her back, but she had no time to enjoy it. The blue-green inferno on the main viewscreen looked like a long tunnel for as far as she could see. "Mister Aspinall, reverse thrust!" she ordered, over the din. Aspinall turned his head to call back, "Helm is unresponsive, Captain." He tapped in a few more commands, but the console rewarded him with a negative response. "Braking thrusters are offline!" "Damage reports coming in sections one through thirteen, decks six through twelve!" shouted Ariel. Nieves added, "I've lost weapons, and the shield emitters are offline!" "Structural integrity field at seventy percent and falling." 60


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Damn it," Leone spat. Her right hand balled up into a fist, and she pounded it against the armrest in frustration. "Petra, divert auxiliary power to the structural integrity and inertial dampening fields!" "Aye, sir!" said Petra. "Aux power engaged!" The result was immediate. The vibration softened considerably and the background noise level dropped enough to allow the red alert siren to be heard once more. From her station, Ariel nodded. "IDF stabilized. The SIF is holding steady at sixty-seven percent, but I don't know for how long." "Sensor pod is offline, I'm switching to the lateral array," reported Nieves. The viewscreen flickered as he switched the inputs. A few moments later there was nothing but the inoperative holographic display diodes behind the clear screen, and he added, "Sorry, sir, we lost the lateral sensors, too." The ship still strained under the power of whatever it was they were caught inside of. She continued to eye the viewscreen, hoping that outside of her ship, the end of the tunnel was coming soon. Suddenly, the hull was calm. She didn't have to wait for Ariel to tell her, she knew they were out of whatever it was they were in. 61


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Report," ordered Leone, pushing herself up out of her chair. "Reinitializing all key systems," said Petra. Nieves called out, "Sensor pod is back online. I'm activating the viewscreen." Stars greeted them as the screen came online. A nebula in the distance shimmered and danced before the bridge. In the background, various systems came back online that had been unavailable while they were within the anomaly. Leone turned to look at Petra from behind the horseshoe rail. "Petra, what happened? Why did the navigational deflector create that quantum anomaly?" Before she could answer, Nieves reported, "Captain, there's a vessel on approach at high speed." Leone returned her attention to the viewscreen, trying to see if the vessel was visible. "Yellow alert. Are our shields online?" Nieves shook his head. "Negative, sir." "Petra?" "Sir, I'm trying to reinitialize the emitters," said Petra quickly. "We're being hailed." 62


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"On screen." The viewscreen blinked and an angry-looking male face greeted them. "Identify yourselves." Leone stepped forward and replied, "My name is Captain Krystine Leone, of the Federation starship Farragut. We mean you no harm." "You have penetrated deep into the core of Tristnor Hegemony territory. Your vessel is forfeit and your crew is now the property of this ship. Hold your position and prepare for boarding!" TO BE CONTINUED...

63


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Damn the Torpedoes! Part II"

NCC-60597 (USS Farragut) Within Tristnor Hegemony territory Main Bridge Stardate 43224.75

The viewscreen blinked and an angry-looking male face greeted them. "Identify yourselves." "My name is Captain Krystine Leone, of the Federation starship Farragut. We mean you no harm." She made sure her posture was as nonthreatening as possible, keeping her arms at her sides

64


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

He pointed his finger at her. "You have penetrated deep into the core of Tristnor Hegemony territory. Your vessel is forfeit and your crew is now the property of this ship. Hold your position and prepare for boarding!" "Sir, we do not intend to allow anyone to take this ship. Nor will I allow my crew to become anyone's property. If necessary, we will defend ourselves against any attack." "Your presence here is an act of war!" "Our presence here was not by choice! We will depart your space, if you will allow us to." "No more discussion! Prepare for boarding!" With that, the viewscreen switched back to the starfield and the nebula. "Red alert," ordered Leone immediately. "Someone please tell me what our present location is?" Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis, the ship's chief operations officer, worked her console quickly. "The computer is attempting to match sensor data to known star charts, sir." Leone nodded as she moved behind the ops console and peered over Ariel's shoulder. "Fine. Petra, we're going to need shields and weapons, soon." 65


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Lieutenant Petra Bartlet called back, "Shield emitters are coming back online, now, sir." From the tactical station, Lieutenant Wilson Nieves confirmed, "Shields activated, Captain." "Computer's got a location report," said Ariel. "According to this, we're over thirty-five thousand light years from our former location. Near the rim, within the Beta Quadrant." Leone could not believe it, at first. She leaned in closer to look at Ariel's console, and there it was in the orange text of the LCARS display. "Okay," she said after blowing out a deep breath. There would be time to deal with that, later. "That settles that." Nieves said, "Sir, my contact vessel is slowing to sublight speeds." "Weapons range?" asked Leone. "At present speed, fifteen minutes." "Our weapons status?" Nieves turned to look at Petra, who gave him a shrug. "I'm working on it." "We left the yards with a rather limited store of photon torpedoes," noted Leone. "Sixteen, sir." Leone pushed herself away from the ops console and approached her chair. "All right, 66


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

launcher status?" "Fully operational," said Petra quickly. "I'm still working on phasers, sir." "I'm getting some sensor data on their ship," said Nieves. "It's some kind of crystalline hull structure. Comparable in size, and I'm not sure what kind of armament they're using." Leone walked back to her chair. "I guess we'll find out, soon enough. Propulsion?" Lieutenant (jg) Gregory "Impulse power only."

Aspinall

replied,

"We're going to have to make repairs to the warp drive," said Petra. "There's no way I'd trust the engines after we passed through the anomaly, anyway." "So, now, all we need to know is if our weapons will be effective against that kind of ship," said Leone. "Or if our shields will protect us from them." "Not at first," said a new visitor from near the turbolift. "But, with some luck, I'm sure we can help to protect this ship." Everyone turned to look at the newcomers on the bridge. One was a large, barrel-chested man; the thin and lanky man stood at his side wearing a peculiar smile given the circumstances. Both wore the civilian engineering jumpsuits worn by those 67


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

who had stayed aboard to observe the warp trials. "And who the hell are you?" asked Leone. "We're the ones who brought you here, Captain," explained the lanky man. "You see, we need your help to put an end to this war."

68


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Act I

Leone raised her hand toward Nieves, as he had a phaser in his hand. "Hold your fire, Wilson." She stepped forward to address the pair. "Who are you?" The lanky man smiled. "My name is Saleb, and this is my... companion, Belkis." Belkis inclined his head toward Leone, but said nothing. "Charmed," said Leone sardonically. "Now, what the hell is the Tristnor Hegemony and what war are you talking about?" Saleb leaned down to reach into his carry-all, which alarmed Nieves enough for him to raise his 69


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

aim toward them once more. But all Saleb did was pull out a small device with a display on it. "Uh, first things first. Lieutenant Bartlet will need to remodulate the shields to this range of harmonics in order to counteract their primary weapon." He gestured with the device. "May I?" "Petra, look it over, and make sure it's on the level, before you make any changes." "Aye, sir." Petra looked at the device and then back at Leone. "Sir, it seems pretty clear to me. We'd just be shifting the shield harmonics." "Fine." "Reinitializing the harmonics, now." "Captain, the target vessel is showing a power buildup in... I don't know. It could be a weapon." "It is," assured Saleb. He turned to face Leone. "Hegemony ships are based on crystalline-based hull structures. Their weapons are sonic in nature. Ultrasonic, in fact. If they had fired while you were unprotected..." "Sonic weapons wouldn't do anything to this ship." "It wasn't the ship I was worried about." Leone opened her mouth and immediately understood. "They could've knocked us all out." 70


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Exactly." Nieves reported, "They're firing!" Heads turned toward the viewscreen, where the weapon had no visual effect. Or any other kind of effect, for that matter. "Damage?" Ariel shook her head. "Nothing detectable, sir. Shields are barely registering any impact, if they actually directed their weapon at us." "Mister Saleb," said Leone said with a relieved sigh, "your stock just went up." "I'm pleased to hear that, Captain." "Now, since we've nullified their ability to attack us-" "Uh, not so fast," said Saleb. "They have a secondary weapon that might be a little more effective." Leone turned. "What secondary-" "Sir, I hold a projectile contact dead ahead!" "Mister Saleb?" Saleb frowned. "Evasive maneuvers are highly recommended, Captain." "Mister Aspinall, evasive pattern alpha." "Aye, sir." The helmsman's fingers danced across 71


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

the flight controls. The viewscreen shifted as the ship's course moved as quickly as it could, but the torpedo continued on its course. "Hang on," warned Leone, as she held onto the arms of her seat. The torpedo drew closer, and angled around to make contact with their ship. The torpedo impacted against the shields, exploding into a million crystal shards. The energy from that explosion carried through to the ship itself, causing the hull to lurch under them. "Damage?" "Shields holding. Total strength down to ninety-seven percent, Captain," said Nieves. "Shall I return fire?" "I don't know," she admitted. "Mister Saleb? Are our weapons effective against them?" Saleb looked up from the engineering station, where he had seemingly braced Petra during the explosion. "Your antimatter-based torpedoes will do damage, but I suspect your phased energy weapons may be useless." "Let's find out. Wilson, target their weapons and propulsion systems only." Nieves nodded. "Target locked." "Fire phasers." 72


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

The red-orange beam of energy shot out from the top of the saucer section, as Farragut continued to run through its evasive maneuvers. The beam struck its target, but instead of causing damage as it was designed to do, the beam angled away from the ship as it reflected off of the crystal's flat surface. And back at them. "Cease fire!" Leone ordered quickly. They damaged their own shields! "Damn." "Another torpedo inbound," warned Nieves. "Make that two." "Can we target their torpedoes?" Saleb called, "I wouldn't recommend that, Captain. They are made of the same material as the ship." "Ariel, start working on a solution to the problem." Leone weathered the impact of the two torpedoes as they proved too fast for the heavy cruiser to maneuver around. "Wilson, load forward torpedo tubes." Both officers replied and carried out their orders. As soon as Nieves reported that the torpedoes were ready, she hesitated briefly before giving the order to fire. Did she really want to drag the Federation into a war halfway across the galaxy? "Torpedoes incoming!" 73


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Leone muttered to herself, "No choice." To Nieves, "Dispersal pattern: Sierra. Fire forward tubes." "Torpedoes away!" Twin red dots flittered across the top of the viewscreen and toward the multi-angled Hegemony ship. The first torpedo impacted against the forward section and shattered the outer hull, exposing the inner hull to space. The second one followed close behind and penetrated beyond the inner hull, for the entire front half of the ship crushed inward before exploding outward as the antimatter warhead detonated inside the ship. Nieves slammed his hand down on the rail in triumph. "Target severely damaged, sir. Reading secondary explosions inside the ship." "Hail them, quickly. Let's see if we can-" Saleb talked over her. "No, sir. They'll selfdestruct with that much damage. Get us out of here." Leone barked, "Helm!" Aspinall did not wait for the order, "Getting us out of here, aye, sir. Engaging impulse engines to full on relative bearing two-seven-zero mark zero." "Reading massive power buildup, Captain," said Ariel. "Estimate twenty-three seconds to critical 74


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

mass." "Petra, reinforce the aft shields." "I'm lowering the forward shield and redirecting power to the aft emitters," said Petra quickly. "Structural integrity field to full." "Fifteen seconds to critical mass," said Ariel. "Are we clear of the blast radius, Mister Saleb?" "Since they took massive damage, I cannot say for certain. Were we dealing with a fully powered ship, the answer would be no," replied Saleb. He remained at the engineering console as Nieves shot him a menacing look to prevent him from leaving Petra's side. "Five seconds." "I guess we're about to see," muttered Leone. "All hands, brace for impact!" The crystalline ship appeared to vibrate heavily and then shattered, sending small shards in every direction. The magnitude of the shockwave appeared to be high as some of the shards shattered as they flew away from the ship they previously held together. A distortion ring formed as the energy from the ship passed into vacuum, heading for Farragut quickly. The ring reached Farragut and the aft shields took the punishment from it. Some shards of crystal 75


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

broke up against the barrier protecting the outer hull, while others were deflected away from it. However, some of them seemed to penetrate the shields. "The aft shields are destabilizing. The shockwave is acting like a giant isolytic burst; we have to reinitialize the shield harmonics," said Petra. "Some of the debris is getting through!" "The starboard nacelle is taking damage," reported Ariel as an alarm went off on her console. "The plasma vents are hit! We have coil damage!" "We can't reinitialize the shield emitters or else the shockwave will crush the ship like an empty shell," warned Saleb. "Better we take damage to a section than risk the destruction of the whole." Leone grimaced through the ship being overtaken by the shockwave, threatening to rattle the teeth out of her skull as it passed by. Everyone gripped their stations tightly, but Ariel fell to the deck as the shaking grew more violent. Nieves fell against the rail above her; his arms flailed out and nearly slapped her in the face as he did so. Then, it passed and the ship was calm. "Full damage assessment, all decks, all sections," ordered Leone as she got to her feet. "Wilson, any other contacts?" Nieves returned to his standing position and 76


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

entered in a few commands. "Negative, sir. But I don't know for how long that'll be." "Mister Saleb, any suggestions?" "I recommend course one-one-three mark thirty-nine. That will take us to a Kasui-held base that the Hegemony doesn't know about," replied Saleb. "We'll be safe, there." "Who are the Kasui?" Belkis chose that moment to finally speak, and when he did, Leone thought her had a tuba lodged in his throat. "The Kasui are a race of people enslaved by the Tristnor Hegemony, Captain Leone. We have been fighting for our freedom for the last twenty-five years. They will provide us with supplies, protection, whatever we need." Leone considered it, but the anger of having her ship thrown across the galaxy on a whim did not sit well with her. "Will our present course take us deeper into Hegemony space or out of it, Mister Saleb?" "Well, we're running parallel to the theoretical boundary..." "Theoretical?" "The Hegemony believes in manifest destiny, Captain. They believe that their gods have provided the entire galaxy for their benefit," explained Belkis. 77


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"They also believe that all other races were placed here to serve them without question." "Sounds like a great group of people," snorted Ariel. Belkis growled, "I assure you, they are not, Lieutenant Commander." "That does not answer my question, Mister Saleb," barked Leone. Realizing that it was futile to even attempt to get a straight answer from either of them, she sighed. "Mister Aspinall." "Sir?" "Set a course for Earth." "Aye, sir. Altering course to three-zero-one mark twelve." "That's in the opposite direction, Captain," said Saleb. "We can make repairs at the fortress." "I'm sure we could. However, while I appreciate your self-preservation in helping to protect this ship, you still have to answer for stealing Federation property, and taking almost two hundred people away from their homes!" She turned to Nieves. "Wilson, I want a security team on the bridge, with their sidearms!"

