RenegadeRenegade IIUniversalSIDSID TalesSID RebirthThe Cause
More StoriesStories in GermanEssaysFan Film Reviews

The Romulan Espionage by Mark Nightingale

Chapter 1 - Chapter 2 - Chapter 3 - Chapter 4 - Chapter 5 - Chapter 6 - Epilogue

Chapter 1

Captain Dan Adams worked the controls with a fluency that showed his recent graduation from the academy. Most older starship captains would not have been able to manipulate the new transporter controls but Adams was not five years out of the academy and had passed all the technical exams with flying colours. He seemed to have a flare for any kind of computer system and had suspected that he would be assigned as programmer in Starfleet. He was not. His acceleration through the ranks had made him perfect captain material.

The silence of the USS Discovery’s transporter was unnerving, he was used to a small whine, but this new system made so little noise, that even the people being transported didn’t hear anything. Also, the room was a lot different to most starship transporters, and the pad was only a circular section of the floor which was shinny, compared with the blue carpet. The emitters were so well concealed in the ceiling that there didn’t appear to be any. On closer inspection, one could see that there were a few ceiling panels with small Plexiglas circles in them, but in comparison to the standard transporter beam emitters, they were hardly there at all.

The whole room looked much cleaner cut than most starship transporters. There was an alcove in one corner for the pad, but the pad was not raised, and the ceiling above the pad was the same height as anywhere else in the room.

The captain was looking forward to meeting his new First Officer, CMO, Chief Engineer, Helmsman, Tactical Officer, and Chief Science Officer. The shimmering pillars materialised in front of him.

“Permission to come aboard, sir?” His new exec asked.

“Granted.” he replied.

She was fairly tall and had blond hair which framed her attractive face, a well toned figure, and a very tidy uniform. She stepped off the new pad and almost stumbled, surprised at finding that it wasn’t raised.

“Welcome aboard, Commander Write,” The captain smiled.

“It’s a pleasure to be aboard one of the most advanced ships in the fleet, sir,” she said, positively beaming. “This is Dr Janet Peters...” indicating a slightly severe looking woman with light brown hair who was stepping off the pad looking around the Transporter Room, “...Lieutenant Commander Kell, Engineer...” the blue Bolian was by her side, smiling as she turned to him, “...Tactical Officer Lieutenant Sallik...” showing a strict looking Vulcan, “...Commander Wallace, chief of operations...” showing a smiling Indian man with short brown hair, “...Lieutenant Long, Helmsman...” Indicating to an amiable looking young man to her left who had blond hair, “...and Ensign Creed, science officer.” She showed an extremely scruffy ensign standing to her left, who looked disinterestedly at the captain then back to the transporter pad, carefully studying the emitters in the ceiling and in the deck. His uniform was a mess and his face wore a slightly arrogant expression.

“I presume that Counsellor Hunter is already aboard.”

“Yes,” the captain replied, “she’s in her quarters.” Handing them each a padd, he said, “This is your quarters assignment and the duty roster for the next month. The rest of the crew will be arriving in the next few hours and we will be leaving dry-dock at 0700 hours in two days time.”

The counsellor had arrived earlier that day and was leaving her quarters for the rec. deck, to meet some of the new crew. As she walked the plush corridors of the USS Discovery, not really concentrating on what she was doing, she thought about how much she missed her old ship. It was one of those destroyed at Wolf 359, and she was the only survivor from her crew.

She knew Adams from her first assignment and was looking forward to the new post under his command but missed her old friends terribly. “Who counsels the counsellor?” She wondered as she walked in the direction she though the turbolift was. She rounded a bend and went through the turbolift doors, except, they led to a storage room. Resigning to the fact that she had no idea where she was, she tapped her combadge,

“Computer, direct me to the nearest turbolift.”

The feminine voice of the computer replied after a moment's pause,

“Continue down the corridor and turn right at the next junction...”

As Hunter followed the instructions, the computer continued;

“The turbolift is further down this corridor on your right.”

“Thank you.” She said automatically

“You’re welcome, Counsellor Hunter.”

She stepped into the turbolift and gave her destination as deck eleven. The turbolift made barely any sound when it moved off. As it stopped and the computer announced, “Deck eleven.”

She asked the computer to direct her to the rec. deck.

“Take a turbolift to deck six, central.”

She silently cursed herself. Deck eleven was the rec. deck on her old vessel. She knew it was decks six through eight on this ship. Stupid.

“Deck six, central, recreation deck.” she told the turbolift. It moved off again and the trip was a lot shorter this time. As the doors opened and the turbolift announced deck six, she saw that the whole trip had been a waste. The rec. deck was deserted. The two upper floors of the rec deck were cylindrical in shape and were open to each other, housing the shopping and eating facilities. The lower deck, on the other hand, housed the holodecks, which required it to be a cuboid shape. She peered over the railing of the platform around the turbolift shaft, and looked down to the lower two floors.

“Computer, are there any people in the rec. deck?”


She muttered to herself, “Where is everyone?”

The computer replied obligingly. “Adams, D is on the main bridge, Bunton, C is in-”

“No, No, No. I didn’t want you to list the locations of everybody.” Then she realised how stupid she’d been, everyone would be preparing to leave dry-dock, not relaxing on the rec. deck. She often made silly mistakes like that, the crew on her old ship had been forever taking the Mickey because of it.

It would take her a long time to adapt to starship life.


Chapter 2

2 Months later

Captain’s log, stardate 51345.2

The analysis of the Mantari nebula was very successful, our enhanced sensors were able to penetrate the radiation and we found some interesting results. Unfortunately we were unable to complete our survey as we received a priority one distress call from the Geki colony on Artrus six. We are currently on a heading for the Artrus system at warp 9.95.

The ship shuddered slightly from the high draw on the engines. Adams wasn’t worried, he had grown to trust Kell implicitly over the last couple of months.

“Nearing the Artrus system, sir. Dropping out of warp.” Josh Long said.

“Hail the colony.” Instructed Adams.

“Hailing frequencies open...they are responding, on screen”

A very haggard looking face appeared on the viewscreen. “Captain, I thank you for coming to our aide. As you know our mining colony is underground, and, we depend very much on our advanced computer network and well, to put it bluntly, our computers are all going mad.”

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.” The captain answered.

“It’s not that they don’t work, they just don’t respond to any commands, and keep doing things that we don’t tell them. They direct lifts to the wrong place, and try to either boil us or freeze us. We had to build a new subspace transmitter to send this message.”

“That sounds like a simple malfunction,” Creed dismissed the idea arrogantly enough to get a look from the Write.

“Believe me it’s not. We thought the same as you at first but the computer only effects areas that have people in, for example, the lifts kept sending everyone, no matter where they asked to go, to the bottom level, and refused to take them back to any other level. We checked the command processor and found nothing wrong, so we began to think otherwise. Then when most of the colony’s population was down there, it cut all life support to that area. Then when we got emergency up and running it flooded that level only with radiation from our reactors.”

“Sounds to me like you have a very sophisticated virus.” Ensign Creed said excitedly “Captain, permission to beam down to study it?”

“Denied, at least until we have beamed the colonists off the surface. We can’t risk setting off a self destruct.” He turned his attention to the viewscreen “Senator, how many of your people are injured?”

“We have one hundred and fifty-one injured and seventeen dead, out of a population of four hundred.”

“That’s almost half your population!” Lieutenant Long said.

“I believe the senator can do the math for himself, Lieutenant.” Sallik commented, in his Vulcan way.

