Author: Brendan Chris
Somewhere in Federation space
“Space…it’s big, it’s scary and there are a HELL of a lot of funny looking people out here. These are the adventures of the starship insert name here. It’s…um..1 year mission. No wait…8 year mission…5 year mission…CRAP!”
Newly promoted Captain Christopher Stafford hit the “stop” button, tossed his padd onto the console of the runabout Asessippi and turned to Lieutenant Commander Simon Jeffrey.
“How long do these things usually take anyway?” he demanded, crossing his arms and leaning back into his chair. He was a tall, slim man nearing 30 with dark brown hair. He may have been a little young for a captain, but with recent losses to the Borg and the Dominion Starfleet had been forced to relax some of its promotion standards to speed up the rebuilding of the fleet. Not that Stafford would ever admit that. And even as his eyes betrayed his nervousness, the hard cast of his mouth showed his resolve to do the best job he could.
His travelling companionrolled his eyes. “Well sir, it all depends,” Simon Jeffery said in his thick, Scottish accent. “Some ships are out there for nearly a decade y’know. Others crash into planets, or get blown up, or crash into other ships, or get sucked into spatial anomalies, or destroyed by computer viruses. Sometimes the captains get promoted to Admiral even…but ah don’t think ye have to worry about that one.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” said Stafford. “It’s great to know that you have such faith in me.”
“Ah’ve been sitting here listening to ye try to record that thing for the past hour! If ye can’t think up a simple voice-over, how are ye supposed to command a ship of your own?” Jeffrey was shorter than Stafford and his hair had just a faint tinge of red. His ancestry was Scottish, which for some reason had caused all of his commanding officers to have very high expectations of his engineering skills.
“Well…I’m sure it will come to me. How does Starfleet expect me to do a voice-over anyway? I don’t even know the name of my ship yet! They didn’t tell me the name, the class, the mission or anything! They must have told you something…you’re going to be Chief Engineer after all.”
<Uh-oh> thought Simon to himself. He actually DID know something about the ship they were being assigned to. He also knew that Starfleet hadn’t told the Captain anything for a specific reason: Get him to the Earth FIRST….then give him the bad news once it’s too late to back out. Jeffery didn’t like the idea, he wasn’t the sort of person to keep secrets from a friend. But orders were orders, and this one came from someone with enough clout to send Jeffery to a frozen, deserted outpost for the rest of his career.
“All they’ve told me is that it’s a…um…in the middle of a refit…and that…we should have nothing to worry about.” He carefully looked down at his panel, “Hey, how about that Commander Smith…she sure was upset when you decided to leave the Exeter,” Relieved to change the topic, Jeffery was able to force himself to relax, “What’s up with that?”
“Oh…well, we were kind of involved,” stated Stafford, looking up at the cockpit ceiling. “She wanted me to stay on the Exeter with her. When I refused she kicked me out of her quarters with nothing but my commbadge. “
“Oh,” said Jeffrey, “Well, I’m sure ye’ll find a new girl before long,”
The runabout was silent for several minutes. Captain Stafford sat back, envisioning the vessel he would soon be commanding. Akira class maybe? Or Intrepid. On the other hand, some officers were whispering about the Intrepid class being a cursed starship class, what with the Voyager Incident and all. But Starfleet was turning out a lot of ships at Utopia Planetia these days. This left them short of officers. And captains. He didn’t mind that he was promoted maybe a little bit fast. Honestly. It was no sweat. He knew what he was doing. Mostly. There had been that one incident with the Klingon Ambassador. But hey, nobody had died.
Simon Jeffrey was thinking along very different lines. Not about whether Stafford would be fit as a captain. Nooo, he was far more worried about his reaction to his ship. On the one hand he felt like crap for not filling his friend in on the ship he would be commanding. On the other hand he didn’t want to be ANYWHERE near Stafford when he found out. Jeffrey wasn’t exactly thrilled himself, but he saw the situation as a challenge.
“Look, why don’t you just leave out the name of the ship and record it in later. Who cares how long we’re out there? Just say “the continuing voyages” or something,” Jeffrey said.
“That is SO Picard!” Stafford objected, I’m not following in the footsteps of that stiff-shirt! You heard what he said about my mother!”
“That she was a nag?” Jeffery asked.
“I don’t care if he was right or not, nobody disses my family,” Stafford snapped, “To hell with it! Starfleet is just going to have to wait until later to get their opening credits! Now I’m going to go take a nap. Let me know when we get to sector 001.”
Utopia Planetia, Mars Orbit
“Admiral, Captain Stafford’s runabout has just dropped out of warp. They’re hailing us,” reported Yeoman Mitchell.
“On screen,” commanded Admiral Grant. Grant was the very image of a Starfleet Admiral: Old, grey-haired and posessing a false air of good cheer. There was a flicker as Stafford’s image came up on the screen, replacing that of the runabout.
“Captain Stafford,” Grant smiled, “Lovely to see you. Here to pick up your new ship?”
“Morning Admiral,” Stafford rubbed his hands together, “Which docking bay? Umm…sir?”
“Oh you’re ship isn’t here at Utopia Planetia Captain. She’s in Box Dock 3, in Earth orbit. Beam me aboard and we’ll go have a look-see, hmmm?” purred Admiral Grant. Truth be told, he was sick of these hot-shot captains dropping by every week. Getting their shiny new ships and heading out into the vast unknown of space. Thinking they were so damned good! So much better than hard-working but Earthbound officers like himself! Well, this time he would have the last laugh!
Runabout Asessippi, en route to Box Dock 3
“So what class of ship is it? What’s the name? What’s she doing in a box dock anyway? Those old things haven’t been used in years!” Captain Stafford was almost giddy with excitement. His ship. HIS ship, was just a few short minutes away! His ticket to adventure, excitement, possibly even fame!
“Now, now captain, you don’t want to spoil the surprise, do you?” Admiral Grant smiled. Surprise indeed! “Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey, bring us about to 143 mark 2 and give us the captain’s tour”.
“Ummmm, Admiral, ah forgot to clean up the back compartment after lunch…ah really should go take care of it before we dock,” stammered Jeffrey.
“Oh, don’t you mind that Lieutenant, just pilot the dammed ship. We do have clean up crews for a reason,” said Stafford. “Besides, you don’t want to miss this!”
As far back as anybody could remember, from the great ships that sailed to ocean to the mighty starships that sail the ocean of space, captains had always been shuttled to their new commands in one way or another. Every captain relished the chance to see their new ship close up. To admire the graceful lines, the power and the beauty of the vessel he (or she) would soon be commanding. Captain Stafford closed his eyes in anticipation, imagining the gleaming ship he would see soon. Excelsior class? Galaxy class? He didn’t really want a Galaxy class ship. Too big, too many people and KIDS! God, did he ever hate kids. Maybe he’d get a Defiant class….you never had kids on one of those. Or civilians. Or visiting dignitaries for that matter. Just a higher chance of being blown up by some scaly bad-guy. Chris’s thoughts were interrupted by Admiral Grant’s cheery voice.
“And here we are captain! U.S.S. Silverado: NCC-135060. Ambassador class, commissioned 2314,” Admiral Grant smiled at Captain Stafford. “Congratulations!”
Stafford’s eyes popped open. “A-a-a-ambassador class?” he gasped, “2314?? But…that’s over 50 years ago! There ARE no Ambassador class ships in the fleet that are that old! I don’t think there are ANY ships in the fleet that old!”
“Why captain, you’re absolutely right! How observant of you to notice!” Admiral Grant was loving every minute of this, “The fact is she hasn’t been part of the fleet. She was decommissioned in 2316 after failing multiple safety inspections, then used as a garbage scow in the asteroid belt. That didn’t last too long, though. She spent 20 years with Starfleet Academy as a training vessel for Year One Engineering students. Gave them great examples of what NOT to do in an engine room. After that she was sent to the junkyard at Rigel VI. Anyway, with such a shortage of ships these days we’ve decided to fix her up and put her back into active duty.”
