Author: Alan Decker
Star Traks: Waystation
by Alan Decker
Lieutenant Craig Porter entered the engineering supply bay of the upper saucer wondering if he was going to have to replace his entire staff. This was the third time in less than a week that he’d been called down because items were missing.
“Okay. What is it this time, Mason?” Porter demanded as the officer in charge of the supply bay came running over to him.
“We’ve lost two more transport buffer coils, sir,” Lieutenant J.G. Oliver Mason said nervously.
“You’re absolutely sure that they’re gone,” Porter said, even though he already knew the answer.
“Damn it! Have you told Lieutenant Russell?”
“Yes. He said he’s been monitoring the storage bay, but the thief must have slipped by him.”
“Slipped by him. Right. He was probably off hitting on some ensign,” Porter said. “Who was on duty in here last night?”
“Ensign Krause, but she swears she didn’t see anything either.”
“Of course not. That would be too easy.” Porter turned and stormed out of the storage bay. This was really starting to put him in a foul mood.
“So what’s the count up to now?” Commander Lisa Beck asked as she looked across her desk at Porter. He and Lieutenant Sean Russell, Waystation’s chief of security, were making their report to Beck, and she was not pleased with the situation.
“A case of sensor enhancement nodules, two heisenberg compensators, five buffer coils…”
“Stop! Stop,” Beck said, cutting off Porter’s list. “Gentlemen, I don’t have to tell you that that is a lot of stuff to be disappearing on a station with only ninety people on board.”
“I’m doing everything I can,” Russell said.
“How about putting a couple of guards in my supply bay?” Porter said. “The stuff these folks are stealing can’t be replicated, you know?”
“Hey, I went down there myself last night,” Russell said defensively. “We don’t have the personnel to just leave two or three of them in your supply room. Don’t worry. I fully expect to have this taken care of soon.”
“You have a lead?” Beck asked.
“Kind of,” Russell said. “I’d rather not say anything more right now. I don’t want to cast suspicion anywhere.”
“Like on Bradley Dillon?” Porter said annoyed. “I bet it’s him.
He’s probably running some kind of black market out of his store.”
“Craig, all of my reports state that Mister Dillon is a legitimate businessman,” Beck said. “Until I see any hard evidence to the contrary, I’m going to believe those reports. Now, go and find me the real criminal.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Porter said. He and Russell stood up and left Beck’s office.
“You’re taking this kind of personally, aren’t you?” Russell said once he and Porter were out of the office. Porter glared at him.
“Sean, someone is stealing from my department. If it doesn’t stop soon, both of us could lose our positions. Starfleet isn’t going to just let this continue. They will find someone to stop it if we can’t.”
“Oh yeah. But that’s not going to happen,” Russell said confidently.
“I’ll believe that when you’ve got the culprit in custody,” Porter said. He walked into the turbolift.
“Station Log. Stardate 50263.3. The rash of thefts from the engineering department has me concerned, not only because of the missing equipment, but also because Lieutenants Porter and Russell have been unable to stop them. I feel that both men are competent officers, but are they ready to head their own departments?”
Lieutenant Porter stormed into Russell’s security office in the nearly deserted Starfleet Square Mall angrily. Russell was seated at his desk working on a padd.
“Why are you just sitting there?” Porter demanded.
“Why shouldn’t I be sitting here?” Russell asked, confused.
“Our only back-up primary isolinear control matrix went missing this morning! We’re talking about the key to the computer’s artificial intelligence here. You should be down in the supply bay investigating.”
“Craig, I will handle…”
“Ops to Porter,” Lieutenant Commander Walter Morales’s voice broke in suddenly over the comm system.
“We’re getting reports of replicator malfunctions all over the lower saucer,” Morales, Waystation’s first officer, said.
“I’ll take care of it. Porter out.” He closed the channel. “Sean, this is really starting to get on my nerves. Between missing stuff and this station’s problems, I’m losing my mind. Not to mention the fact that I’m doing the work of both a chief of operations and a science officer!”
“And handling it all beautifully,” Russell said.
“Oh, shut up,” Porter said, walking out of the office. Russell was right behind him. “Where are you going?” Porter said as they headed toward the nearest turbolift.
“I’m going with you,” Russell said. The turbolift doors opened and they stepped inside. “Maybe this was sabotage. Maybe our thieves have moved on to bigger and badder things.”