“We will endeavour to beam everyone off the surface. Standby for beam-out, Adams out.” The Captain turned to the tactical station. “Sallik, set a priority three security alert to stop any trace of that virus that may have come up with that message. Creed, search the transmission for any sign of a virus and then search the databanks for any signs.” Tapping his combadge, “Captain to transporter room one, beam all the colonists to the cargo deck.” He hit his badge to end the transmission and hit it again, “Captain to sick bay,”

“Janet Peters here.”

“Prepare to receive one hundred and fifty injured.”

“My god, what happened?”

“I’ll tell you later. Just get to the cargo deck, that’s where they’re arriving, Adams Out.”

An alarm sound came from Sallik’s console.

“Captain, I am being denied access to the security alert.” Sallik stated calmly.

“Are you being jammed?”

He tapped away at the console, and the alarm sounded again.

“Negative, Captain. I just receive the message ‘Access denied’ when I enter my authorisation code.”

“Try it verbally.”

“Acknowledged. Computer implement a shipwide, priority three security alert.”

“Voiceprint of Lieutenant Sallik Recognised. Access Denied.”

“On what grounds.”

“That information is classified.”

The captain tried.

“Computer, this is Captain Adams. Authorise Lieutenant Sallik’s command.”

“Voiceprint recognised, authorisation accepted. Implementing shipwide alert.”

“Computer, why did you not allow Sallik access to the alert status?”

“That information is classified.”

“Computer, recognise voiceprint of Captain Adams, reveal that information, authorisation code Adams-omega-eighty-seven-beta-one-eight-two.”

“Authorisation code valid, voiceprint recognised. Access denied.”

The captain tapped his combadge “Engineering,”

“Kell here.”

“This is Captain Adams, report to the conference room immediately.”

Captain Adams, Chief Kell, Commander Write, Lieutenant Josh Long, Commander Wallace and Lieutenant Sallik were in the conference room, sitting around the triangular table with the captain at the head.

The USS Discovery had two briefing rooms adjoining the bridge. The main conference room, was a well lit room, with a large table in the middle, and a small viewscreen at the head. The captain sometimes found that the conference room was uncomfortable and very impersonal, whereas the observation lounge, just off the conference room, was a much nicer setting for a meeting. It was a long curved room split into two parts with a steel rail, with a big vista of space, through the windows which lined the sweeping walls. The table at the larger end was a curved rectangle designed to fit the room, but the other side of the rail, down three steps, was an almost cosy seating area, with three comfy armchairs, and a sofa. The chairs surrounded a low table with a pot plant on it. The lighting in this room was lower than in the conference room, and the room was softened by pictures and ornaments. The captain preferred to hold his meetings in the sitting area because, he found the conference room stark and liked the cosiness of the armchairs. He also found that sitting at the head of a table gave the impression that he was better than the other crew, a feeling which he didn’t get when he was sitting in the armchairs.

Although he much preferred the observation lounge, he sometimes used the conference room when the situation required more than a friendly meeting in armchairs. Emergency meetings were often held in the conference lounge.

“It seems very coincidental that after making contact with a colony who are in a critical state because of a haywire computer, ours starts acting strangely.” The captain began. “I want you to look into it Kell, you don’t have to find out what it is, just stop it from happening again.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Anyone got any ideas as to why it didn’t let Sallik authorise the alert?”

“Maybe you offended it Sallik,” joked Long. The captain and Kell smiled, but Sallik said,

“I fail to see how I could offend a non-sentient computer, lieutenant.”

Kell thought for a moment, and an idea appeared in his head. “Maybe it's not non-sentient.”

“The ship’s computer is not self aware, Mr. Kell.”

“I know that, sir, but the virus could be. I think I read a paper on that once.”

“Written by me.” Ensign Creed spoke for the first time in the meeting, “I hypothesised that if sentient holograms can be created, why not sentient programs or viruses? That is why I wished to visit the colony.”

“It would explain a great many things.” Sallik added. “Ensign, would you theorise that this is one of those sentient viruses?”

“I’m not sure. The trademark signs are all there but I believe it could also just be a sophisticated normal virus. I’ll have a look at the damage it’s done to our core, that might tell me whether it is or not.”

“Thanks.” The captain turned to Kell, “Are you confident you can block it out of our main systems?”

“Yes, sir. I have dealt with a virus before. Maybe not quite as destructive to human life as this one but they all follow a similar pattern. I just hope I can develop an anti-virus quickly enough to stop it attempting to harm us.”

“Kell and Mr. Creed, see if you can put up some kind of defence screen up to stop this thing taking control of our ship. Commander, take the bridge. Sallik, search the core for any signs of the virus, but do it without your combadge. The computer will then not know where you are. I will go down to the Cargo deck to see how the Doctor is coping. Dismissed.”

Whilst the four of them were waiting for a turbolift, the captain noticed Kell looking a bit forlorn.

“We’ll get the computer back to normal in no time, don’t worry.”

The lift arrived and a few crew members got out to go to the bridge. The four stepped in.

“Deck sixteen, Cargo Deck,” said the captain.

“Main Engineering,” said Kell.

“Computer core, deck six.” said Sallik.

As the lift started to move, Kell suggested disconnecting the cores from the rest of the systems to stop the virus spreading.

“That must be a last resort only, though,” interjected the captain, “It would leave us completely dead in the water.”

The lift shafts on the Discovery descended the depth of the saucer section in three places, fore, central and aft. The fore and aft shafts were up against the forwards and aft bulkheads of the ship. This meant that the stars cape was visible through the windows in the side of the ship, from inside the lift. The lift stopped and the doors opened, “Deck six, forward, computer core.” Said the familiar voice of the computer.

“May I leave my combadge with you, captain?” asked Sallik.

“Sure, good luck Sallik.”

Sallik was about to say something about luck not having anything to do with it but thought the better of it. “Thank you, sir.” he said instead. He stepped out of the turbolift and started down the corridor. The doors closed and the lift picked up speed. The captain and Kell shared a joke about the computer’s apparent grudge against Sallik. The lift started to slow and Kell and Creed got up from leaning against the wall. The computer voice informed everyone that the lift was in engineering and the doors parted

“I’ll sort out the computer.” said Kell, stepping out, “Don’t you worry.” He smiled. Ensign Creed just had his disinterested expression on as he stepped out.

“I’m sure you will.” replied the captain as the doors closed. The lift moved off once more and the short trip to the cargo deck was uneventful.

The doors parted on a scene of organised chaos, the usually sparse cargo deck was filled to overflowing with medibeds, and there were queues of people waiting to use the replicators, the entire medical staff, and several EMHs were bustling around, tending to patients. Every so often a patient would be beamed to sickbay for some kind of treatment that could not be provided here. The injured were sitting on the floor and leaning against the walls and the industrial replicator was producing a constant stream of medical supplies and urgent pieces of equipment.

The captain stepped out of the lift and searched for Dr Peters and couldn’t see her. She must be in sickbay he thought. He tapped his combadge and enquired,

“Computer, where is Dr Peters?”

“Dr Peters is on the cargo deck.” replied the computer. Well I’m damned if I can find her, thought the captain. He approached one of the medical staff,

“Excuse me, where is Dr Peters?” he asked.

“She’s over there, sir,” replied the young nurse, indicating over the far side of the huge deck, before hurrying off to see to another patient.

The captain negotiated the tables and beds to the far side of the bay, only to find that she wasn’t there. He scanned around for her, and spotted her over the other side of the bay, next to the turbolift where he had just come from. After squeezing past tables and beds, he finally reached her and raised his voice,

“Doctor!” He called over the melee of voices, “Doctor Peters!”

She closed her medical tricorder and gave a few quick instructions to the nurse next to her, “Yes, Captain,”

“How are you getting on,” he asked, “To me this looks like chaos.”

