Star Trek: "Before Destruction!"* - An Original Novel By Michael Rossi
The following story takes place immediately after the
'Vintage' Trek episode entitled "Requiem for Methuselah". It
also ties into the entire Trek world, thankfully created by
the late Gene Roddenberry. Specific episodes that are referenced
prominently are: "Requiem for Methuselah", "Whom Gods Destroy",
"Day *f the Dove" and "Errand of Mercy". As with all works in the
Trek universe, this one takes a few liberties... but only a few, and
maintains the "Character" and "Spirit" that has made Trek my favorite
world of imagination. Although this story relies on past episodes,
it is independent of any other "S.T. Novel" or the contents therein.
I would like to take this time to thank the writer's of the
aforementioned episodes, and all the others who have contributed to
the world of Trek in a positive way. Specifically I wish to thank
them for showing me that, although fictional, it reflects hope, truth,
loyalty, justice, honor, faith, and love. Trek authors have boldly gone
where others have feared to tread. Tackling delicate issues of morality
and justice unflinchingly, from the very beginning. Episodic topics
have ranged from the "Cold War" to the "Bible" and have always spoken to
current issues with an underlying sense of the "right" and "wrong" of
them, or the "good" and "evil". I attribute the success of the series
not merely to the actors and crew, but to these writers who envisioned
a hopeful future, but never left the wisdom of the past.
*Star Trek is a Registered Trademark of Paramount Pictures
Copyright 1991 by Michael Rossi
*** PROLOGUE ***
Captain James Tiberius Kirk, of the Starship Enterprise,
yielded finally to the merciful, if often elusive, hand of sleep.
Dr. Lenard McCoy had helped him on his way. His cabin was darkened
as he sat behind his desk with his head down atop folded arms.
The sleeves of his gold and black Captain's uniform were still
moist from the tears he was unable to hold back any longer. Though
asleep, he was neither at rest nor at peace. Phantasms of his
tormented heart were there to greet him as he entered the place of
Behind him, like a chiselled monolithic sentinel, stood the
Vulcanian Science Officer, Spock. He looked upon his Captain,
moved with a compassion he had never experienced before. Not
expressed on his face, nor seen in the fathomless depths of his
eyes, the emotion drove him, forcing him to a decision. His
logical mind did what it could to prevent him from acting, but the
force from his half-human heart was irresistible. The pain of his
Captain was now inexplicably yet undeniably his own. And then the
decision was made.
Spock, the man, moved towards his Captain, and gently placed
his fingers upon the troubled brow of his friend. He closed his
own eyes and concentrated. "Forget," he spoke to the heart of his
* * *
"They will be coming..." the voice spoke out prophetically.
"How many?" came a second voice with a strange sadness in it.
"Two ships, one from either side. But only one of their
'landing parties' will descend," answered the first voice.
"Should we prevent them from approaching?" came a third voice.
"No," said the second, "It must be."
"They are fearful. They believe we have answers to their
fear," said the first.
"Perhaps they are correct but they may not wish to hear
what we have to say. For they have heard the truth from the
beginning, and are still willingly ignorant of it. The pride of
their vain imagination, their love of 'self', these are points of
their blindness. Nevertheless, we are merely messengers of the
truth, not creators of it... Let them come," spoke the second
"Let them come," agreed the third voice.
"They shall come..." prophesied the first.
*** ONE ***
Captain's personal log, Stardate: 5845.9.
"It has been mere hours since we have left orbit around
Holberg 917g, yet my memory of it seems to fade with our increasing
distance. Holberg, was not on our intended agenda but a necessary
break from our course, for on its surface in crude form was the
vital mineral "Ryetalyn" which when refined was the main ingredient
for a cure to Rigellian Fever. A landing party from the Enterprise
had contracted Rigellian Fever weeks ago and the virus had swept
the crew, which made our need one of desperation. Upon arrival at
the out-of-the way planet, Myself, First Officer Spock and Dr.
Leonard McCoy found the dwelling of a most amazing man."
"We found that the man, Flint, living in isolation from the
rest of the universe, had no record of ever existing on file in any
Starfleet or Federation memory banks. That is, under the name of
Flint. However, our observations of his personal possessions..."