78


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Act II

Within the confines of the bridge observation lounge, a majority of the senior staff gathered around the long curved table. Rather than sitting at the end of the table, Leone sat in the middle on the side that faced the viewports. Ariel sat on her immediate left, in her place as the acting executive officer. "The debris that penetrated the aft deflector caused major damage to the warp coils, Captain," reported Petra, as she stood in front of the starboard side viewscreen to give her damage assessment. "Luckily, with our scheduled warp trials, we are carrying spares aboard, but I'm not quite ready to sign off on warp drive, just yet." 79


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Leone nodded. "How long to make the replacements and get us up and running?" Petra did the calculations out loud. "Sixteen hours for the coil replacements, give or take an hour. It'll take longer to repair the damage to the plasma vents; an additional twelve hours. I'll say at least a day, maybe a day and a half if we have to fight some more, sir." "Start your repairs. Let's not waste any time. Did you find out what our friends in the brig did to the navigational deflector?" "The device that was connected to the control computer burned up and left very little to go through, sir. Luckily, there does not appear to be any long-term damage to the deflector itself; we just had to replace a few isolinear optical chips and a stretch of ODN cable." "I would say we were lucky, there, but given the nature of our guests, that might have been by design," said the captain. She turned to Ariel, "Given our present position, how long would it take to reach Earth at maximum warp?" "Thirty to forty years," said Ariel. "That's if we had the luxury of running at maximum warp the entire time. Which we don't." Leone nodded slowly. "So, longer, then."

80


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Add another five to ten years to the trip, unless we happen to recreate what they did to our ship, or we get lucky and find a wormhole or some other space-time anomaly that'll help us out." "Noted. Doctor, crew status?" Sovera replied, "Minor injuries, such as lacerations and bruises, were brought to my staff's attention." "Nothing more serious than that?" "No." "Lucky." The doctor agreed with a slight incline of her head. "Most fortunate, considering the violent nature of the shockwave's effect." She continued, "I have examined our guests at your request and have found that both underwent extreme dermal alterations to appear human. Mister Saleb is actually carrying an exoskeleton which is covered by a synthetic dermal layer to not show his... scales, so to speak. Mister Belkis, on the other hand, could be considered human, although his DNA has some drift between his species and homo sapiens." "They're different races?" "That is correct." "Did they tell you what race they are?" 81


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"They did not appear to provide me with much information, other than they are oxygen-nitrogen breathers, same as most carbon-based lifeforms discovered throughout the galaxy," replied Sovera. "Both have declined to be restored to their natural state." "Now that the cat's out of the bag, I wonder what would be the point?" asked Ariel. Leone ignored Ariel's question. "We'll respect their decision for the time being, unless the doctor believes there is any more subterfuge to be gained from it." "The ship's computer can now distinguish their lifesigns. It will be easier for them to be tracked than before," said Sovera. "All right," said Leone. "Since our departure from Antares, I've asked Commander Elannis to stand in as acting first officer. As I expected to have at least completed the first day's trials by now, and not be halfway across the galaxy, I will need to make further temporary appointments to fill key positions. Therefore, I am designating Lieutenant Nieves as second officer." The rest of the table accepted the news with a nod or a quiet verbal acknowledgement. "Unless there's any other news...?"

82


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

No one said anything. "Then with the exception of the commander, here, you're all dismissed."

A A four-man security team stood over Saleb and Belkis as they sat within the observation lounge. As a testament to Belkis' formidable presence, two of the security guards were chosen specifically for their strength and ability to contain a larger target. Saleb wore the same little smile he did when he first appeared on the bridge, while Belkis scowled at the fact that he was being handled against his will. Their equipment lay out on the table, out of reach near the head on the starboard side. "Let's start at the beginning, shall we?" said Leone, from across the table. Belkis and Saleb traded nods of their head, indicating that the other should proceed first. Finally, Belkis growled, "You tell them. It was your idea." Saleb grinned. "Yes, it was," he said, proudly. "All right. So, in the beginning, the Kasui were a somewhat underdeveloped bipedal species living on a planet near the edge of known Tristnor space about three hundred years ago." "I am a Kasui," announced Belkis. "Twenty-five 83


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

years ago, following centuries of enslavement and conditioning, my people determined that our existence as slaves to the Hegemony required extreme change. We live in a caste society, and my people are at the bottom of the system. We are bred for service, hunted for sport, raped, forced to perform dangerous labor; we are in complete and submissive service to all of the other races for any whim they desire." "Okay, and Mister Saleb is one of the other, less subjugated races?" asked Ariel. "No, I am a Tristnor," answered Saleb. "Top of the proverbial heap." "How nice for you," Leone commented, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "It wasn't, really. The Hegemony may treat the other races like property, but when you're among the elite, they demand much more of you there," said Saleb, his smile dropping somewhat. "I am... was... one of their most brilliant minds in the area of quantum-level propulsion. My studies have led to a breakthrough of a new method of propulsion that the Hegemony is very interested in. A quantumlevel manipulation of space-time, which would allow a ship to traverse great distances by way of an anomaly." "Prior to that," interrupted Belkis annoyedly, 84


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"there was a growing faction of Kasui who had freed themselves and acquired Tristnor technology and ships in order to try and free as many of the Kasui as possible." Ariel leaned forward, her interest obviously piqued. "Is the aim of your group to destroy or overthrow the Tristnor?" Belkis shook his head. "No. We just want to rescue as many of our people as possible, and find a new place to call home. Someplace far enough away from the Tristnor that would allow us to build our own military and defenses." Saleb continued, "As much as I was involved with a number of projects relating to the conquest of other worlds, our goal was to attempt a full systems integration of this new drive system into one of their frigates for testing. We got to the third stage, before I decided-" "We," corrected Belkis. Saleb gave him a sheepish grin. "We. Sorry." "Forgiven." "We decided to pull the plug... forcibly. Giving the Tristnor this level of technology would mean that no section of the universe would be safe. And so, it was decided, that we needed to find another more advanced race to help us." 85


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"The goals of the Tristnor being what it is, I suppose I can see the threat to the Federation. However, what I fail to hear is that you approached the Federation in a more open manner." Leone looked at Saleb with narrowed eyes. "I assume you reached Federation space using your handy invention?" "We equipped a starskiff with the beta device." Both officers gave him confused looks. He explained, "It's for ships that might have an inadequate system for generating a quantum field. It includes the necessary equipment." "How long ago was this?" "We arrived roughly three months ago, and started studying Federation culture with particular emphasis on Starfleet." "In your studies, did it not occur to you that approaching us in friendship would be a better option?" Leone's tone turned edgy. Belkis cleared his throat. "Do not get upset at him. He did suggest approaching a Starfleet ship under a flag of truce and explaining the situation. I forced him to adopt-" "Hold on, now. It wasn't all your idea. I was the one who came up with stealing a ship in refit," complained Saleb quickly. "You were the one who was determined to steal the Enterprise!" 86


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"The Enterprise?" said Ariel with a blink. "Worf alone would have ripped you two in half, let alone the others." Belkis looked embarrassed. "In our studies, the ship named Enterprise is legendary in your history. We thought it was a logical choice." Leone and Ariel shared an amused look. "Yeah," said Leone, "they are pretty well-known in our neck of the woods." "Being on a deep-space exploration mission, Enterprise was obviously out of our reach, being that we required a vessel powerful enough to help us. We were able to use some techniques to gather information about ship locations and status," said Saleb. "The Nebula-class heavy cruiser is comparable to the Galaxy-class, and luckily we found Farragut undergoing several system upgrades." Ariel snorted. "Lucky." "Yes, well, er... be that as it may, we felt that it was better... how do you say it... ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. We arranged to have ourselves admitted as civilian engineers on the refit team approximately one month ago. We installed the alpha device the night before launch within your primary navigational deflector's control computer, to run a warp plasma power node 87


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

through the deflector dish and create the anomaly." "So we've seen," said Leone. "And from what I understand, the device is now burnt out and useless. Leaving one hundred seventy-four people stranded deep within the Beta Quadrant, involved in a war with a race they know nothing about." Her tone grew in intensity as she laid out the obvious. "You have deliberately plunged the Federation into war with a species it hasn't even made first contact with!" "Uh, all circumstance aside," said Ariel, placing a hand on her captain's shoulder and squeezing it gently to remind her of their surroundings, "how did a Tristnor like yourself get mixed up with the rebel Kasui?" Belkis chuckled. "Saleb is hopelessly in love with my sister," he said, matter-of-factly. Shocked, Saleb turned his head toward Belkis. His mouth hung open and the air of smug superiority vanished completely. "N-No! I mean... how you could possibly know that?!" Belkis smirked. He ignored him and continued, "My youngest sister was a lab slave that brought them whatever they needed throughout the day. Her name is Bettis, and Saleb took a strong liking to her." Saleb looked down on the table, furious. "Please 88


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

tell me how you know that." Preventing Belkis from speaking any further, Leone said sharply, "Perhaps we could move on to topics that bear directly on our predicament." She placed her hands on the table and looked at the upset Saleb. "Mister Saleb, is it possible to get this ship back to Federation space?" In a dejected tone, Saleb said quietly, "Yes." "How?" Saleb said nothing, obviously upset. "Mister Saleb, I require an answer." Composing himself quickly, Saleb replied, "The remnants of the alpha device are not useless, as you put it, Captain. They require a replacement of the core crystal that runs the device. It was not entirely compatible with Federation systems, so I had to construct an isolinear-based bridge between the two systems." "That must have been what Petra had to replace," remarked Leone to Ariel. "Where do we find a replacement for your device, Mister Saleb?" "We find the frigate we were testing and we can replace the whole unit, if need be." "I take it that the frigate is not in an area where it could easily found?" 89


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Belkis looked at Saleb. "What do you think? Stage three?" "It would be the right time for it," answered Saleb. "Yes... yes. They would have started back to the first stage with the devices taken." He turned to Leone. "We took both the alpha and the beta from the lab during transfer to the frigate for installation. But, there were backup units built in case the primaries were destroyed during testing. "Wouldn't they have been tested alongside the primaries, though?" "They were. But we destroyed all of the testing data before we left." Ariel asked, "So they'd be forced to start over?" Belkis nodded. "It gave us some time to find you and bring you here." Leone rose from her seat, satisfied with the information so far. "We've already destroyed one of their ships, and based on the information you've shared with us regarding their technology, they appear to be comparable in technology to the races near the Federation. I'm not sure if they would actually present a threat to the Federation or not, but I agree that a culture bent on total domination of the Milky Way would meet with some resistance where I come from."

90


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Ariel stood up, as did Belkis and Saleb. Saleb asked, "Can we count on your assistance?" "I... don't know," admitted Leone. Off their disappointed expressions, she added, "It's the best I can do. This isn't a decision I can make lightly and I do appreciate that time is of the essence. My first priority is to find a peaceful way to extricate ourselves from this conflict and get my people back home," she told all of them. "Ensign, please see to it that our guests are escorted back to the brig." "Aye, sir." "The brig!" squealed Saleb as the security team moved to escort them away. "Captain, may we please not be treated like criminals?" Leone snapped, "You are criminals, Mister Saleb! Until I make my decision, I want you as far away from computer access as possible." Just before they left, she called after them, "You'll have my decision in one hour."

