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Thread: Star Trek: Entomalians - "A New Beginning"

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    Star Trek: Entomalians - "A New Beginning"

    STAR TREK: ENTOMALIANS – A NEW BEGINNING

    Created & Written By: BolianAdmiral

    Based Upon “Star Trek”, Created By: Gene Roddenberry




    DISCLAIMER:

    This story is a direct sequel/companion piece to the primary “Entomalians” storyline, and as such, is set within the same storytelling universe as “Star Trek: Entomalians”. This is to protect established canon from any conflicts, as well as to allow for full artistic freedom in the telling of the story. Although this is a sequel/companion piece, it is not necessary to have read the original “Entomalians” story prior to reading this one, as there is enough background information provided to orient the reader, and establish proper context to the events and their timeline.





    STAR TREK: ENTOMALIANS – A NEW BEGINNING




    The United Federation of Planets was in a bad state. Indeed, the entirety of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants were in a bad state. The defeat at the Battle of Idran – the “Big Borg Battle” as it was commonly known now, was appallingly quick and humiliating. The entire combined forces of the allied Alpha and Beta Quadrant fleets – the Entomalian, Federation, Tholian, Klingon, Romulan, and Cardassian forces, had failed to halt the advance of the Dominion entente – one hundred Borg cubes, along with the combined forces of the Dominion, Breen, and Gorn fleets, all coming together in bloody battle in the Idran System of the Gamma Quadrant. It had been the hope of the architects of the allied offensive that by taking the initiative, and engaging the enemy in their own space, on the other side of the Bajoran wormhole, that the threat could be pushed back as much as possible before the Dominion could make its final push into the Alpha Quadrant.

    It failed, and it failed spectacularly. It was a literal miracle that anything survived the carnage, and managed to make it back through the wormhole to the Alpha Quadrant. When the Dominion entente came through the wormhole, emerging into the Alpha Quadrant, it did so in triumphant victory, knowing that the allied powers were in no condition to prevent their forces from steamrollering through the Alpha and Beta Quadrants. The first world to fall was Entomalius Prime – the treasured homeworld of the Entomalian Empire. Entomalius Prime wasn't conquered. It was physically destroyed – surrounded by an armada of Borg cubes, which sliced and drilled into the planet until it physically broke apart and was no more. The destruction of Entomalius Prime was a personal message – from the Female Changeling to Entomalian Queen T'Zek – telling and showing her in no uncertain terms, what happens to those who dare challenge the Dominion. The Founder wanted the Queen to see her world, her people, her fleet – everything she loved and held dear, die before her very eyes.

    Once Entomalius Prime had been dealt with, the Dominion began its unstoppable advance through the Alpha Quadrant. Cardassia Prime, Bajor, Starbase Deep Space Nine, Bolarus IX, Betazed – all fell to the Dominion with shocking speed. With heavy fighting now in the Rigel System, the Federation knew it would be but a matter of time before the Dominion entente also broke through the Rigel System, making its way onward to the inner core of the Federation – the Tellarite, Andorian, and Vulcan systems, until finally, they would reach the Terran System, where they would take their most valuable prize – Earth. The sky was falling, and something had to be done to try to offer new hope for the survival of the Federation and her allies. It was during this time, that agents from the Federation were working behind the scenes with the Entomalian royals to negotiate for a coveted piece of Entomalian technology, in direct violation of the Treaty of Mraz. Given the dire circumstances of the situation at hand, both sides – Federation and Entomalian, figured there was nothing left to lose, so in a rare break with protocol, Queen T'Zek authorized the release of a single Entomalian transwarp drive unit to the Federation, for use in a starship that would be chosen to undertake a very special and last-ditch mission to somehow find a way out for the Federation and her allies – a path toward survival.