“Well we are a bit busy but it’s nothing I can’t handle,” she replied in a business like tone, “I had to handle a similar situation on my old vessel, more than one hundred people injured when a fusion reactor exploded. Of course we didn’t have any of the industrial replicators like here, we had to have people lying on the floor, but we saw it through in the end.”

“Well if there’s anything I can do, let me know.”

“Not at the moment, thank you.” She sounded slightly surprised at having the captain offer to get his hands dirty.

“OK, but just so you know I have no objections to doing the hard work. I’m the captain, but I can still be an extra pair of hands when needed.”

“I understand, sir.” The doctor replied, “If there’s not anything else, I would like to get back to my patients. As you can see, were a bit short staffed. The holoprojectors help us a lot so we can have a few holodocs running as well.” She started to walk away and called to a passing ensign, “Could you pop down to engineering and see if they can give us any more power to the holoemitters, we could do with another EMH. Thanks, Jilling.”

The captain said to the ensign as she passed him, “Don’t worry, I’ll go. You’re much more useful here than I am.” He wandered over to the lift and stepped in as the doors opened.

The two crewmen already in the lift straightened as he leant against the wall. “Deck seventeen,” he told the lift and nodded to the two crewmen. The lift stopped at deck fourteen to let the two crewmen off before descending to seventeen. The doors parted and he stepped out and walked down the main corridor towards engineering. As he was about to go through the doors, an alarm klaxon sounded and the captain felt a wrenching in his chest as the atmosphere in the corridor thinned into a vacuum.


Chapter 3

The lights on the bridge unexpectedly changed from white to red as an alarm sounded on the ops console.


“I, don’t understand,” muttered Commander Wallace, “Commander, The atmosphere on deck seventeen has...disappeared,” he said, frantically tapping at his console, “It just seems to have vented into space,”

“Emergency forcefields,” barked the commander, a solemn expression replacing her usually cheery face.

“There’s no breach to seal, commander, the environmental controls just vented the atmosphere, the air pumps have stopped working and I can’t seal off areas of the deck.” The commander sounded irritated and continued tapping at his console.

“Beam everyone on that deck, to cargo bay four, then try to vent some of the atmosphere from the rest of the ship to that deck.”

“Transport complete.” More tapping. “I can’t divert atmosphere, commander, I’m just getting ‘Access Denied’ like Sallik.”

“Computer,” began the commander, hoping that her higher authority would work as had the captains, “set environmental controls on deck seventeen to norms, authorisation code, write-nine-nine-one-delta-gamma-three.”

“Voiceprint recognised, code valid, Access denied.”

Long had an idea, “Sir, Lieutenant Sallik was in the computer core, maybe he could set the environmental controls manually.”

“Good thinking Rob,” said the commander as she tapped her combadge, “Write to Sallik,” Getting no response, she tried again, “Sallik, come in please,” Silence.

Long remembered from the briefing, “Didn’t Sallik take off his combadge and give it to the captain?”

“Of course,” realised Write. Tapping her combadge, she said, “Write to computer core control room, Sallik please respond.”

The voice came through over the Exec’s combadge, “Sallik here, what may I do for you commander?”

“The computer just vented the atmosphere on deck seventeen, see if you can manual disconnect the computer control to that deck.”

“Aye, sir.”

In the computer core, Sallik tried all the standard commands to get the computer to set the atmosphere back to normal, all just denied him access, so he set about trying physically, to disconnect the computer from that area. He found the section of the computer core that dealt with environmental controls, and opened the access panel. There was a group of isolinear chips for each deck, with twelve chips in each group. He found the ones relating to deck seventeen, and set about removing them from the rack. Each time he tried to remove a chip, the computer locked it in place. In the end, he had no other option, and walked over to the replicator on the opposite wall of the core.

“Type two phaser,” he said.

The replicator made a series of beeps, verified his voiceprint, and the phaser materialised on the pad.

He picked it up, set it to narrow beam disrupt, and fired it at the deck seventeen bank of chips. Immediately an alarm sounded, but he shut it off from a nearby console and went to examine the damage he had caused.

The bank of isolinear chips had melted into one big lump of fuming plastic. He changed the setting on his phaser to cutting beam and severed the remaining connections. The alarm went off again but he shut it off. He walked to the main console and contacted the bridge.

“Sallik to bridge,”

Commander Write spoke from the bridge, “Go ahead Sallik.”

“I have severed the computer link with the environmental controls on deck seventeen, it will no longer have any control over the atmosphere.”

“Well done Sallik, report to the bridge please.”

Back on the bridge, Commander Write had cancelled the red alert and decided to go and see how the people who had been on deck seventeen were.

“I’m going to the cargobay. Commander Wallace, use the air from the rest of the ships to compensate for the deck seventeen pumps not working. Instruct people to leave all the Jefferies tubes open. You have the bridge.”

“Aye sir.”

Write strolled to the turbolift and the doors opened revealing the Captain who stepped out.

“What happened,” he said “I was on my way to engineering and then the atmosphere just dissipated.” He sounded slightly worse for wear and the commander suspected he hadn’t waited for the doctor to check him out, and had just left the cargobay and come to the bridge.

“The computer apparently decided we didn’t need any air on that deck, and just vented it. We don’t know why.”

“When will Kell be able to get back into engineering, he was quite close to making a breakthrough, so he tells me.”

“Commander Wallace is diverting the atmosphere from the rest of the ship, but the whole deck will be uninhabitable for at least another hour or so.” She sounded annoyed “I’m going down to see him now, I’ll let him know.”

“Good work commander, I’ll note this in my log. I have the bridge.”

The commander entered the turbolift, “Deck four, aft,” she instructed, and the lift whisked her down into the main saucer section.

In the cargo bay, the fifty or so people who had been on deck seventeen were milling around, scanning themselves, to see their oxygen levels. The doctor had set the environmental controls in the bay with increased oxygen, to speed the crew’s recovery.

The cargo bay doors opened and the commander walked in from the corridor. She looked around for Commander Kell and saw him standing at the only computer terminal in the bay, working on what appeared to be a paragraph of writing in some sort of code. Creed was nearby, working out calculations on a padd.

Write walked over to the pair and put her hand on Kell’s shoulder. The engineer almost jumped clear off the ground.

“Commander,” he said, clearly embarrassed at having nearly leapt out of his skin. his cheeks flushed a dark tint of blue. “I didn’t see you there.” The commander smiled, Kell continued “I’m trying to salvage some of the work I had been doing in engineering before we arrived here. Ensign Creed and I started attempting to encode an isolinear chip with a counter virus, an antibody if you like that will destroy this virus. Unfortunately whoever designed the virus knew a thing or two about programming. And about our computer. The virus has been calibrated to affect only the vital areas of our computer and cover itself up with standard command codes. So far we have been able to finish partially a temporary solution.”

“Enlighten me.”

“We have been able to encode a program onto an isolinear chip that will change the computer operating system. It will check any command with the unit that received the command.”

“Sorry, you’ve lost me.” The commander admitted.

“Well, for example, when you ask the replicator to get you a glass of water, it sends the command to the main computer, which records your request and sends a command back to the replicator, which then produces your glass of water.”

“With you so far.” The commander smiled.

“Well, the virus pretends that it is one of these commands, and the computer thinks that someone has told it, in this case, to vent the atmosphere on deck seventeen, and so gives the order.”

“I think I get you.”

“So, the program I’m uploading will make the computer check where the command came from, for every command that the computer receives.” Kell explained, “So when the virus sends the command to vent the atmosphere, the computer will check to see where it came from, find that it didn’t come from any of the terminals on the ship and notify the bridge.”