“Garbage scow…active duty?” Stafford fell back into his seat. It was like watching a bad shuttle accident, he realized. He couldn’t pull his eyes off the vessel in the window. He knew he’d be having nightmares, that the best thing to do would be to look away…but he couldn’t. This is what Starfleet had given him?
The ship in front of them was a mess. It was in one piece, for the most part. Clouds of workbees hovered around the nacelles, ripping off panels and removing old components. A shuttle was using a tractor beam to try to remove a large rock from where it was wedged in the navigational deflector housing. Missing hull plates from numerous sections gave the ship a scavenged look, like a half-rotted corpse. Black scorch marks dotted the saucer while the shuttlebay doors were splattered with…God…he didn’t even want to think about it.
“This can’t be right! There has to be some mistake! There is no way in HELL that rust bucket can go into active service! There were dozens of brand new ships at the shipyards. Why is Starfleet giving me this piece of s**t?” Stafford was getting angry now…and to top it all off he was pretty sure he could feel a tear forming in his left eye.
“Why captain, this is the correct ship,” Grant flashed a winning smile, “Starfleet has great confidence in you and your crew’s ability to get her ship-shape in no time. Why, just yesterday we sent Mr. Jeffrey here the progress report on her warp drive. He was very pleased with our work.”
Stafford spun around and glared at Jeffrey.
“You KNEW about this? You KNEW??? You spend 3 f**king days in a runabout with me listening to me wondering about my ship and you NEVER TOLD ME it was a f**king JUNK HEAP!!” Stafford was shouting now.
Jeffrey cringed back in his seat, “It’s not my fault!!! They made me swear not to tell ye anything! Ah knew you’d be pissed-“
“Damned right I’m pissed, you little son of a bitch!” Stafford jumped out of his chair, his hands going for Jeffrey’s throat. Simon fell back out of his seat, his flailing hand smacking against the helm panel, disengaging the auto-pilot.
The runabout dove down, narrowing missing Silverado’s pitted secondary hull and flying out the bottom of the box dock. Admiral Grant clung to his chair as Chris and Simon were thrown against the back wall of the cockpit. Grant pulled the runabout out of the dive and set it back on an automatic course for Silverado’s main shuttlebay.
“Of all the stupid, immature, unprofessional stunts!” Grant fumed. “You could have killed me! What do you have to say for yourself, Captain! Captain?” Grant looked back. Stafford was crumpled unconscious against the transporter pad, his hand stretched out towards Jeffrey’s still form. Jeffery scampered further away, gulping nervously.
Grant grunted and hailed the Silverado. “Runabout Asessippi to Silverado. We will be docking momentarily. Prepare to receive your schmuck of a captain and to beam me the hell out of here!”
“Uhhhh….” Captain Stafford moaned as his world slowly came into focus. He looked around from his bio-bed and found himself in a Starfleet sickbay. An old Starfleet sickbay. An old, filthy Starfleet sickbay. “What the hell happened? Where the hell am I?”
“You’re aboard Silverado, sir. You had a bit of an accident on the way here, but thanks to the grace and mercy of God, you’re going to be all right,” came a somewhat beautific voice from somewhere nearby.
Chris sat up and looked in the direction the voice had come from and found himself facing his new CMO, Doctor Noel Wowryk. He knew she was pretty from her personnel file, but he had no idea that her legs were soo….and those eyes! And that hair! Doctor Wowryk was a tall, slim woman with a pale complexion, long reddish hair and a smile to die for! According to Starfleet medical she’d been in the top 10% of her class and had won an award for her work on wart removal. Waitaminute….grace and glory of God??? Wasn’t this the 24th century?
“Um…hello,” Stafford said, “You must be the CMO, Doctor Wowryk right? I’m Captain Stafford.”
“Nice to meet you, captain,” Noel said, smiling warmly. “You took a nasty hit to the head. Lieutenant Jeffrey dropped you off half an hour ago and bolted right out. Didn’t say goodbye or anything.”
“He….was probably shy,” replied Chris. Shy indeed! The little s**t was at least smart enough to get FAR away while he could. “What about Admiral Grant?”
“Oh, he beamed down to Earth right after you docked. He left you this recording though,” she handed him an isolinear data chip. “He said it would explain everything.”
“Yeah right. Look doc, it’s turning into a really bad day and my head is pounding like an Andorian marching band…would you please give me some painkillers so I can get this over with?”
“Oh sir, you don’t want to do that,” Doctor Wowryk said, giving him a reproving look, “The headache is God’s reminder to you of what happened, and a reminder that He saved you from certain death. To remove the pain is to remove that reminder of His love.”
“Huh? What the hell are you talking about?” Stafford rubbed his temples. “Look, I don’t know what you’ve been shooting yourself up with, but just get me a damned painkiller so I can get to work!”
Noel’s expression darkened. She grabbed a nearby padd and started shaking it at Stafford. “Blasphemer! How DARE you risk the Lord’s wrath! OUT! BEGONE, FOUL SPAWN OF SATAN!!!”
Stafford bolted from sickbay, slipping into the corridor just as the padd bounced off the closing sickbay doors. Right. It might be the 24th century, but people could still be a bit touchy about religion!
Stafford stalked down the grimy corridors of Silverado. He was NOT happy! All in the space of 2 hours he had learned that his ship was a wreck, his best friend had conspired to hide information from him, he’d been attacked by his bible thumping doctor and he STILL had the damned headache! Suddenly the speed of his promotion was the very last thing on his mind.
“Bridge!” he barked as he entered the turbolift. Nothing happened.
The turbolift didn’t move.
“BRIDGE!!!!” This time the turbolift creaked and began to move slowly upward. There was another creak, then the sound of tearing metal. Stafford jerked his head up, looking for the source of the sound. There was a loud CLANGGG and the turbolift lurched to the left as sparks flew from the ceiling.
Up on the bridge, Ensign Patricia Yanick was desperately trying to engage Lieutenant Commander T’Parief in conversation. ANY conversation. The silence on the bridge was deafening.
“So, how’s tactical doing over there?” she asked, “Figure out what happened to Crewman Shwaluke’s hamster?”
“Yes” replied T’Parief.
“Oh goody!” Yanick clapped her hands together, “He’s been so worried about it. Where did you find it?”
“Under my boot,” the large alien replied.
“What?” asked Yanick in a small voice. “You mean he’s-.”
“Dead. Now let me work”
Tears started to well up in Yanick’s eyes.
“You mean freak!” she shouted, storming off to the washroom.
<Fragile human>, thought T’Parief. T’Parief himself was about as far from human as you could get. His grandparents included an Andorian, a Klingon and two Gorn. He began to tap at his panel with his claws. At least with the distraction gone (for the 30 seconds it seemed to take her to regain her insufferable cheer) he could work on the ship’s battered defense systems. The picture wasn’t pretty: A chimpanzee could defeat the Silverado with one hand tied behind its back. He and Yanick had been the first two officers to arrive on board, but their time together had not, so far, endeared them to each other. Two things happened simultaneously: An ominous rumbling from the rear of the bridge signaled the approach of a turbolift and Ensign Yanick returned from the washroom.
“All right!” she squealed, “Somebody to talk to besides YOU!” She ran over to the turbolift. “Hi, I’m Ensign Trish Yanick, helm officer. It’s so good to meet…you…” At this point she realized that the turbolift appeared empty. ‘Hello?”
“Hello?” came a small voice from the turbolift floor. Looking down, Yanick found a tall officer with captain’s pips curled up in a fetal position.
“Oh!” beamed Yanick, “You must be Captain Stafford! It’s so good to finally meet you, sir! Thank you so much for accepting me on your crew! I thought after that little accident with the Hood that nobody would take me on helm! But then that was a while ago huh? So, are you going to come out onto the bridge or what? That turbolift is kinda scary huh? I nearly wet myself the first trip! But don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll fix it soon. Just noisy, really.”
Captain Stafford slowly climbed to his knees, marveling at the lung capacity of his new helm officer. He’d never heard anybody say so much in one breath. He mentally braced himself and peered around Yanick to peek at his new bridge. His jaw dropped.
The bridge was spotless.