Captain James T. Kirk sat upright in his chair. To his
astonishment, he could not recall any of his previous observations
of Flint's personal possessions. In fact, he was losing most of the
thoughts that he was sure he had only moments ago concerning the
man. He remembered the floating M-4 robot that gathered the
Ryetalyn. He remembered the end result; his crew whole again. But
there was much missing... and something painful. Something that
could burst his heart, were he able to recollect what that
"Captain Kirk, this is Lieutenant Uhura, please respond." The
communications speaker broke the dark silence of his cabin and
snapped Kirk's head up. The Captain blinked twice, hard, to arouse
himself out of his trance-like state of thought. He reached for
the comm button and winced at a small pain in his side.
"Kirk here; what is it, Lieutenant?"
"I have picked up a weak distress signal, Sir. I
couldn't make out anything vocally but they used the emergency
frequency with a pulse wave."
"Were you able to pin-point its origin?"
"It came from quadrant eight seventy-one, Captain. No
specific location as of yet, but I'm trying to narrow it down."
Her voice was steady, yet expressed her concern.
"Eight seventy-one? Then it hasn't reached Starbase Sixteen
yet?" He understood her concern. It was very likely that they
were the only ones who had heard the distress signal.
"No Sir. If it makes it there at all, it won't be for another
two hours. It is very weak, Captain."
"Two point one three hours, Captain," Spock added, obviously
standing close to Uhura.
"Thank you Mr. Spock. Lieutenant Uhura, contact Starfleet
concerning the signal. Inform them that we are going in to locate
its origin." Kirk switched off his log recorder. "Mister Sulu?"
"Yes, Sir!" The deep voice spoke confidently.
"Set course for quadrant eight seventy-one, warp seven."
"Aye aye, Sir," replied Sulu.
Captain Kirk changed the comm channel to the intra-ship
setting. "This is Captain Kirk, all hands Yellow Alert, repeat,
* * *
Captain Kirk strode onto the bridge of the Starship
Enterprise. Glancing across the spacious cabin, he noted all were
at their stations doing what he knew, was their best. "What do we
have in quadrant eight seventy-one, Mr. Spock?"
The tall and lean Science Officer turned towards his Captain
placing his arms behind his back in a "parade rest" fashion. His
shiny black hair gleamed in the luminescence of the overhead
lighting. Some time ago, he could state exactly when, Spock had
committed to memory all Starbases and Federation outposts in all
quadrants. "Science Station Copernicus, Elba II, six abandoned
Dilithium mines, and the Golon Star System, Captain," he stated.
"It is, however, heavily traversed by Federation cargo barges and
privately owned freighters," he added in a formal, even tone.
"Keptin, it is only vun sector avay from the Klingon Neutral
Zone. Close enough to make a tribble squeal," said Ensign Checkov
with a suppressed smile on his face. Sulu, his companion at the
helm, didn't bother to suppress his.
"So noted Mister Checkov. Uhura, try to make contact with
Copernicus and Elba II."
Kirk took the center seat, symbol of both a Captain's power and
authority. He stared at the main view screen watching the stars
unfold. He leaned forward and rested his right elbow on the arm
of his chair, placing his chin in the palm of his hand. The bright
starscape before him was breathtaking, but even so, his mind began
to drift back to the Holberg expedition. 'Something painful?' He
went over the events again in his mind; Rigellian fever, Holberg
917g, Ryetalyn, the M-4 robot, Flint, bruised ribs. 'Bruised
ribs?' Jim Kirk put his hand to his side. He could feel the Flexi-
truss under his shirt, and realized he did indeed have bruised ribs,
but try as he might, he could not recall a single detail about how
they came to be that way.
"Captain," Uhura spoke softly.
Jim snapped his head up, realizing he was brooding in front of
his crew. 'They all get paranoid when I brood.' He thought to
himself, and spoke, "Yes, Lieutenant?"
"Science Station Copernicus confirms their reception of the
"Did they locate the source?" He swiveled his chair to face
the beautiful, dark skinned communications officer.
"It's coming through now, Sir." She placed her hand to her
ear to block out the various sounds emanating from the bridge.
"There seems to be some kind of interference, Sir. I can't make
out their message. Possibly they are experiencing a solar flare or
something releasing a large amount of energy in their quad."
"Mister Spock?" He turned to his First Officer.