    Unbeknownst to all but Federation President Melek, Starfleet Admiral Gronthen Klonn, and Entomalian High Priestess K'Trez, Queen T'Zek was also working on a plan of her own to set things right with the state of galactic affairs. While Queen T'Zek wanted the Federation's plan to succeed, she also had no intention of anything undoing the results of her own plan, should it succeed as well. As a result, measures would be put in place that would prevent any possible conflicts between the outcomes of both plans. The Federation's plan was as follows:

    The Entomalian transwarp drive unit would be installed on the U.S.S. Frontier, a new Sovereign-Class ship under construction at Starfleet's joint-ASDB facility Seran T-3. The Frontier's mission would be to set a course for the Alpha Quadrant shore of the Andromeda Galaxy, and using the Entomalian transwarp drive, travel there. Upon arrival at the Andromeda Galaxy, the Frontier would begin scouting for suitable locations for new Federation colonies. If the mission was successful, and potential habitable worlds found, the Frontier would return to the Milky Way Galaxy, and with the help of the Entomalians, proceed to set up Federation and allied colonies in the Andromeda Galaxy. The Frontier would carry among her crew, members from every major species in the Federation, to act as ad hoc Federation representatives, during any first-contact situations the Frontier may encounter. Also joining the Frontier's crew, would be Doctor Rayza, the Reticulan Chief Medical Officer of the Galaxy-Class U.S.S. Pioneer, who would be transferring over to the Frontier for the mission, due to her familiarity with the origins of the Dominion, and the Andromeda Galaxy. To avoid any interference with Queen T'Zek's plan, the Frontier would also be equipped with chronometric stabilizers. Commanding the U.S.S. Frontier for the mission would be one Captain Yuri Nikolayev.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    STARFLEET JOINT-ASDB FACILITY SERAN T-3

    The fairly modest facility stood in the middle of space, against the backdrop of the vast Eagle Nebula, the lone Regula-Class facility flanked by only a mere three open-space drydock facilities, one of which held a new Sovereign-Class ship, the U.S.S. Frontier. Parked alongside the Frontier's drydock in open space, was the Galaxy-Class U.S.S. Pioneer.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – MAIN ENGINEERING

    The turbolift doors slid open, allowing Captain Yuri Nikolayev to enter the spacious Engineering deck, the room abuzz with activity as Starfleet and Entomalian engineering teams worked diligently to integrate the new transwarp drive unit into the existing Starfleet warp core's framework. Nikolayev intentionally kept his distance, not wanting to call for the Chief Engineer or disturb anyone with questions. There would be plenty of time for that later, once the mission got underway. Right now, everyone needed to be left to tend to their jobs, as time was of the essence, and there was no margin for error of any kind. From what he understood of what his Chief Engineer had told him so far, the Entomalian transwarp drive would get them to the Alpha Quadrant shore of the Andromeda Galaxy in the time of two weeks, at maximum transwarp. The Captain was interrupted from his thoughts by the ship's intercom, with a call for him.

    “Transporter Room One to Captain Nikolayev.” the man's voice called.

    “Nikolayev here.” he replied, tapping his communicator.

    “Sir, the Pioneer is signaling that Doctor Rayza is ready to transport aboard.”

    “Thank you. I'm on my way.” Nikolayev replied, again tapping his communicator as he made his way back to the turbolift.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – TRANSPORTER ROOM ONE

    The doors to the room slid open as Nikolayev entered the room, acknowledging the young Andorian man at the transporter controls, as he turned to face the transporter platform.

    “I have Doctor Rayza standing by, Sir.” the Andorian announced.

    “Energize.” Nikolayev replied.

    A second passed before the buzzing whine of the transporter could be heard as the lights of one of the top and bottom transporter platform discs illuminated to life, producing the shimmering silver particle stream of the transporter beam, which began to form the body of Doctor Rayza – the only Reticulan in Starfleet. The transporter beam began to subside as her form became fully cohesive, allowing Nikolayev to take in the sight of her – about five feet tall, a thin humanoid body upon which was a disproportionately large head, sporting two large and black almond-shaped eyes which were angled towards each other at the bottom ends, with nothing but a slight stub of a nose, and a very thin, slit-like mouth that made her look like she was sporting what Nikolayev could only describe as an “alien Mona Lisa smile”. Slung over the right shoulder of her blue medical uniform, was her Starfleet-issue cylindrical blue suitcase. Her left hand held a data PADD. After a second, she stepped down from the transporter pad, extending her right hand to Nikolayev as she walked over to him.