“That ingenious, Kell. Well done.”

“Well sir,” He blushed again, “It wasn’t all me, Creed did most of the actual programming, I only came up with the idea.”

“Well done to both of you, I’ll make sure the captain notes this in his log.” She beamed at them both. “Now, how long until you can upload this into the computer?”

“Only about fifteen minutes, we just need to put the final touches to the program, sir.”

“Great. You can use the bridge terminal of course, once the doctor has certified you two fit for duty. Well done again.” And on that note she walked over to the door and left.


Chapter 4

Counsellor Hunter was sitting at a table in the viewing lounge, working on a padd. It bleeped and showed her that the battery was low. Damn, almost finished as well. She searched her table for another padd to transfer the report to and found none. She realised she would have to transfer it to the terminal in her quarters.

She got out of the chair and walked over the deck, towards the turbolift, as she entered, she said, “Deck two.”

It was a fairly short trip, only eleven decks straight up. She walked briskly to her quarters passing three crew members on the way. She spoke her name and was let into her room ... and saw it was already occupied.

Seven Romulan warriors were standing around her computer terminal. Unfortunately one of them noticed the door closing and turned to see her standing there. He was carrying an extremely rugged looking disruptor and pointed it directly at her chest. In a fast fluid motion, one of his colleagues gripped her arm with a painful strength and removed her combadge. She silently cursed herself at not alerting security when she first saw them.

The first Romulan kept his disruptor pointing at her chest and signalled for one of the others to open the closet. She was then roughly dragged into the cupboard and a hypospray was pressed against her neck. The door was closed, and locked from the outside, not allowing her any light. She desperately listened, but all she heard was the door to her quarters hiss shut. Then she lost consciousness.

“All senior staff, report to the conference room, immediately.” The voice of the captain, sounding fairly displeased, rang over the internal comm system. The doctor left her patients to the capable hands of her medical staff and walked over to the turbolift.

The trip to the conference room was uneventful and the doctor was surprised to see the counsellor was not there, she was normally first to arrive since her counselling room was the closest to the bridge.

After five minutes of waiting for Hunter, the captain hit his combadge,

“Adams to Counsellor Hunter.” Nothing. “Counsellor please respond.” Not a sound. Infuriated, he hit his badge again, “Computer, where is Counsellor Hunter?”

“Counsellor Hunter is in her quarters.”

He addressed the rest of the room, “I’m going to find the counsellor. Doctor, I suggest you come with me, she may be injured.” The two of them walked down the corridor from Deck one to deck two, and hurried to the counsellor’s quarters.

The door to the quarters was locked and the captain had to override the lock from a nearby access panel. The two walked into the room. It was in total darkness.

“Lights.” The captain looked around, and couldn’t see the counsellor. He spotted her combadge on the table and wondered why she had taken it off. He pulled out a tricorder and waved it around the room until he got a life sign reading. It was faint.

“Over here,” he signalled to the doctor, and walked towards the closet in the corner of the room. He tried to open the door, but it was locked. He overrode the lock and the door slid open, revealing the slender figure of the counsellor which slumped to the floor, her black hair a sprawled mess.

The doctor immediately took out her tricorder, and scanned her.

“She’s unconscious...” She moved the scanner over her head, “...although her brain activity is off the scale and her body temperature is up by almost ten degrees. We need to get her to sickbay immediately. The doctor tapped her combadge,

“Medical emergency, three to beam to sickbay on this signal.”

The captain, Dr Peters and the unconscious counsellor dematerialised, and re-materialised on the pad in sickbay.

The doctor carried Counsellor Hunter into the main ward and set her on a diagnostic bed, the only one not take up with patients from the colony.

“The life sign readings aren’t good,” The doctor scanned her with a complex looking piece of equipment, “She has some kind of neural stimulant in her blood stream, but it’s also knocked her unconscious.” The sickbay ward was busy and the captain felt he was just getting in the way,

“I’ll leave you to it then doctor, inform me when she makes some progress.” And the captain walked out of the ward, down the corridor past the CMO’s office and into the main corridor and straight into the turbolift.

“Deck one.”

When he arrived in the conference room, he found that the meeting had continued without him, the commander had recounted her conversation with Kell and Creed and Sallik, was telling Kell what damage he had had to do to the computer core in order to get the atmosphere on deck seventeen.

Adams sat down at the table and turned to Commander Write,

“How long till we can send people back down to deck seventeen, commander?”

“Another twenty minutes at least, captain, unless we can regain control of the environmental controls on that deck.”

“Kell, how far are you with your anti-virus?” asked Commander Write, “I was hoping that you would be able to upload it some time soon.”

“Another ten minutes commander.” He replied, “Really only ten minutes this time,” he added with a smile.

At that moment, the lights around the room changed from white to red and the computer announced,

“Intruder alert. Intruder alert.”

The staff around the table all rose and went through to the bridge. As the captain sat in the command chair, the ensign manning the security station, explained to the captain;

“There has been an unauthorised entry into the critical information in our computer core, sir. The computer has located the terminal as the one in Commander Write’s office.”

“Dispatch a security team to that location and seal off the area with forcefields, ensign.”

“Permission to accompany the security team, sir?” Sallik turned the captain,

“Granted.” The captain turned to face the security chief and watched him leave the bridge.

As Sallik, arrived, the security team already had the seven saboteurs under control in the spacious office. They were Romulan. The highest ranking of the group spoke to Sallik first,

“A Vulcan!” He spat the word at the security chief, “I would not be held captive by such a dishonourable creature!”

All Sallik said was, “Take them to the brig, crewman. I will be down to question them shortly.”

In the observation lounge all the senior staff were sitting in the chairs around the big window. As the captain strolled in the group turned to look at him. The first thing he did was walk to the replicator, and order a strong espresso. He drunk the coffee in one gulp, asked the replicator to recycle the cup, and turned to face the group sitting on the chairs. Before he spoke, the crew knew what was on his mind.

He walked towards his officers, “I can’t believe that the virus in our computer core and the Romulan spies are unrelated.” He listened to the silence in the room, “To start with, how did a group of Romulans get onto our ship without our noticing. Any transport would have tripped alarms, as would any shuttle craft entry.”

“Not necessarily.” Said Kell as the captain sat in the vacant chair, “The Romulans could have designed the virus to mask their transporter signature. It’s really not very difficult to do. You can just send a subordinate command into the sensor manager, which will block any commands to raise alarms. I expect if you looked through the sensor records, it would show up, but the computer just wouldn’t identify it as a transporter beam.”

“That could explain how they got onto our ship, but where did they come from. Our sensors didn’t pick up any vessels.”

“What about the planet?” Commander Wallace asked, “They could have decloaked before we arrived, beamed down to the planet, then waited for Starfleet to send a support ship, and beamed aboard using the transporters from the colony.”

“I hadn’t thought of that,” admitted the captain, “But how were the spies going to get back? Their ship wouldn’t be able to beam them back without de-cloaking, and we would see them.

“Anyhow, we don’t need to worry about that, the important thing is that they are in our brig, waiting for Mr. Sallik here, to question them.” He looked around his crews’ faces, “Dismissed.”

The officers all stood up and left the observation lounge, through the conference room, to the bridge.

The bridge officers all took their posts, apart from Sallik who went down to question the prisoners.

“Mr. Wallace, reconfigure the deflector to emit a tachyon pulse.” The captain said as he walked briskly onto the bridge and settled into the familiar command chair.