"Analyzing, Captain." The Vulcan bent over his science
station's instrument panel. "Unsure, Captain. As the Lieutenant
pointed out, there is a vast dispersal of energy between Copernicus
and our present course heading. However, from the effect it is
having on the subspace channel, I would hypothesize that it is an
"I have it now, Sir," Uhura said. "Copernicus reports they
have identified the source code of the distress call. It came from
a space-vessel named the 'Fringe Ranger', in the immediate vicinity
of Elba II."
"The Fringe Ranger? Spock, search the records and let me
know what information you can find on it." Kirk returned his chair
to its foreword position. "Alter course for Elba II, Mister Sulu."
The turbo-lift opened with a 'swoosh'. Dr. McCoy in his
blue medical uniform, stepped out silently. He looked down to the
man in the center seat. McCoy had been and continued to be
concerned with Jim's emotional state. Deep depression in anyone
can hinder judgement and cause abnormal actions and reactions. In
a Starship Captain, the consequences escalate exponentially. In
worst cases, it could jeopardize the safety of the crew. But it
was Jim Kirk, his friend, whom he worried about. "Sickbay is
ready, Jim." The Doctor rested on the upperdeck's arm-rail. "How
soon till we know any more?"
"Soon. We are on course for Elba II, Doctor. I trust you are
equally prepared to minister to their specific needs as well?"
Elba II had been the only mental institution in the Federation for
the criminally insane for nine years.
"I'm prepared for every contingency. Which reminds me, I have
a special prescription prepared for you in my cabin when you can
find the time."
"One of your '100 Proof' remedies?" Jim said, hoping it wasn't
a sneaky ploy to get him close enough to sickbay to give him a
physical. "I'll have to pass until this is taken care of, Bones."
Spock turned from his station's computer console, "Captain,
the Fringe Ranger is a decommissioned Yeager-Class cruiser with a
complement of thirty-seven officers and crew, now carrying supplies
to frontier colonies and Starfleet outposts. It was apparently
enroute to Elba II. I have also analyzed her distress signal
with interesting results." Kirk nodded for him to continue. "The
signal appears to have been sent prior to the phenomena causing the
subspace disturbance, and I estimate a 97.43 probability that it was
being jammed from close proximity."
"Jammed?" Kirk rose from his chair and moved to the science
station. He observed the readings indicating that it was so. The
flattened waves and distorted peaks of the line image looked very
much like a jammed signal.
"Who would jam a distress call in Federation space?" the
doctor asked no-one in particular.
"As Mr. Checkov pointed out earlier, we are not far from the
Klingon Neutral Zone, and pirates have been known to be operative
in this sector. Mr. Sulu, precautionary Red Alert. Mr. Checkov,
Screens up, charge phasers," the Captain ordered.
The alert claxon sounded, causing the crew's adrenal glands to
surge in preparation for the emergency tasks they so often were
required to perform. Ignorance was the greatest cause of fear among
the battle-ready members. Not knowing the situation causing the
alert allowed their minds to race in all directions. The Captain
had been on the other end of command, and understood his crew's need
"Kill the claxon, Mr. Sulu." Jim returned to his chair,
standing next to it, and again pressed the intra-ship comm. "This
is the Captain speaking. We are on a rescue mission, but have
cause to believe there may be enemy involvement. It may be a false
alarm, but stay sharp. Kirk out."
The sensor panel by Spock crackled with electricity then
exploded, to the surprise of everyone. Before Spock could ascertain
the reason for this, the Enterprise was hit hard by some powerful
but unseen force. The ship rocked and vibrated, pitching those
standing to the floor and causing several more overloads on the
sensor panel. Sparks flew and smoke billowed from the unit's side
"Mr Spock, what hit us?" Kirk asked, regaining his footing.
Another jolt, less in severity, hit the ship.
Spock, also gathering himself up from the deck replied, "A
concussion-energy wave of some magnitude. Sensor feedback shorted
out any early warning we might have received,"
"Lieutenant Uhura?" The Captain did not have to make a
complete request of the communications officer. The closeness of
the bridge officers occasionally circumvented any need of formal
query in events such as this.
"Damage to shields 3 and 4, long and short range sensors are
out, minor structural damage below C deck. Engineering reports,"
her report was interrupted by a voice over the bridge speaker.
"Capt'n, we got a problem with the main energizers. How long
are ya gonna keep ma engines goin at full tilt?" said the
definitively Scottish voice of the Chief Engineer.
"We will be going sublight in a matter of minutes, Mr. Scott.