“Maybe you should quit chasing maybes and go check out the definites, like that theft we had last night. Deck twenty.” The turbolift quickly descended through the rest of the upper saucer and down the connecting tube to Waystation’s lower saucer where all of the crew and guest quarters were located. Porter actually liked Waystation’s architecture when the station was functioning properly. With two Enterprise-class saucer sections connected bottom to bottom by a long tube section, Waystation resembled a giant barbell in space. Porter felt there was a certain grace to it, though, even the former rotating restaurant that ops was located in on top of the upper saucer had a certain dignity.
Russell and Porter were silent the rest of the trip to deck twenty. When the turbolift doors opened, Porter strode out and headed to the replicator control junction. Russell followed quietly.
The access panel to the replicator system did not show any evidence of tampering or of having been removed recently. Porter opened it up and looked inside.
“It’s just a burned out control chip,” Porter said. “When it went, it must have surged and taken a few of the surrounding gel packs with it.”
“No sabotage then?”
“Nope. Like I said, your clues are in the supply bay. Check there.”
“I was just playing a hunch,” Russell said, walking away. “It could have paid off.”
“But it didn’t. See you later, Sean.” Russell left.
Porter closed the access panel back up and went to get a couple of replacement parts and his tool kit.
Ten minutes later, he was hard at work fixing the replicator junction. Since he was halfway inside the access panel, he didn’t hear the footsteps coming up behind him or notice the figure standing over him.
Suddenly, Porter felt cold metal against his neck and heard the hiss of a hypospray. He jerked his head upward, slamming it into a metal conduit. He collapsed into unconsciousness from the blow to the head before the drugs in his system even had a chance to knock him out.
“I’m sorry, Craig,” Lieutenant Russell said, dragging his friend out of the access panel. “I need some of those parts.”
“Russell to Sickbay.”
Doctor Amedon Nelson looked up from the medical journal she was reading. This was the first time anyone had called sickbay in days. So far, chief medical officer was turning out to be one of the most boring jobs on Waystation…not that she minded. Her research on the Midon symbiont inside her was keeping her plenty busy. Even so, an injury every now and then would be nice to break the monotony.
“Nelson here,” she said, trying not to get her hopes up that someone might actually be hurt.
“I just found Lieutenant Porter unconscious on deck twenty. I think he needs medical attention.”
“You are sure that he is just not taking a nap.”
“Pretty sure. I haven’t been able to rouse him.”
“I’ll be right there,” she said, already halfway out of her office. “Nelson out.”
Nelson found Lieutenant Russell kneeling beside the prone form of Lieutenant Porter. Russell was shaking the unconscious engineer in an attempt to wake him up. Concern filled his face.
“Thank God!” Russell said upon seeing Nelson. He jumped up out of the way and let Nelson get to work. She pulled out her medical tricorder and started scanning.
“Hmmm,” she said thoughtfully. “Hmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmm.”
“Is he going to be okay?” Russell asked.
“He’s going to be fine,” Nelson said, her voice hesitant.
“Then what’s wrong?”
“Well, he’s sustained a severe blow to the head and there is enough juraset in his system to knock out a mugato. If someone was trying to knock Craig out, one or the other should have sufficed. Why do both?”
“Maybe it was an accident,” Russell said.
“Do you mean that someone accidentally tried to bash his brains in? Or did they accidentally pump him full of sedatives?” Nelson said disdainfully. “In any case, Craig’s going to have one hell of a headache when he wakes up.” She opened her med-kit and pulled out two mini-antigravity units. After attaching one to either side of Porter’s torso, she activated the units. Porter floated gently up in the air, and Nelson started pushing him toward the turbolift.
“Good luck finding this psycho,” Nelson said. “I hope you catch him before he clubs anybody else.”
“He won’t,” Russell said. “I guarantee it.”
Back in the security office a few minutes later, Russell pushed open a wall-section behind his desk and stepped inside. He had discovered the panel shortly after setting up shop in this office. Evidently, the builders of Waystation had put it in as a hidden room where they could take rest breaks without their supervisor finding them. They just forgot to seal it up when they finished construction.
Now, Russell had commandeered it for his own purposes. On a work table in this room sat his masterpiece, the legacy he would leave to security officers everywhere. And now, after that fortuitous replicator malfunction, he had the final parts he needed to complete it. He still felt horrible about having to knock Craig Porter out, though. They’d been friends since Starfleet Academy, but, once his machine was operational, Craig would understand. Everyone would understand, and boy would they be surprised.