91


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Act III

Gregory Aspinall ran his fingers through his hair as he lay back on the bunk in his stateroom. His hands moved behind his head and interlocked as he enjoyed the spaciousness of a double stateroom by himself. Being a junior grade lieutenant had its advantages, he decided. "So, what do you think?" he asked his visitor. Ensign Thomas O'Day frowned. "I think this sucks." "The room?" "The situation." Greg rolled his eyes. "Are you kidding me? I hope we never have to go home. My own room is 92


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

beyond what I could have hoped for. And besides, adventures in the Beta Quadrant? This is what I signed on for." "I'd rather go home and see my family." "We've been away from them for a whole eight hours... we were going to be doing trials for two days! You're already homesick?" Greg clicked his tongue at him. "I think Starfleet might've been a bad choice for you." Tom sighed. "It would've been a better two days if it were inside Federation territory... or at least within shouting distance." Tommy O'Day was a fresh-faced graduate of Starfleet Academy, and it was his very first assignment after taking his summer leave. Greg felt a pang of guilt for not remembering that, but he shook it off. "Captain Leone's one of the best. I'm sure she'll find us a way home." "Is she better than your mom?" "No one's better than Mom," Greg assured him. His mother, Joy, was a rear admiral serving at the commanding admiral of Starbase Eleven. But before that, she was a starship captain of good repute. "There's a reason she urged me to sign on with Captain Leone." "Because you're a legacy, and she's a legacy, 93


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

too?" "More than that. She's a friend of the family." "Well, great. You use your inside hookups to get all the plum assignments, while little Tommy O'Day has to make do with being the first member of his family to join Starfleet," he said, throwing up his hands. His tone betrayed the fear he felt. "And what happens to him on his first assignment? Some whack-job steals the ship and sends it clear to the other side of the galaxy!" "Calm down, Tommy. You're going to give yourself hives," said Greg in a mutter. "What are hives?" "I don't know. It's just something my grandma used to say." "Oh. Anyway, whatever you may think of Captain Leone, I honestly doubt she's going to magically whisk us back to Federation space." Greg grinned. "What?" "You obviously underestimate the power of a starship captain, my young friend." "I put more faith in Lieutenant Bartlet," affirmed Tommy. "She is a..." Greg's interest in his friend's words was 94


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

apparent as he looked for an apt adjective. "Brilliant officer. Smart, and funny... she's really nice and cares about people who serve under her." "Didn't I tell you not to get crushes on your superior officers?" "What about you and Commander Elannis?" Greg blushed. "That's different." "How do you figure?" "I don't go gushing all over her." "What the hell. You do so. Last night, before we launched, you were talking about how disappointed you were that Starfleet redesigned the uniforms, because you would've killed to see her... rear end in a one piece jumpsuit." "Oh, man, I so would." "See?!" "No, it's different. When I look at her, I see a well-toned drop-dead gorgeous specimen of womanhood," Greg's voice turned soft. "If looks could kill..." "You'd be dead by now? I'm not that lucky." Greg slapped Tommy on the shoulder. "Asshole." "You just lust after her. Lieutenant Bartlet deserves better than that from whoever she dates. 95


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

She's not to be the subject of some pervert's wet dream." "Commander Elannis... no, Ariel... she's not up on some pedestal. She's real. Attainable." "I suppose you lustworthy, as well?"

think

Captain

Leone's

"Uh... not really." "Why not? She's pretty attractive. Red hair, green eyes, fair skin, great body. Especially after having a kid." "A surrogate had the kid. She was on-duty when Dom was born." "Still, she's quite a babe in her own right." "Then you date her." "I've got my own goals, thanks. But you still haven't really answered my question." "Then actually ask one." "What's wrong with the captain?" "It's wrong! She's like my older sister." "But she really isn't." Greg blushed again. He mumbled a response. "I'm sorry. What was that?" "She... used to babysit for me." 96


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Tommy threw his head back and laughed. "Oh my God, that is priceless!" Greg sat up and pointed at him, angrily. "Don't you dare say a word!" "I can't, I'm laughing too hard!" "I never should've said anything." "I can't believe she was your babysitter! That's hilarious!" "Her dad and my dad are old friends," explained Greg, realizing that he wouldn't be able to do anything but. "When I was young, she would come over and watch me while our dads would go out. They would beam all over Earth, while our moms were serving." "Okay," said Tommy with a nod, still letting the odd giggle out. "Keep going." "She came over a lot. In fact, we spent a lot of time together. As much time as a young, impressionable boy such as myself might think that one day we were going to be more than just friends." "Greg, was Captain Leone a hot teenager?" asked Tommy in a playful accusatory tone. "Oh, yes." "What?" 97


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Hot." "Like...?" "Hotter-than-Ariel-Elannis-hot." "Holy Kolker," breathed Tommy. "I can see that, totally. With the freckles and the red hair in curls, maybe... in a thin t-shirt on a hot summer's day..." The ensign's voice trailed off as the mental image formed in his head. "Anyway, she went off to prep school for the Academy. One of those schools that requires you to board at them, so you get used to the experience that the Academy has to offer." Greg continued his story, knowing that perhaps Tommy was lost in his fantasy world. "I was six years old, and I didn't know what was going on, except that she was sixteen and I stupidly thought she was my girlfriend." "Did she like bathe you?" "No!" "Maybe she climbed in with you?" "Tommy." "Did she ever wear like a low-cut shirt and bent over to pick up a toy... and you were like all excited but you didn't know why, because she wasn't wearing a bra?" 98


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Greg stared at him, dumbfounded. "For your sake, I sincerely hope the Beta Quadrant has a place like Risa, so we can pop that cherry of yours and be done with it." "I can't hear you. In my mind right now, Captain Leone and Lieutenant Bartlet are promoting me to lieutenant, in the nude," said Tommy with his eyes closed. "God, I want to go home, now," said Greg in a barely constrained scream. "See? I knew you'd come around."

A Petra sat in front of Captain Leone's desk within the ready room. "In short, warp drive is available for all flight modes, sir." "Nice work," said Leone. "What about the rest of the damage when we passed through the anomaly?" "That's going to take a little longer, sir. We did take some outer hull damage, and that will require hull patching." "Which we could do out here, but we would have to find someplace that was safe for EVA ops." "I wouldn't recommend trying to perform repairs on the hull while at impulse power." "Goes without saying. Weapons?" 99


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Fully operational, sir." Leone nodded her understanding, and leaned back into the seat. "This isn't how I imagined my first command going," she admitted. "I had hoped for smooth trials and then on to Starbase 310 to patrol the border." "I think we all did, sir," replied Petra. She smiled at her encouragingly. "I'll get us back there. Rest assured." "I don't doubt that at all, sir." "Thank you. Would you be kind enough to send in Ariel on your way out?" "Of course, sir." Petra left as quietly as she entered, and Ariel entered with a grin. "So, are we in it or what?" Leone pressed her lips together in annoyance. "Gods, Ariel! At least wait until the doors closed to start spouting off." "You haven't answered my question." The captain sighed. "We have to make repairs, and we're going to need some coverage while we do it. Our choices are to engage warp drive and get the hell out of here, start a long journey home and take our chances." 100


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Or?" "We go to the Kasui fortress, make repairs there, get ourselves a new alpha device and get ourselves home." "While at the same time, involving ourselves and the Federation in a war without authorization." "Yeah." "What does the book say?" "The Prime Directive keeps flashing like a big warning sign in my face. Non-interference in the internal matters of another culture." Leone shook her head. "I can't imagine this not qualifying." Ariel sighed. "I figured that pesky little General Order Number One would come into play, sooner or later. However, I think you missed a class or two at the Academy about its application." "What do you mean?" "We're already involved, Krys. We destroyed a Tristnor vessel, and undoubtedly they got off a transmission to the home base since then." "Something about that's been worrying me, actually. We've been cruising at full impulse through their 'core' territory and we haven't seen so much as a shuttle running around, here." "Saleb said something about their belief in 101


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

manifest desinty. Maybe the subjugated races don't believe in-" "Captain to the bridge," said Nieves over the intercom. Leone spat, "Damn. We just jinxed ourselves, didn't we?" Ariel smirked, and followed her out to the bridge. "Report." "Incoming transmission. Long-range, very powerful, but I can't get a lock on the source. It has the same communications protocol as the Tristnor vessel, so I can only assume..." he stopped talking, eyeing his console. "It's a wide-band alert. For us." "Let's hear it." "It's a text message, sir. It took the universal translator some time to work on the written form of their language, but it reads, 'USS Farragut NCC60597, destroy on sight.'" "Great." Leone settled back into her seat, while Ariel occupied the executive officer's seat to her right. "Wilson, have security bring Mister Saleb and Mister Belkis to the bridge." Nieves did not hesitate. "Aye, sir." "Helm, lay in a course for the Kasui fortress and 102


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

engage at warp eight." The helmsman turned to look at her in confusion. "Sir?" "You heard me, Ensign." "Aye, sir. Course laid in. Engaging warp engines." "Ariel?" "Yes, sir?" "To answer your question; yes, we're in it." Ariel showed her pleasure with a large grin. "Yeah, I figured."

103


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Act IV

CAPTAIN'S LOG Stardate 43225.1

Since our arrival in Tristnor space, we appeared to be entangled in a conflict that could have repercussions on the Federation in the far future. The Tristnor have decided to eradicate us from their space by any means necessary, and I have an obligation to see this crew safely back to the Alpha Quadrant. Our involvement in this war was sealed the moment the Tristnor fired on this ship, and so we're forced to seek allies while deep in the Beta Quadrant. 104


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

To that end, I have ordered a course change to reach the Kasui fortress. Mister Saleb and Mister Belkis have been most helpful in instructing me in the culture of their people. I have no reason to doubt their sincerity in bringing our two peoples together to face a common enemy. I plan to make my appeal to their leader, Prime Barris. "May I introduce the leader of the only Kasui fortress known to exist, Prime Barris," said Saleb, with his head bowed before the massive Kasui male. "Prime, I would like to present Starfleet Captain Krystine Leone, the commanding officer of the Federation starship Farragut." Barris showed off his teeth as he inclined his head out of respect. His huge hands rose and opened toward her. "Your ship, and your title, are most impressive, Captain." Leone reflected the gesture as Belkis instructed her. "Thank you, Prime Barris. The accomplishments of your people are even more impressive, when you consider the circumstances." Barris accepted the compliment from her and seated himself at the head of the table, as was his right. Even sitting, he had presence within the room, and she knew he would be a formidable opponent for negotiating an agreement or alliance. 105


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

She needed some insurance to make sure their talks went well. "Commander Elannis to the observation lounge." When she entered, Leone gestured to her, "Prime Barris, this is my executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis." Ariel elected to wear the jumpsuit variation of the recent Starfleet uniform. No doubt, somewhere between the bridge and the observation lounge, she unzipped the front of it to expose the bare skin underneath. She drew near to Barris and bent over at the waist with a respectful bow. "A pleasure to meet you, Prime." "I am comforted to know that a distant people would choose to entrust a fearsome warship such as the Farragut to two beautiful women," he said, never once taking his eyes away from Ariel's form. "Saleb and Belkis have done well during this operation, by bringing powerful allies to our cause, but even more for ensuring the company is most pleasant." Belkis opened his mouth to warn the Prime, but Leone cut him off, "It is we who are honored to be here, Prime, in spite of the circumstances." She gave him a quick glance to assure him that she was not offended. Ariel's voice dropped to husky levels, "Indeed, Captain. It's so nice to see a powerfully handsome 106


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

man at the ends of the galaxy, fighting for the freedom of his people. It's a very romantic notion amongst our kind." Barris blushed briefly, then composed himself. Leone hid her smirk with a clearing of her throat. Ariel had him, for sure. "Prime, we are in need of a safe haven to make repairs to our ship. We intend to seek and locate the backup device Saleb mentioned, so that we may return home in a timely fashion." "You wish our help to get home?" Ariel pushed a little more. "It would most gracious of you to do so, Prime. And I... er, we would be exceedingly appreciative." Belkis' jaw dropped. Saleb reached over to close his mouth, while keeping a watch upon the discussion. The Prime did not answer immediately, but his eyes continued to drink Ariel in; moving up and down as she chose to stand near her captain instead of depriving him of her figure by hiding half of it behind the conference table. "Y-Yes, well, our facility is not fully equipped," he admitted. "It is a prize of war, and supplies are hard to come by." Leone leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs at the knees. "What kind of supplies do you 107


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

require?" Belkis answered, "Food, mostly. As more and more refugees make for the fortress, our food supplies are replenished only when we go on a raid against the Tristnor supply lines." While Belkis spoke, Barris enjoyed the close proximity of Ariel. He closed his eyes and inhaled her scent. "Our supplies are not so low, however, that we cannot invite our guests to share a meal with us." "We can provide you with food, Prime. We have a device that converts energy into matter. Using our system, we could provide you with months of rations to feed your people," said Leone. "Therefore, you wouldn't have to risk sending them out to raid for supplies." Barris' eyes glanced away from Ariel, as if noticing Leone for the first time. "Perhaps you would be so kind as to share the technology, instead? That would allow us the ability to feed ourselves forever." Leone winced inwardly. It was one thing to meddle in a war, quite another to supply them with technology. "Prime, I am bound by Starfleet regulations preventing me with sharing technology with another culture." Barris looked up at Ariel, as though he trusted 108


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

her more. Ariel nodded, almost pouting. "She's right. We can use our technology to help you, but we can't just hand it over. You understand, right?" It was easy. "O-Of course, I understand. You have your obligations and I have mine. It would have been foolish of me not at least inquire." "I understand," said Leone. "Where shall I deliver the rations to?" "I will arrange for a skiff to start transferring them, immediately." "Prime," said Saleb. "They have a device that uses teleportation to move objects... and people, without the need for skiffs." "You have done well, Saleb and Belkis," rumbled Barris. He rose to his feet, and so did everyone else who was seated around the table. "Captain, you shall have my fortress' protection for as long as you need it. And we will ride into battle at your side. I will accept your gracious offer of food for my people, but if I may make a small request for myself?" Ariel placed her hands behind her back and smiled as though she knew what was coming next. "Before you do, Prime, I would like to assign Commander Elannis as our liaison. She can go with 109


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

you to your fortress and help us coordinate operations from there." Leone said, snapping her fingers toward her friend. "Aye, sir," Ariel replied, not taking her eyes off of the Prime. "That is most kind of you, Captain," said Barris. "My apologies for interrupting you, Prime. You had a personal request?" Leone waited patiently for his reply, but when none came, she said, "Prime?" "What? Oh, yes. Never mind, Captain. I forgot what I was going to say." Leone grinned. "If you should think of it, please don't hesitate to contact me." Barris nodded quickly, and gestured toward the exit. "I will do that. Shall we, Commander?" As the Prime and his men departed, she heard Ariel tell him, "You can call me Ariel." Belkis shook his head. "I cannot believe what just happened here." Saleb only said, "That was remarkable work." "You may not get your first officer to return, Captain," warned Belkis. "You underestimate Commaner Elannis, Mister Belkis. It is Prime Barris who will most likely want to join Starfleet, after she gets done with him," 110


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Leone chuckled.