Keep us on line until then, please."
"I'll try Sir, but the intermix reactor to me port nacelle
just went into the yellow. I wouldn'a like you to have to jettison
the whole unit."
The doctor slipped off the bridge into the turbolift. No
matter how little damage there was, you could count on 5 or 6
patients appearing in Sickbay with bloody noses and minor
abrasions. With blood dripping from his left nostril, the doctor
wanted to get in line before the "Coagul-aid" was used up.
"Coming up on the Petroski solar system and Elba II, Captain,"
"Slow to one quarter impulse power, with Mr. Scott's
permission," Jim Kirk said, looking up at the bridge speaker.
"Aye Sir, Scott out."
"Keptin, we are peeking up debris on collision sensors.
They appear to be asteroids directly in front of us vair there
should be none," said Checkov.
"Increase forward viewer magnification to 40. How are
the shields holding Mr. Checkov?"
"Shields at 78 percent, Sir."
The stars were shining brightly in the distance, but in
front of them, increasingly blotting out the pinpoints of light,
were dark spinning rocks growing in size as the Enterprise neared
"How much longer before we have short range sensors back?" the
Captain directed toward Uhura.
"Tech crew says we may have short range back in 10 minutes.
They haven't given me an estimate on the long range sensors as of
The Captain nodded in acknowledgement, "Mr. Sulu, all
With steady hands on the instruments, "Slowing," Sulu stated.
"All stop, Sir," he reported. "Thrusters at station-keeping."
Spock observed the forward view screen with arms folded across
his chest. "Captain, the asteroids still appear to be advancing in
our direction rapidly." Kirk examined the distant rocks on the
screen as Spock continued. "By their angle of trajectory and
dispersal, I would estimate they originated from some central point
ahead of our present course. Possibly from the event point of the
energy dispersal that has been disturbing our communications."
"They are getting closer, aren't they." He took a deep breath
and slowly exhaled noisily, as if he was about to do something
that he wished he didn't have to. "Mr. Sulu, do you recall what
regulations state about a Starship entering a field of asteroids?"
The Oriental officer looked at his comrade sitting next to
him, and answered in an uncertain voice. "Uh, I believe section
139, paragraph 62 or 63 states 'Stay the heck away from them
unless it's an emergency'. Paraphrased, Sir."
"Are you willing to make the attempt?" Kirk asked him.
A wry smile appeared on the adventurous Lieutenant's face,
still looking at Checkov, who gave him an uncomfortable nod. "I
think so, Captain"
"In that case, shields double front Mr. Checkov. Arm Photon
torpedoes, we may need to blast our way through a few of them. Do
not wait for my command to fire. That may take too long." He
pressed the intra-ship communication switch. "This is the Captain;
prepare for rough maneuvers. We will be piloting through a
hazardous area so take all precautions accordingly. Captain out."
Then to the lieutenant with whom he now entrusted his ship, "Take
us through, Mr. Sulu, and try to save the paint job."
"Aye, Sir, accelerating to point zero-four sub-light."
The sleek giant of a Starship moved closer toward the oncoming
space debris. The first tiny particles hit the shields, making
sparks visible on the main viewer. Although the vacuum of space
made it impossible, the bridge crew could almost hear the micro
asteroids hiss, as they came in contact with the ship's protective
The larger asteroids were now approaching. The collision
alarm blasted through the silence on the bridge, then ceased as the
Captain signaled its termination. The Enterprise suddenly pitched
starboard then to port as Sulu deftly navigated her through the
deadly floating rocks. The crew was being pulled side to side,
as the artificial gravity strained to adjust to the inertial force
changes. Then their motion changed to up and down as the ship
narrowly missed a large one cutting across her bow. It was as
if they were on some mad man's ride in an amusement park, but
amusement was not what the crew was experiencing. Without warning,
spiraling in from the side, came a jagged asteroid that Sulu
couldn't move around in time. Almost immediately upon seeing it,
it exploded. It was destroyed by a torpedo that shot away from
the ship like a fiery dart to obliterate the cold rock. And still
the asteroids came.
Dodging the larger ones was becoming easier, but the smaller
ones could neither be avoided, nor targeted in time. They hit the
ship in a unmerciful barrage, jolting and shaking the vessel until
she felt as if she was going to come apart. Flashes of powerful
energy lit up the viewer as torpedo after torpedo shot from the
ship's underside and either intercepted, or missed their targets.