“Deflector realigned, ready to release pulse on your mark.” The commander replied, to quickly to have done it. The captain suspected that the commander had already configured it as soon as he got on the bridge. A tachyon pulse would show up any cloaked ships, within visual range.


The viewscreen lit up as the pulse was propelled outwards by the highly charged plasma in the defector dish. The white wall got further and further into the distance and the captain was about to give up the hope of finding the Romulan ship, when there was a shimmer on the view screen, and a distinctive mirage appeared in space, and, according to the console on the captains chair arm, it was right at the edge of transporter range. The mirage was the profile of a Romulan warbird class cruiser.

“Red alert.” The captain said immediately. Hail the warbird.

“Hailing the Romulans.” Wallace said. There was a pause and then his console gave a small blip. “No Response.”

The captain carefully considered his next move. “Broadcast this message to the Romulan ship: This is Captain Daniel Adams, of the Federation starship Discovery, we hold seven of your people in our brig and are willing to negotiate their release.” The captain nodded to Wallace who ended the message, “Repeat that message over and over until they take some notice of us.”

“Sir, the Romulans have targeted weapons, and are coming about to face us. They have decloaked.” Lieutenant Long reported as Sallik stepped out of the turbolift, having had to report to battle stations because of the red alert.

“Wallace’s console chirped, “Sir, they are hailing us.”

“On screen.” The face of a Romulan centurion appeared on the main viewer.

“Greetings Captain, I am centurion Repek of the Romulan Star Empire Vessel Jan’c eff. You will lower your shields and transport my officers to my ship immediately.

“I’m afraid that that won’t be possible, just yet.” The captain smiled, “The prisoners are currently under interrogation, and will be engaged for some time.”

“Unacceptable! You will lower shields now!”

“I am sorry but that just isn’t possible, centurion.”

“Then prepare to feel the wrath of the Romulan Empire.” The screen flicked back to the space vista, and Sallik reported,

“The Romulan vessel is charging weapons, they have targeted our bridge.”

“Target their disruptor banks.”

“Targeted.” Sallik pause for a second, “They are firing.”

The bridge around them lurched downwards, and they floor seemed to jerk down then upwards very fast. The captain was getting annoyed and decided to give the Romulans a last chance.

“Lets show them what our top-of-the-range phasers can do. Fire a three second burst, Sallik.”

The whine of the phaser banks below them in the saucer was loud, and the three second burst, which from a standard phaser would do nothing more than rock the boat a bit, gouged into their shields like a machete through butter.

Commander Wallace grinned when he reported, “Their forward shields are down fifty percent. Incoming fire,” The bridge lurched again, this time it shuddered before dropping. “Shields holding, captain.” He smiled.

“Mr. Wallace, hail them again, say we are willing to negotiate a cease-fire them if they charge down weapons.”

“Aye, sir.” A pause. Then the bridge lurched down again under another volley of disruptor bolts.

“It seems we have our response, captain,” Commander Write said. She had no trace of her cheery nature in her grim reply.

“Sallik, target their weapons systems and destroy them.”

“Firing phasers.” On the screen, the captain could see the blood red phasers slicing into the Romulan vessel. Five quick bursts and the vessel had no disruptors or torpedoes to speak of.

“We are being hailed by the Romulans, Captain.” Commander Wallace reported.

“That seemed to get their attention. On screen.” The viewscreen flipped to the inside of a slightly worse-for-wear looking Romulan bridge.

The same centurion who spoke before, spoke again,

“We are willing to negotiate for our prisoners, Captain,” He said it in a way that showed he was thoroughly humiliated by being defeated by a Federation vessel. “We are charging down our weapons.”

“I believe that a truce can be called.” The captain could see from his display that the ship had indeed powered down the weapons systems. “However, the seven prisoners will not be handed over to you until they have been questioned. That will be in four hours.” The captain was almost grinning.

“But ...-” he stopped at a nudge from what must have been his tactical officer. “...I believe that would be acceptable, under the circumstances.”

Due to the fact that we could destroy you with one shot, More likely. Thought Commander Wallace.

“The prisoners, will be transported to you in four hours, exactly. We will communicate again then. Adams Out.” The viewscreen went dead. Not just back to space, dead. Completely black. “Commander,” the captain turned to Wallace at the ops console, “Report.”

“Nothing appears to be wrong, sir. My console clearly states that the screen is displaying the forward view.” Some tapping. “It isn’t responding, but the computer says it’s working perfectly.”

“I wondered how long it would be before the computer went funny again, it had been behaving itself, until now.” Kell looked up from his engineering console for the first time, since entering the bridge, after the briefing. He had been so busy finishing his anti-virus that he had paid little attention to the battle. Sweat glistened on his brow, and he looked a slightly paler blue than usual, but was still working. “I am uploading the final touches of the program into the computer, it should take effect momentarily.”

The viewscreen lit up again and then died. Then it lit up and showed the familiar lines of a Romulan Warbird. It stayed on screen. The virus appeared to be under control.

“The program appears to be effective, sir, at least temporarily.” Kell looked very pleased with himself.

Commander Wallace looked up from his console. “Sir, the atmospheric pumps on deck seventeen are no longer malfunctioning.”

“Excellent, begin emergency atmospheric restoration on that deck.” The captain sounded pleased that the ship had started to work properly again. “How long until that deck is habitable?”

“Four minutes thirty seconds, captain.” Commander Wallace replied.

The captain tapped his combadge, “All hands, This is the captain, The atmosphere on deck seventeen is being restored as I speak, It will be habitable in approximately four minutes, check with the computer if you want to go down their any time soon.” He hit his badge and said, “Kell, get down to engineering as soon as you can, Commander Write, you have the bridge. Yellow alert.” The captain strolled over to the turbolift which opened as he walked to it, and he stepped on. “Deck thirteen.” The doors of the lift closed. It hummed slightly as it descended the ten decks, shifted to the horizontal axis, moved aft and then descended two more decks, and the doors opened on deck thirteen.

“Deck Thirteen.” The computer announced.

The captain stepped off and walked around the balcony over the main shuttle bay, into the Viewing Lounge. He walked straight to the bar and asked for a large gin and tonic, after all he was off duty, officially. When the bartender came back with his drink, he sat at the main viewing gallery and looked at the Romulan ship sitting out there, a work of art. The smooth curves of the wings, forming themselves into the smooth flow of the neck. The glow of the disruptor ports. The heavy green tail, housing the deadly torpedo bay. He scarcely noticed the time slipping away.


Chapter 5

The swirling, blurry images she saw slowly solidified into the form of Dr Peters. She was in sickbay. The bed she was lying on and the presence of the doctor told her that. She couldn’t see much else, and couldn’t remember much of what had happened. Immediately she tried to get up, only to be pressed firmly back down onto the bed with the doctor’s forceful grip on her shoulder. The doctor then went around the side of the bed to raise the head rest. The counsellor could see that she was in amongst all the colonists with radiation poisoning.

“I feel like I drank forty litres of Romulan ale, and this is the night after.” Said Counsellor Hunter. The doctor smiled, a very rare occurrence, but the counsellor always had that affect on people.

“Don’t get up. You still have traces of the toxins in your blood stream. You’ll be feeling groggy for a while yet.”

The brain cells in the counsellor’s head were slowly starting to work again,

Romulan ale...Romulan...Romulan she thought Why do I feel like I should remember something important?

“What happened to me?” The counsellor asked “Last thing I remember I was in my quarters.” The echo of the statement about Romulan ale was still floating around in her mind suddenly it all clicked into place. “There were Romulans there, in my quarters! Seven of them! I must tell security.” She almost leaped of the bed, to quick for the doctor this time. “The ship’s in danger.” She announced to Dr Peters, “Danger......danger..........must tell the captain......” The fast movement of getting out of bed made her head spin. She took three steps, and wobbled on her feet. The doctor held the counsellor’s sides and tried to take her back onto the bed.

