NOTE: Star Trek and all that's owned by Viacom is owned by...you guessed it, Viacom. Alan Decker owns Star Traks. Next Frontier is mine, so there.

Author: Cory Parker
Copyright: 2002

Star Traks: Next Frontier

“Book 1: Left Turn at Albuquerque”

By Cory Parker



CHAPTER ONE:

“Captain’s Log, stardate 51455.6. The USS Haymaker has completed its first mission and is awaiting further orders. To conduct repairs, and to kill some time, we have parked ourselves in front of the Denbini Cloud, a Class-4 nebula.”


Captain Bobby Halloway whistled as he strolled through the halls of the Haymaker towards Main Engineering. He was just about to go off-duty when Chief Monty had asked to see him. He nodded to an ensign passing by as he turned the corner and entered Main Engineering. “Captain, so nice to see you!” remarked the hologram as he approached Bobby.

“You wanted to see me, Chief?” asked the captain as the engineer enthusiastically shook his hand.

“No, I didn’t call you,” said Monty, with a look of puzzlement on his face.

“But, you just called me down here a few.”

“I’m just kidding, Captain! The antimatter injector assembly seems to be sticking a little, I’d like to shut down the core temporarily to fix it.”

“Estimated time until repaired?”

“Oh, about five hours or so.”

“Go ahead then.”

“Thanks, Cap!” Monty then placed two fingers in his mouth and whistled loudly. “HEY, ABBOTT!!!” he yelled up to the second level with a grin. Lt. Bud Abbott sighed and leaned over the rail.

“What is it, Chief?”

“We’re going to fix the injector port. Shut off the drive, will ya?” “Sure thing, Chief,” muttered the assistant engineering chief. Halloway smiled and left. Lt. Abbott wished that he had never been born and started work.


Dr. Scott Clinton was sitting in his office, reading the latest paper on interstellar gastronomical plagues when he heard a knock on the glass window. “Hey, doc,” greeted Lt. Jenna Benn as she strolled into his office and took a seat on his desk.

“Jenna, how…how are you?” stammered the shy doctor. The Trill just smiled and patted Scott on the back.

“Oh, just fine, thanks for asking. I was just getting off duty and wanted to say `hi’. Hi.” With that, she left, leaving a very confused Clinton. He scratched his head and got up from his seat and headed for the door.

“See you tomorrow, Mr. Jessing,” said Scott to the nurse as he turned to leave. As Jessing watched, a smile crept over his face. A piece of paper with the words `Kick me, I’m stupid’ was taped to his back. As soon as he left, the nurse erupted with laughter.


Commander Rachel LaCroix smiled seductively to a passing crewman as she headed for her quarters. The crewman stared at her with a gaping jaw, long enough for him to walk straight into a bulkhead. He fell to the ground, knocked out cold. Rachel continued walking, laughing to herself. She passed two more crewmen before spotting Ensign Blake Bannon studying the ship’s schematics on a wall panel. She walked over to him and stared at the panel, trying to see what he was looking at. “What are you looking for, Ensign?” she asked after a minute of searching.

“I can’t remember where my quarters are,” said the science officer as he continued searching on the schematics. Rachel rolled her eyes and grabbed Blake’s arm.

“Follow me, Ensign,” ordered the commander as he was pulled along. They turned left at the next corridor and stopped at the first door. “Here, it’s right here.” Blake squinted his eyes to read the words `Ensign Blake Bannon’s Quarters’ on the door label, next to the room number.

“Oh, here it is. Thank you, Commander.”

“No problem. Just ask the computer next time to show you where it is, okay?”

“Where what is?”

“Your quarters.”

“Yeah, that’s what I’m looking for, my quarters.” LaCroix growled and pushed Bannon into his quarters. As the doors closed, she could hear him say “Where am I?” to himself. The commander sighed and resumed walking.


“Bite me, Gabriel.” Lt. Comm. Kerry Halvox glared at the 7-foot tall Security chief as he sipped his drink.

“Is that an offer?” he asked, displaying his sharp canines. Kerry just sighed and crossed her arms. She glanced out the window at the brilliant purple-green nebula that filled her view. The two were playing a game of five-card stud in the mess hall, and Kerry was losing. Badly. Gabriel picked up the cards and began to shuffle.

“So, what do you think about our new captain?” asked Halvox as she downed her scotch on the rocks.

“Different,” stated Gabriel in his deep voice.