A Greg Aspinall could not believe his eyes as he watched Ariel and the huge Kasui man walk from the lounge to the turbolift. She was giggling like a schoolgirl while hanging off of the man's massive arm. Her jumpsuit zipper was pulled down enough to further his fantasies for weeks. He stared hard until they walked off the bridge, and even then, he could not help but stare at the doors when they closed. "Holy Kolker," he breathed. "No kidding," said Nieves from the center seat, unable to tear his eyes away from the scene. "Sir?" said the helmsman with a sly grin. "Uh, mind your station, Lieutenant!" snapped the tactical officer. Greg quickly found his console very interesting. The captain, Saleb, and Belkis arrived shortly after. Leone stepped down the ramp to the command center and relieved Nieves, who returned to tactical. "Helm, ahead slow and bring us into close proximity to the fortress." "Aye, sir. We're not docking?" "No. The fortress does not have a compatible 111


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

docking airlock. Just hold position for close formation, and then set thrusters for stationkeeping." "Aye, sir." Leone called, "Wilson?" "Yes, Captain?" "Commander Elannis will be residing aboard the fortress until our repairs are completed. You will stand in for her." "Yes, sir," replied Nieves with a succinct nod. "Your first task is to replicate four months of rations and transport them to the fortress." "Yes, sir. Shall I maintain a transporter lock on Commander Elannis?" "I don't think that's necessary," the captain said with a smirk. "I'm sure Ariel will comport herself as befits a Starfleet officer."

112


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Act V

Barris snored softly. Ariel ran her index finger along the length of the Prime's chest, noting how tense his muscles were even in rest. She stretched her legs out over his, feeling the heat of his leg against hers as she snuggled against him. She sighed contentedly, and it carried through the bedroom of the Prime's suite aboard the space fortress. In the three days since their arrival, Ariel spent every waking and sleeping moment with the Prime, secluded within the confines of his suite. They broke their commiseration only for food and other necessities, but quickly returned to their marathon sessions of sex and laughter as they thoroughly 113


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

enjoyed each others' company. While he slept, though, she reveled in her well-earned afterglow. Barris was not an easy man to please, and it took a majority of her skill to bring about his climaxes, which were as powerful as he was. He instructed her in the proper use of his sex organ, and she delighted at how little adaptation it took to ensure mutual pleasure. Kasui men were not all that different from their Alpha Quadrant counterparts, though it seemed as if the Beta Quadrant men proved to be the superior beings in staying power that she had seen, if Barris was any indication. Her finger continued its stroll along his midsection, playing with the patch of hair above his abdomen. She felt the involuntary muscle spasm as she splayed her entire palm over the patch, caressing it softly with her fingertips and enjoying the sensation of its springy nature. As she expected, his manhood began to rise hesitantly as blood filled it. Engorged and angry-looking, it curved toward her as she laid her head against his chest and listened to the coordinated beating of his twin hearts. Ariel smiled at the result of her ministrations, continuing to move around it but not making direct contact. Teasing was a pleasure they both enjoyed, but even a Kasui had his limits, she found out on 114


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

their first night together. Awake now, Barris' huge right hand moved over her back and snaked around her midsection. His soft hand moved down to caress the skin of her right thigh, feeling the play of her muscles underneath before moving upward over the cheek at the top of it. He felt the small of her back and lightly massaged it before moving to feel her muscled stomach. Finally, his hand reached up to cup her breast completely, before stroking it and moving his fingers to play with her sensitive nipple. She sighed, smiling; enjoying the sensation of his skin against hers. Ariel moved her head to look up at him, hiding the lower half of her face behind the curve of his chest and kissing it gently. She glanced at him through her bangs, which covered her left eye. "Morning," she said, after moving her chin to rest against his chest. "How're you?" Barris stretched his legs and his free arm, keeping his hand against her. "Sore. You?" She kissed his chest again, and moved her hand down lower. Her fingers slipped over the top of him; gentle caresses from the tip to the base as it throbbed hotly to her touch. "I'm ready." A deep rumbling in his chest gave away his laughter over her response. "You are a monster," he 115


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

accused her with a grin. "Sent here by the Tristnor to sap me of my strength." Ariel climbed atop him, pressing her chest into her. She spread her legs so her knees touched the bedding, draping her thighs over his sides. She smirked as he accused her and replied in a playful tone, "You've discovered my true identity, Prime Barris. Now I have to finish the job, over and over and over, until you're nothing but an empty shell." She reached underneath for him, pulling him to the apex of her legs. The strands of her long, jet black hair pooled against his chest where moments ago the ends tickled him as they brushed from side to side. "Oh, my..." his voice trailed off, as he felt the heat of her. "You know, my father always said that this was among the best ways to end a life." "Or create one," she quipped. Ariel continued to rub him up and down the length of her, and then stopped. She kept her eyes on his face, watching the change from contortion to pleasure and back again. They were both slick; drenched in her. He was ready, now. Barris grabbed her thighs and ran his hands up and down her sides as she kept him waiting. In a hungry voice, he begged her, "Finish me, Ariel. Hurry." 116


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Yes, my Prime," she told him. With her free hand, Ariel closed her eyes tightly and gasped as she sat up, guiding him into her with a single motion.

A "Iced tea, mint and Earl Grey, double-sweet," requested Captain Leone of the replicator in her ready room. The replicator materialized her request, and she retrieved it from the receptacle and returned to her desk. Padds stacked on top of one another waited for her, each of them containing information about the ship's repairs. Three days after they arrived at the Kasui fortress, everyone on board lent a hand to making repairs to the ship. More importantly, they were getting Farragut battle-ready by integrating a sonic weapon to use against the Tristnor ships. The likelihood of a live-fire test in battle conditions was high, but Petra assured Leone that the weapon would be ready. Once again, they made use of the ship's navigational deflector, fresh from being repaired to Starfleet specifications. Except now, they would use it as a massive vibration cannon to use against the vulnerable crystalline ships. Prime Barris' cooperation was more than she could have hoped for, and she would express her 117


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

gratitude, except she was certain that Ariel was expressing it handily. In their spare time, they attended meetings with Leone to discuss plans for attack. Based on the information presented by the Kasui and Saleb's intelligence from having worked inside the facility, they agreed upon the course of action that would yield the best benefit for everyone involved. To gather information on their enemy position, a class nine probe was dispatched from Farragut and positioned at the edge of its sensor range for maximum cover while sneaking a peek at their formation. Leone looked over the reports and began applying her acknowledgement to many of them. When they returned to the Federation, she made certain to write a letter of commendation for Petra's performance under such conditions. If they returned... No, she could not afford to think like that. The door chimed. "Enter," she said. Ariel stepped inside, wearing her two-piece uniform this time. Leone grinned. "Well, well, well... she lives." Ariel blushed. "Barely." "Uh huh. Dare I ask for details?" 118


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"You want them?" asked Ariel with a raised eyebrow. "Er, not really, I guess." Leone gestured for Ariel to sit down in front of her and used her arm to push a stack to the side so she could see her. "Was it at least fun?" "Very fun." With a slow shake of her head, Leone smirked. "You didn't have to... you know..." Ariel shrugged, "I know. But I wanted to. It was a new experience, and you know how I am about new experiences." "Oh, yes. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I guess I must admit to being shocked when you walked out with Barris so boldly. It's not like he's an Alpha Quadrant race; you didn't know what went where." "I'm a fast learner." "Hmm. Must be that Orion blood in you," Leone said with a wink. Ariel's mother was Orion, while her father was human. She gained her black hair and killer body from her mother, while her father was responsible for the blue eyes and the tanned skin. "The hyper pheromones come in handy, especially in situations like this. But my mother 119


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

never let me learn about the Technique. That was forbidden." "I remember. I also seem to recall it not being that big a deal considering you had all the men at Starfleet Academy eating out of your hand." Ariel grimaced. "Made my grades a little harder to attain, when all they think of you is sex." "I know." "You brought it up, is all I'm saying." "Anyway, have you dropped by sickbay, yet?" "My first stop. Sovera says I'm good and cleared me for duty." "Excellent!" Leone reached over and pushed a stack back toward Ariel. "You can help me with these reports I've been doing since you went on your little sex safari into the Beta Quadrant wilderness." "Shit."

A Leone replied, "Ready here, Prime. We're waiting on the preliminary data from our probe." Prime Barris looked relaxed and well-rested. His eyes continued to drift over to Ariel, as she sat in the executive officer's seat to Leone's right. "Uh, very good, Captain. I trust that my men are settling 120


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

in nicely?" "I've assigned Commander Elannis to see to Troopleader Bertas' every need," she told him, knowing full well what the implication might be. A look of horror appeared on the Prime's face as he looked between the two. "You don't mean...?" "She means I've made sure they have quarters and food, my Prime," replied Ariel, who moved her leg up and down once, to kick her captain in the shin. "Captain Leone did not mean to imply otherwise." Leone coughed. "No, uh, no, of course, not. We will depart your fortress shortly to get into position to go to warp." Barris eyed them, unconvinced of their attempts to assuage his fears. "Success to you and your mighty ship, Captain." "To us all, Prime." The viewscreen blinked and showed the stars once more. Ariel scowled. "Are you trying to break his heart?" "Just easing him into it, Ariel." "We're getting data back from the probe, Captain," reported Nieves from the tactical station. Leone did not look up. She could access the data 121


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

from the display on her armrest, as could Ariel from the executive officer's position. But, she wanted the bridge to know what they were going up against. "Report." "I'm reading at least ten Tristnor warships of varying sizes running a blockade of the facility. They've laid a minefield in a sphere formation, a little less than half a million kilometers from it. "Mines, Wilson?" asked Leone. She could not help but smirk at the news. Nieves nodded. "Aye, sir. The computer's counted at least two thousand or so. Spaced pretty close together." "Damn, that's just too much for coincidence," she said, sotto voce. To Ariel, she said, "Commander, please take Ops." Leone rose from her seat as Ariel moved to ops. She raised her voice to address the officers on the bridge. "You know, about six hundred years ago, almost to the day... the namesake of this vessel, Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, was fighting in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the American Civil War. His flag flew atop the sloop Hartford. Their objective was to take two Confederate forts that defended the bay. Mobile Bay had a wide mouth, making it easy for a fleet to sail down it and wreak havoc on them. So, the Confederate navy laid a 122


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

minefield in the bay to constrict the traffic of ships entering and exiting, and making it nearly impassable unless ships traveled in a single line. "He had eighteen ships, and his opponent, Admiral Franklin Buchanan, had four. But, back then, they didn't call them mines... they called them torpedoes. His fleet entered the field and the sloop Tecumseh stuck one of them and sank with all ninety-four hands aboard. Seeing this, the other ships in the Union fleet began to pull back. Admiral Farragut watched them from his perch on the fighting top of the Hartford. He called down from his ship to the nearby USS Brooklyn and asked them what the trouble was. The commanding officer of the Brooklyn, Captain Drayton, called back, 'Torpedoes, sir!'" Nieves smiled at the reenactment from Leone. Ariel turned around to watch the performance. Greg looked as though he had heard the story before, and kept a watch on his console. Saleb and Belkis looked on with interest. Leone continued in a wistful tone, "Admiral Farragut didn't care. He wanted his fleet to charge the bay." She cupped her mouth with her hands, "He shouted back, 'Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton! Full speed ahead!'" She lowered her right hand to her side, but held out her left hand palm-up as she continued, "They made it 123


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

safely through the minefield, took Mobile Bay, and captured the forts." As her officers all smiled at her, having endured her impromptu performance, she placed her hands on her waist. "I feel like this is a similar situation. Our enemy has mined the approach to a facility that holds the key to our return to the Alpha Quadrant. I'm nowhere near as brilliant a commander as Admiral Farragut, but I'd like to think that if he were here right now, his order would be pretty obvious." While Leone spoke, Ariel's smirk transformed into a huge grin. In response to her last sentence, he offered, "'Damn the torpedoes,' sir?" The captain Aspinall."

smiled.