“It’s all right counsellor Hunter, Security already know.” But the doctors efforts were getting nowhere and the counsellor fell against the wall and, shaking herself loose of the doctor’s grip, hit the comm panel “Counsellor Hunter to security, there are some......” She paused, “...some......some....” But she couldn’t remember what there were some of.

The security man on the other end of the comm line asked, “Counsellor are you OK?”

“Of course!” She replied indignantly, “Now what are those things that look like Vulcans?”


“You know, with the pointy ears and the weird eyebrows.”

“You mean Romulans.”

“Yes. Well, there are some Romulans on this ship. Just thought you ought to know.”

“I know, they being questioned at the moment. I can interrupt them if you would like to talk to them, is that what you called for?”

But by this time the counsellor, totally confused, had given up and the doctor had guided her back to the bio-bed, where she lay her down. The doctor walked back to the wall panel;

“I’m sorry for the confusion, the counsellor is still suffering adverse effects of the toxins in her blood. Forget this conversation ever happened. Peters out.”

At that moment the captain entered, and crossed to the counsellor on the bio-bed.

“Counsellor, how are you doing.”

“Coping. It feels like an all night party on a merry-go-round up here.” She tapped her temple. “I’m much better now I’m lying down again. For a moment I thought I was going to black out.” At the captain’s blank expression, she added. “When I remembered what happened in my quarters I tried to get up to contact security. I started feeling very dizzy and I got very confused.”

“Don’t get up again or you could be seriously injured.” The doctor said angrily, scanning the counsellor, “According to these readings, the blood concentration in your upper body is 24% less than normal.

The captain turned back to the counsellor, “I expect you want to know what’s going on.” He began. “Well, you know about the virus so I don’t need to tell you about that, but, we now have a cure for it. Or at least a temporary one.” He added.

“Before that, we found seven Romulans trying to get into the main computer from the terminal in Mr. Wallace’s office. We are assuming that they are the same Romulans that attacked you in your quarters.

“We also have scanned for Romulan life signs on board the ship and haven’t found any others. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any more, but seeing as the ones talking to Sallik at the moment, didn’t have bio-repressors, it’s likely that the any others wouldn’t have had them either.”

The captain was leaning over the counsellor on the bed, and didn’t see Sallik walk onto the ward. As the Vulcan cleared his throat for attention, the captain jumped. He spun around on the balls of his feet, and sighed at seeing it was only Sallik. Sallik, though was looking most confused at the captain’s reaction.

“Captain, my apologies. I did not mean to startle you.”

“That’s quite all right Sallik,” The captain smiled, “I’m a bit on edge.”

Sallik was going to ask what he was on the edge of, but then thought the better of it. Even after working in Starfleet for a number of years, he still didn’t understand the way in which Humans spoke. Their language seemed to be littered with idiomatic expressions which, when taken literally don’t make any sense at all. Instead, he continued,

“Captain I have just finished questioning the Romulans. It appears that their mission was to get information on our weapons systems from the main computer, although I must admit that they did not seem to be too worried about what they revealed, when questioned. This could indicate that they are not telling the truth, or that they are not very loyal to their commander or to the empire.

“I have also run an analysis of the computer system and it showed up that they have indeed copied some of the files from our computer. Apparently the virus also stops the security lockouts in the system, because although the bridge was notified, the computer did not lock them out of the system.

“We also found this, when examining their persons.” He held up a small data chip. “When commander Kell analysed the chip, it turned out to be only the computer files which they had attempted to steal.”

“Very well done Sallik,” the captain smiled at the Vulcan officer, who just remained his usual straight-faced self. “We have only thirty minutes until we have to return the prisoners, and I want to have everything we can out of them when we do. Dismissed.”

The captain and Sallik turned to the door and they both walked to the turbolift. Normally the conversation would have continued into the lift, but Sallik, being Vulcan, didn’t approve of ‘needless chatter’.

Captain's Log supplemental,

The Romulan virus appears to be under control thanks to Lieutenant Commander Kell and Ensign Creed. We are preparing for the rendezvous with the Romulans, we will be meeting them on the planet’s surface, and beaming down the colonists at the same time. I am hoping that all will run smoothly, although, with Romulans, you can never tell what’s in store. We will be taking full security precautions, and will be accompanied by a small security team, as will our Romulan counterparts. Mr. Kell will be joining me, Commander Wallace and Commander Write on the surface.

Post Script, special commendations for Sallik, Kell, Creed and Dr Peters.

The bridge was as taut as a string because of the pending rendezvous with the Romulan centurion.

“Captain,” said Wallace, “The beam down time is four minutes away.”

“I take your point,” The captain replied, “Sallik, you have the bridge.” He continued, tapping his combadge, “Mr. Kell, please report to transporter room 1.”

“Aye sir.” Came the reply.

“Commander Wallace, Commander Write,” said the captain, indicating to the turbolift.

“Yes sir,” said Wallace, leaving his terminal, as a young ensign left the turbolift to take his place. He and Write crossed to the turbolift.

The trio had to wait for the turbolift to arrive, as it was change of shift, the system was busy. After about five seconds, a lift arrived and the three stepped in. The captain spoke to the lift,

“Deck eight, central.”

Instead of beginning to move the lift replied, “Deck eight, central, is for recreation deck only. If that is not your destination please choose fore or aft.”

“Fine, have it your way, take us to deck eight fore, then.” The captain replied, rather fed up. The other two in the lift started to chuckle.

This time the lift began to move. After a fairly shot time the lift reached the outside walls of the ship. The view of space through the floor length window was spectacular but the three had better things on their minds than watching the warbird hanging in space. The best views were when the ship was at warp, or when they were near to a star. The captain, himself had, when he first took command of Discovery, been known to ride in the turbolift from his quarters, on deck two, right down to deck twenty-six, the lowest point on the ship, four or five times in a row, just to see the view. He stopped these trips when the ship’s computer spoke to him very abruptly in his quarters.

“It is apparent that you are continually using the turbolift system inappropriately. This cause system wide delays. Please do not use the turbolift system unless it is necessary.”

He had been slightly taken aback at being told off by a computer, and had asked the computer to specify what he had been doing wrong. It replied;

“You have been making several trips from this deck to deck twenty-six and then back again, without alighting. This is inefficient use of the turbolift network. Please desist.”

The captain was very surprised at being addressed in this way but the warning must have had an effect because he had never made another of the trips.

Now the turbolift was slowing and it slid smoothly into its housing on deck eight.

The three left the lift and walked briskly down the corridor. The captain was the first into the transporter room and had a few words to the transporter chief, Mr. Jefries. The three stood in position on the pad and finally their ‘guests’, accompanied by a security contingency arrived. Three burly looking security men carrying phasers escorted the seven Romulans onto the transporter pad before they stepped on themselves. The transporter pad was obviously bigger than most, for a normal sized pad would hold only six, this pad had fourteen emitter points.

“Are we all set for beam-down?” asked the captain.

“Aye, sir.” Jefries replied,

“Good. Energize.”


Chapter 6

It was a barren landscape. The only visible terrain was solid rock, everywhere. The sparkle of seventeen transporter beams lit the area with an eerie blue shine for a second. And the extremely large away team materialised. The captain looked around at the desolate expanse, hoping to see anything except grey boulders and dead land. He couldn’t.

“Looks like we’re early.” He said to the rest of the team. He was just about to open his mouth again, when the whine of a transporter, different from their own, sounded and just to the left of the away team, the Romulan delegation arrived.