“Thanks for the elaboration, big guy,” muttered Kerry as Gabriel dealt another hand. She looked at her hidden card and ordered another drink. She had an ace in the hole.

“2 for the ops officer,” said Gabriel as he laid down a card. “Queen for the tactical man. A three for you…a pair of ladies for me. A four for you, and another queen for me.” Gabriel laid the last two cards down. Kerry took a sip of her new drink as she looked at her final card. It was another four. She flipped it over in disgust and took another sip. It was going to be a very long night.


=Starfleet Command, San Francisco, Earth=


Admiral Jack Crane’s grin spread across his face from ear to ear. He sat in his office, delightfully sipping a cup of rich Irish coffee. He swiveled around in his chair like a schoolboy, whistling and laughing to himself. He soon regained his composure and opened up communications with the USS Haymaker. A picture of the Haymaker’s bridge was displayed with a young female officer standing in the foreground. “I’m Ensign Smith of the USS Haymaker, what can we do for you, Admiral?” she asked.

“What shift is it there?”

“Gamma shift, sir.”

“So the captain has gone to bed?” inquired the admiral. His giddiness almost destroyed his stern expression.

“I assume so,” guessed Smith with a puzzled look on his face. “Do you want me to patch you to his quarters?”

“If you would be so kind, Ensign.”

“One moment.” Smith’s face, along with the background of the Haymaker bridge, disappeared and was replaced by the Federation symbol, a galaxy surrounded by two olive branches.

`Revenge is oh, so sweet…’ pondered Crane with a content smile.


=USS Haymaker, Near the Denbini Cloud=


The steady beeping of the computer awoke Bobby from a deep, sound sleep. He wiped the drool from his chin in an effort to compose himself. He mindlessly got out of bed, eyes half shut, and headed for the screen. On his way, he stepped on a misplaced Rigellian bloodhound chew toy and hurt his foot. He grabbed his foot and hopped the rest of the way, futilely rubbing the sole in an effort to decrease the pain. He tapped the monitor on the wall. “This is Captain Halloway,” he yawned. In his stupor, it took a moment to recognize the all too familiar face of Admiral Crane. “Admiral, with all do respect, do you have any idea what time it is?” grumbled Halloway as his eyes adjusted to the bright screen.

“I’m sorry, Captain, did I wake you? I do apologize for the inconvenience. However, I have an urgent mission for you. Are you familiar with the Jyinion Assembly?”

“No.”

“Well, you will be. The Jyinion Assembly, a militaristic empire that has been in existence long before the Federation, has collapsed. We have reports of terror and strife running rampart throughout the former empire.” Bobby could tell that Crane was overacting a bit, but it would look good on tape, if anybody were to watch the message ever again.

“Terror and strife, huh?”

“Terror and strife, Captain. We need a vessel to establish a Federation presence within the Assembly.”

“Are we free to give aid?”

“You are, as long as you don’t violate the Prime Directive.” Bobby suspected that the last comment was also for the record.

“So, where is this `Jyinion Assembly’ located?”

“Sector 66-F. I’m sending a complete mission dossier along with this message, which gives the details of your new mission.” Bobby rubbed his forehead and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I suppose that there is no other ship available for this assignment?”

“To tell you the truth, Captain Halloway, you were my first pick,” said Crane with a wide grin.

“Oh, was I?” inquired Halloway sarcastically. It was lost on Crane.

“Yes, you were. Good luck, Captain, and be careful.”

“Yes, God knows that your daughter would miss me if I were to never return,” shot Bobby as broke communication. The last image he saw was the admiral’s expression change from pleasant to furious. He laughed to himself sleepily and headed back to bed, again stepping on the chew toy on the way.


CHAPTER TWO:

Jenna Benn hummed to herself as she walked into the conference room; she was the last to arrive. She took her usual seat farthest from the captain’s. Halloway was standing by his chair with a jaded look to him. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new mission,” he stated simply as he walked over to the computer screen mounted into the wall. A star map was displayed of Sector 66-F. “This is Sector 66-F. Until recently, this entire area was ruled by the Jyinion Assembly, which held an iron grip over all of its subjects.”

“What do you mean, `until recently’?” inquired Lt. Halvox bluntly.

“If you would wait, Lt., I was just getting to that.” That remark shut the Ops officer’s mouth, although she still glared at everyone. “The Assembly has collapsed, and Starfleet wants us to represent the Federation and give aid to the occupants of Sector 66- F.”