Slightly smaller than a Galaxy class bridge module, Silverado’s bridge was built along similar lines. Oval in shape, with twin conn and ops consoles facing the main viewscreen. On the back wall of the bridge was a large systems display with a schematic of the ship, flanked by the science and engineering stations. Tactical was mounted on the railing running behind the captain’s and first officer’s chairs. To the port and starboard were small L-shaped auxiliary consoles facing forward. Above the captain’s chair a small dome of transparent aluminum showed a workbee gliding overhead. Soft lighting highlighted the muted blues and grays of the bridge. The air even had the ‘new-starship’ smell. Stafford climbed all the way to his feet and eased past Yanick.
“Is this heaven?” he asked.
T’Parief turned to look at the captain.
“No” he said, “The bridge module was the first item to be replaced. The old one had…problems,” he tried (and failed) to smile, “I trust you find it a pleasant surprise after your journey here.”
Stafford jumped when he saw his nightmarish new Chief of Security, “Uh, yeah. Pleasant surprise. You must be T’Parief. Pleasure to meet and all that, but I really just need to sit down. I’ll be in my ready room.” Stafford practically ran down the steps by the tactical rail and approached the ready room door. The ready room was also a pleasant surprise. A bit small, perhaps. But everything he needed was there.
“Stafford to Jeffrey, report to my ready room in 10 minutes” he said, tapping his commbadge.
“Uh…aye sir,” came the reply.
Stafford wandered over to his small, private washroom to toss some water on his face. He was just turning to leave when the toilet flushed. And flushed again. And again. Stafford sighed and dug the isolinear chip Dr. Wowryk had given him out of his pocket and plugged it into his terminal.
“Let’s see what the old goat has to say,” he muttered. Static flared briefly across the screen before the terminal went dead. New module or not, there were clearly some glitches. With a grunt of frustration Stafford dug around in his desk until he found a padd. He plugged in the chip and hit “play”. To his surprise he was greeted not with the image of Admiral Grant, but the beaming image of Federation President Bradley Dillon seated at his massive desk, a Federation flag behind him.
“Greetings, Federation citizen! This is President Bradley Dillon, here to tell you about a wonderful new initiative being undertaken by my administration. If you are viewing this recording, you have been chosen to help me build a better Federation for tomorrow!
“Hasn’t it ever bothered you to see the amount of resources wasted by Starfleet? New ships being constructed by the hundreds while the ships of yesterday rot away in the ‘salvage depots’. Doesn’t it hurt to see the economy of our great society drained while the number of ships wasted grows larger and larger?
“Well, I’m proud to announce a new program designed to put your minds and our economy at ease. ‘Operation Salvage’ has been on the drawing board for many months and we are proud now to make you a part of it!”
“Oh God,” Stafford said to himself as his toilet flushed once again in the background, “Save us from the politicians. Who’s bright f**ing idea was this anyway?”
“By recovering old, damaged or unused vessels we use less than 25% of the metals needed to build a new ship. Rather than overtaxing shipyards like Utopia Planetia, we can assign crews to these vessels at the beginning of the restoration process. The crews are then able to better familiarize themselves with the ships they will be serving on. Better yet, we don’t have to pay a fortune in overtime wages!”
“Of course, you’re probably wondering ‘Will my family be safe with ships like that protecting me?’ Well rest assured; each of these ships will be upgraded with the latest in state-of-the-art technologies, purchased from Dillon Enterprises at a very reasonable rate.
“I’m sure YOU will work very hard to make MY dream a reality. Congratulations and welcome to the Operation Salvage team!”
Stafford sat back in his chair, unable to believe what he had just seen. Operation Salvage? Wasted resources? What the f**k? Following the recording was a set of mission parameters.
MWAAAAARRPPPP!!!!! The door chime squealed like a tormented cat, scaring the crap out of Stafford and sending him jumping about 2 feet in the air.
“WHAT??!!??” he barked.
“Uh sir, you wanted to see me?” It was Simon Jeffrey.
“Damned right I wanted to see you! Have you seen this garbage?” Stafford tossed his padd at Jeffrey who cringed back rather than catching it. The padd bounced off his chest.
“What the hell is wrong with Starfleet? My ship is a s**t splattered junk heap, my CMO is insane, I’ve got a blond hippie in the driver seat and my F**KING TOILET WON’T STOP FLUSHING!!”
“Ah’m very sorry about all of this Chris!” whimpered Jeffrey, picking up the padd, “Ah’ll send the ship’s plumber up right away!”
Stafford spun around to face Jeffrey.
“Plumber. Why in God’s name do we have a plumber? Does the Enterprise have a plumber? NO! Did the Exeter have a plumber? NO! Even the Secondprize doesn’t have a f**king plumber! Wait, never mind. I really don’t want to know.”
Stafford tapped his commbadge. “Senior staff, whoever you are, report to the conference lounge immediately.”
Stafford sat at the head of the table in the Silverado’s conference lounge waiting for his senior staff to come in. Dr. Wowryk was the last to arrive, throwing him a very dirty look.
“Well,” he said, looking around, “Hi everybody. Nice to meet you. I understand our first officer and science officer are still en route so let’s cut to the chase: Starfleet wants us to get this heap up and running. I want good news first Mr. Jeffrey. Assuming there is any?”
“Aye, there is good news sir. While they were looking for a crew Starfleet assigned some engineers from Spacedock to replace our warp coils, warp core, computer core and bridge module. They’re just closing up the nacelles now and we should be ready to start testing the core tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow? Ha! That’s really funny!” Lieutenant San Jall was the Silverado’s Operations officer. His voice was a little harsh, his features looked like they came from a Mediterranean background and he was the only one in the room that had Stafford beat for height. Other than the unusually large T’Parief.
“Have you SEEN this ship?” Jall went on, “The EPS grid is trash, the replicators are 50 years out of date, half the doors won’t open and we are MISSING about 10 percent of our outer hull!”
“Yeah, well, he asked for the good news first,” said Jeffrey “Ah’m working on the engines! Ye worry about the doors for now. Isn’t the Operations Officer supposed to help with ship repairs?”
“And why the hell should I do that?” Jall shouted back, “You’re the damned engineer!”
Ensign Yanick started to tear up. “Stop fighting! Why are you two being so mean?”
Lieutenant Jall spun around to face her. “Who the hell asked you? Now sit down and shut up!”
Ensign Yanick burst in tears and ran for the door. Dr. Wowryk glared daggers at Jall before chasing after her.
“Nicely done,” rumbled T’Parief, “The people skills of an executioner.”
“Lieutenant Jall!” Stafford shouted, “That was completely uncalled for!”
“Whatever,” muttered Jall, “Can I go now?”
“No!” Stafford turned to Jeffrey. “Find the most boring task you can find and assign it to Jall. But first he’s going to apologize to Ensign Yanick by cleaning and refitting her quarters. Then you can bounce around deck 15 until you get the gravity down there running again!”
“Aye sir,” said Jeffrey.
“F**k that!” said Jall. “No way!”
“Let me put it this way,” Stafford said, folding his hands on the table, “You can either help Jeffrey with whatever he needs, or you can spend the next week refitting the waste extraction system!”
Jall frowned, weighing his options. “Aye sir,” he finally said.
Captain’s Log: Stardate 56150.2
“Whoever had the bright idea to recycle this scrap heap should be shot.”
Captain Stafford sat back in his command chair and looked up at the ceiling.
“You know,” called Lieutenant Jall from the port auxiliary console, “Most captains actually leave something of substance in their logs.”
“Bite me!” snapped Stafford. But the only thing more annoying than an insubordinate jerk was an insubordinate jerk who happens to be right.
Captain’s Log: Supplemental.
“True to his word Mr. Jeffrey did indeed start his warp core tests today. I understand the starbase technicians working around the nacelles are well on their way to complete recovery. I have given Ensign Yanick the day off. It’s not like we’re going anywhere anytime soon anyway. I believe she’s presently having a bubble bath in her perfectly cleaned and repaired quarters, courtesy of Mr. Jall. Maybe I should get him to do mine next. I don’t know what’s worse, the dust or the spiders. Mr. Jall is presently working on upgrading our computer systems. It seems the only software that Starfleet had any licenses left for was LCARS MT 4.0. Strangely enough that was the program that ran most of the fleet around the time the Silverado was built. Unfortunately for Mr. Jall there have been about 15,000 patches and upgrades since that time. It will take him several days to install them all.”