Russell put the final couple of pieces into place and closed the assembly casing of his invention. It was nothing more than a two foot cubical box. Each surface was a shiny black control console. The consoles flickered to life, showing tiny readouts of every person on Waystation’s location and their current activity.
Now it was time for the last touch. Russell picked up an isolinear chip off of the work table and inserted it into a slot at the top of the box. That chip contained every Starfleet regulation and Federation legal code in existence. It was done; the ultimate security system was on-line and operation.
“Up four feet and maintain,” Russell said. More systems on the box flickered to life. Then, the box slowly lifted up off of the table and hovered in the air. “Perfect. Commence security operations, now.”
“Compucop is now commencing security operations,” a mechanical female voice replied.
An hour later, Russell had changed out of his uniform and was headed to the holodecks on deck eighteen in beach clothes. It was a beautiful day to catch some computer-simulated waves.
“Porter to Russell,” the comm system barked.
“Russell here.” This was not the time to be interrupted. Station security was being taken care of by Compucop, and he was about to go relax.
“Could you meet me in your office? Now!”
“I’m on my way,” Russell sighed. The beach would have to wait for just a few minutes.
“What can I do for you?” Russell said, stepping into his office where Porter was waiting and pacing the floor angrily.
“Where the hell were you going?” Porter shouted, seeing Russell’s beach gear.
“To the holodeck. Why?”
“The holodeck! I was attacked! You should be…”
“There’s nothing I can do. The security tapes didn’t see anything.”
“Not a thing.”
“Watch the tape yourself. I’m going surfing,” Russell said and walked out of the office. Porter resisted the urge to chase after Russell and stab him with his own sunglasses. He sat down at Russell’s desk and tried to calm down.
“Computer, replay deck twenty section H-four security tape for this stardate at time index nine hundred and twenty hours,” Porter said. The monitor in Russell’s desk flashed to life and started playback. Porter and Russell walked into view, Porter checked the panel, Russell left, and then Porter left.
“Ahead twenty minutes.”
The film showed Porter working inside the access panel. Suddenly, he jerked upward, banged his head, and collapsed. There was no sign of anyone else in the area, but he knew that was impossible. Dr. Nelson had told him that someone had injected him with some drug. There was a tell-tale hypospray pressure mark on the back of his neck.
“Computer, repeat last sequence at four hundred percent magnification. Focus on Lieutenant Porter’s neck.”
The computer did as it was told, showing an extreme close-up of his neck. Porter saw part of the skin of his neck press in, as if something was pushing on it, just before the image of himself on the tape jerked upward and knocked himself unconscious.
“Okay,” Porter said, talking to himself as he stood up and paced the office. “We either have a cloaked person on board or someone has altered the security tapes. If it’s a cloaked person, we’re in deep sh** because no one we know has that kind of technology yet. So, I’m going with door number two. Computer, has this tape been altered in any way.”
“In what way?”
“A figure appearing from time index 0943.12 to time index 0954.57 has been removed.”
“I don’t suppose you know who did it,” Porter said, sitting back down at the desk. Someone managed to break into the security system and alter the tapes. Wonderful. Who on the station had that kind of skill? Porter might never find the culprit.
“The tape was altered by Lieutenant Sean Russell on stardate 50263.6,” the computer said.
Then again, maybe the culprit would be a moron and not cover his tracks.
“Sean!” Porter shouted. He couldn’t believe it. Why would Russell alter a tape? Then, it all clicked into place. Russell had been doing patrols during the nights that supplied vanished. The officer in the supply bay on the night of each theft had said that Russell stopped by to check on things. Check on them was right! He was checking them right out of the supply bay.
“God damn son of a bitch!” Porter shouted. “I’m going to kill him!”
“Threatening a Starfleet officer is a violation of regulation 564.3. You are under arrest,” a mechanical female voice said from out of nowhere.
“What the hell?” Porter said. Suddenly, he felt the grip of a transporter beam. A moment later, he was gone.
Yeoman Tina Jones, Waystation’s liaison officer stepped out of the turbolift into ops looking dejected. Her position was to serve as a go-between for Commander Beck to any ships visiting the station. She was also supposed to welcome the crews of visiting ships to the station and show them around. So far, she hadn’t gotten to do much of that because hardly anyone had come to Waystation.