“Speaking of occupants, I heard this incredibly funny joke down in Engineering,” interrupted the engineering hologram with a grin. “Anybody wanna hear it? Okay, these three salesmen walk into this hotel, right, so.” Monty’s voice droned on in the background as Halloway continued his speech.

“There are reports of different factions vying for control over the sector, so we must be prepared to defend ourselves if necessary. Halvox, you and Lt. Gabriel work on securing the ship for battle.” Both officers nodded in reply.

“Mr. Bannon?”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Find out everything you can about the Jyinion Assembly, and I mean everything.”

“Sure.”

“Doctor, we are surely going to be taking on wounded, so prepare sickbay for massive amounts of people. Most likely we have never met any of these races before, so keep you wits about you.” Scott nodded nervously, and looked away in thought. “Lt. Benn, plot a course to the border of Jyinion space. The rest of you, keep doing what you do. Are there any questions?” Bannon raised his hand.

“Yes, Ensign?”

“Um, what am I doing again?”

“Miss LaCroix…?” said Halloway as he looked at his XO. She sighed, and after checking her makeup, explained Blake’s job to him again. “If that is all, you are dismissed.” The senior staff quickly exited the conference room, leaving only the hologram.

“And so the third guy says to the clerk, now that's what I call occupants’’! Get it? Hello? Anybody here?”


Ensign Blake Bannon sat at his terminal, examining the data he had found about the Jyinion Assembly and Sector 66-F. Commander LaCroix swaggered over to him and leaned over his shoulder. “What have you found, Ensign?”

“Read for yourself.” She took a seat next to Bannon and began reading the two entries on the screen.

“Jyinion Assembly: See Sector 66-F. Sector 66-F: See Jyinion Assembly,” she stated. “What the HELL kind of entries are those!?!”

“It’s the only thing in our computer, Commander. I even requested files from Memory Alpha.”

“And…?”

“These are the files from Memory Alpha.”

“Great, just great. Looks like we’re flying blind into this one.”

“It sure looks like it,” echoed Blake as he stared at the screen. “Well, my job is done. I’m taking a break.” The science officer began to get up when he was pulled back down by LaCroix.

“I don’t think so, Mr. Bannon. Are you sure that you looked everywhere?”

“Completely sure, Commander. This `Jyinion Assembly’ is incredibly mysterious, even more so than the Thallonion Empire in Sector 221-G.” LaCroix frowned at the screen. Bannon just shrugged. “Can I go now?”

“Yes, go ahead,” said LaCroix, with a hint of annoyance in her voice. Bannon stood again and walked into the turbolift, leaving the annoyed commander alone at the science station.

“Computer,” inquired Rachel, “show me all entries under `make-over’.”


CHAPTER THREE:

Bobby Halloway watched the stars streak by as he sat in his ready room, sipping something out of a glass sand reflecting on the current assignment. They would be lucky just to make it out of there in one piece. Crumbling empires and pissed-off citizens do not bode well for starships and their crews. He took a sip of his beverage of choice, a bitter, carbonated drink known as ginger ale. Bobby’s mind wandered aimlessly as he continued watching the stars.


=Jyinus, Homeworld of the former Jyinion Assembly=


“I hate it here,” remarked the young woman. She was chained to a wall underneath what used to be her palace. The only other person in the room, an old man with a long white beard, nodded in agreement. The woman, only 23, was Jyinion. Her usually clean blonde hair was dirtied up with the grime of the dungeon, as were her auburn skin. Her torn and tattered pink dress was hanging on her slender frame. Even in chains, she held her head high. “I really hate it here.”

“Sorry, Princess, but there’s nothing we can do,” remarked the old man as he hung from the wall. The princess snorted and looked away.

“This would have never happened if Daddy hadn’t disappeared. Oh, I miss him so.” The princess began to sob softly and quietly, as was taught to her in princess school. Her tears helped to clean some of the grime off of her cheeks. The opening of the dungeon door interrupted her crying. She immediately composed herself and tried her best to look down at the advancing man.

“Your Highness…” offered the man in contempt.

“Fallow, you disgust me, you miserable swine!” spat the princess.

“Sticks and stones, Princess Cimorene, sticks and stones.” said Fallow with a devilish grin as he released Cimorene from her chains. She rubbed her wrists and glared at him. He looked back with his one eye and laughed silently. He grabbed her and took her out of the cell, locking the door behind him.

“I demand to know where you are taking me!” she yelled in a prissy tone.