“Oh yeah, MY DAMNED TOILET IS STILL FLUSHING!!!”
“Jall, hurry up with those upgrades. I’ll be with Mr. Jeffrey. Mr. T’Parief…just keep on doing whatever it is you’re doing.” Stafford climbed into the Jeffries tube at the base of the viewscreen and started climbing down to deck 8.
“Why the hell did I get stuck with this damned job?” asked Jall.
“You were asking for it, that’s why,” stated T’Parief calmly.
Jeffrey found Stafford waiting for him in Computer Core Control on deck 8.
“So Mr. Tight-Lip, what’s the deal?” he asked.
“Well sir, Ah’m not too worried about the warp drive. Once we replace the power conduits we’ll be in pretty good shape. Ah did have a hard time getting that family of Albarian eels out of the primary deuterium tanks though.”
“Otherwise it’s going to be a long refit. Aside from the problems that they decommissioned her for in the first place, this ship was picked pretty clean of anything usable while she was sitting at Rigel VI. At least it’s making it easier to install new equipment, since there’s less to take out,” Jeffrey’s shook his head. “We have one phaser bank. The rest of our weapon systems were salvaged and used in the construction of the U.S.S Excalibur.”
“Hmmm,” Stafford scratched his head. “What are the odds we could get them back?”
“Pretty bad. The Excalibur was destroyed in Thallonian space by a computer virus.”
“Starfleet wants us out of box dock in 3 weeks,” said Jeffrey, “Ah don’t see how we can do it! Even if we are spaceworthy by then, there’d no time to test how all this old and new crap is going to work together!”
“So in other words, we’re screwed,” clarified Stafford, “What if we leave all the cosmetic repairs until we’ve left box dock? Can we get all the essential systems running and worry about cleaning up later?’
“Maybe…if ye don’t mind if they christen us ‘Pigs in Space’.”
Stafford signed. “Just make it so Simon. The sooner the better.”
“Aye sir. Nice Picard impression by the way.”
San Jall was bored. He was REALLY bored. He was presently on Upgrade #347: Warp Drive Sub-Processor Control 6.3.
“Computer, initiate download: Upgrade #347,” he said.
“Initiating uplink. Uplink established. File located. Would you like to open this file, save it, or cancel?”
“Primary computer core, save it in folder labeled ‘Download Archive 56150.347”
“Initiating download. Estimated time to completion 3 minutes,”
Jall sat back to wait. He’d already counted the panels in the bridge roof and spotted at least 15 different workbees flying past the bridge dome. “Jall to Jeffrey. Remind me again why I have to do these one at a time?”
Jeffrey’s reply was quick and to the point. “Because this is old software with new hardware and ah don’t want to risk any screw-ups!”
“Too late” muttered Jall as he closed the link.
“Download complete,” interrupted the computer.
“Good. Install the patch.”
“Upgrade #347 you outdated piece of s**t!”
“Upgrade #347 not found. Specify location.”
“Download archive 56150.347! The one I just downloaded!”
“Installation complete. Please reboot your starship for full changes to take effect.”
Stafford looked up from his desk and smiled to himself as he heard Jall screaming on the bridge. His smile quickly faded as the computer reboot switched the lights on and off and erased the report he’d spend the past half hour working on. As he groaned, the toilet flushed for the 437th time. With a sigh he scratched his head and turned back to his reports.
A hundred upgrades later, San Jall cackled manically to himself as he adjusted the controls. He’d show them! He’d show them all! He could hear the ship’s computers below him…laughing at him. Mocking him. But he’d show them!
“Computer, initiate uplink. Upgrades # 448 to 1500”
“Procedure is not recommended”
“Command override Jall pie-seven-seven-photo-umbrella. Initiate downloads.”
“Command authority accepted. Files located. Would you like to open these files, save them or cancel?”
“Open and install! MWA-HA-HA-HA!!!!”
“Initiating download. Downloading Replicator Subsystem 3.4 upgrade. Downloading FedNet Messenger 6.3. Downloading Warp Dive Control Protocols 4.4. Downloading Historical Update 78493. Downloading Warpin 3.1…download error. Initializing recovery program.”
“Fatal system error.”
“Oh sh**…” Jall gulped.
Dr. Wowryk, like most of the Silverado crew, was not happy. She was still in the process of collecting various bits of debris from around sickbay and tossing them into a large crate. So far she’d found 23 self-sealing stembolts, 15 broken hyposprays (circa 2315) and a nest of Vulcan ants burrowing into the mattress of biobed 5 (which just happened be the bed Stafford had been on earlier). She knew that as a proper Catholic she should take him some anti-itching cream to relieve his suffering, but he was going to hell anyway so he might as well get used to it. She was heading over to the miniature altar she had setup in her office when the alarms started to sound and the ship started to shake.
“Stafford to Jeffrey. What the hell is going on?” shouted Stafford as he stumbled onto the bridge.
“Ah don’t know! Impulse and warp engines just powered up on their own! We’ve broken free of the box dock…God knows where we’re going!”
“Red Alert! All hands to stations!”
Silverado sputtered out of Earth orbit trailing umbilicals, workbees and everything not bolted down in its wake.
The rear turbolift chose that moment to forcibly deposit a soaking wet Ensign Yanick onto the bridge. ‘What’s happening?” she cried, “I was in the tub and the next thing I know there was water flying everywhere!”
“Man your station Ensign, find out what the hell is going on!” ordered Stafford.
“Engineering to Bridge. The warp core is online! Suggest everybody hold on tight!”
Sparks flew around the bridge as old systems fought with new systems to hold the ship together. Finally with a loud screech and a jolt that pinned everybody to their seats, Silverado leapt into warp.
“Report!” shouted Stafford as the ship shook around them.
“We’re at warp one on a direct heading for the sun!” shouted Yanick, “I have no control over this thing! All I get is ‘Warpin 3.1…Please stand by’!”
“F**K!!!” shouted Stafford, “T’Parief, raise shields now! Jeffrey, take us out of warp! NOW!”
“Forward shields are at 34%, lateral and aft shields not responding!” reported T’Parief. “We have a hull breach on deck 10. Emergency force fields have failed,” shouted Jall
“Evacuate that deck!”
“Why the hell should I do that? There’s probably nobody there anyway.”
“JUST DO IT you little prick! Yanick, what’s the story?”
“We’re increasing to Warp 6…we’re going to slingshot around the sun in about 12 seconds and I WANT MY MOMMY!!!!”
“Slingshot around the sun?” Stafford exclaimed, “WHAT?”
With a final shriek of tortured systems the Silverado whipped around the sun and disappeared into the past…
Captain Stafford opened his eyes. The last thing he remembered was sparks flying all over his beautiful new bridge and a jolt that knocked his teeth loose. The main viewscreen quickly flashed a series of messages before shutting down completely. “What did that say?” he asked.
“Thank you for using Warpin 3.1. Please register now if you intend to continue using this program,” stated T’Parief. He was the only member of the bridge crew on his feet, but he was having some problems removing his talons from the tactical rail.
“Where the hell are we?” asked Jall.
“Good question. Right along with ‘What the hell was that’?” said Stafford. “Yanick, any bright ideas down there?”
Yanick climbed out from under her console, brushed her blond hair out of here eyes and started picking at her console with trembling hands. “Um…um…the main computer has crashed but I think one of the backups is working. All I can tell is that we’re drifting somewhere between Earth and the sun.”
“Wonderful. Anything more specific?”
“No. Sensors aren’t working very well”.
“Well imagine that,” muttered Jall.
“Yes!” shouted Stafford, “Imagine that! Jall, find a window and some binoculars and see what you can find?”
“Are you kidding?”
“DO I F**KING LOOK LIKE I’M KIDDING??!!??” screamed Stafford, “Now get down there before I give you to T’Parief as a chew toy!” T’Parief bared his razor-like teeth at this.
“On my way!”