“Slow day?” Lieutenant Commander Walter Morales asked from his seat over at the docking control console.
“Every day is a slow day,” Jones said, walking over to him. “Nothing ever happens around here.”
Lieutenant Aaron Stanton skated down the corridor of deck twenty-five keeping one eye on his opponents and the other on the hoverpuck he was controlling with his hockey stick. He dodged one opponent, then another. The other team’s goalie was moving to block Stanton’s shot, but he would be too late. Stanton slapped the puck forward and slid to a stop as he watched the puck soar underneath the diving goalie and into the goal.
“I am the man!” Stanton shouted over the cheers of his teammates.
“Engaging in dangerous recreational activity in the corridors of a Starfleet facility is a violation of regulation 4679.2. You are under arrest,” a female voice announced. The ten hover-hockey players looked around for the source of the voice, but not see anyone. A few seconds later, they were all snatched by the transporter.
Commander Beck walked out of her office in ops and stretched.
She was tired, bored, and hungry. In ops, she saw Lieutenant Commander Morales and Yeoman Jones sitting and talking.
“No pressing galactic crisis is happening, I take it,” Beck said. Jones and Morales laughed.
“Does a terminal lack of anything interesting count?” Morales asked.
“I thought you liked things quiet,” Beck said.
“I do, but even when I was running the shuttlebays on the Secondprize, we had more incoming and outgoing traffic than this place,” Morales replied.
“We also had the occasional red alert and the luxury of seeing different scenery all of the time,” Jones said.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” Beck said. “Pray for a Multek invasion.”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Morales said.
“Well, I’m going to get some dinner at that new Andorian place that opened up. They are supposed to have great desserts. Anybody interested?” Beck asked.
“Someone’s got to stay up here,” Morales said.
“I just ate. I think I’ll stay up here to keep him company,” Jones said.
“I’ll be back later,” Beck said, heading for the turbolift. “Oh, has anyone heard from Porter or Russell?”
“Not lately. Why?” Morales asked.
“Porter was going to go over the security tapes with Russell to see if they could see who attacked him. I would think that they would have found something by now. It’s been two hours,” Beck said.
“They haven’t called up here,” Morales said. “I’ll let you know if they do, though.”
“Thanks,” Beck said. She stepped into the turbolift and left.
“I was looking for something a bit more exotic,” Ensign Mary Watson said. Bradley Dillon put the necklace back down behind the counter.
“You do understand that I mainly deal in outfitting colonists,” Bradley said to the woman. “I don’t get a lot of call for birthday presents.”
“But it’s for my mom,” Watson said. “I didn’t want to send her something replicated.” Bradley looked at her again. He didn’t normally pull stuff out of his private stock for Starfleet personnel. Any organization that would give his brother a position of authority was a bit strange in his book, but he liked Watson. She seemed so young and naive. She was also quite gorgeous with smooth ivory skin and long, curly blond hair. Her melodic voice alone made him want to melt.
“I might be able to help you,” Bradley said. He waived her closer and leaned toward her conspiratorially. “I’ve got a couple of pieces in the back.”
He led her into his office in back of Dillon’s Pioneer Supply Depot. He opened the bottom drawer of his desk and brought out a small flat black case. Inside was a necklace of the most incredible stones that Watson had ever seen.
“What is it?” she asked in awe.
“A customer of mine used this as a down payment on a new cargo transport. She told me it was from a world in the Romulan empire.
Very rare and very valuable.”
“I’ll take it.”
“Selling and receiving goods brought into the Federation outside of official channels is a violation of legal code 678, sub- paragraphs five and six. You are under arrest,” a female voice announced from out of nowhere.
“Oh no!” Watson shouted, obviously extremely upset.
“Who is that?” Bradley demanded. The only answer was the hum of the transporter as it grabbed him and Watson. “Close shop,” Bradley managed to shout before the beam completely dematerialized him. Arrested or no, he had to protect his merchandise.
Commander Beck walked down the empty corridor of Starfleet Square Mall toward the one little section that had shops. Actually, at the time, all they had was Dillon’s Supply Depot, the Andorian restaurant, the replimat, and a Klingon formal wear shop.
Suddenly, the lights in Dillon’s Pioneer Supply went out and the security gate slammed shut as a force-field crackled to life. That was odd. Bradley Dillon usually kept his store open at least until eight in the evening. It was only five now. Maybe he was taking a dinner break.