“It seems that some of your devoted followers have been storming the palace. I’m going to make sure that they never find you.” Cimorene smiled satisfyingly. “Well, find you alive, that is.” Her grin disappeared as quickly as it had come. They started down a long corridor towards a gate made of some exotic metal. Halfway there, Fallow stopped and forced Cimorene to do the same.

“What is it now?” she complained.

“Shh!” ordered Fallow as he listened. Seconds later, a light shone through the bars at the two. Cimorene squinted to make out the outline of a large group of people.

“Damn…looks like we’ll have to leave from here,” he muttered as he pulled out a communicator and tapped a few buttons. They both shimmered away in two flashes of light. The mob broke its way through the door and ran to the princess’ previous location. They stopped and looked around.

“Can somebody please help me?” groaned the old man in the cell.

“Who is that?” asked one of the peasants.

“I’m the Grand Judge of the Jyinion Royal Family,” moaned the old man.

“Leave him in there; he once convicted me of trespassing on my own land,” said another of the mob with a frown.

“Yeah, he wasn’t a very good judge at that,” agreed another. The mob turned and left the dungeon, leaving the old judge trapped in his cell.


CHAPTER FOUR:

Halloway exited his ready room and entered the bridge. “ETA, Miss Benn?” he inquired as he took his seat next to Commander LaCroix.

“At our current speed of warp 6, we should be there in about 2 hours.”

“Good. Commander,” said Halloway as he turned to his XO, “What information do. is that a new hair style?” Rachel looked up and feigned surprise.

“Why, yes it is. How kind of you to notice, Captain,” she said sweetly as she batted her eyes. “Do you like it?”

“Looks like targ sh*t to me…” muttered Lt. Halvox. LaCroix glared at her, then returned to her innocent expression for Halloway.

“Looks nice.” said Bobby half-heartedly as he quickly changed the subject. “What information did you find?”

“Ensign Bannon found it, sir. He’s the one you should be talking to.”

“Fine.” Halloway turned to look at the empty science station. “Is the ensign taking a break?”

“He did earlier, why?” asked Rachel without looking.

“Because he’s not at his post. Computer, how long has Ensign Bannon been on break?”

“2 hours, 37 minutes.”

“Computer, where is the ensign?”

“Holodeck 1.”

“Patch in the visual on the main viewer,” ordered Halloway as he gestured at Halvox. She nodded and the streaking stars were replaced by a view of the bridge. Halloway arched his left eyebrow in confusion. “Lt.?” asked Halloway.

“That’s what he running, Captain.” The holo-bridge was populated with the entire senior staff, except for one.

“Where is the captain?” inquired LaCroix. Suddenly, Bannon ran into view, wearing a captain’s uniform and looking very pompous. His mouth was running as he barked out orders to the holographic crew. He was clearly imitating Halloway, in both the way he walked and the way he talked. Jenna started giggling uncontrollably. Soon, the entire bridge crew started laughing, except for Halloway, who was clearly peeved at the unflattering imitation. LaCroix ceased laughing when her holo-double walked up to Bannon and passionately kissed him. “Halloway to Bannon.” The ensign stopped on screen and looked up.

“Yes, Captain?”

“What are you doing right now, Ensign?”

“Um, just finishing up some reports, Captain.”

“On the holodeck?” Bannon looked flustered, and bit his lip. Jenna stifled a laugh, but a giggle slipped its way through her lips.

“Uh…yes. I was just examining a three-dimensional chart of Sector 66-F.” Everyone on the bridge grinned, even Halvox, who let go of her gruff demeanor long enough for a chuckle or two. Halloway pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned silently.

“Ensign, we can see you.” Blake looked around the holodeck in embarrassment, trying to find the hidden camera. “And by the way, I don’t walk like that. Nice try,” he added plainly.

“Sorry, Captain. I’ll be right there.” The holo-bridge dissolved around the science officer as he moved out of view.

“Screen off,” ordered Halloway as he scratched the back of his head in irritation. He barely knew this crew and already they were making fun of him. Jenna let loose with another volley of laughter as she swiveled around in her chair. A few minutes later, a very red-faced Ensign Bannon joined the bridge and sheepishly returned to his station. Halloway tossed him a glance of irritation. The ensign’s face got redder as he quickly turned to his duties.

“Captain, to tell you the truth, you do walk a little like that,” whispered LaCroix to Halloway. He sighed as he turned his attention on the viewscreen.


=Jyinion warship orbiting Jyinus=


“I will not stand for this!!! Return me to Jyinus IMMEDIATELY!” yelled Cimorene at Fallow as he activated the forcefield to her cell. He just looked at her and grinned.