Stafford, T’Parief, Jeffrey, Wowryk and Jall were gathered in the conference lounge. Jall was still scanning out the windows with a Dillon Exacto-View high-powered telescope he had dug up in one of the cargo bays.
“So what do we know?” asked Stafford.
“We’re drifting closer to Earth,” answered T’Parief, “But our pathetic shields are burned out, our computer is offline, impulse engines are down and toilets are flushing at random all over the ship.”
“Well, at least it’s not just me,” said Stafford, “What about communications?”
“Intraship is touch and go,” reported Jeffrey, “Anything else, forget it.”
“So what happened?”
“Well…that’s kind of a long story,” said Jeffrey, “But first you have to understand that it’s not my fault!”
“I’ll be the judge of that,” stated Stafford, “Humor me.”
“Well, it seems a certain officer who shall remain unnamed,” Jeffrey glared over at Jall, “Was trying to take a few shortcuts in upgrading our computer. He tried to download everything at once, and when the computer overloaded the upgrades got scrambled. Warpin 3.1 got mixed up in the warp engine control systems and the historical database and sent slingshotting around the sun. And probably through time.”
“Accidental time travel. Was that so hard?” asked Stafford, “Now what’s the short version?”
“We’re lost in time, and it’s all Jall’s fault,”
“Hold on!” interrupted Dr. Wowryk, “This bucket can’t even replicate proper wine and you’re saying it’s taken us back in time? How is that possible?”
“It’s possible,” said Jeffrey, “But it wasn’t smart! What shields we had are fried, propulsion is offline, we have 3 decks open to space, sensors are sh-“
“When are we?” interrupted T’Parief.
All heads swivelled to T’Parief. Then to Jeffrey.
“Ah don’t know!” said rolling his head back in his seat, “Since the computer crashed we don’t know what time the program was set to take us to. And without sensors we can’t calculate star motion or atmosphere pollution or anything like that.”
“So big deal,” interjected Jall, “Turn the damned ship around and go back the way we came!”
“It’s not that simple!” shouted Jeffrey, “Without the main computer we can’t calculate a return trajectory! Even if we had computers and engines running, which might be possible, we still need to know the present time before we can get back to our own!”
“Can the sensors be repaired?” asked Stafford.
“No way!” replied Jeffrey, “We weren’t scheduled to receive new sensors until next Thursday. All we have left are what came with the ship. And that’s not much!”
“There are no shipyards,” stated Jall.
“What?” asked everybody.
“See that big blob over there? That’s Earth. I’ve been watching it with this gadget for the past 15 minutes. I haven’t found a starbase, shipyard or any other orbiting object larger than about 50 meters. We’re probably somewhere around the dawn of space exploration. And there are no wastelands that I can see, so World War 3 probably hasn’t happened yet. I’d say 1970 to 2020.”
Everybody stared blankly at Jall.
“Did he just say something useful?” asked Jeffrey.
“He did,” said Stafford in amazement.
“Arrghh!” shouted Dr. Wowryk, “That’s it! If the only useful comment is coming from the pagan moron than I’m leaving! I’ll be in Sickbay, praying for everybody’s sorry excuse for a soul! At least then somebody will be doing something useful!” She stormed out of the room.
“I’m really starting to hate her,” muttered Stafford.
Captains Log: Stardate Unknown
Silverado now has the distinction of being the oldest ship ever to survive a slingshot maneuver. Who-hoo. Mr. Jeffrey has managed to restore some impulse power and so we have hidden behind Earth’s moon while we try to figure out how to get home.
Oh yeah, nobody was killed or anything.
“Radio broadcast from the surface?”
“Doesn’t the runabout have sensors and communications?”
“Yes, but the fumes in the shuttlebay have corroded some of the external components.”
“What if we did a dump of the bridge display buffer? Maybe we could catch a look at the settings the program used.”
“Buffer contents were wiped by the chroniton spike.”
“Well then YOU come up with something!” Jall snapped.
“I did,” replied T’Parief.
“You would be delicious marinated in Teriyaki sauce.”
Jall and T’Parief were at the science console at the rear of the bridge, trying to figure out how far the ship had traveled in time. So far they weren’t having much luck.
“Why don’t we just reverse our course?” asked Jall,
“Because we have no record of the course we took,” said Stafford tiredly from his command chair, “That’s the third time you’ve asked!”
“Well excuse me!”
“Why don’t you just ask somebody?” asked Ensign Yanick from her place at the conn station, “Somebody down there must know.”
Stafford blinked. “Jall?”
“You’re fired. Ensign Yanick and Mr. T’Parief, come with me. Mr. Jeffrey, what’s the status of the shuttlebay?”
“It smells like s**t.”
“That will do. Have the Asessippi prepped for launch. Bridge to sickbay.”
“What do you want now?” came the voice of Dr. Wowryk.
“Report to the main shuttlebay. We’re going down to the planet and I want a doctor present.”
“I don’t think this is a good idea, captain,” said T’Parief.
“Do you mind? I was on a roll!”
“I really don’t think I’m going to blend in very well.”
Stafford looked at T’Parief. Looked over the sharp teeth, the red eyes, the greenish-brown scales. “Oh…good point. OK, fine. Jall, you’re re-hired. Follow me. Mr. T’Parief, you have the bridge.” Stafford, Yanick and Jall stepped into the rear turbolift. The doors closed with a clang and the turbolift shrieked it’s way down.
“Oh, what an honor,” muttered T’Parief.
The runabout Asessippi sped towards Earth.
“Here’s the plan,” said Stafford, “Yanick stays up here in the runabout. Jall, Dr. Wowryk and I will beam down to this city here,” Stafford pointed to a large city near an even larger lake, “Toronto, Canada. We find some primitive schmuck on the street, get the date and time and we’re out of here.”
“Why that city?” asked Jall, “Every Starfleet crew to go back in time has always visited an American city. It’s Starfleet tradition!”
“Exactly,” said Stafford, We have no idea what time we’re in. There could be another Starfleet ship in orbit for all we know. But what we DO know is that no Starfleet officer would go to Canada unless they were REALLY desperate. Besides, my ancestors were from around there, so it can’t be too bad. And since it’s in Canada and not the United States we’re at least less likely to get shot or caught up in some sort of riot.”
Stafford, Dr. Wowryk and Lieutenant Jall replicated civilian clothing. Dr. Wowryk walked over to Yanick and gave her a quick hug.
“Be careful up here Trish!” she said.
“Make sure you dress warmly. Canada was known for its cold weather,” said Stafford.
Once coats, hats and mittens were in place Stafford and Jall took their places on the two-person transporter pad. “Send Dr. Wowryk down right after us. Energize!”
Lieutenant Jall braced himself for the onslaught of cold air that would signal the completion of transport. He and Captain Stafford materialized on a small green field. The sun was shining warmly overhead and reflecting off the nearby buildings. A warm breeze ruffled the trees. Bundled up as he was Jall promptly began to sweat. Dr. Wowryk materialized nearby.
“Not exactly the brightest ship in the spacedock, are you?” Dr. Wowryk said, turning to the captain.
“Excuse me!” snarled Stafford as he peeled off his heavy jacket. “Let’s get this show on the road shall we?”
“Fine,” said Dr. Wowryk, “Watch and learn!” She walked up to a small dark skinned boy who was playing in the grass nearby. She crouched down next to him. “Hello honey! My name is Noel! It’s so nice to meet you! Can you please tell me what year it is?”
The little boy kicked Dr. Wowryk in the shin and shouted “Mommy!! This f**ked up stranger is talking to me!”
An extremely annoyed-looking woman hurried, well, waddled up and smacked Dr. Wowryk with her purse, knocking her to the ground.
“Get away from my baby you perverted bitch!” she shouted.
Dr. Wowryk jumped up and started rushing at the woman. Stafford lunged forward and held her back while Jall smirked in the background.
“Burn in hell daughter of Gomorrah! May the bastard spawn of your loins join you in perdition for all eternity!” Wowryk shouted.
“Oh, you did NOT just say that to me you bitch!”
“Ladies, ladies, please!” shouted Stafford, “I’m sorry miss…my friend here is a little stressed out. We’ll just be on our way.”