The strain on the ship could be heard over the whine of her
impulse engines, accelerating and decelerating. And then came...
silence, as Enterprise sliced through the ebony sky on the other
side of the asteroids.
Sulu was the first to breathe a sigh of relief, before the
rest of the bridge crew realized the danger had passed. He looked
over to Checkov, who was shaking a little, then noticed that he,
himself, could not remove his hands from the controls.
The Captain, being just that, would not let his crew know the
extent of his relief, but he stepped down behind Sulu and Checkov
and rested his hands on their shoulders. "Next time we get to
Aldebaron, I'm buying."
Spock, apparently unruffled by their ordeal, noticed the green
light on his science station's short range scanner and gave it his
attention. "Captain, Short range sensors are now operational," he
announced. "We are nearing Jirus, the fifth planet in the Petroski
solar system... Fascinating," he stated, looking into the apparatus.
"Captain, Jirus does not appear to be in its natural orbit."
"This is... not good." He rubbed his chin slowly. "Uhura,
have you been able to contact Elba II at all, or receive any of
"No contact yet, Sir."
"Spock?" He turned to his first officer, who was still
looking down into his station's scanning equipment.
"One moment, Sir." Spock pressed two buttons without looking
up from the equipment, pressed another, then straightened himself
and turned toward Kirk. "Captain, " he said, "Elba II is not
there." He waited for the full meaning of what he said to sink in.
"I believe we may have just passed through the remains of the
"My God, Spock, are you certain?" Kirk said in astonishment.
"It would explain the orbital shift of its neighboring planet
Jirus," said the Vulcan. "The mass loss of one planet would effect
the gravitational pulls of the entire system."
"Uhura," said the captain, "Contact Starfleet Command. Tight
beam, and scrambled. I want it to penetrate that energy wave.
Fill them in and inform them we will scan the area for debris.
Then prepare a warning buoy directing all ships away from this
area." Jim Kirk paused, thinking of Governor Cory, administrator
of the Elba II colony. A good man, gone. "Launch buoy when
ready," he said.
"Aye, Sir," Uhura said while already beginning to carry
out the order.
"Klingon devils!" Checkov murmured bitterly to himself,
though just loud enough to be heard.
"Do you really think the Klingons would violate the
Organian Peace Treaty, Sir?" Sulu asked his Captain.
"Without a moment's remorse, if they had any reason to and
thought they could get away with it. However the Organians, not
us, are the enforcers of the treaty."
"What if they have found a way to cloak themselves from
Organia like the Romulans cloak their ships from us?" questioned
"Anything is possible, but I seriously doubt it," Kirk said as
he glanced over to his First Officer who appeared completely
engrossed with his scanner. "Opinion, Mr. Spock?"
Spock, of course, had taken the conversation in. And while
quite busy with his other duties, he had plenty of time to analyze
the situation and formulate hypotheses. "It seems unlikely that
the Klingons would have such technology to do so, Captain. I
believe we may also rule out privateers, unless their ship was
completely filled with anti-matter warheads, which I estimate as
equally unlikely," said the First Officer, not looking up from his
scanner. "There is one more possibility, which I find more
probable than the previously stated hypothesis."
Sudden remembrance flooded Kirk's mind. It had only been a
few months ago, though their many adventures had made it seem like
decades, that a once-great Starship Captain, driven mad, had
battled Kirk and nearly killed him. His last memory of the great
man was one of hope and respect born anew, for a cure to the man's
insanity had been administered. Jim became angry with himself for
letting recent events cloud his mind, keeping him from seeing what
Spock clearly observed.
"Captain Garth," Kirk said, almost allowing the sorrow of
losing a personal hero to become apparent in his voice. 'and
something painful' the thought seemed to haunt him.
Finally looking up from his station, Spock faced his Captain.
"It is a logical conclusion, considering the potency of the
explosive he created. However one could only guess as to the
events that caused its detonation."
"It was a very unstable material." Jim Kirk choked back the
strange and sudden surge of emotion that had grabbed him a moment
ago. His emotions seemed strangely 'raw' today. "He told me that
it could be set off just by dropping it to the floor."
"And tremendously powerful," Spock added. "Remember the level
of destruction that one grain caused. It is little wonder
Starfleet delayed moving the substance. With Elba II as isolated
as it was, there was far less risk in storing it in Governor Cory's
vaults than transporting it to another location."