“Then take a seat, Princess. Get used to being in there, because that’s where you’ll be until we have control of the Jyinion Assembly.”

“Until you have control of it, you mean.”

“How astute, Princess. And now, I must bid you farewell,” mocked Fallow as he bowed low and left. She sat on the bed and crossed her arms, frowning.

“Just you wait. My people will come to get me, you’ll see.” grumbled Cimorene as she continued to frown. She looked around the bare, empty cell. `This place isn’t much better, either.’


CHAPTER FIVE:

The USS Haymaker slowed to impulse and parked itself just outside of Sector 66- F. “We’re heeerrreee!” proclaimed Benn with a musical tone. Halloway stood and walked towards the viewscreen.

“Sector 66-F.”

“Sector 66-F,” echoed LaCroix as she stepped beside her captain. The blackness stretched on into the void, being broken only by the glitter of starlight.

“What a dump,” commented Halvox. Both Halloway and LaCroix turned and took their seats.

“Well, here goes nothing. Lt. Benn, take us in, full impulse,” ordered Halloway.

“Aye, sir. Full impulse,” confirmed the Trill conn officer as she piloted the Haymaker across the border and into Jyinion space.

“Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” asked Halloway rhetorically after a tense moment of silence. Suddenly, the red alert klaxons started to wail. “Never mind.”

“Captain, two unidentified ships are entering the area, running with weapons hot,” reported Gabriel over the howl of the sirens.

“On screen, and turn off those damned alarms while you’re at it.” Two crescent- shaped spacecraft popped on the viewer. They were muddy red in color, and were had a series of layers cascading down both tips. “Looks like a couple of croissants…” said Halloway.

“Speaking of croissants, I heard this delightful pun in Sickbay the other day while I was repairing one of the biobeds,” said Monty as he shimmered onto the bridge. “But I see that now is not the time.”

“Halvox, hail them,” ordered Halloway She nodded and attempted to do so.

“Sir, the lead ship is responding.” Halloway motioned at the screen, and a second later, a tall man with a thin, black moustache replaced the two approaching ships.

“I am Commander J’Son Laru, of the Jyinion Assembly Guard. You are trespassing, prepare to die,” said the man as he glared at Halloway with two beady black eyes.

“Is the universal translator working properly?” whispered Halvox to Gabriel. “Because he sounds French.”

“I hate the French,” stated the tactical chief with a frown. Halvox nodded in agreement.

“I am Captain Bobby Halloway of the Federation starship Haymaker. We heard that the Jyinion Assembly had fell, and we are here only to render assistance,” said Halloway as he stood.

“I do not believe you.”

“You don’t believe me? Why not?”

“Because the Jyinion Assembly is doing just fine and dandy, thank you, you sons of a silly person. Now go away, or I shall taunt you a second time!” Halloway turned his head to look at LaCroix, who shrugged in confusion. He mouthed `what the hell?’ and turned back to face Laru.

“I intend to enter this space, and things would go smoother if you allowed us to help.” Laru ignored this and stuck up his nose.

“You’re mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!” the holographic engineer shot at the annoying Commander. He was taken aback. Laru quickly composed himself, and glared at Halloway.

“You, silly Captain Halloway, are about to die. Farewell.” The Haymaker shook as the viewer revealed the two Jyinion ships attacking.

“Shields are holding at 78%,” reported Gabriel as the ship shook.

“Return fire. Jenna, evasive maneuvers,” ordered Bobby as he returned to his seat. Another blast rocked the ship, followed by two more, which caused one of the EPS conduits on the bridge to rupture.

“Damage reported on decks 13, 6, 5, and 1, shields down to 60%,” said Halvox as her hands darted across her station. The Haymaker continued to return fire at the two ships as it tried to wiggle out of their attacks. A phaser blast bore a hole into one of the ships, causing an explosion.

“Direct hit on the vessel’s primary power core, their shields are gone,” said Gabriel. “They are fleeing, Captain.”

“Discontinue red alert. Leave them be,” said Halloway. “Damage report.”

“The warp drive has been damaged, but not much. You’ll have Warp 4 until we get it repaired,” said Monty as he checked the engineering station. “I’ll be down there if ya need me. To the warp core!!!” he proclaimed before he disappeared.

“Lt. Benn, warp factor four.”

“Aye. Heading?”