“You stay out of this little man!” The woman shoved Stafford out of the way. He tumbled to the ground electing a guffaw from Jall. “C’mon bitch! Let’s go at it right here!”
Stafford jumped up, grabbed Wowryk by the arm and started running, dragging her along. Jall followed.
“Yeah, that’s right! You better run!” the woman shouted. She grabbed the boy’s hand and led him away. Looking back over his shoulder he stuck his tongue out.
“Way to go, Doc,” said Jall, “You sure showed us the right way to do things.”
“Shut up Jall,” said Stafford, panting. “Let’s get out of here. People are staring.” Stafford consulted his tricorder. “There’s some kind of transit hub not far from here. We’ll find someone there.”
Following a concrete path led the trio past a soccer field and under a bridge. Primitive electric trains crossed the bridge at regular intervals. Finally the path led them onto a busy street. “This way,” said Stafford, consulting his tricorder. “Be on the look out for somebody who looks like they won’t beat up the doc.” He saw an attractive young blond woman coming towards them. An ID card hanging from her belt identified her as Trish. Well, a Trish. But a different Trish.
“I’ll take this one,” said Jall. He walked up to the woman and smiled. “Excuse me dear, could you please tell me the date?
The woman walked quickly by him without saying a word. Jall followed.
“C’mon. Please?” Jall placed his hand on the woman’s shoulder as he caught up. The woman turned to Jall, “Get away from me before I call the cops!” she shouted. Jall came to a stop, looking at the woman in bewilderment as she hurried on.
“Well. It seems that no matter what century you’re in, the women don’t like you!” Dr. Wowryk said smugly.
“Women in our time like me fine! It’s not my fault you’re just too frigid to appreciate me!” Jall said.
“Girls, please,” barked Stafford, “We’ve attracted enough attention already!” He consulted his tricorder again, “Hmm…well here’s something.”
“What?” asked Jall.
“Well, using the position of the sun, the fact that it’s obviously summer, and the clock in that hair salon I’ve determined that it’s 2:30PM.”
“Great,” said Jall, “Can we go now?”
“That’s only the time you moron!” said Dr. Wowryk, “It would help if we knew the year now wouldn’t it?”
“Bitch,” muttered Jall.
“Well, let’s-“Stafford started. He was cut off by a loud shout.
“THERE SHE IS OFFICER! That’s that woman that attacked me!”
Stafford spun around. It was the woman from the park, accompanied by a pair of burly police officers. “Is this true ma’am?” one of them asked.
“Now gentlemen, this is just a misunderstanding” said Dr. Wowryk.
“She claims you assaulted her?”
“Well, no! She hit me, I jumped at her, this…ugh…gentleman butted in and we left!”
“Is it true that you were discriminating against her lifestyle as a single parent?”
“Well, it’s not me,” Wowryk shrugged, “I’m just relaying God’s will.”
The officer gave Dr. Wowryk a cold look. “I’m sorry ma’am, but if you assaulted her then you’ll have to come with us.”
Stafford jumped in. “Really, there’s no nee-“
There was a sudden flash of phaser fire and the officers dropped to the ground.
“As much as I wanted to watch them manhandle her, can we please just GO!!??!!” shouted Jall.
“Run!” yelled Stafford, bolting through a nearby door.
The away team quickly stopped running when they found themselves in a large foyer filled with people walking in every different direction.
“Blend in”, muttered Stafford, “but let’s get away from the doors. See if you can spot a calendar anywhere. We need to get away from this area quickly.”
The trio started following the crowd. The foyer quickly gave way to a large hallway with shops lining the sides.
“It looks like a mall,” said Dr. Wowryk.
“Wow,” said Jall, “you’re such a smart lady! Yes you are!” He starting tickling Wowryk on the nose like she was a baby. She grabbed his wrist.
“Don’t touch me!” she snarled.
“Enough, you two!” barked Stafford, “A little maturity please. Let’s find what we need and leave. What the heck are those?” Stafford pointed at a row of what looked like 3 terminals. Each had a keypad, a screen and various slots. Most of the slots seemed to be sealed off.
“I dunno,” said Jall, “Information terminals?”
“Maybe. Can you activate it?”
“After I grab one of those muffins…they sure smell good.”
“No!” barked Stafford, “We don’t have time for muffins! Get the damn thing running!”
“All right, all right,” Jall pulled out his tricorder. “Hmm…it’s waiting for some kind of input…damned if I know what kind. There are records here though…I can just order it to do whatever it did last.”
“Do it,” ordered Stafford.
The machine clicked and whirred. A slot opened and several green pieces of paper slid out, each with the number 20 printed on it.
‘What the hell is this?” asked Jall.
“It’s money,” said Wowryk.
“Money?” asked Stafford.
“Yes. Money. Money can be exchanged for goods or services,” replied Wowryk as she collected the bills. “Didn’t you take Earth History 101?”
“I know what money is! I just never knew that it was made of paper.”
“You gotta admit, it’s a lot lighter than gold-pressed latinum,” quipped Jall.
They passed through a series of doors which led down into a tunnel and then into a large, dingy underground room.
“Looks like we found the transit hub,” stated Stafford as he watched the throngs of people passing through. They all walked with the same hurried pace, looking neither right nor left. Their faces were blank. Conversation was non-existent. Stafford tried to get the attention of a middle-aged woman in a business suit as she walked by. She ignored him completely. He felt a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“Dr. Wowryk, is something wrong with these people?” Stafford asked in a worried voice.
Dr. Wowryk picked daintily at her tricorder. “Nothing,” she reported, “They’re stressed, but that’s about it.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” muttered Stafford. Everybody seemed to be walking through a series of turnstiles and deeper into the hub. “What are those things for?”
“Looks like they’re counting the number of people,” said Jall, “Should be simple enough. After you captain.”
“Thanks,” said Stafford. He walked forward towards the turnstile and attempted to step through. Unfortunately the bar didn’t turn. Stafford stumbled over the turnstile and crashed onto the floor on the other side.
Dr. Wowryk glared while Jall laughed hysterically. “Men,” she muttered, walking over to the ticket counter. She gave the attendant some money and returned to Stafford and Jall with some small metal disks. “It’s the 21st century. You need to pay for everything.” She located a slot, inserted a disk and walked through the turnstile.
“Why you didn’t tell us this before is beyond me,” commented Stafford as he picked himself up off the ground.
“Because I underestimated your stupidity,” replied Dr. Wowryk, “Which is really saying something. Oh, and all the attendant would say to me was ‘tickets or tokens’.”
“Wonderful,” said Stafford. “So what did we just pay for?”
“TTC. Whatever that is.”
“Great. Hurry up before more cops show up.”
Meanwhile, back on Silverado, Jeffrey was giving frantic orders to his engineering staff as they scurried about. None of the engineers were over 5 feet tall, turning the engine room into a production of ‘Angry Scotsman and the Seven Dwarfs.”
“Noo, Ah said test power to the port NACELLE not the port THRUSTERS!” he shouted, “Cut power! Ye, head up to the port nacelle control room and double check the field controllers. Ye, see if you can get the backup structural integrity field generator running! Ye! If you EVER kick my warp core again Ah swear Ah will drop ye down that shaft!”
Up on the bridge T’Parief grunted from the helm as the ship suddenly swung around to starboard. He had tried transferring control of the helm to his own station, as he found fitting into Ensign Yanick’s very difficult for a being of his size. Also, the chair left nowhere for his tail. Unfortunately his attempts had resulted in 15 minutes of electronic musical chairs as console functions switched at random before he roared in frustration and rebooted the system.
Back on Earth the away team was learning that TTC meant riding on the electric trains they had seen in the park. The three of them stepped into the battered looking vehicle. The doors closed and the train lurched forward, sending the three officers flailing for the handholds. None of the other passengers seemed to notice.
“Wow,” said Jall, “Feels like we’re back aboard Silverado.”
“It does,” replied Stafford, “Homesick yet?”
“Let’s give this another try so we can get out of here,” Stafford turned to a young man who sitting nearby reading a thick textbook. “Excuse me sir, could you tell me the date?”