"'Four

bells',

Mister

Greg did not turn as he asked, "Sir?" "Warp nine, Greg," supplied Ariel helpfully. "Damn straight," confirmed Leone, as she settled back into her seat. With a gesture of her hand, she pointed toward the viewscreen. "'Full speed ahead.'" The helmsman entered a flurry of commands before the familiar velocity command was confirmed by the computer. "Aye, sir. Engaging at warp nine." Outside, Farragut's warp engines flashed a 124


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

brilliant blue before vaulting itself into subspace. ... TO BE CONCLUDED

A

125


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Damn the Torpedoes! Part III

NCC-60597 (USS Farragut) En route to the Tristnor Research Facility Stardate 43232.5 Main Bridge

The stars stretched long on the large main viewscreen on the bridge. Several hours at high warp from the Kasui fortress brought them to their waypoint, and the ship began to slow to sublight as it made the approach. Stars distorted by subspace returned to tiny points of light in the distance. "Now entering the edge of sensor range of the facility, Captain," reported Lieutenant (jg) Gregory Aspinall. "We're approaching the position of the 126


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

probe. Slowing to one-quarter impulse power." Captain Krystine Leone information with a nod. "Wilson?"

accepted

the

Standing above her at the tactical station, Lieutenant Wilson Nieves reported, "I hold several contacts. The orbital facility, the minefield, and two vessels of similar design. I'd rate them as heavy cruisers in size." "Tactical assessment?" "Unless we find a way to manufacture more torpedoes, I'm afraid we will face extraordinary odds, sir." "A cloaking device would've come in handy. Any thoughts on how we can approach the target, Mister Saleb?" Saleb walked down the ramp from the engineering station and asked, "Is there any way to acquire more of your photon torpedoes, Captain? Perhaps your replicators?" "Unfortunately, we're unable to replicate weapons, but we do have replacement warheads on board." "I'm not sure I follow you, Captain." She ignored him, instead ordering, "Tactical on main viewscreen." 127


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Leone rose from her seat, eyeing the tactical display on the main viewscreen. "Wilson, collect the probe we launched and have it refitted for a warhead. In fact, start refitting all of our probes for warheads. How long?" "Approximately three hours." "That would give us...?" Nieves paused as he checked the probe stores with a single command. "Eleven additional torpedoes." "Very well, then," she said, placing her hands on her hips. "Greg, all stop." Greg nodded. "Answering all stop, aye, aye, sir." The captain's eyes never left the display. "People, we have to come up with a battle plan that'll require no more than twenty-five torpedoes." Lieutenant Commander Ariel Elannis swiveled around from the operations console. "And here I thought you were going to ask us to do something difficult." Leone smirked at her, but it didn't linger. In a stern tone, she addressed the bridge crew, "We need to be ready in less than three hours. Because by the time those probes are converted, we're going to take the fight to them."

128


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Act I

Lieutenant Wilson Nieves led the discussion in the observation lounge to the rear of the bridge, while the enlisted technicians worked on converting the probes. Although he had been designated as the chief of the tactical and security division aboard the ship, it was in an acting capacity until they returned to Federation territory. Under other circumstances, he might've found the situation a bit cruel considering that the position was one that he coveted greatly. For now, he put that aside to wrestle with the more important issues. So far, the discussion was not going well. "I don't see how a stand-up fight results in 129


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

anything less than total destruction. Which, I don't need to remind you folks, is a bad thing." Lieutenant (jg) Franklin Pinkerton complained, "If we could use the phaser arrays..." "Even if we could," replied Wilson, "the modifications would likely take more time than we've got." Ensign Yvonne Colby pointed out, "What if we didn't have to use the phasers to attack them?" "You have a plan to attack them without using the phasers?" Colby shrugged. "Maybe..." Any other time, he might have given them room to grow into more confident officers. Unfortunately, that time was not now. His frustration with their hesitation wore his patience thin, and with a heavy sigh, he told them, "Out with it. This is no time to hide your light under a bush." Colby and another ensign, Iris Wu, shared a glance. "Sir, Iris and I..." "Sir, it's probably won't work," Wu said. They weren't about to get away with that. Wilson narrowed his eyes at the pair and intoned, "I'm waiting, Ensigns." "You tell him," said Colby, quietly. 130


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Wu gave Colby the briefest of shocked looks before it eased and she accepted the responsibility. "Fine. Sir, I was just playing around with the notion that we could modify the navigational deflector to output a high-energy graviton pulse that might cause damage to a crystalline hull structure." "After Lieutenant Bartlet finally finished repairing the deflector, you want her to go back and fuck it all up, again?" asked Wilson, though his heart wasn't in his tone. It was a good idea, one he had been considering, but the extent of the damage to the deflector prevented him from pursuing it. "What's your plan?" Wu continued, "Yvonne, er... Ensign Colby and I, we feel that we can use the deflector as our new primary weapon. A directed pulse might give us the edge we'd need to use against them. In concert with the damage of our photon torpedoes..." "How long?" Wu looked at Colby briefly and asked, "Two?" "Four, maybe," Colby replied, with a shake of her head. "Two to four hours, if we cut corners." Wilson slapped his combadge. "Nieves to Engineering." "Engineering. Bartlet, here." 131


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

He smiled at the two ensigns. "Lieutenant, can you spare someone who knows the deflector dish like the back of his or her hand?"

A Ariel picked up one of the holographic pieces off of the board and used it to knock away one of the captain's pawns. The white pawn formerly occupying the square skittered away until it "fell off" and disappeared. Shortly after, she returned her attention to the pass in her hand. Leone frowned at the move, realizing that Ariel's knight was now in a position to attack part of the defensive strategy she worked hard to build at the beginning of the game. "I hate it when you do that," she muttered. "Do what?" Ariel asked innocently. "Knock the piece off, like that. It's damned unsportsmanlike." "Stop making it so easy to take your pieces, then. Mate in six, by the way." "What the hell?" Ariel grinned. "If you can't see it, might as well resign, now." She never lifted her eyes from the padd. It annoyed the hell out of Leone, but before the 132


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

captain could even open her mouth, Ariel asked, "Come up with anything, yet?" Leone shook her mentioning. You?"

head.

"Nothing

worth

"A couple of ideas, but one requires more pilots than we have..." "Using the shuttles as fighters? I thought about that, too, but we don't have a full crew aboard to really make that happen." Leone picked up another pawn and moved it one square up. Ariel's rook came forth and knocked the pawn off in the same manner as before. "The other idea I had, which might be more plausible, is making modifications to the phaser array by way of the deflector dish." The increased frustration over her friend's manner of capturing pieces dissolved instantly at the prospect of a good idea. "To do what?" Ariel handed over the padd. "I think we might be able to do some beam damage to their ships, if we can tie in the deflector's graviton emitters to the tactical system. The phasers could be modified to carry a graviton pulse, but we'd only be able to fire one shot at a time." "Shit, this actually has some promise," agreed Leone, her eyes scanning the padd quickly. "I like 133


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

this. How long do you think?" "That's the problem. I'd estimate five to six hours." The intercom sounded before Leone's reply. Greg's voice called to her, "Bridge to Captain." "Go ahead." "Sir, we have movement by enemy contacts." Without hesitation, both officers left the ready room and entered the bridge. "Report." Greg slipped out of the executive officer's seat and took over for the ensign at the helm. "Two more enemy contacts have appeared at the facility, and now one ship is moving on us at high speed, sir. We designated the contact as Sierra-Two." "ETA?" asked Leone. "Forty-five minutes." Ariel did not relieve the lieutenant seated at ops, and moved to take the seat next to the center chair. "Think maybe they're a little afraid of us?" "I would be," muttered Greg. Leone ignored him. "How soon until they're in weapons' range?" "Sierra-Two will be here in thirty minutes, if 134


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

they maintain their present speed," replied the chief warrant officer at tactical. "Orders, sir?" The captain settled into her seat. "Beat to quarters, Mister Reynolds. All hands to battle stations." Chief Warrant Officer Andrew Reynolds chuckled at the use of the archaic naval term. "Aye, sir. Beating to quarters." His fingers tapped against the console and the ship responded accordingly with the wail of the red alert siren. Scarlet lighting sprang to life as the overhead illumination dimmed dramatically, allowing the consoles to light up the bridge. The doors leading back to the observation lounge parted and Wilson arrived, along with the tactical officers and Lieutenant Bartlet. Wilson took over for Reynolds, while Petra took the engineering console. "Engineering, transfer to bridge," she ordered the computer. "Shields activated, all weapons systems are online," reported Wilson. Ariel lifted her head to look at him. "Status on the probe conversions?" There was a pause as he checked. "We're halfdone, so far, Commander." 135


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Leone tapped her fingers on the side of her chair, lost in thought. The viewscreen magnified their vantage of the incoming enemy ship; its angles seemingly menacing in the great distance between the ships. "You're tapping again," whispered Ariel. "If you want to go fight them, let's go." "You think that's a good idea?" asked Leone, matching the low tone of her friend's voice. "We were counting on being outside their sensor range, and obviously, we're not. They were just waiting for backup to arrive so they could come get us." "Maybe they want us to go after them." "Maybe they want us to go away." Leone glared at her. "Fine." In a louder voice, "Greg, move to intercept approaching enemy contact. Bring us into torpedo range." "Aye, sir. Jumping to warp seven." "Wilson, I want two of the torpedoes to be double-yield." They heard the grin in his voice as he replied, "Double-yield, aye, sir. Two minutes to reload." "I'll hold you to that," replied Leone. Ariel snorted, folding her arms across her chest. 136


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"I guess we're about to show them that we're not fucking around." Leone smiled, but said nothing in response. Greg reported, "Captain, entering weapons range in sixty seconds." "Looks like we're going to be about a minute late, then. Greg, evasive pattern beta." "Aye, sir. Pattern beta executing in forty-seven seconds." Wilson raised his voice, "They're firing. Two projectile contacts, bearing three-five-seven and zero-zero-one. Impact in twenty seconds." Ariel breathed, "That was stupid of them. Helm, drop to impulse power." "Captain?" asked Greg, turning his head. Leone replied, "You heard her, Greg." "Aye, sir." The viewscreen showed the drop from faster-than-light propulsion. "Torpedoes have slowed to sublight. Impact in four years, seven month, eighteen days," reported Wilson. "I think we have time to prep those torpedoes." Ariel shared a grin with Leone. "Just like the Cardassian border, eh?"

137


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

The captain nodded. "Distance to target?" "Twenty-five million kilometers," reported Wilson. "They'll be on top of us in fifteen seconds." "Are my torpedoes ready?" "Ready and waiting." "Good." Leone rose from her chair and walked to put a hand on Greg's shoulder. "I'm going to need a split-second warp jump from you on my mark. When I say go, I want you to take us to warp five, and put us as close as you can off their port bow." Greg looked up at her, and made the necessary preparations. "Aye, sir." "Wilson!" "Sir?" "Put a tactical display on screen, please." The viewscreen blinked to show a top-down view of the local region of space. Farragut sat some distance away from the flashing red dot marked as Sierra-Two, which moved quickly toward them. The grid marked off the millions of kilometers until the range dropped considerably and closed in to mark off the half-millions. Finally, the range closed tightly, and: "They're dropping to sublight, Captain. Seven hundred fifty thousand kilometers and closing at 138


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

above full impulse," said Wilson quickly. "Looks like they have an advantage on us, there." Leone's eyes never left the display, nor did she leave Greg's side. "Steady..." "Five hundred thousand," counted off Wilson. "Steady..." "Four hundred torpedoes!"

thousand.

They're

firing

"Steady..." "Three hundred thousand. Impact in thirty seconds." "Get ready, Greg." Greg nodded. "Ready, sir." "Two hundred thousand. Impact in twenty seconds." "Now, Greg!" He said nothing. The screen showed the sudden movement of the Farragut dot from one location to another. The torpedoes fired by the Tristnor ship lost track of them and it showed as they whirled around to locate their target again. Leone turned. "Fire!" "Torpedoes away, sir!" "Switch to visual mode on main viewer." 139


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Again, the viewscreen blinked and showed the torpedoes flying away. The close range of SierraTwo made it nearly impossible to avoid the impacts. The first torpedo exploded against the hull of the ship, allowing the second torpedo to enter right behind it, just as they did with the first Tristnor vessel they encountered. The captain quickly moved to her chair and tapped a finger on the console to her left to call up sensor data on the enemy ship. "Greg, relative course zero-nine-zero mark zero, warp nine. Engage!" "Course laid in, sir. Jumping to warp nine." Flaming debris from Sierra-Two swung out of view as Farragut's bow pointed away from the target. Without hesitation, the warp field generation distorted the sensor image slightly before the stars stretched long as soon as they stabilized their warp field. "Sierra-Two is building up for detonation, sir. Looks like a self-destruct has been activated," reported Wilson calmly. "As expected. Greg, alter course to take us to the facility. Let's get this thing over with, once and for all," ordered Leone. "Altering course, aye, sir. ETA to the facility is now five minutes." The helmsman turned around 140


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

after the ship's course changed. "If I might be permitted to ask, sir, where did you come up with a short warp hop like that?" Before Leone could respond, Ariel chuckled. "That, Greg, was a little something called the 'Picard Manuever' and it was first pulled off at the Battle of Maxia about eleven years ago." "That was a risky move," noted Wilson. "How so?" asked Leone. Wilson chuckled, "Well, didn't the Picard Manuever result in the loss of Stargazer?" "Y-Yes," stammered Leone, trying to sink into her chair a little bit to hide her blush as Ariel outed her tactic. She cleared her throat loudly. "Needless to say, the Nebula-class is of a far sturdier design than the aged Constellation-class. Also, I was relatively certain the Tristnor hadn't heard of that little trick, being all the way out here and all." With a bit more confidence, she told the bridge, "Let that be a lesson to you all to read up on your history a little more. You could learn a thing or two from the past." Everyone seemed to find their own bit of amusement from the exchange as they turned their attention back to their respective duties. Leone turned her head to look at Ariel with an 141


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

arched eyebrow. "And you... why don't you inform Troopleader Bertas that his men should prepare for battle?"