“Anywhere, Lt.” She grinned and began to type in her destination. “Anywhere in Jyinion space, Miss Benn. Not Risa.” She frowned and readjusted their course. “Let’s get this over with,” sighed Halloway as the USS Haymaker streaked further into Sector 66-F.


=Jyinion Warship `Le Baron’, Somewhere in Sector 66-F=


Fallow sat comfortably in the command chair on the bridge of the Le Baron'. He stared straight into the viewer. His second-in-command, Mennol, casually scanned Fallow's mind. I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts, diddle-ly dee…’ Mennol sighed and faced forward as well.

“High Admiral Fallow, sir?” stammered a young officer at the conn.

“Yes?”

“There is a ship on sensors just entering Assembly territory. It is of an unknown configuration.”

“Let me see,” ordered Mennol as he stepped forward to study the sensor readings. “It’s a Federation starship, Intrepid-class.”

“Federation? Your Federation?” asked Fallow. The Betazoid nodded with a frown. “It’s just one ship?”

“Affirmative, Admiral. Intrepid-class starships are small, but tough. Should we come down to a fight, we would need four or five of our best warships. No doubt that her crew is one of the finest in the fleet.”


CHAPTER SIX:

“Damn it all to hell!”

“Calm down, Chief!” yelled Lt. Abbott to the fuming hologram.

“I can’t believe this! Of all the stupid, unbelievable.! Monty to Captain!” stammered Monty as he tapped his comm badge.

“Halloway here.”

“We’ve got a problem. I just found another sub-standard part in the EPS relays! Did Starfleet use an outside contractor on us, or what?” Lt. Abbott groaned and rubbed his head as Monty reemerged from the jefferies tube.

“Let me check the construction logs.” There was a brief period of silence. “According to this, 85% of the ship was built by.LaGuarde Shipmakers, based in France, on Earth.”

“Damn French! I KNEW something was wrong when the computer kept placing all of the holo-mime programs next to mine!”

“So what’s the time table on this one, Chief?”

“Well, to replicate good parts to replace the failing ones and to install them, about 3 hours. However, at this rate, we may get stuck in Sector 66-F if something like the engine or the replicator fails.”

“Just fix what’s broken now and we’ll have a meeting tomorrow. Halloway out.” Monty grumbled and ducked back in to the jefferies tube.

“The only good thing the French ever invented was the French kiss, eh chief?” asked Lt. Abbott, as he tried to make Monty crack a smile. He succeeded.

“That, and whores…” responded the chief as he returned to his work.

“Speaking of which…Chief, Commander LaCroix is coming,” said Lt. Abbott to the hologram quietly as the XO approached. The hologram ducked back out of the tube and brushed some of the dirt off of his holobody.

“Commander, to what do I owe the pleasure?” asked the chief.

“Actually, I wanted to talk with Lt. Abbott here,” said LaCroix with a sexy grin.

“Me?” asked Abbott. LaCroix nodded and grabbed him by the uniform and lead him away. Monty just shook his head and got back to work.

“You’ve heard about the good time had by all, ladies and gentlemen,” said the hologram to nobody in particular. “And there she goes.”


Lt. Gabriel walked silently towards his quarters, with a look on his face that would have stopped a Klingon warrior in his tracks. Of course, this was the expression he always wore, and the crew had gotten used to it. He entered his room and locked the door. His room was spartan in decor, with only a potted plant and a rock on his nightstand. He sat on his bed and pulled out a box that was under the bed. Gabriel opened it, and removed his stuffed teddy bear, Fluffy. He smiled and gave the tiny bear a hug as rocked back and forth. “Computer, play file Gabriel-045.” `Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ started playing softly as Gabriel continued to hug the small teddy bear. He reached into the box again and grabbed a tiny piece of blue fabric, which was tattered and torn. There was a picture of a bear embroidered in one of the corners. He wrapped Fluffy in it and laid the bear on the bed, with its head resting on a pillow. Suddenly, the doors whisked open. Gabriel growled loudly at the intruder, as he jumped up to attack.

“Lt. Comm. Gabriel??? What are you doing in my quarters?” asked Ensign Bannon. “The lock you put on the door was a little tricky to break, but…why is there a teddy bear wrapped in a blanket on my bed?”

“This is MY quarters, Ensign. Yours are two decks down, same spot.”

“Oops, sorry Commander.” Bannon turned to leave, then stopped. “Commander, why is there a teddy bear wrapped up in a blanket on your bed?” Gabriel pushed the science officer out the door and re-locked the door. He let out a `grrr’ before he rejoined Fluffy on the bed.