The young man continued to read.
“Sir, excuse me?” Stafford said again. No response. Stafford waved his hand in front of the youth’s face. “Hello?”
The youth turned to him with a quizzical expression. A small crucifix dangled from one ear electing a warm smile from Dr. Wowryk.
“Could you please tell me what the date is?” Stafford asked.
The young man smiled, nodded then proceeded to move his hands around in front of Stafford, holding up different numbers of fingers and making a series of gestures.
“Uh, thanks,” said Stafford, walking backward, “You have a great day there bud.”
Stafford turned back to his companions just as the train lurched to a stop sending the three once again scrambling for the handholds. Once again none of the other passengers seemed to notice although a few left the train while several more boarded. The train lurched forward again.
“What the hell was that?” asked Stafford.
“The train stopped. Then it started again,” replied Jall.
“No you idiot! I mean what did that guy just do?”
“I think they called it ‘sign language’,” said Dr. Wowryk, “It was used by people with hearing disabilities until they invented the aural implant in 2028. Some cultures still use it.”
“Wow. That sounded like a professional doctor,” said Jall.
“That was on my final exam at Starfleet Medical,” Wowryk looked smugly at Jall.
“So the only person willing to help us is deaf. At least he was friendly. You don’t happen to, uh, speak sign language do you?” asked Stafford.
“All right,” said Stafford, “And who’s our next contestant?” The train lurched again.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” said Jall
“I can’t believe you did that!” shouted Dr. Wowryk at Jall. The three officers were walking down the street, having been asked to exit the transit system after Jall coated the floor with his breakfast. They had been escorted off the train at a stop labeled “High Park”. The street around them was bustling with people hurrying to and fro. One side of the street had a collection of shops while the other bordered on grass, trees and paths.
“You can do a slingshot maneuver in a 50 year old starship but you can’t ride a primitive train?” asked Stafford. Jall just moaned.
Suddenly Dr. Wowryk started shouting in excitement “I found it!” Outside a small cafe was a chalkboard. She read out loud:
Today’s Specials: July 15th 2004
Lunch: Battered veal scallopini with your choice of vegetable barley soup or chef’s salad.
Dessert: Strawberry Torte
“Yes!” exclaimed Stafford, “Um…good work, Doctor,” he added grudgingly.
“Mmmm…that Strawberry Torte sounds pretty good!” said Dr. Wowryk, “We have time for a snack don’t we?”
“Sure,” replied Stafford, “why not? I might even try some of that calamari.”
“Cala-what?” asked Jall.
Jall turned green and quickly rushed to a nearby garbage can.
“Yuck. Never mind, I just lost my appetite,” muttered Wowryk.
Once Jall had finished his business with the garbage can the three moved on.
“Right. Now let’s find someplace a little more private, call the Asessippi and get out of here,” said Stafford. “Over there, behind the trees.”
They crossed the street and followed a path until they came to a thick bush. After a few moments of walking they found themselves near the shore of a small lake. The view was beautiful.
“Stafford to Asessippi,” Stafford said, tapping his commbadge.
“A……ear…..” The reply was so loaded with static that nobody could make out what was being said. “Ar…..dy……fin……i…..”
“Ensign,” replied Stafford, annoyed, “We can’t hear a word you’re saying. Just beam us out of here.”
“Afghesjdkshfjljkhsdfkh” came the answer back.
“Beam us up!” repeated Stafford.
“The runabout sensors and communications were damaged, remember?” said Jall.
“BEAM US UP!!!!!” Stafford shouted.
“Yo, shut up! What the f**k’s wrong with you f**kers?” said a voice from behind Stafford. He spun around. Three young men were standing behind them. One was dark skinned and had a bandanna over his head. The other two had lighter skin and were dressed in very baggy cloths. “You think you on Star Trek or somethin’?”
Before Stafford could reply, Jall whipped out his phaser, stunning all three.
Stafford smacked him upside the head. “What the hell did you do that for?” he demanded.
“They were hostile!” replied Jall.
“We’re in Starfleet!” exclaimed Stafford, “First we talk to them. THEN we shoot them!”
Dr. Wowryk blew out an exasperated breath.
“Are……….ble?” interrupted Ensign Yanick’s static filled voice on the comm. channel.
Up on the runabout Asessippi Ensign Yanick was getting equally frustrated. She couldn’t understand a word that was being said. She tried scanning the area the away team was in. The readings were of very poor quality, but…wait! That looked like phaser fire! Maybe she should beam them out? “Are you guys in trouble?” she asked. All she got back was a hiss and more static. Fine then. If they weren’t going to answer her, she’d just beam them up. She could always send them back if there was no problem.
Stafford paced across the small clearing, stepping over the unconscious bodies of the locals. “Great. Nobody bothered to consider the fact that with the runabouts communications array damaged we wouldn’t be able to tell her to beam us back up? “
“I’m sure that if we just sit tight Ensign Yanick will figure something out,” said Dr. Wowryk.
Jall grunted. “Are you kidding? She’s the very definition of ‘dumb blond’.”
Dr. Wowryk glared at him. “And you’re an arrogant prick! God said ‘Love thy neighbor’. Well, if you would talk to people instead of insulting them you might learn something! She’s a lot smarter-“
Dr. Wowryk was cut off by the tingle of a transporter beam.
Dr. Wowryk and Captain Stafford materialized on the runabout Asessippi.
“-than you give her credit for!” she finished. “Ha! You see?”
“Hi guys!” Ensign Yanick said with a big smile and a wave, “I thought you might be having trouble, so I beamed you up. Are you OK? “
“Much better now thank you,” replied Stafford. “Dr. Wowryk, write the date down somewhere before we forget it. Ensign Yanick, take us back to the ship. It’s time to go home.”
“Course set, sir,” Yanick replied.
“One quarter impulse power,” ordered Stafford. The runabout soared out of Earth orbit towards the Silverado.
10 minutes later, Dr. Wowryk turned to Stafford. “Aren’t we forgetting something?” she asked.
“Oh s**t” shouted Stafford, sitting up in his chair.
10 more minutes later Ensign Yanick was bringing the Asessippi back into Earth orbit. She quickly located Jall’s commbadge signal and beamed up a very battered and disheveled Operations Officer.
“It’s about time,” he muttered, then passed out.
The runabout curved around Earth’s moon, bringing the starship Silverado into sight. Stafford sighed to himself. His ship was in even worse shape than before. The hull was scorched black along the forward and port sides from the mostly unshielded trip around the sun. Not all the missing hull plates had been replaced before the ship had so abruptly left dock. Those that had were mismatched. The ship was spinning slowly from a malfunctioning thruster. Her nacelles were dark. So were the running lights. Only a few lit windows gave any sign of life. Stafford sighed again, then felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Not very pretty, is she?” said Dr. Wowryk.
“No…but she’s still our only way home,” replied Stafford. There was a moment of silence.
“Captain, I want to apologize. I over-reacted in Sickbay. You’ve been under a lot of stress and I feel that we got off on the wrong foot,” said Dr. Wowryk.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Stafford said smiling, “this hasn’t exactly been a good week.”
“God loves you, Captain. Welcome him into your life,” she replied.
“Doctor, you do realize that organized religion died out centuries ago?” said Stafford.
Wowryk glared at him. “Atheists,” she said with disdain, “You’ll all burn in hell!” She walked back to her seat.
“Gotta stop opening my big mouth on that subject,” Stafford muttered.
Captain’s Log: July 15th 2004
“We have returned to Silverado none the worse for wear. Well, other than Lieutenant Jall, and Dr. Wowryk tells me he’ll recover sooner or later. She was in complete agreement with me that Jall not be given any painkillers during his recovery. Mr. Jeffrey has urgently requested that I come down to Main Engineering.”
Stafford walked through the dark, dingy corridors of the ship and into Engineering. The engine room of Silverado was actually a bit larger than it’s Galaxy-class counterpart. Like all starship engine rooms it was dominated by the warp core, which stretched several decks above and below the engine room. The main engine room itself was two decks high with the warp core shaft at the far end. The floor of the upper deck was a metal grill which allowed orders and responses to pass easily between the upper and lower levels. In the warp core shaft itself were ladders and a lift leading to the upper level of Engineering as well as providing access to the warp core. The warp core housing gleamed. Everything else in Engineering looked used, rebuilt or broken. Most of the lights were out.