142


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Act II

Saleb caught up with Ariel as she made her way down to Cargo Bay Two. Captain Leone ordered the cargo bay converted to be used as a bunkhouse for the Kasui troops. Although they offered Troopleader Bertas use of the many staterooms available aboard the ship, he found them to be far too opulent for his men, and they required something more Spartan to promote the close-order infantry education he pursued with them. "Good afternoon, Commander," he said as he fell into step with her. Saleb gave her a grin, and she replied in kind. "Off to see the Troopleader?" Ariel suddenly skipped along the corridor and sang, "The Wonderful Troopleader of Kasui." 143


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Taken aback, Saleb inquired, "Are you all right?" "Sorry, just a little joke. Old Earth humor," she giggled. "Yes, I'm on my way to let him know we're ready to move into position for deployment." "I see. I couldn't help but notice that you've managed to take a majority of the Kasui men in hand." She smiled gamely. "In my somewhat limited experience, I've found that men are generally guided by universal constants. One of them is usually located somewhere around their genitalia." "Obviously, you're right." "Of course I am." Saleb chuckled at her confidence. "I suppose with your experience, you've gained some wisdom. And a stellar sense of self." "Oh, how so?" "Well, for one, you seem to have little compunction for your captain prostituting you to further her own aims. One might assume that she cares little for her officers to abuse them in such a manner. Is that typical of Starfleet captains?" He never saw it coming. One moment he was walking alongside her and the next, he felt the painful and loud slap of his back against the nearest bulkhead; Ariel's arm underneath his neck, 144


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

threatening to choke him. Saleb didn't know what to find more surprising: her speed or her strength. The fury in her eyes drained all the self-assuredness he had prior to his verbal misstep, and the lack of air into his lungs prevented speech. He could only wheeze in pain, his arms reaching up to grab at hers. She wouldn't budge. With a humorless smirk on her face, she informed him through gritted teeth, "I might find you amusing at times, Mister Saleb, and I'm sure you think you're a charming little man, but you don't get to disparage Krystine without a little punishment." He gasped out, "Sorry!" Ariel relented, letting his feet touch the deck again. "I suppose I'll let you live, since you're new to this ship." Saleb's hand rubbed at his throat. "I apologize profusely, Commander. I had no idea..." She adjusted her uniform, as it had bunched up at the midsection with her arms raised up as they were before. With a quick tug on the jacket, it smoothed out with a snap. "You do, now. Keep it in mind." With his eyes wide, he nodded. "Most certainly." 145


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

The lieutenant commander, for whom he now had elevated respect, continued her brisk stride down the corridor as though nothing had happened. Her demeanor appeared to hold no malice toward him or anyone else; she moved as though she had no care in the world. When she noticed he drifted behind her, she smiled at him. "Are you coming?" Unsure of his footing with her, he asked meekly, "May I?" "Sure," she said, confused by his sudden shyness. "Look, you apologized. As long as you don't fuck up, I'm not going to bite your head off." Saleb pressed his lips together and approached her. "My neck and I will try to avoid... 'fucking up.'" "Good. It's the aim of us all, wouldn't you say?" "Agreed." He said, hesitantly, "I suppose you and Captain Leone have a more dynamic relationship than I've perceived." They stopped moving just outside the entrance to the cargo bay, where her hands flittered over the control panel. The door parted with a loud sliding noise, and Ariel turned to him. "You have no idea."

A Farragut's shields flared under the impact of the crystalline torpedoes. The explosive shards 146


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

reflected off and away from the ship. Inside, however, the ship took the brunt of the impact as the inertia dampening systems lagged slightly. The three Tristnor ships moved to swarm up toward the Federation heavy cruiser, making sure to do whatever was necessary to deter them from their goal. Leone's hands gripped the sides of her chair to steady her through the lurching of the hull. "Damage report." Petra quickly replied, "Shields holding at ninetythree percent. No other damage to ship systems, sir." "Evasive pattern omega," ordered Leone quickly. "Wilson, how close are we to the facility?" "Close enough, but we'll have to time this right," he replied. "More torpedoes inbound, Captain. The facility does not appear to have any weapons that I can see, but that minefield's got to come down before we can star transporting the troops aboard." "First things first," said the captain. "They seem to be following some sort of coordinated pattern of attack." She pointed to the tactical display on the screen. "Like a trio of insects, attacking from all sides at once." Another lurch of the deck as a torpedo collided with the shields brought her hand back down to brace her. 147


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Captain, the Second Battle of Keldan Prime," called Greg. "I remember it from my Starfleet Tactics class." She searched inward for any memory of that battle. "Go on, Greg." "Three-to-one odds. Three Klingon D-7s versus the Excalibur during the first Klingon war." Wilson snapped his fingers. "Right! The tractor beam!" Leone shook her head, having no clear memory of the tactic, but she placed her confidence in theirs. "Coordinate your efforts, gentlemen. Greg has the conn." Greg's shock was written all over his face. "Sir?!" "You heard me. You know it better than I do." "A-Aye, sir. Uh, Lieutenant Nieves, sir? I'm going to bank us hard about in ten seconds. I should put the emitter within range of the first vessel, and then we'll jump out at full impulse power with the third." Wilson grinned. "I'm looking forward to it, Lieutenant. At your command." Greg began to count it off, and Leone noted the tremor in the young man's voice. When the countdown reached one, the ship rolled very 148


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

suddenly, keeping the same side to each ship as they maneuvered around Farragut. "Now, Lieutenant!" "Activating tractor beam," announced Wilson. The beam lanced out and grabbed hold of one of the ships. "Reversing roll maneuver," said the helmsman as his hands flew across the console. The Tristnor vessel locked in their grip moved with them... and into the hull of the other Tristnor ship moving in the opposite direction. "Releasing tractor beam." "Moving to the direct us to the other ship." "Activating the tractor. We've got him." "Reversing course, full impulse," reported Greg. "This may get a little bumpy, folks." On the screen, the two Tristnor ships seemed to scrape and vibrate against one another until it became too much. The hulls of both the ships gave way as both of them attempted to alter their course away from one another, but without the benefit of knowing which way the other would go, they made the wrong decision and intensified the collision with disastrous results. Both ships disintegrated as fragments flew in all directions, like two shattered mirrors colliding at high speed. 149


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Farragut shuddered under the impact of two more torpedoes fired from the vessel they had a hold of. "Greg..." warned Leone. "Aye, sir," replied Greg. He called back to Wilson, "Lieutenant, we should be able to dispatch this guy with a couple of torpedoes, now." "With pleasure." She heard the near-glee in Wilson's tone as he spoke. "Torpedoes away!" And away they were, as yet again the hulls of the enemy vessel proved ineffective against the antimatter warheads of their photon torpedoes. The tractor released them and the remaining Tristnor vessel drifted, powerless. "Any sign of a power buildup in their core, Wilson?" asked Leone. "No, sir. Not that I can see, so far. It's possible we might have disabled their command computer." "Or killed their command crew," offered Greg. Wilson leaned forward. "Should we finish them off, sir?" Leone considered that thought, but Starfleet regulations were clear. "No. They're in no position to mount a defense, right now. But, it gives me an idea." She tapped the communications control on her chair. "Bridge to Elannis." "Elannis, here. Go ahead, Captain." 150


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Commander, is Troopleader Bertas with you?" "Yes, sir. Along with Mister Saleb." "Good. Troopleader, we have a Tristnor vessel dead in space. Would you like to add a ship to your faction's collection?" Bertas' gravelly voice seemed to bounce off the bulkheads. "It would be my pleasure to take such a prize off of your hands. I can have a platoon ready for transport shortly." "Very good. Commander, take them to the nearest transporter room and stand by to beam them out." The captain ordered, "Wilson, as soon they're beamed aboard, we move to our primary objective." "Yes, sir. Have you any thoughts as to how to dispatch the minefield?" Leone tapped her fingers along the side of her chair, but Ariel was still coordinating the troops below decks. "Since the lot of us seem to be taking our cues from the past... Wilson, do you remember the Battle of Vorkado?" Wilson grinned. "I'm on it, sir." He slapped his commbadge. "Mister Reynolds, I need another two torpedoes, double-yield." The chief warrant officer replied in good humor. "Right away, Lieutenant. Give me sixty seconds and 151


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

they'll be ready in the forward tubes." As soon as the channel closed, Wilson chuckled. "Everyone should have a chief warrant like that." "I'll make sure to put one in your Christmas stocking this year," Leone remarked out of the side of her mouth. "I have the conn," she added, realizing that she hadn't yet taken her back from Greg. "Well done, Greg." "I follow in your fine example, Captain," oozed Greg. Leone bristled, but Wilson managed to get in a choice phrase. "Little something on your nose, Lieutenant." Greg reached up to brush at it, and then turned his head to fix Wilson with a glare when he realized the joke. They didn't have to wait long when Reynolds contacted the bridge to let them know the torpedoes were ready for use. "Fire when ready, Wilson," ordered Leone. "Aye, sir. Firing torpedo number one." The torpedo advanced quickly and entered the minefield. Wilson said nothing. The phaser beam lanced out and hit the torpedo with deadly accuracy, causing the casing to breach and the warhead to explode with its double-yield warhead 152


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

taking out a majority of the mines on the one side of the facility. "Damage to our target?" Wilson scanned the station quickly. "Minimal. No signs of fracturing." "Very well. Continue." "Aye, sir. Firing torpedo number two." The same phaser beam lanced out and impacted against the torpedo, causing another large chunk of the minefield to explode prematurely. The collective energy being released looked very impressive on the screen. Leone smiled, rising up from her seat. As she was about to give the order to proceed, Wilson interrupted her. "We have a new problem!" "What?" Wilson's tone was urgent. "The facility is building up a power overload. They're going to selfdestruct!" "Greg, full impulse. Get us within transporter range!" She whirled back around to face the viewscreen. If the facility destroyed itself, it would take the only way home with it.

153


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Act III

News of the facility's impending destruction put Ariel and Saleb in with the first wave of troops. Ariel carried a menacing-looking rifle that she called a "Type-3." Saleb wielded a smaller "Type-2." He wondered how small the "Type-1" was, and Ariel shook her head at him. "Trust me, you want people to know you're carrying," she said as she checked her weapon and stepped onto the transporter platform. "You ready to go?" Saleb honestly wasn't. Like him, everyone wore a copy of the Starfleet insignia on their chest. Each one prepared to provide the starship's computer system with information on their general health, as 154


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

well as a position within the facility in case of the need for emergency beamout. The likelihood of that increased exponentially unless he could find and disable the system controlling the power buildup in the facility's reactor core. "I suppose I am, yes," he said, after she fixed him with a glare. He stepped up onto the transporter pad, grateful that the only Kasui fighting on the facility would be the ones on his side. The Tristnor did not trust the "lower" races with a research project of this magnitude. There would only be Tristnor security forces to deal with, and even then, they would rather rely on their technology than brute strength. Maybe they'd make it out of there in one piece, after all. Ariel slapped the side of her rifle and let it rest underneath her bosom as the strap went taught over her shoulder. "Fine, stick to me, then. You get me to where we need to be and Bertas' guys will handle the rest." There was no way in hell he would ever leave her side. "I'll try." Just before the transporter beam carried them off, she shot him a look. "Don't try. Do!" The transporter room disappeared and the familiar Tristnor design of the research facility came into view through the blue, shimmering light 155


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

of the transporter beam. Ariel had her rifle out and ready in a crouch while Saleb felt the fear coursing through every part of his body. He brought out his phaser, watching at the tip of it seemed to tremble as he pointed it in any direction. He realized it was his grip that caused the phaser's aim to waver so quickly and he tried to steady it as much as he could. It was one thing to talk and think about the situation; quite another to actually be there. They watched as many of the facility's crew seemed to be panicking. The reptilian-looking humanoids ran to their destinations. Saleb recognized the multi-colored strip of Tristnor security upon one of them. "W-We need to move quickly!" he shouted to Ariel. "Down that corridor then to the right." Ariel nodded. She gestured to the platoon leader that transported with them. "Bitras! We're going to need you to clear the corridor from here to the first intersection. Saleb's going to need a lot of breathing room." Bitras growled, "Understood. First squad, with me. Second squad, bring up the rear. Third squad, guard Mister Saleb." The Kasui troops moved accordingly and they were left with six burly men with huge weapons out of the nineteen that 156