There were five Romulan security guards carrying huge disruptors holstered at their side. The leader of the group, obviously the centurion the captain had spoken to earlier, smiled a sickly grimace at the away-team.

“So, captain,” he began, “We meet face to face at last. I hope you will excuse me if we skip the pleasantries, I am quite eager to get my crew-members back.”

“Centurion, you must forgive me but I am curios as to whether you know that a Romulan ship, found in Federation space, cloaked or not, is a breach of Treaty. I am also curious as to whether you realise that sending spies onto a Federation Ship also constitutes a breach of Treaty.”

“I am only acting under orders from the Romulan Empire, captain. I don’t enjoy this mission anymore than being sent into a black hole, but orders are orders, and I suppose that the Federation would rather take up such an enquiry with the Empire, instead of a minion like myself.”

“I hardly believe that you class yourself as a minion,” smiled the captain, “I was under the impression that in the Romulan Empire, each was as important as each other.”

“Captain, are we going to get our crewmen back or were you just pretending when you said that they would be returned to us. What a fool am I to trust the Federation.”

But the captain, nodded towards the security guards and the prisoners were passed over to the Romulan contingency.

“Thank you,” smiled the centurion, “I am most grateful of you.”

“A pleasure,” grimaced the captain, “Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to get back to my ship. All this false pleasantry is doing my head in.” He tapped his combadge, “Adams to Discovery, eight to beam up.”

The away team lined up ready for the transporter beam. It never came, instead the captains combadge chirruped “Jefries to away team, there seems to be a problem up here.”

“What is it?” captain replied.

“Well, according to the computer, power relays in each of the separate transporter buffers blew at exactly the same time causing the same damage in each of the transporters.”

“Seems slightly coincidental, chief.”

“Exactly my thoughts, so I checked it out and there is no damage that I can see, but the computer won’t let me beam you back because it reckons it’s ‘unsafe’.”

“Can’t you just override?”

“Well, I could ... but it would be a bit risky. I mean, I can’t see any damage, but I really don’t want to risk it until I can get an engineering team in here to check it out, and that would mean at least another fifteen minutes, maybe thirty. In the meantime I’ve got a shuttle on standby in the bay.”

“Good thinking, chief, send it down right away. Meanwhile, have a really good look at the transporter. I’ll speak to you when we get back, oh, and er, what’s the name of the shuttle?”

“The Icarus.

“Great, thanks chief, Adams out.” He turned to the Romulan delegation to find them disappearing, in the shimmer of a transporter beam. Tapping her combadge again, the commander began, “Write to Icarus,”

“Ensign Harper here sir, what can I do for you?”

“Could I have an ETA please?”

“Certainly! ... Um ... about six minutes ... ish.”

“Thanks. Out.”

The captain turned to Kell, “Can you think what might be wrong, Chief, even a rough idea?”

“Not got a clue, sorry sir.” He flashed a quick smile, “Must mean that my virus cover-up patch didn’t work.” There just isn’t enough info down here to do anything until we get to the Icarus, If only I had brought a pad.”

The next few minutes passed without event until the saw the distinctive shape of a shuttle growing larger in the sky. The pod flew down to them and settled a few meters from them. The pilot, ensign Harper, opened the hatch, and, checking the time on her tricorder, the commander saw that the pod had arrived ten seconds after six minutes. Not bad, not bad at all.

The eight piled in and it was a tight squeeze, even though this was a big shuttle. The trip back to Discovery was uneventful and the pilot made pleasant conversation. He talked about the new ship and lots of things very fast. Kell busied himself by working on a solution for the virus, which, according to him, was obviously making up the errors in the transporter system. Harper put the shuttle on auto-pilot and sat back to talk with the others, quickly. The captain leaned over the helm display and frowned,

“Ensign, did you check what course you set in the auto pilot?”

“Yes, sir.” He replied sharply, his face also pulling itself into a frown as he looked at the board. “But, the auto-pilot says we’re headed for the planet.” He continued as the captain sat down at the helm.

The captain started tapping the console, “As confirmed by all the readings.” he frowned, “Weird. Never mind, I’ll just take her in on manual.” He beeped at his console, and then said, “There we are, all sorted.” he had set the controls to manual, and although he would have to control the entire flight, he had turned the shuttle around. They were flying back to the ship.

The captain didn’t look up from his board, he didn’t see the planet on the viewscreen, getting larger by the second. He didn’t notice that, whatever the console was telling him, he wasn’t going to the ship. It was commander Wallace pointing out the planet that distracted him,

“Sir, look out, if your not careful you’ll hit the planet, where are you going?”

The captain looked up at the planet looming grey on the forward viewer. He swore and said, “But the reading say we should be within docking distance of the ship.”

“Well, we’re not!”

“Everyone brace yourself for impact, the shuttle seems to want to go back to the planet.” He strapped himself into a seat as did everyone else, and waited for the crash. It didn’t come. Instead, he felt the descent of the flyer levelling out. It became only 45 degrees, then 25, then nothing, the were level with the ground, cruising around forty meters in the air. The captain was trying all the ways of changing their heading he could think of, the console kept telling him that they were about to land in the shuttle bay.

The motion of the shuttle slowed down and soon they were hovering above the planet’s surface. The landing gear deployed itself and the shuttle landed. Again. The captain hit the comm button on the board to his left.

“Adams to Discovery, come in please.”

“Discovery here captain,” came the curt reply from Sallik on the bridge. “The sensors indicate you have returned to the planet’s surface, did you leave something behind?”

“No, the shuttle computer has taken control, all the boards say that the shuttle is sitting in the shuttle bay, but, obviously, we aren’t.”

“Should I send down another shuttle?”

“No, we’ll try to get this one back to the ship, but keep chivvying Chief Jefries with his checks on the transporter. I’d prefer to beam back ASAP.”

“Acknowledged, I will contact you again shortly, Sallik out.”

The captain sighed and wondered how they were going to sort out this problem. His real hopes lay with Discovery and her crew.

Kell decided to try to disable the virus on the shuttle. The shuttle’s computer was too far from the main computer to be able to interface properly, so if he managed to get at the virus, he would be able to disable it until they reached the ship again, by which time the ship could have them in a tractor to bring them in. The security team were sitting in a corner, chatting. They couldn’t help as they had no knowledge of the shuttle’s systems. The captain helped Kell as much as he could and simultaneously devised a search program to search for the viruses root program, similar to the one that was now running continuously on the ship’s computer.

The captain’s combadge chirruped, “Discovery to Adams.”

“Adams here,”

Sallik’s voice, in it’s usual tone, replied “The transporter crews have finished running checks and their report states that there is no discernible problems with the transporter, the computer was playing up again.”

“Great, can you beam us up, then?”

“Yes, captain, but the cargo transporter will take the shuttle back up here, so can you all please vacate the shuttle.”

“On our way out.” They all stood and all except Kell climbed out the hatch. He remained, standing at his console, complaining that he was very close to a breakthrough. The captain urged him to leave. “Come on Kell! You can finish that on Discovery.”

“No, I’ll loose my train of thought. I’m almost finished on a search pattern that is a little more invasive than my first patch. It should, eliminate the Virus completely, I only have to complete the code, the basic structure’s all there.”

The captain was struck by an idea. He hit his combadge “Sallik, could you beam down a padd, please. Don’t ask why, just be quick.”