“Why is this ship so dark, Lieutenant?” Stafford asked.
“We have a problem, Cap’n,” said Jeffrey. He motioned for Stafford to follow him to the Chief Engineer’s office.
“So what else is new?” Stafford asked. He walked into Jeffrey’s office. Unlike the ready room, this office had been part of the Silverado’s original design. Piles of unidentifiable parts were scattered on every surface. “So what is it?”
“Sir, when we were in box dock most of our power was being supplied by box dock reactors and through umbilicals. I’ve got warp drive functioning again, but we were only planning on running a few tests on the new core. Impulse engines weren’t being rebuilt for another week and-“
“Spill it Simon!” Stafford interrupted.
“We’re almost out of gas!” wailed Jeffrey.
“And so we’re almost out of deuterium,” finished Stafford. The senior officers had gathered in the conference room. “We have plenty of antimatter. Mostly because it’s so much trouble to move that stuff they only wanted to supply us once. But antimatter is pretty useless without something to mix it with. Lieutenant Jeffrey and Ensign Yanick have been running some calculations. Their findings show that we don’t have enough usable matter to finish the slingshot.”
A starship warp core has one job: generate enough high-energy plasma to not only propel the ship at faster-than-light speeds, but also to power the rest of the ship’s functions. To accomplish this, a warp core combines matter and anti-matter, resulting in enormous power output. Specifically, deuterium and anti-deuterium, a form of hydrogen. The engine needed both substances to function and without one of them a warp core is nothing more than a fancy, 10 story paper- weight.
Everybody in the room looked grim.
“What about the Bussard ramscoops?” asked T’Parief. “Isn’t this what they’re there for?’
“The ramscoops gather interstellar hydrogen to use as fuel,” replied Jeffrey, “Unless you’re traveling at warp speed the amount collected is too small to be worth the power usage. Besides, we only have one functioning ramscoop.”
“Ramscoops have been used to gather large amounts of hydrogen from gas giants or stars,” said Jall. “Can’t we do that?’
“We don’t have enough power for that kind of thing,” said Yanick. Even her usual cheer had been dampened.
“Waitaminute,” said Jeffrey, perking up, “We have to get really close to a star at warp speed anyway. We can direct the functioning ramscoop at the sun on the way by and direct any incoming matter directly into the main deuterium tank.”
“Will that be enough?” asked Stafford.
“Ah’d have to run some scenarios,” replied Jeffrey.
“Well make it quick,” snapped Stafford, “Every minute we’re here is more fuel burnt”
‘Isn’t there anything else we can use?” asked Wowryk, “I mean, I’m not a big, strong, smart engineer like you but I thought antimatter blows up no matter what it touches!”
“I can thing of a few people that match that description,” muttered Jall.
“Only certain materials are compatible with our engines,” replied Jeffrey.
“The runabout still has fuel,” stated T’Parief, “so does our shuttlecraft, the Avalanche.”
“Enough to make a difference?” asked Stafford.
“Fine. Jeffrey, Yanick, run your tests. Dr. Wowryk, go do your prayer thing. Can’t hurt. You’ve got half an hour. Dismissed.”
Captain’s Log: Supplemental
“Jeffrey and Yanick report a 65 percent chance that the combined fuel from Silverado, the Asessippi and the Avalanche along with material collected from the sun will be enough to power us on our slingshot around the sun. Without functional long range sensors they can’t determine just how much hydrogen we’ll be able to skim, so we’re just going to have to find out the hard way.
Stafford strode out of his ready room and onto the bridge of the Silverado. Lights were low and all non-essential systems had been shut down. Several decks had been evacuated so life support power could be shunted to other systems.
“Lieutenant Jall, start up Warpin 3.1,” ordered Stafford.
“Can’t do it,” replied Jall.
“What do you mean ‘can’t do it’???” demanded Stafford.
“We lost Warpin 3.1 and most of our other upgrades in the system crash. All we’ve got is Warpin 1.1.”
“And who’s fault would that be?”
“Um, I don’t know.”
“YOU! You schmuck! Remind me write you up for this entire mess when we get back!”
“Initiating Warpin 1.1,” announced the computer as Jall entered the commands, “Current time is July 15th 2004, 1345 hours, galactic standard time.”
The viewscreen came to life displaying three rows of numbers. The first row was labeled ‘Destination Time’. The other two were ‘Current Time’ and ‘Last Time Departed’. ‘Current Time’ showed July 15th 2004.
“Input the destination time: Stardate 56150.7,” Stafford ordered, “Mr Jeffrey, status report.”
“Warp drive and ramscoop standing by.”
“I’m ready to give the computer helm control,” Ensign Yanick had brought her stuffed bear to the bridge and was hugging it tight.
“All right. Let’s go.”
There was a moment of silence.
“Jall? What’s going on?” Stafford asked.
“Um, this program is a bit slower than the new one. It’s still calculating.”
“Well hurry up! The suspense is killing me! And crouch down or something….I can’t see the viewscreen very well with your head in the way!”
Stafford stood up and started to step towards Jall. At that moment the viewscreen flashed a “Sequence Complete” message. Silverado lurched and groaned as the impulse engines kicked in, orienting the ship for it’s slingshot. Stafford stumbled back to his chair and hung on tight.
“Warp engines are activating!” shouted Jall.
“Computer has taken over helm control!” yelled Yanick.
“Raising what pathetic shields we have,” rumbled T’Parief.
With an ear-splitting shriek and a jolt that rattled Stafford’s teeth the Silverado jumped into warp.
“We’re approaching the sun,” reported T’Parief,
“Fuel usage is matching simulations,” said Yanick, still clutching her bear tightly.
“Stand by on ramscoop,” ordered Stafford.
“Slingshot in 1 minute,” yelled Jall.
The Silverado flew at incredible speeds through the faint fields of dust and matter as they grew almost imperceptibly thicker. Sparks flew all over the bridge as the ships structure moaned with stress.
Then everything went dark.
“Captain?” rumbled a low voice. Stafford opened his eyes and drew in a quick breath as he saw T’Parief’s red lizard eyes staring down at him. He looked around. Jall was slouched over his console. Yanick was gripping her bear as she cowered under the helm. Only the emergency lights were on. All the consoles were dark.
“Status report,” ordered Stafford.
“All systems except for emergency life support are offline.”
“Did we make it back?”
At that moment there was hum of a transporter as an officer in command red materialized. “All right, who’s in charge here?”
“Uh, that would be me,” said Stafford, “Captain Stafford, U.S.S. Silverado.”
“Captain Jaroch, U.S.S. Secondprize. What do you people think you’re doing?” he demanded, “Do you know how many traffic regulations you just violated? Unauthorized departure. Warp drive in a ‘thrusters only’ speed zone. Failure to yield! Shall I continue?”
“No, no,” Stafford jumped in, “It was an accident. You know this ship isn’t exactly top of the line…we just had some minor problems with our computers. I’m sure you understand.”
“I only have your word on that!” replied Jaroch.
“You need more proof? Have you seen this ship!”
“Hmm….point taken. Very well. The Secondprize will tow you to repair facilities.”
Captain’s Personal Log. Stardate 56150.8
“We have returned successfully to the 24th century. Silverado has been towed back to box dock and repairs are underway. Again. Mr. Jall is going to be working overtime on our computer upgrades to make up for the fact that this whole mess was his fault. I’ve agreed not take official action against him if he finishes without messing anything else up.
“Oh, I almost forgot…”
Space. It’s big, it’s scary and there are lots of weird places to go. These are the adventures of the starship Silverado. Her crew’s never-ending mission: to keep her in once piece. To escape insults and ridicule. To boldly go where nobody else has been stupid enough to go before!
Next on Star Traks: Silverado: It’s a battle of wits against a Spacedock repair team as work continues on the Silverado in Star Traks Silverado: Let the Games Begin!