    “Doctor Rayza, I presume?” Nikolayev offered, extending his hand to shake hers.

    “Reporting for duty, as ordered, Sir.” Rayza replied. “Captain Ramsey sends his regards.” she added.

    “Thank you. Welcome to Frontier.” Nikolayev offered, as Rayza handed him the data PADD she was holding.

    “Your final orders from Starfleet for the mission. I also took the liberty of adding a backup copy of the Reticulan database on Andromeda for you.” Rayza explained, as the doors to the transporter room slid open, allowing both her and Nikolayev to exit into the corridor.

    “Thank you. I appreciate that. I'm sure it'll be most helpful.”

    Rayza just offered a small smile in reply as the two walked down the corridor.

    “Are you sure you're okay with this mission?” Nikolayev asked, wondering if her silence was a form of apprehension she might be feeling.

    “Aye, Sir. This is Starfleet – I go where I'm sent.” she offered, as politely as possible. “I'm just not sure exactly how much help I can be. My people's history with the Dominion there was over two-thousand years ago. I'm certain much has changed. Species that we knew may no longer even be there, with younger races having arisen, and taking over planets and space that may have been abandoned. All I can offer you is general geographic borders and our stellar catalog, but again, they're geographic borders and a stellar catalog from over two-thousand years ago.” Rayza explained.

    “Every little bits helps.” Nikolayev offered, as they continued walking.

    STARFLEET JOINT-ASDB FACILITY SERAN T-3

    The Galaxy-Class Pioneer slowly began to depart the facility, moving out and beginning to angle away and upward, putting a safe distance from herself and the Frontier and surrounding structures, before being cleared to enter warp, leaving the Frontier to herself in the drydock facility.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    STARFLEET JOINT-ASDB FACILITY SERAN T-3

    The U.S.S. Frontier very slowly began to ease out of her open-space drydock, emerging into open space as a few small shuttles and service craft zipped by the area surrounding her, moving to clear the way for the emerging starship.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – CAPTAIN'S READY-ROOM

    The door was wide open, as Captain Nikolayev was deeply absorbed in PADDwork, a mountain of data PADDs and isolinear chips strewn about on his desk, surrounding his primary desktop computer terminal. He was so engrossed in his work that he didn't notice the door chime until the second time it sounded.

    “Yes, come on in.” he called, not bothering to look up from his PADDwork.

    From the doorway, an older Bajoran man walked into the room, sporting a command-red uniform and wearing Commander's rank pips. The man looked to be about in his mid-sixties of age, in human years, and sported grey hair. The man made his way towards Nikolayev's desk.

    “I apologize for just standing in your doorway like that, Sir, but your door is stuck on 'open'.” the man began, as Nikolayev looked up to acknowledge the new arrival. “I'm Trevan Jor, your new First Officer.” he added, extending his hand.

    “A pleasure, Commander. Yuri Nikolayev – welcome aboard Frontier.” he began, shaking Jor's hand. “And, regarding the door – it's not stuck – I generally have an open-door policy regarding the Captain's Ready-Room, unless there's material of a classified or personal nature being discussed. I find it makes the Captain seem more accessible to the crew that way – at least in my opinion.” he added, sitting back down, and gesturing for Jor to also sit down.

    “Very good, Sir.” Jor agreed.

    “So... what can I do for my new First Officer?” Nikolayev asked, setting his PADDwork aside for the moment.

    “I just wanted to check in with my first report, Sir.” Jor began. “The Entomalian engineering teams have left the ship, and Chief Engineer Parsons reports that everything looks good to go to transwarp as soon as we're clear of the facility's outer marker. Doctor Rayza has settled in in Sickbay, and says she will begin calling upon the crew for complete mission physicals as soon as we're underway.” he stated.

    “Very good.” Nikolayev agreed, picking up a PADD, and handing it to Jor to inspect. “I've been studying it as best I can, but I'm still in complete awe of it.” he added, regarding the data contained on the PADD.


    “Aye, Sir – from here to the Alpha Quadrant shore of Andromeda in two weeks. I don't know how the Entomalians do it, but their transwarp slipstream drive is most impressive.” Jor agreed.