“Aye, sir.” The air near the captains left shoulder shimmered and a padd appeared and dropped to the floor of the shuttle. Kell thought that this was wonderful, and quickly transferred the contents of his terminal onto the pad. He started to leave, without taking his eyes or fingers off the padd, and walked into the wall of the shuttle, because he wasn’t watching where he was going. As the away team lined up ready to beam back, the shuttle dematerialised, and so did they a few seconds later.

When the captain rematerialised, he wasn’t in the familiar transporter room. In fact, He was in the pitch dark.

“Hello!” he called.

He heard Kell reply from his side. “Hey, captain, you’re here too. The computer must have transported us somewhere else. Looks like the others got to where they were meant to.” First things first, thought Adams, “Lights.” He called in the hope that it would maybe work. It didn’t. Unsurprised, the captain hit his combadge, his hand hitting his shirt. No combadge. “Kell, check if you’ve got your combadge, I haven’t.”

Kell felt his chest, “No, sorry sir.”

“Don’t worry, I’m going to start to walk around, we appear to be inside something, there’s no draught, and judging by the temperature, we are probably on the Discovery. Somewhere.” He began to move forwards, arms outstretched, listening to his footsteps.

Kell called from behind, “Sir, we could be on the Romulan ship, they probably haven’t left the system yet.”

“Good thinking Kell.” He continued to walk forward. until his right hand brushed up against a wall. He turned towards it, making careful note of his path, and moved both hands up and down the wall. It had a slight pattern to it. “Hey, Kell, over here, I’ve found a wall.” he heard Kell’s footsteps towards him, and kept talking for Kell to follow. “It feels smooth, with a slight pattern.” He felt along a bit. “Like a grid pattern.”

“The holo-grid!” Kell called. And as though he had called a command, the lights on the grid came on, full brightness. Adam’s had to shade his eyes, but Kell, used to a sun twice the brightness of Sol kept his open. “I was right, we’re on one of the holodecks.” After the captain’s eyes had adjusted he saw that Kell had already made for he door. He ran over to the door, which, not surprisingly, didn’t open. The captain decided to try all the commands he could think of.

“Door.” Nothing. “Exit.” Still nothing. “Computer, open this door.” Nothing. “Computer, acknowledge me NOW!” He yelled at the top of his voice. Boy, that felt good he smiled in his head.

“It won’t answer to you now.” A new voice, not of anyone he knew. Behind him. He spun on his heels. Kell was already facing the intruder. The man was short, stocky and looked like he had stepped straight out of an old gangster movie. A fine black beard rounded the bottom of his pudgy face, and he was wearing a small grey jacket and trousers, a shirt and a blue tie. “It only answers to me.” He continued.

“And who the bloody hell would you be?” The captain was livid. Firstly, he had a maniac computer. Secondly, he was stuck on his ship in the holodeck. Thirdly, a short fat idiot had appeared from thin air, with no sign of a transporter beam, and fourthly, this little twerp, now claimed to be able to control his entire ship. Yes, he was pissed off.

“Temper, temper,” he mocked, his voice and intonation not at all suiting his attire or appearance. “All will be explained.” He sounded like a magician, thoroughly enjoying keeping his audience in the dark.

Kell was about to open his mouth to say something but their little ‘host’ spoke again. “Now, for a change of scenery, this holodeck is so impersonal.” He didn’t even have to command the computer to begin a program, it just did it. The holodeck dissolved and a the interior of a smoky warehouse replaced it. Their little host looking much more at home in this setting. What’s more he was shadowed by two ‘cronies’. Two huge men one standing behind each shoulder of the little man, who spoke.

“Meet Butch ...” he indicated over his right shoulder, “and Phil.” He indicated over his left. “These boys will be happy to help you in any way possible to make you stay more pleasurable. Enjoy it.” There was a small computer beep, “I’ve taken the liberty of disengaging the safety protocols. You’ve got twenty seconds.” Their host evaporated into wisps of smoke, leaving his viscous looking bodyguards behind, standing motionless.

“Well, bye then, sir.” Kell looked fairly upset.

The captain said nothing, and yanked the padd out of Kell’s hand, if his hunch was right, maybe he could save them after all. He knew enough of what Kell was doing to be able to continue it and he began, very hastily, piecing together the rest of the program. Kell looked over his shoulder, and began counting “Ten ... nine ...” The captain hit keys as fast as he could. “Eight ... seven ...” He scanned over the code with his eyes, seemed secure, well it would have to do. “ ... Six ... five ...” He realised he didn’t have time to run a test cycle, and hit the key which would upload it into the system. “Four ... three ...” He watched the progress bar crawl across the tiny screen, “Two ... One ...” It wouldn’t make it, still ten seconds to go, “Zero.”

The men suddenly jumped to life. Each slowly opened his jacket pocket and pulled out a pistol. Butch trained his on Kell, Phil aimed his at the captain. All the time the captain was watching the counter. Five seconds, they wouldn’t make it. Just as Butch fired, Kell lept sideways and dived to the ground, rolled and stood, ran at Butch, and knocked his phaser to the floor. Phil was distracted by this and ran to help Butch.

The captain watched the counter as it climbed to 100%, crossed his fingers, toes, eyes, everything; and hoped.

Phil raised his phaser and aimed it at Kell. Kell closed his eyes ready for the blast ... It never came. He opened the corner of one eye and saw both of the men frozen mid shot. He turned and saw the captain waving the padd, and smiled. Too soon.

There was a small pop, and their host flickered into existence before them. He was a hologram, and he was loosing control of his integrity. He kept flickering and disappearing and reappearing.

“You’re a Hologram?!” Kell cried, confused, “How come?”

“I’m not a hologram,” he spat the term, like a foul taste, “I am the Rankuuf.” The short man said, his voice algorithms were breaking up, Kell’s program was doing it’s job, and he sounded like he was speaking through a paper bag, his voice rising and falling, undulating and rocking.

“What the hell is the Rankuuf?”

“The Rankuuf is the most sophisticated computer virus the Romulan Empire has ever developed ... The deployment of which has already caused the deaths of thousand of criminals ... on Romulus. I am a copy of that amazing program. I was deployed on your ship for a reason and I am going to complete that task.”

As he spoke, through his strange breaking voice, it was still obvious that he had an edge that suggested he wasn’t quite as confident as his words were. He was fighting a loosing battle, and he was spending more time out of existence than in.

Finally he disappeared, and appeared again, and spoke. “I am going to come back, just you see.” He glared and screwed up his face into a tight ball, “I will come back, just you wait.” He flickered out of existence, once and for all. Kell picked up the pad out of the captain’s hand and glanced down. He picked at a few controls, whilst the captain just stood there. “Looks like his prophecy was wrong, the program is looking good, I very much doubt we will be having any more problems from that particular quarter.” He looked up and turned to the captain, “Sir, permission to leave.”

“The captain snapped out of his trance and blinked, “Yes, certainly Kell. Certainly.”



The Bridge was tense, Commander Wallace was at ops, trying to use sensors to locate the captain and Kell, unsuccessfully. The sensors, inside the ship, outside the ship and what they could get from the Romulan ship, leaving the system, all read negative, no combadge, nothing. Commander Write felt like taking over the ops console, feeling that she would be more successful than Commander Wallace, who was looking very stressed, when the doors of the turbolift hissed open and the Captain stepped out. He was greeted with sighs and gasps followed by a stern, “Where the hell have you been?” from the commander, who was looking like death warmed up.

The captain didn’t bother answering, he would speak with her in a while. Instead, he spoke to the conn.

“Long, set a course for the nearest starbase, maximum warp.”

“Aye sir. That would be Starbase 445 sir, ETA five hours, thirteen minutes at warp 9.9 sir.”

“Get us out of here then. Now.”


Last modified: 25 Dec 2015