Captain Halloway sighed as he stared out into the barren expanse that was Sector 66-F. He was sitting alone at a table in the mess hall, diving into a plate of replicated prime rib, with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. For some strange reason, it tasted just like lemon chicken with asparagus. “Monty to Captain, the replicators are starting to go,” reported the engineering chief.

“So I’ve noticed,” he responded as he chewed thoughtfully on another bite of beef.

“Sir, I recommend that we turn back. I, for one, do not want to be stuck here all my life.” His voice bellowed through the comm link.

“Chief, you’re a little loud, people are staring.”

“Sorry, the comm system must be going too,” he replied, at almost a whisper. “I’ll get right on it. And by the way, Captain…” The volume continued to drop until Halloway couldn’t hear him anymore.

“Chief, speak up. I can’t hear you.”

“COMMANDER LACROIX IS SHACKING UP WITH LT. ABBOTT!” screamed Monty as the volume was suddenly restored to normal. The entire mess hall turned and stared at their captain. After a brief silence, snickers and hushed voices were heard, as the rumor mill began to work. Halloway rubbed his forehead and sighed. “Oops. Um, I’ll talk with you later, cap. Monty out.” Halloway placed another piece of lemon beef in his mouth and sighed again. A tray of food was plopped down with a `clang’ across the table from Halloway. He looked up to see Lt. Halvox sit down and began to eat her dinner.

“Good evening, Miss Halvox,” greeted Bobby with a grin. The ops officer mumbled a reply and continued eating. Bobby sighed and joined in.

“Permission to speak freely sir,” requested Kerry as she dropped her fork on her tray loudly.

“You’re not going to yell at me, are you?” inquired Halloway. If it was one thing he had learned about his Chief of Operations, it was that you did not want to be on the short end of her stick.

“Not this time, Captain.”

“Oh. In that case, go ahead.”

“Captain, I don’t know how to say this, but.”

“You want a transfer?” guessed Halloway. Halvox glared at him slightly.

“No. Where did you hear that?”

“Word travels. I guess that it was just a rumor.”

“Hmmm,” she thought with an evil grin. Whoever had started that rumor was probably going to regret it, thought Bobby. “Anyways, I just wanted to say that you are the first captain I have ever had that has not thought any less of me because of my…condition.”

“Condition?”

“Yes. I’m half-Hellian, and human/Hellian hybrid females have a surge of estrogen constantly flowing through their body, creating hormonal problems, which leads to general…unfriendliness towards others.”

“Ah, yes. Terminal PMS,” stated Halloway matter-of-factly. Kerry’s glare intensified as her eyes bored into the young captain. She tried to compose herself and pushed ahead.

“All that I wanted to say is, `thank you’. Now, don’t stare at me so much, you bug-eyed fool!” With that, Kerry dove back into her dinner and didn’t say another word until she had finished and left. Bobby shook his head and almost laughed as he finished his meal.


CHAPTER SEVEN:


=Jyinion Warship Le Baron, Somewhere in Sector 66-F=


Princess Cimorene sat with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face as she stared at the cell wall. She wished that her supporters would hurry up and rescue her. Then, with her leading her people, they could find her father. Or at least, that’s what Cimorene wanted to happen. “Oh, bother…” she mumbled as she tried to look her best. Going four days without a shower was bad enough, but the food on the ship tasted like mush, which, essentially, it was. Suddenly, she was thrown down the floor by the rocking of the ship. She heard the attack alarm go off as she tried to get to her feet. The ship continued to be pounded by some outside attacker. Cimorene ran into a wall as the lights went out in the cell. As she adjusted to the dim light she realized that she had fallen out of her cell. `The power grid must be offline.” Cimorene straightened her hair and darted out the door.


“Helm, hard to port! Torpedoes away!” ordered Fallow as he tried to hold on to his seat. Two warships like his and a number of smaller, shuttle-sized red craft were displayed on the viewer.

“Admiral, the lead ship is hailing us,” reported Mennol.

“On screen.” A young man in military clothing was on the viewer.

“I am Tan Omar of the People’s Assembly of Jyinion Space. I demand that you turn the princess over to me.”

“I don’t think so, Omar. I’m keeping her, for as long as I need her. And by the way, I have a better name. The New Jyinion Assembly, ruled not by aristocrats, but by the military. MY military. Join us or die.”

“Is that a threat?” Omar looked like he was about to crack up. “Release the princess now, and I’ll spare your crew’s life. They shouldn’t die for your mistakes.”