Pushing the event out of her mind, Beck walked into the Andorian restaurant. There was not a soul in sight; no Maitre’d, no waiters, no nothing. She moved back toward the kitchen and pushed the door open. As she did, she saw the last flickers of several transporter beams.
“Beck to ops.”
“Is anything going on?”
“Like what?” Morales asked.
“I don’t know. I’m in the Andorian restaurant. I’d swear that six people just beamed out of here.”
“Well, I don’t know where they’d beam to,” Morales said. “There aren’t any ships within sensor range.”
“Unless they’re cloaked,” Beck said. “Get the shields up just in case, and see if you can think of some way to scan for a cloaked ship nearby. I’m going to look around down here. Beck out.”
Beck jogged out of the restaurant and over to the security office. It was empty.
Russell must be out with Porter, Beck thought. She grabbed a phaser out of the weapons locker on the side wall and walked out of the office.
“Halt!” a female voice shouted. “Removal of a phaser without following the proper weapons check-out procedures is a violation of regulation 399.4. You are under arrest.”
“Russell!” Beck shouted. A second later, a transporter beam grabbed her.
She rematerialized a few moments later in a cell in the brig.
Bradley Dillon was in the cell with her along with three Starfleet crewmen and one of the four Federation marines on the station.
“It’s starting to get crowded in here,” Bradley said.
“What the hell is going on?” Beck demanded.
“It’s all Sean’s fault,” Lieutenant Porter’s voice said. Beck looked across the cell block and saw that Porter was in the cell across from hers. “He’s the one who’s been stealing parts.”
“Sean’s a spy?” Beck asked, remembering her experience with a Romulan agent at Starbase 219 a couple of weeks earlier.
“No,” Porter said. “My guess is that he built this wonderful security system that brought us here. Everyone I’ve talk to has said that a computer voice quoted some regulation at them and said that they were under arrest.”
“Beck to ops.”
“Prisoners are not allowed access to communications,” the female voice said again.
“We’re cut off,” Porter said.
“How many of us are in here?”
“Seventy-two at last count. You make seventy-three.”
“Wonderful. So, where the hell is Russell?”
“Surfing,” Porter said.
Lieutenant Russell ran onto the beach toward his towel. The waves today were spectacular. Of course, he’d programmed them that way. Darla was waiting there with a nice cold glass of keranis juice.
“Here ya go, baby,” Darla said sweetly.
“Thanks,” Russell said, flashing her a smile. It was sometimes hard for him to remember that she was just a holodeck simulation. This Darla was just like the real one he’d met on Earth less than a year ago. Of course, the real Darla had left him for another Starfleet officer after Russell was nice enough to invite her along on the emergency mission he’d been sent off on. He’d still be with Darla if it weren’t for Commander Travis Dillon. He hadn’t stolen Darla away from him, but he was the one who drafted Russell to go on the damn mission in the first place.
Russell sat down beside Darla and took a sip of his drink. This was no place to think about the past. The present was going quite nicely.
Suddenly, the beach vanished. It was quickly replaced by four barren walls. It wasn’t even the holodeck grid; just four blank grey walls.
“Warning. Due to crowding in the cell block, this facility is being commandeered to hold prisoners under the authority of regulation 56673.2,” the voice of Compucop said.
“Wait!” Russell shouted. “Cease operation. Stop!”
“Interfering with a prisoner transfer is a violation of legal code 230, sub-paragraph nine. You are under arrest.”
“You can’t do this!” Russell shouted. “I made you!”
All around Russell, people were being transported into the holodeck.
“Exit!” Russell said. Nothing happened. Commander Beck materialized, then Lieutenant Porter.
“You!” Porter screamed, spotting Russell. “You did this to us!”
“Now, hold on, Craig,” Russell said, backing toward the wall as everyone in the room advanced toward him. “I didn’t think it would do this.”
“Well, it did, Lieutenant,” Beck said. “How do we stop it?”
“We can’t,” Russell said. “We’re prisoners now. Someone on the outside is going to have to do it.” Russell looked around the room. “There’s only like fifty people in here. Surely some of the other forty can shut it down.”
“There are fifty in here and probably thirty more in the cell block,” Porter said.
“Oh,” Russell said. “Who’s left?”
“No one!” Porter shouted, lunging forward and grabbing Russell by the throat. “Don’t you get it? You’ve trapped us all!”
“Let him go,” Beck said. Porter turned and looked at her pleadingly.