Jim stepped from his chair, "I don't like it Spock. Something
doesn't fit." The Captain caught himself just as he was about to
start pacing. Instead he leaned against his command chair.
"Precautions had been taken in storing the explosive. It was held
in the center of a stasis sphere by anti-gravitons, with its own
power supply, much like we use to contain antimatter."
"It is possible that some hostile attempt was made against the
planet causing the containment field to fail and detonation to
occur. However that would again indicate the Klingons on several
counts." Spock placed his hands on the rail before him and nodded
toward Checkov. "First, Elba II maintained a constant planetary
force field around itself, making it virtually impenetrable to
anything smaller than a military cruiser. Second, Elba II's
scanning equipment would have detected any unauthorized traffic
long before it reached the planet unless it had a cloaking device."
Keeping in mind that this line of reasoning still lacked any
cohesive evidence, not to mention the problem the Organian's posed
in the equation, he relented. "There are actually many scenarios
that could explain much of what happened. However, until we have
more facts for our analysis, we can only speculate."
"Keep scanning, Mr. Spock. Mr. Sulu, assemble a recon team to
collect any debris floating out there. Maybe we can piece this
mystery together before Starfleet Intelligence gets here."
*** TWO ***
Light-years away, at the edge of Federation-occupied space,
defense outposts guard a zone of space currently designated as
'off-limits' to all vessels, Federation or otherwise. This Neutral
Zone separates the United Federation of Planets from the ruthless
and powerful Klingon Empire. Both galactic powers were initially
allowed by treaty to peacefully enter the Zone. But tensions
between the two opposing forces had escalated to such a point that
no contact between the two powers could be called peaceful or
productive, by either government. The Zone had become a central
point for espionage and counter-intelligence, making neither side
confident that its military secrets remained secret.
Each outpost skirting the Zone is a fully armed battle
station, carrying the equivalent firepower of a light destroyer.
The border is patrolled regularly by a rotating shift of
Starfleet's finest cruisers and destroyers. These precautions are
designed as a check and balance system, assuring total compliance
with the pre-established Klingon/Federation treaty. The standing
orders at each outpost are as follows:
1. Hail all vessels approaching Neutral Zone and warn
2. If compliance is negative; fire one warning volley and
advise Starfleet via designated patrol vessel.
3. If negative compliance continues; disable vessel if
possible, destroy vessel if not.
Outpost Delta Gamma 13 spotted the distant ship streaking
towards the Neutral Zone. On the outpost's main battle bridge,
night-watch was on duty.
"Commander O'Hara, I have an outbound vessel at 038, warp
7!" Lieutenant Tomy announced. She was a bit excited, it being her
first tour of duty and first day at this post.
The tall, fair-haired Irish Commander, O'Hara, had almost
finished his own tour of duty on DG-13. He had felt that this
assignment was a form of punishment for the practical joke he
played on his former Captain while aboard the USS Yorktown. It
is an established fact, that few people enjoy transporting down
to a planet, only to find that their underwear has materialized
on the outside of their uniform. Though the Commander had not
actually been caught in the act, everyone knew who had perpetrated
it. Neither was he openly blamed for placing nitrous oxide
cannisters in the emergency respirators just before the Yorktown
went on "Environment Alert" drills.
It was all true, what people said about him; O'Hara was a
compulsive practical joker. Though he never meant any harm with
his humorous escapades, he always seemed to over-do his pranks on
the very people who appreciated them the least. Usually they were
the ones who also out-ranked him. And although he tried, O'Hara
could not even force himself to stop. If there were humor in it,
O'Hara would go out of his way to play or overplay the joke.
"I'm right here, me darlin'. You don't have to shout," said
Commander O'Hara to the young and nervous Lieutenant. He stood
behind her and sipped a warm cup of coffee.
"Sorry, Sir. I'm sending the standard transmission now." She
touched her index finger lightly on the pressure sensitive switch
and the high intensity warning signal was sent out, automatically
placing the outpost on yellow alert.
The slightly scaly alien Ensign at the weapons console turned
sluggishly toward the Commander and announced, "Defense fields
activated; station recorder is on; all 'feet' on yellow alert."