“Nor should your people die for yours. Goodbye, Omar.” The young officer’s face disappeared. The ship rocked again as the small armada continued its attack.

“Where’s the closest loyal ship?” inquired Fallow.

“Four hours away,” said Mennol, as he checked the sensors.

“Engage warp, get us out of here.”

“Course, sir?” asked the conn officer.

“Typhoid System, we’ll hide in the asteroid belt.” The officer nodded and plotted the course. Suddenly, the conn exploded, sending the officer flying across Fallow’s bridge.

“Warp drive is inoperable!” yelled Mennol. “We’re sitting ducks!” Another blast rocked the ship.

“Reroute all power to shields and set the ship to self-destruct. We’ll be leaving with the princess in my yacht. Get her and meet me in the main shuttle bay.” Mennol nodded and headed towards the brig. “Computer, set ship to self-destruct in five minutes.”

“This ship will self-destruct in five minutes and counting.” Fallow set the ship to fly into the center of the armada and left the bridge.


Mennol forced the doors to the brig open with his bare hands. Gas hissed out of a ruptured power conduit. The lights flickered on and off incessantly. “Come on, Princess, it’s time for a little trip,” called out Mennol as he approached her cell. “Princess, where are…” Mennol fell silent as he discovered that Cimorene was not where she was supposed to be. “Mennol to Fallow, we have a problem,” he said as he accessed the communications system.

“What sort of problem?”

“The princess is missing.” There was silence.

“Then leave her. This ship is going to explode in less than three minutes. I suggest that you meet me at my yacht as soon as possible.”

“But, sir, without the princess…!”

“Forget her! There are other ways of securing the people’s cooperation. Fallow out.” Mennol cursed under his breath and ran out of the brig as he headed for the yacht.


“Hurry up, you stupid piece of metal! Oh, drat!” cursed Cimorene as she tried to pilot the tiny shuttle away from the Le Baron. The tiny craft shook as two members of the attacking armada began firing on her. She squealed in fright as she attempted to power up the warp drive. “Oh, please work! Please, please, please,” she pleaded.

“Warp drive operational,” reported the computer. “Please input destination.”

“I don’t know how to fly a ship! Just take me away from here! Now!!!”

“Select destination vocally.”

“Anywhere!” The shuttle shuttered again from phaser blasts.

“Warning, shields down to 13%.” Cimorene screamed as sparks shot from a panel on the wall. She started to randomly press buttons.

“Please do something!!!”

“Destination selected. Thank you for flying Jyinion Air.” Cimorene was suddenly pushed back into her seat as the tiny shuttle accelerated to warp speed and disappeared. The Le Baron continued its flight into the heart of the armada, finally stopping when it had reached its center. The attacking ships continued to pound on the warship, ignoring the small yacht that was fleeing the battle. It entered warp just as the Le Baron’s warp drive reached critical and exploded, taking out the armada with it. The wreckage of the fleet was spewn all over the area, flying aimlessly into space.


=USS Haymaker, Somewhere in Jyinion Space=


“Oh dear,” remarked Halloway as he looked upon the wreckage before him.

“Sensors show that what ever was destroyed was destroyed recently,” reported Halvox.

“How recently?” asked LaCroix, sharing in the captain’s concern.

“I’d say about four to six hours ago. The sensors also show that it was more than one ship that was destroyed.”

“Any survivors?” asked Halloway.

“No life signs detected, Captain,” stated Bannon as he surveyed the sensor readings. “It seems that a warp core blew and took some other stuff with it, at least, that’s what I would guess.”

“Sir, there are two warp trails leading off from here, in two different directions,” reported Jenna.

“How long ago, Miss Benn?” said LaCroix.

“About the same time that the explosion occurred. The first warp signature heads towards a system 2.3 light years away, it contains a dense neutron star, three planets, and a very thick asteroid field.”

“With our ship falling apart at the seams, I wouldn’t recommend going in there, not if our deflector fails,” chimed in Monty.

“And the other…?” inquired Bobby.

“The other ship seems to be headed for.a star about 7 light years away. No planets, no asteroids, no nothing. Just a run of the mill star.”

“Well, that’s a no brainer. Plot a course to the second vessel, maximum warp.” Lt. Benn nodded and typed in the new heading. Halloway smiled slightly. “Here’s where things get interesting. Engage.” The USS Haymaker took off and disappeared into the expanse of Sector 66-F.


TO BE CONTINUED…



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