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

transported with them. "Lead the way, Saleb!" shouted Ariel. "Can we disable the destruct?" They ran down the corridor as the Kasui fired clear ahead of them. "I don't know until I can gain access to a terminal," replied Saleb. He pointed as they turned the corner. "Third hatch on the left hand side will be the main testing laboratory!" "Bitras!" Ariel called. "I heard! First squad, kick in the door!" The door was kicked in, Kasui-style. Meaning there was little to no door left when they opened fire. Saleb moved inside after the first squad cleared the room. Several dead Tristnor lay around, and he shivered at the sight. He worked with nearly all of them, and recognized the Alpha device sitting within the cradle. "They never even tried to save it," he muttered. "Is that a little odd?" asked Ariel, keeping her weapon pointed toward the exit, along with the rest of the Kasui. "I'm checking it out." "How much time do we have?" Saleb immediately jumped onto an active 157


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

terminal. The facility's self-destruct sequence was activated on a countdown of nearly eleven minutes, of which close to six were left. He accessed the main computer and requested a complete shutdown of the system, to no avail. "The command processor is not accepting my requests. I think the head scientist might have locked out the processor to prevent anyone from doing what we're trying to do. Do you want me to see if I can kill the main system?" Ariel shook her head. "Let's grab the device and get the fuck out of here!" With a nod, he whipped out his Starfleet tricorder and scanned the Alpha device. "Wait," he said. "Wait, what?" Ariel moved behind him, peering down at the tricorder over his shoulder. "This is strange. The device shouldn't be giving me..." He looked up at it and then turned to Ariel with an expression of shock. "It's a fake!" She didn't miss a beat, instead moving closer to him. "Where the hell is it?" Saleb moved back to the terminal and checked the logs of the research team running the experiment. He had to do a regular expression search on all of the text-based logs before he found the transfer order. "You're not going to believe 158


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

this..." "What?" Ariel replied, annoyed. "Cut out the dramatics!" "It's already installed on the test ship. The frigate I told you about," he explained. "They launched it earlier today, ahead of schedule. Probably before we got into sensor range." "Don't care. Where is it?" "I'm looking for it." "Hurry up." Saleb sighed. She was almost as bad as Belkis. "I have the transponder frequency." He entered in a few more commands. "I'm transmitting it to your ship." Ariel slapped her commbadge. "Elannis to Farragut." "Farragut, here. Go ahead, Commander," replied Leone over the channel. "Captain, the frequency we just transmitted is the transponder of the frigate that presently has the Alpha device." Like Ariel, she was all business. "Good to know. Status?" "Do you want us to attempt to find the Beta device?" 159


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Only if you have time. Wilson says you have less than five minutes to get the hell out of there." "Indeed, we do, sir." "Mister Saleb?" He perked up. "Yes, Captain?" "How far away is the Beta device from your present location?" Saleb looked around. "Ordinarily, it would be in the lab, Captain. However, it seems my former colleagues may have absconded with it or secured it in a new location." He turned his attention back to the screen. "I'm attempting to locate it, now." "The clock is ticking, Mister Saleb." He sighed, shaking his head as he entered in the necessary commands to scan the new directory. "No one is more aware of that than I, sir." "Three minutes, and then we're beaming the whole lot of you back," ordered Leone quickly. "Farragut, out." Saleb opened his mouth to say something derogatory about the captain's impatience, but remembered the altercation in the corridor with Ariel and thought better of it. He placed a finger on his lip, trying to pass it off as a thoughtful look, instead. The scan against the computer's information ran in the background as he starting 160


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

locking down the communications subsystem access. Then, the information appeared. "It's three levels down. Straight down." "Is anyone down there?" He ran a quick lifeform scan. "It looks like half of the garrison is down there. It's a smaller lab, though. Two points of entrance." Ariel shook her head. "Not to worry. It's why I brought extras of these," she said, pulling out another commbadge. She tapped it and called to the transporter room on the Farragut. "I need a site-tosite for this signal. Stand by to transport." "Standing by, Commander." She walked over to the large platoon leader and pulled two grenades from his belt. "I need to borrow these for a minute." The Kasui eyed her. "You're giving them back?" Ariel smirked and walked away. "Chief, lock onto the commbadge. Transport one weapon three levels below us, one meter to port. The other, one meter to starboard." "Understood." She activated both grenades, then set the commbadge upon them. "Chief, fire in the hole." 161


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Energizing." Both grenades disappeared in a shimmering light. Shortly after, the facility rocked from an internal explosion. She pointed to him. "Scan again." "No lifeforms, but then you might've destroyed the Beta device." Ariel shrugged. "Better that they should be deprived of it." She looked up at the ceiling, "Chief, you still with this?" "Yes, sir." "Site-to-site, everyone in this room to the lab three levels down. Energize, when ready." "I have you locked on, already, sir. Energizing." Saleb's seated position fell out from under him when he rematerialized in the smoky lab. The fire alarm sounded off as he fell to the floor with his balance gone. He got to his feet, coughing through the acrid taste of the burning circuits and scarred flesh that hung within the secondary lab. His watering eyes searched around for the housing of the Beta device. He found the signage for the device. "It should be right over there, within the reinforced storage..." The lid that secured it appeared to have been torn from its housing completely and the contents, whatever they might have been, were melted into 162


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

unrecognizable pieces. "It's gone." Ariel sniffed at it, peering into the box. "'Gone' as in it was taken?" "'Gone' as in it was destroyed by your grenades." "Huh." She looked at him. "And it was housed in this? You're sure?" "Absolutely." "That's too bad." "I can only hope that Captain Leone agrees with your assessment." She smiled sweetly at him. "No sense crying over spilt milk. Let's get back to the ship before this place goes up."

163


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Act IV

Within her ready room, Leone heaved a sigh immediately after listening to Ariel's report of the away mission. Farragut moved well beyond the range of the detonation blast, in pursuit of the transponder signal. "Well, it would have been nice to have that device, certainly... but I'm pleased that the Tristnor were deprived of it, instead." Ariel turned to look at Saleb, giving him a smirk. "Told you." Saleb rolled his eyes. Leone ignored them both. "What about the research? Is it in any danger of being attempted again?" 164


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"The protocol for destruct sequences is all aboard must perish, preventing the research from falling into the wrong hands," explained Saleb quickly. "The frigate was outside the protocol, but it's not likely they were able to communicate the problem to them. The frigate and the facility would have been observing radio silence with one another." "Any vessels go along for observation?" asked Ariel. "Maybe one or two shuttles..." The captain leaned back in her chair. "What I wouldn't give for a cloaking device right now..." Ariel nodded sympathetically. "Fine. We're already on course for the transponder signal. If we approach them at high warp, we're going to tip our hand," said Leone, placing her right palm atop the armrest of the chair. "Mister Saleb, how long before they activate the device?" "Thirty hours, give or take ten minutes," he replied. Ariel wrinkled her nose. "Give or take?" "We don't mark time the same way the Federation does." "Ah." 165


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Leone leaned forward, placing her elbows upon the desk. "We have around ten hours to track them down and get what we need, then get the hell-" "Bridge to Captain," interrupted Wilson. "Sir, incoming transmission from the Kasui aboard the cruiser." She touched the panel on the desk. "Patch them through in here, please, Wilson. Thank you." The desktop terminal's small screen blinked once and the stern visage of Troopleader Bertas appeared. "Captain." "Troopleader. How can we help you?" "It is we who can help you, Captain." Bertas swung the visual input wildly until it settled upon a device connected to some sort of massive system. Saleb nearly squealed. "It's the Alpha device!" "We thought so, based on the description you provided us," said Bertas. "The frigate must have been a decoy." "They must've thought we would destroy the ship... or they would destroy us," reasoned Saleb, his tone lessening under the startled looks of Leone and Ariel. "Either way, we wouldn't get the device." Bertas grunted, "It is foolish underestimate your opponent." 166

thing

to


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Saleb grinned. "In this case, I think it's more like they had a rather inflated sense of their strength." "Be that as it may," interrupted Leone pointedly. She addressed the screen once more, "Troopleader, might we trade a tow back to the fortress for that handy little device of yours?" "Agreed, Captain. After all, you've provided us with a first-hand look at Tristnor ship construction," boomed Bertas with a toothy smile. "This will bolster our side of the war handily." "Of course." Leone's eyes looked to Ariel. Ariel nodded, lifting herself out of her seat. "I'll alter course, sir." With that, she disappeared behind the ready room doors to take the conn. "Creepy, how you two do that," noted Saleb, under his breath. Leone smirked. "Troopleader, we should be en route to you now." "Excellent. We await your arrival. Out." The screen cleared to show the Starfleet insignia before shutting down completely. The stars outside the deck-to-ceiling window moved as the ship made its turn back toward Saleb asked, "Captain, now that you have the Alpha device, will you be returning to your Federation?" 167


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Of course." "Might I appeal to you to delay your return?" Leone tilted her head. "Why?" He rose from his seat, placing his hands behind his back. "I know this isn't your war, Captain, but we could really use your assistance." She opened her mouth, but he raised a hand, "Now, please, let me finish." Perturbed at being cut off, Leone pressed her lips together. "Very well." "Thank you. As I said, your assistance would come during a time when our resources have run very low. Prior to the capture of the Tristnor vessel, the Kasui have been fending off the Tristnor advances through acts of sabotage and terrorism. Now that you're here, you've been able to provide them with the means of a frontal assault. You have successfully elevated the level of warfare against them. I'm sure that's beyond what your 'Prime Directive' entails, does it not?" "The actions that I've taken, Mister Saleb, were in the best interests of my ship and crew. It was in our best interests to defend ourselves against an attacking ship," she replied, keeping her tone even. "It is not in the best interests to put this ship, with less than a quarter of its total crew, into a war we have nothing to do with." 168


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Saleb's voice raised slowly with each word he spoke, "You have everything to do with it, Captain. Don't you see that, now? You're here. You've destroyed five of their ships! You're in the fight, with us." "No," she said, shaking her head. "I've bent the Prime Directive enough... to last me more than a lifetime, I'm sure. I don't agree with your logic." "Captain, I brought you here-" "Against our will," interjected Leone, her tone making it clear that the conversation was beginning to wear her patience thin. "Nevertheless-" "Oh, look at that," she said, looking down at her wrist. "Time's up." Saleb blinked. "I'm sorry?" "No, I'm sorry. Look, I appreciate your... position. Under other circumstances, I might even agree with you. I have a duty to Starfleet and the Federation, but my first duty is to my ship," said the captain, rising to meet his gaze. "I realize that we might've blown a few doors open for you guys in the past few days, but at no time did I ever make an agreement that we would provide... quid pro quo." "Quid pro what?" "It's a Latin phrase; an old Earth language. It 169


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

means, 'something-for-something.' In this case, the expectation that simply because we're here, doesn't mean we'll provide you with anything." Leone moved from behind her desk to look out her window. "Needless to say, if anything, I think you owe us for the inconvenience, but since we're going home, I think we'll call it even. You're dismissed." Saleb approached her. In a pleading tone, he tried again, "But, Captain..." She fixed him with an angry glare. "I've already extended you the courtesy of discussing my decision. Do not make me regret it." Defeated, Saleb nodded silently. "I... apologize for pressing the matter without thinking." Leone's expression softened appreciate that you had to try."

slightly.

"Thank you, Captain."

A CAPTAIN'S LOG Stardate 43233.1

We have completed towing the disabled Tristnor vessel back to the Kasui fortress, where it has been accepted with open arms by the Kasui Prime Barris. In exchange for the prize of war, Barris has gifted us with the 170

"I


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

Tristnor Alpha device we sought from the Tristnor facility. Additionally, Barris has declared a day-long celebration of this victory in their struggle against their oppressors. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Bartlet is overseeing Mister Saleb's sanctioned installation of the Alpha device into our navigational deflector systems. I'm certain that she will be keeping a close eye on him, considering the last time he made such a dramatic alteration to our deflector dish without authorization. It is my sincere hope that we might be able to deliver this device intact following our return, for Starfleet to use as an alternate means of propulsion. I've authorized the crew to utilize the fortress facilities for the day. I hope to get underway for home, tomorrow morning. "Half of me wishes we didn't have to go back," admitted Wilson. He sat at one of the tables closest to the viewport within the ship's lounge, sitting over a drink he barely touched. His right hand ran through his shaggy brown hair leaving the strands of his hair even more disheveled than usual. To his left, Ariel frowned and put a hand on his forearm. "You don't mean that." He looked at her with one of his eyebrows 171


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

cocked up. "Of course I don't." "You don't want to have to leave the ship." "Yeah." She sighed, dropping her hand to the table gently. Wilson's intent to become a part of Farragut's senior staff was cut short by Krystine's inexplicable decision to go with another officer. "Do you want me to talk to her for you?" Wilson shook his head. "No..." "Okay-" "Yes?" he said quickly. "I don't know." Ariel half-smiled. "Make up your mind, Willie." "I don't want you to talk to her, if you think she's going to think that I asked you to. The last thing I want to do is cause her trouble. On the other hand..." She nodded. "I know. And I doubt it would be much trouble to her if I pulled her aside and slapped some sense into her. I still don't know what she was thinking when she passed you over." Wilson waved her off. "She was thinking about the needs of the ship." "She told me she didn't want you tied to her career."