“Oh, can’t I hurt him just a little bit? We’re all going to die in here anyway.”
“Morales and Jones were still in ops last I knew. Maybe they can turn this thing off.”
“Morales and Jones?” Russell said. “We’re dead.”
Lieutenant Commander Morales checked the chronometer on his console again. It was after seven. Commander Beck was taking one hell of a long lunch, and he still hadn’t been able to come up with a way to find a cloaked ship.
“Maybe you should get some help,” Jones said.
“Probably,” Morales said. “Ops to Porter.”
“Ops to Beck.”
“Oh my God,” Jones said, fear filling her face.
“Don’t panic!” Morales said. “It’s probably just a breakdown in the comm system.”
“Are you sure?”
“No, but that’s probably all it is.”
“Oh my God.”
“Computer, locate Commander Beck.”
“Commander Beck is in holodeck one,” the computer replied.
“See, she’s fine. Computer, locate Lieutenant Porter.”
“Lieutenant Porter is in holodeck one.”
“They’re both fine. They’re just in the holodeck. Go down there and tell them I haven’t found anything,” Morales said.
“Aye, sir,” Jones said as she headed nervously for the turbolift.
Jones walked down the corridor to holodeck one. The holodeck was in operation. Normally, she wouldn’t dream of entering someone’s program without permission, but she couldn’t even ask permission in this case.
She stepped toward the doors. They didn’t open for her.
“Computer, open holodeck one.”
“Holodeck one is off-limits by order of the security control computer,” the computer replied.
“Morales to Jones,” the comm system said suddenly, scaring the hell out of Jones.
“Jones here,” she said. “You got the system working.”
“It wasn’t broken,” Morales said. “How are things down there?”
“The computer won’t let me in to the holodeck. It says that the security computer has declared it off-limits.”
“Security computer? We don’t have a security computer,” Morales said confused. “Get back up here, quick.” The last syllable wasn’t out of Morales’s mouth before Jones started running back toward the turbolift.
“Computer, what is the security computer?” Morales asked as he started to walk around ops, doing laps around the central turbolift shaft.
“The security control computer was created by Lieutenant Sean Russell. It monitors all activity on Waystation for possible legal violations. All violators of Starfleet or Federation laws are immediately arrested and transported to the brig.”
“What about holodeck one?”
“Holodeck one has been commandeered as an emergency brig in accordance with Starfleet regulation 56673.2,” the computer said.
“A brig!” Morales ran over to the science console just as Jones raced out of the turbolift. He checked the internal sensors. At least fifty lifeforms were in holodeck one. He checked the cell block. There were another forty there. A cold stab of fear lanced down his spine.
“Computer, how many people on this station are not under arrest.”
“Two. Lieutenant Commander Walter Morales and Yeoman Tina Jones.”
“Oh my God!” Jones said.
“Calm down, Jones,” Morales said, sitting her down in the chair by the science console. “Just relax and help me think. We’ve got to release the others, but we have to do it by the book or that computer will arrest us.”
“I’m okay. I’m fine. Perfectly calm. Hunky-dorey. What are we going to do?”
“I have no idea,” Morales said.
“Wait. You’re the first officer. Can’t you just order the computer to release everyone?”
“That’s not a bad idea. Computer, release all prisoners.”
“Prisoners may only be released by the chief of security,” a female voice replied. It wasn’t the standard station computer voice.
“Am I speaking to the security computer?” Morales asked hesitantly.
“Yes. I am Compucop. I am programmed to enforce all Starfleet and Federation regulations.”
“And you’re doing a wonderful job,” Jones said.
“Is there any way that we could convince you to release your prisoners?” Morales asked.
“Are you about to bribe me?” Compucop asked suspiciously.
“No! Definitely not,” Morales said quickly. “I would just like to know how soon Commander Beck will be released.”
“The prisoners must be tried by a Federation-approved legal official before any of them can be released.”
“I don’t suppose you’re one of those, are you?” Jones said.
“No,” Morales replied.
“Not that it would matter,” Compucop said. “I have clear evidence of each violation. They are all guilty. Good day.”
Morales walked around ops in silence. There was a way out of this. He just had to think.
“We’re in big trouble,” Jones said. “Big big trouble. It’s only a matter of time until one of us breaks some weird law. And when we get the next regulation update from Starfleet over subspace, we’ll have to hurry up and memorize it before that computer can catch us for breaking one of the new laws.”