The ensign was a Frillian from the planet Narn. His face
looked more reptilian than anything else, and his ever-open green
eyes were large, with long vertical pupil slits in his iris. His
uniform was cut to suit his unique physiognomy. He had eight
appendages in all, and a short stub of a tail. Frillians, not
having hands to speak of, use their long digited feet to operate
all equipment; One set of four to grasp and manipulate, the other
set of four to walk with. Mr. Spitt did, however, know the
difference between 'Hands', a ship's company and 'Hands',the things
that make it easier to pick your nose, but it pleased him to
constantly punctuate the physiological differences between their
"That's gettin ta be old, Mr. Spitt. Why doncha try to be a
wee less humorous and a bit more purple."
Frillians were red in complexion when asleep and a bright
lavender, when fully awake. This would normally make it easy for
one Frillian to be able to tell if another Frillian was enjoying a
conversation or dozing through it, if it wasn't for the fact that
their race is color-blind, and do talk a great deal in their sleep.
Lieutenant Tomy pressed a series of buttons which allowed her
to bring up a visual of the incoming ship on the main viewscreen.
She snapped a fingernail pressing the last button. That did not
bother her though, for she had already bitten most of the others off
over the past six hours.
"Is that the best ya kin do. I kin hardly tell the ship from
the stars," said the Commander, squinting his blue eyes.
"Viewer is at maximum, Sir," she said as she tried to pull the
fingernail out from under the viewscreen resolution button.
"Any change in speed or course?"
"No, Sir. But they seem to be trying to skirt our position."
She succeeded in removing the nail and tossed it nonchalantly over
her shoulder. It landed in the Commander's coffee and sank to the
bottom, but O'Hara's attention was elsewhere.
"Don't eat that! It's my friend!" shouted the crimson
"Wake up, Mr. Spitt!" The Commander glared at the weapons
officer. He swore to himself never to let the ensign work a triple
shift again. Most of their small crew had been in and out of
sickbay the two days past, with a curious form of 'intestinal
disfunction of unknown origins'. Unknown to the crew, that is,
but the outpost's doctor pulled Commander O'Hara aside and warned
him that if he ever found any trace of laxatives in the food
processors again, he would have to 'file a detailed report to
Starfleet, that would be incriminating to someone on this outpost
of command rank.'
"Mr. Spitt!" said the Commander.
The Frillian cocked his head, "Aye Sir, it does seem to be
foaming at the mouths," still bearing dark red scales.
"Mr. Tomy, send an advisory to Starfleet and our support ship.
Tight-beam, you know the drill," spoke the Commander, still narrowly
viewing the Frillian. "Place us on red alert while yer at it."
"Aye Sir," she said as the Commander moved next to Mr. Spitt
at the weapons console and readied it. The inbound ship was just
far enough away to keep the targeting computer from getting a
positive lock. But since the Commander was not going to blast the
ship with the first volley, only fire a warning shot, he allowed
the computer to continue the sequence with the inaccuracy variance,
"Torpedo away," O'Hara said calmly, as this was a very
routine procedure. At least twice a week they would get a stray
ship with communications problems, or once and a while a contraband
smuggler, never anything worth worrying about. Everyone knew the
Neutral Zone Laws and the consequences of crossover. Klingons do
not fire warning shots, and their patrol is two-fold the
"Sir, scans show the vessel is going sub-light,"
Lieutenant Tomy said. "Their scanners must have picked up our
warning volley. I'll tell them to prepare to be boarded."
"Do that, lassie. How far is our support ship?"
"I have the Schwarzkopf's ETA at seven minutes," she said
"Bring us back down to yellow then, and get another officer up
here to replace Spitt, will ya?"
The ruby lights around the station signalling red alert
stopped flashing and were replaced by amber... for about a second
and a half... Then the red came on again.
"Sir, we are being fired on!" she said with an understandable
bit of excitement.
"Shields up," the Commander said, maintaining his calm, "and
don't worry, me darlin'. The Schwarzkopf is on its way. And
remember our scanners are the best in the Federation and we
couldn't achieve a weapons lock at this distance. I doubt they're
likely ta come close enough ta hit the planet behind us."
The torpedo sped towards them rapidly, closing the gap between
the inbound craft and the outpost. True to the Commander's words,
it was far from its target. Then it detonated. The brilliance
rivaled, then overcame, that of their local sun and still grew in
Before Delta Gamma 13's crew could know what was transpiring,
they, like much of the planet behind them, were gone.