172


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"But you're here." She threw her hands up in the air. "That's what I said!" Neither of them said anything further for a moment, sharing nothing more than a grin as they fell back into their old conversational pattern on the Potemkin. Wilson broke the silence between them with a simple, "It's up to her." "Yeah," she agreed. "Don't get me wrong... I think she's a brilliant CO. Born to the captain's chair unlike any officer I've served with." Ariel snorted, "In some ways, that's literally true." Wilson gave her a sidelong glance. "I know she was born with a golden commbadge in her mouth, but she doesn't act like it. I've always liked her a great deal. All I wanted was to make sure I'd be there to see her make history." "Me, too," she said quietly; her eyes drifted down to the table. He reached out to cover her hand with his. He felt like a heel for having tread on sensitive territory. "You never told her?" Ariel shook her head and gave him a slight shrug. "What's the point?" 173


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Wilson squeezed her hand. "I've always admired your courage. But, at the same time, I wish you'd find your happiness." "I will, Willie." When he doubted her with a look, she placed her other hand over his. "I promise you. Don't worry about me." "I can't help it. You're a friend." "And you're mine." He smiled, unable to meet her gaze as she looked at him. "Thank you." "And as my friend, I'll speak to Krys about finding you a place, here. I think you've proven yourself more than enough these past few days." Ariel patted his hand, but released her gentle grip on him to reach for her drink. "What about you?" "What about me?" "You should be the new XO. Not acting." "Here, here," said a newcomer, standing over them. Gregory Aspinall gave them a large grin as he had apparently overheard the last part of their conversation. Off their looks of surprise, he dropped his grin. "Sorry. Should I leave?" Wilson deferred to Ariel with a glance. She 174


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

smiled. "No... no, grab a chair." The lounge was mostly empty, due to the celebration on the fortress at full throttle. With a majority of the crew enjoying themselves, the darkened lounge would have been party central, but not that night. Greg slipped into a chair, placing his drink on the table. "Thank you, sirs." "Hey," said Ariel sharply. "There's no rank in this room. You know the rules. You're lucky there's hardly anyone here or else we'd make you buy everyone a round." "Right, right... sorry." "I don't know," said Wilson, "I think we should make him buy us a round, at least." Ariel chuckled. She gestured with her nearly full glass. "He can buy you one, but I'm still nursing this." "I'll consider it a rain check, then," replied Greg. "Anyway, you guys were discussing permanent assignments?" Wilson eyed Greg through the bottom of his glass as he tilted it back to drain the contents. "I was just mentioning that our captain should consider removing the word 'acting' from her title." "I couldn't agree more." 175


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

"Aw, boys, you're making a girl blush over here, now," said Ariel, taking on a demure expression by bringing her chin in to her chest. Her raven hair fell over her cheeks to obscure her face, but not her eyes. That drew a snort from Wilson. "Hah! I'm sure you could tell us stories that would make a Risian blush." Greg could only nod slowly; his eyes never left the lieutenant commander as she worked her natural beauty before him. Wilson shook quietly with laughter. "Greg?" "Yeah?" "Put your tongue back in your mouth, son." "What?" Greg leaned back and looked down, while his hand moved up. "Oh... right. Sorry, Commander." He looked like he just committed an egregious sin against her. Ariel smiled warmly at the young helmsman. "It's quite all right, Greg. Believe it or not, I'm flattered." "No seducing the help, now," said Wilson, his voice also wavering a bit. For all the chastising he might've given Greg, he empathized with the lieutenant. With a guilty look, she gritted her teeth. "My 176


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

apologies, gentlemen, for inadvertently attacking your Academy-instilled sense of discipline. Perhaps I should take my leave you both, and let you drink in peace?" "No!" said Greg quickly, and a bit louder than he intended. He cleared his throat. "I mean, no... don't let us chase you away from the table." "Yeah, Ariel. You leave, now, and all I have to look at it his ugly mug," Wilson said, gesturing with his hand toward Greg. The helmsman rolled his eyes. "You're no prize, yourself." "All kidding aside," she told them, "I should probably see to the paperwork I've been letting go. We're heading back tomorrow, and no doubt, Starfleet's going to want all their reports in a nice tidy packet to transmit the minute we show up on their sensors." "About that..." started Wilson. Ariel tilted her head. "Yes?" "Do you think... I mean, is it possible that Starfleet might relieve the captain for what she's done?" She looked at Greg briefly, before giving Wilson a smile. "I doubt it. Too many people want her to succeed to let a little something like a three day trip 177


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

to the Beta Quadrant stand in their way." Wilson released a held breath and nodded. "Good to know." "Even if they did send out someone from the Inspector General's office, I doubt they'd get too far the moment Admiral T'Cirya found out about it." "If they do," said Wilson softly, "you have to keep that temper of yours in check." Ariel drew her lips together sourly. "Do I have to?" "I'm sure it would help her cause if you did. No telling what happens, if you try to shove an IG agent out the nearest airlock." She pouted. "I guess you're right." Wilson eyed her. "This is one of those times, Ariel, when I can't tell if you're joking or not." Ariel showed off all her teeth in a large smile. "With any luck, neither will they. Good night, you two. Don't stay up too late." Both officers watched her leave, and then shared a worried look. Greg asked with a scoff, "She has a temper?" Wilson grinned. "You think I'm joking?" "Maybe." 178


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"If you think I'm lying, I could arrange a demonstration for you." "Really?" "Of course. I've been looking for an excuse to make popcorn."

179


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

Act V

Ariel was right. She did spend more time in the ready room than she did in her own quarters, thought Captain Leone as she stared out toward the stars. She brought the cool glass of iced tea to her lips and took a long quaff from it. The heavy base of the glass felt good in her hand when she brought it back down to rest atop the smooth surface of her desk. Iced tea first thing in the morning helped shake the cobwebs of a deep sleep, she had discovered during her time as a lieutenant serving aboard the starship Victory. The smell alone woke her up, like a strong brew of fresh coffee. Coffee might have been the first choice of many captains, including 180


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

her own mother, but it often left Leone with a sour stomach. Tea became her best-tasting alternative. By the time she finished with the one glass she allowed herself before starting her morning duty, she settled into the chair behind her desk and began to review the reports filed the previous night. Not all of them, of course, but the ones marked for her special attention by her acting executive officer. Every now and again, Leone's lips would curl up into a smile as she read some of the notations scribbled into the reports. Ariel's wit laced the reports of the chief engineer, who made unofficial accusations of Petra's scrutiny of Mister Saleb's completed alterations to the ship's navigational deflector seem as though she really had the hots for him, rather than contempt for what he had done to her ship. Leone laughed out loud a few times before she closed the file and pushed herself away from the desk to stride out onto the nearly empty bridge. "Good morning," said a too-cheery Greg, seated in the executive officer's seat. "Good morning, Greg," replied Leone as she sat next to him. "You know, when you have the conn, you can feel free to use my chair. It's incredibly comfy." Greg rose from the seat and stood to address 181


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

her with his hands behind her back. "I'm sure it is, sir, but I wouldn't dare presume sit in your chair while you're on deck one." "My, oh, my... you are getting very good at this conn-sitting, Greg." "Sir?" Leone divided her attention between the righthand console of her chair and him. "I mean, you outmaneuver three enemy ships with a tractor beam and fancy flying, and then you're acting like a respectful XO keeping a watchful eye on the ship while the captain's amusing herself in her ready room." "I guess so, sir." "I meant it as a compliment. You've done really well for yourself since you got here." "I appreciate that." "I'm sure you do. So, let me ask you a question." Greg tilted his head, but nodded. "Of course, sir." She sighed. "You have four years' service in Starfleet since graduation... why haven't you put your name forth for consideration for promotion to full lieutenant?" He reseated himself next to her, not wanting the conversation to drift to the operations station, 182


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

where a chief petty officer sat watch. Lowering his voice, so as not to raise the ears of their comrades, he nearly hissed at her, "Kryssie, why're you bugging me about my career?" Leone leaned over and smiled as he used her rather ancient nickname from when he was a child. "That's 'Captain Kryssie' to you, young sir." Off of his pained expression, she chuckled softly. "You don't think I'm not going to hear it from your mother?" "God, leave her out of it." "Tell her, that. It'll save me a lot of trouble." Greg raised a hand to his forehead. "I'm not asking for any special treatment, now. I'm just doing my job." "And doing it really well, Greg. I entrusted you with the ship, and you didn't let me down." His cheeks warmed and colored red as she praised him. "Do me a favor, please... don't put that in your report. Next thing you know, I'm going to be expected to do that on a regular basis, and I don't think I could handle that kind of pressure." Leone smirked. "Oh, Greg... if you didn't want that kind of pressure, you're in the wrong place, my friend." "With all due respect, Captain Kryssie, I think 183


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

we're all in the wrong place."

A They said their goodbyes, in spite of their slight bitterness that they would leave them behind to take care of their own war. Prime Barris expressed his sadness to see Ariel leave there part of the Beta Quadrant behind, but she assured him that he would find someone in the future to see his considerable needs. That exchange drew an amused glance from Captain Leone. When it came time for Saleb and Belkis to bid them farewell, they offered to provide Farragut with extra personnel to see them through the long journey home, but Leone refused. She saw through the obvious ploy to convey refugees safely into the Federation, but enough regulations had been mangled for one excursion. Barris shook hands with Leone. "While I can't say this for certain, Captain, I sincerely hope this isn't the last time we'll meet." "With all due respect, Prime," she replied, "we've got our own problems to handle back at home. But, thanks all the same, for your generous hospitality." "If you should ever pass this way again..." start Saleb. "We'll be sure to look you up," promised Leone. 184


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

A Petra maintained a vigilant watch on the quantum field generator attached to the deflector. She personally reconfigured her engineering console to provide her with real-time data from the subsystems affected. By the time she finished, the engineering station looked nothing like a standard matter/anti-matter reaction chamber-driven propulsion monitor, as it would under normal operating conditions. Captain Leone ordered the ship to a safe distance from the fortress, but not too far outside the defense perimeter, in case they should fall under attack by wayward members of the Tristnor Hegemony. In spite of Mister Saleb's constant assurances that the field wouldn't harm the fortress, she did not want to take any chances. After a small period of system adjustment, Petra announced her satisfaction, "Ready, here, Captain." "Thank you, Petra," replied Leone. "Wilson, take us to general quarters." She wanted everyone to be alert and ready, in case the worst happened. However, being that they would be inside a quantum field, she wasn't sure if a typical abandon ship order would be carried out while the ship was in a state of quantum flux. Wilson nodded. "General quarters, aye, sir." The 185


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

computer made the appropriate announcements and the klaxon wailed twice before silencing. "Let's get this circus on the road," muttered Leone. "Petra, activate your new toy." "It's not my-" Leone raised a hand. "Don't care. Let's go home." Petra called out, "Aye, sir. Engaging reinforcement of the structural integrity and inertia dampening fields, now. Stand by for quantum field generation." "All stations secure for quantum field entry," ordered Ariel from the operations console. "Captain, the hatches have been battened down." "Device online. Quantum field generating from the navigational deflector," reported Petra. Wilson added, "Confirmed. Deflector dish outputting quantum field, slowly." "Acknowledged," said Leone with a nod. Ariel said, "Field stabilization rate at twenty-five percent and rising." Leone flexed her fingers on the edges of her armrests. "What's our entry point?" "Ninety-seven percent, Captain. Mister Saleb's instructions were quite clear."

186


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

"Call out the rates, Ariel." "Aye, sir." Ariel's voice continued their count, "Thirty-six percent. Forty-seven." When the field rose in stabilization to eighty percent, Leone called out, "Here we go, people. Hang on to your asses." "Field entry in five seconds," said Petra. Farragut entered the field, losing sensors as it did the first time. The viewscreen deactivated without any relevant data being fed to it, and the expert handling of the ship's systems made for a smoother ride within the field. Leone barely felt the vibrations through the deck of the ship, allowing her to maintain her composure. She waited patiently for the ship to either be destroyed or depart the field. The field outside the ship dissipated, allowing the sensors to get clear reads on the local region of space. The viewscreen image returned to show stars once more. "Ariel?" she asked, quietly. "One moment, Captain. I'm scanning," replied Ariel, her eyes moving over the display. "I just got a Federation timebase beacon," announced Wilson happily. Ariel nodded, "The computer has confirmed the present star positions as Federation territory. We're 187


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

three million kilometers away from where we left." She whirled around in her chair, a large grin on her face. Leone rose from her chair, unable to hide the joy from her face or her voice. "Wilson, all hands, please." "Aye, sir." Wilson sounded the boatswain's whistle to call the attention of the crew. "All hands, this is the captain." Captain Leone stepped forward and placed a hand on Ariel's shoulder. She squeezed her gently as she informed her crew, "We're home."

END

188


STAR TREK : FULL SPEED AHEAD

189


MICHAEL D. GARCIA

190

Garcia-Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead: Damn the Torpedoes!  

Michael D. Garcia brings action drama to fan fiction with his acclaimed adult series, Star Trek: Full Speed Ahead. After fifteen years of e...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you