Morales stopped and stared at her. Something she had said was important. Something they could use. A smile slowly spread across Morales’s face. He went over to the science station and called up a list of all of the prisoners’ names and the regulations that they broke. He put the information on an isolinear chip along with a copy of the last regulation update from Starfleet.
“Come on,” Morales said, heading for the turbolift.
“Where are we going?”
“You aren’t going anywhere,” Morales said.
“You are really starting to confuse me.”
“Jones, you have ops,” Morales said.
“What are you doing?” Jones said, almost shouting.
“Following regulations,” Morales said. “Someone must be in command at all times. And, since you and I are the only two left, I’m invoking regulation 378 point something or other which basically says that, in case of emergency, a non-commissioned officer, namely you, can be left in command. I’ll be back.”
Morales ran into the turbolift leaving Jones alone in ops. He headed directly for Hangar One and climbed into the runabout Cumberland.
“This is the runabout Cumberland requesting permission to depart,” Morales said.
“You’re leaving me?” Jones’s voice said over the comm system.
She was on the edge of complete panic.
“I won’t be gone long. I promise,” Morales said. Jones sighed audibly.
“Permission granted,” she said.
Morales waited for the hangar door to open and flew the runabout out of the station. Once clear of Waystation, he engaged the warp engines and sped away at warp three.
Just outside of Waystation’s scanning range, Morales took the Cumberland out of warp and slowed to a halt. He put the isolinear chip he’d brought from the station in the runabout’s computer and got to work.
Jones noticed the flashing on the tactical console just before the console started to beep annoyingly.
“Computer, what is that noise?” Jones asked.
“An urgent message has been received,” the computer replied. Jones went over to tactical and read the message. It was from Starfleet; they’d sent a new regulations update already. She was doomed. Compucop was sure to find some way to arrest her now. Where was Lieutenant Commander Morales?
Jones sat down on the floor of ops and curled up in a fetal ball. If she didn’t move, she couldn’t commit a crime.
“Morales to Jones,” the comm system blared a few minutes later.
“You’re back!” Jones exclaimed.
“Yes. Meet me down in the mall. I’ve opened up one of the empty storefronts by Bradley Dillon’s place.”
Jones was walking as fast as she could down the concourse of Starfleet Square Mall. She would have run, but she remembered some regulation about running being illegal in civilian-occupied areas unless a red alert or yellow alert situation existed.
She found Morales setting up a table and a couple of chairs in the storefront to the left of Dillon’s Pioneer Supply Depot.
“Please tell me that you have a very good reason for this,” Jones said.
“Most definitely, your honor,” Morales said smiling. He threw a large piece of black cloth at her. Upon further examination, Jones saw that it was a robe.
“Commander, you are confusing the hell out of me,” Jones said.
“Didn’t you read the Starfleet communique that we just received? You’ve been appointed judge for this sector. Congratulations.”
“I have? I didn’t even know I was in the running,” Jones said. “You know, this is really convenient considering we really need a judge right now.”
“Isn’t it?” Morales said. “Sit down.” He waved her over to a chair at the head of the room.
“Thanks,” Jones said, sitting down. “What are we doing?”
“Hear ye! Hear ye! This court is now in session. The honorable Tina Jones presiding.” Morales picked a padd up off of the table. “Our first case is the people versus Lisa Diane Beck.”
“What is going on here?” Compucop’s voice said suddenly.
“We’re holding court,” Morales said. “Please bring the accused to the courtroom.”
“You cannot do this,” Compucop said. “You are not a judge.”
“No, I’m not. But Tina Jones is. She just received the appointment.”
“She did not…oh wait, yes she did. I apologize, your honor,” Compucop said. “I will get the accused immediately.”
Commander Beck materialized in the courtroom.
“Walter! Thank God!” Beck exclaimed.
“The prisoner will be silent,” Compucop said. Morales put his finger over his lips hoping that Beck would take the hint and play along.
“Lisa Diane Beck, you are accused of violating regulation 399.4 in failing to follow proper check-out procedures for Starfleet weaponry,” Morales said. He pushed the other padd sitting on the table to Jones. She looked at it confused, then figured out what she was supposed to do.
“However,” Jones said. “According to this latest regulation update from Starfleet, the check-out procedures have been altered so that anyone of the rank of commander or higher may take weapons without checking them out. Case dismissed!” Jones looked around the table, then at Morales.
“Don’t I get a gavel or something?” she asked.
“I’ll get her one,” Beck said smiling. “You just keep processing cases.”
“Will do, Commander,” Morales said. “Next, is the matter of the people versus Craig Andrew Porter.” Lieutenant Porter materialized. “Lieutenant Porter, threatened to kill Lieutenant Sean Russell thereby violating regulation 564.3.”
“But, threats are no longer illegal, so case dismissed,” Jones said.
“Hockey is now the official sport of the Federation and is legal to play anywhere. Case dismissed!”
“Gifts for mothers are exempt from all customs laws. Case dismissed!”
Jones banged the gavel down, dismissing the illegal open flame charge against Leximas, the mystic who lived on the station, and looked at Morales. They had been at this for an hour, and her arm was getting tired from banging the gavel.
“Don’t worry,” Morales said. “There’s only one prisoner left.”
“And he’s going to stay right where he is,” Commander Beck said, walking into the courtroom with Lieutenant Porter. “I believe that Lieutenant Russell needs to think about his crime a little bit more.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Morales said.
“Court is adjourned,” Jones said, banging the gavel one last time.
“You and Lieutenant Porter have a little work to do,” Beck said to Morales. “He’ll fill you in. And when you two are done, come and see me in my office.”
Morales followed Porter out into the mall concourse as he headed toward the security office.
“Take this and put it on,” Porter said, handing a black belt with several small grey devices on it to Morales.
“What is it?”
“A portable force field generator. It should protect us from Compucop.”
“Are we about to commit a crime?”
“Damn right,” Porter said.
They entered the security office and looked around.
“It’s not here,” Porter said.
“Compucop. Russell has to have set it up somewhere.” Porter pulled out a tricorder and started scanning around the room. He stopped at the back wall. “There we go. Why don’t you check us out a couple of phasers?”
Morales walked over to the weapons locker and properly checked out two phasers. He handed one to Porter, who was pushing on different sections of the back wall.
“What are you doing?” Morales asked. Suddenly, Porter pushed a section of wall that opened just wide enough for a person to fit through. “Oh.”
Morales and Porter entered the wall panel and found themselves in a small room. Hovering in the center of the room was a small, black cube covered with flashing displays.
“Compucop, I presume,” Morales said.
“I think someone should rename this thing,” Porter said.
“What name would you suggest?” Morales asked.
“Debris,” Porter said, aiming his phaser at the cube and firing. Morales quickly followed his lead. The cube began floating around the room, dodging the attacks.
“Assaulting an officer of the law is a violation of legal code 836 sub-paragraph two,” Compucop said. “You are under arrest.”
Two transporter beams tried to lock onto Porter and Morales, but couldn’t get through the force fields.
Porter fired another shot at Compucop. The box moved, but Morales had anticipated where it would go. His shot slammed into Compucop, knocking the box back toward the wall. Morales kept firing, slowly melting through Compucop’s outer casing. Phaser fire from Porter burned into another one of Compucop’s panels, sending sparks flying across the room. A few moments later, both men’s weapons broke through Compucop, frying the security computer’s inner circuitry. Compucop wavered in the air, then plummeted to the hard floor, exploding on impact.
“On second thought, there’s not enough left to even call it debris,” Porter said.
“How about dust?” Morales asked.
“That was some nice work, Commander,” Beck said, as she, Morales, and Porter sat in her officer. “Would you mind telling me what it was that you did exactly?”
“Well, Yeoman Jones gave me the idea,” Morales said. “I figured that if we could find a judge to hold court and change all of the regulations so that no one had committed a crime, Compucop would have to free everyone.”
“But, we don’t have any judges on the station,” Porter said.
“Exactly,” Morales said. “And we can’t exactly go changing Starfleet regulations and Federation laws either.”
“Only an official communique from Starfleet can do that,” Beck said.
“So, that’s what we received. I took the Cumberland out a ways, made up a fake communique, and sent it back here along with a fake judicial appointment for Tina. Luckily, Compucop fell for it.”
“You realize, of course, that falsifying Starfleet communiques is a serious violation of regulations,” Beck said smiling. “You could get arrested.”
“He could, if it weren’t for the fact that our security chief is…detained,” Porter said.
Across Waystation, life returned to normal. People went about their business content in the knowledge that they were safe and secure from any overzealous officers of the law.
In the cell block, Russell stood alone in an empty cell.
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!”