    “Yes, that's the official full name of the technology, but it doesn't diminish my amazement of it. They must be at least a hundred years ahead of us, technologically. The transwarp drive, their Feliz-Dat-Class ships, with their neutronium phaserskin hull coating, their Tholian-technology-based energy countermeasures...” Nikolayev replied, with audible wonder in his voice.

    “Yet even all that wasn't enough to prevent them from having to retreat during the Big Borg Battle.” Jor lamented. “Just drives home what we're up against, and why this mission is so vitally important to the Federation.” he added.

    “That it does, Commander.” Nikolayev agreed, a sobering tone in his voice, before returning to a more optimistic tone. “Well, if that's all, then I think we'll have a complete formal mission briefing in the Conference Lounge once we've gotten underway. Inform Doctor Rayza I want her there, as well.” he instructed.

    “Will do, Sir.” Jor replied, as both he and Nikolayev stood up from their seats, again shaking hands, just as a call from the bridge came through, via the ship's intercom.

    “Bridge to Captain Nikolayev.” the male voice announced.

    Nikolayev tapped the comm button on his desk as he replied.

    “Nikolayev here. Go ahead.”

    “Sir, we've cleared Seran T-3's outer marker, and have been cleared for warp and transwarp speeds.” the man reported.

    “Acknowledged – I'm on my way.” Nikolayev replied, as both he and Jor walked from the Ready-Room, onto the Main Bridge, where Jor took his seat as Captain Nikolayev looked to the large main viewscreen, which now displayed the stars drifting by the ship at a leisurely pace, the ship being at full impulse speed at the moment.

    Nikolayev made his way to the center seat, sitting down in the Captain's chair, and pressing some buttons on one of the armrest panels, before addressing the Ensign seated at the CONN station.

    “Ensign, set a course... for the Alpha Quadrant – of the Andromeda Galaxy.” Nikolayev ordered, his voice making no attempt to conceal the half-disbelief at ordering such an unexpectedly exotic destination. He pressed the intercom button on the armrest panel, calling Main Engineering. “Mister Parsons, are we good to go to transwarp?” he asked, looking up toward the ceiling with only his eyes, cautiously awaiting the reply.

    “Engineering, Parsons here, Sir. Yes, Sir... we're good for all transwarp speeds, at your discretion.” the man reported, through the intercom.

    Nikolayev adjusted himself in his seat as he exhaled a sigh of anticipation from his mouth, gripping the armrest panels of his seat as he angled forward a bit, towards the main viewscreen.

    “Very well.” he softly stated, mostly to himself. “Ensign, is the course set?”

    “Aye, Sir, it is. Awaiting desired speed, Sir.” the young woman at CONN replied, working her panel.

    “Set speed at maximum transwarp.” Nikolayev related, as he brought his right hand up, looking to Commander Jor for confirmation, before looking back to the woman at the CONN. “Engage.” he added, bringing his hand down in a forward motion.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    In space, the mighty ship came about and vaulted itself into maximum transwarp, becoming nothing but a seemingly never-ending streak of white and blue light, which finally vanished with a pinpoint flash of brilliant white light, in the far distance ahead.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    The mighty ship shot through transwarp space, the stars streaking past the ship as almost endless lines of white light.

    CONFERENCE LOUNGE

    The doors on both sides of the room slid open, allowing the senior staff and Doctor Rayza to enter the room and take their seats, Captain Nikolayev sitting at the head of the table, while the streaking stars zipped away from the ship from outside the lounge windows.

    Nikolayev addressed his staff, looking to everyone as he prepared his briefing statements.

    “Thank you all for coming.” Nikolayev began. “I know you've all been briefed on the broad generals of this mission. I've asked you here to go over some of the specifics, as they will pertain to the beginning of our mission. I've asked Doctor Rayza to join us, to provide any insight and additional information she can.” he added, pressing some buttons on the table keypad before turning to face the large wall monitor, his staff following suit.

    The monitor displayed the emblem of the UFP, with the word “CLASSIFIED” in blinking red text below it. The emblem and text gave way to a new title card, which read “RETICULAN DATABASE ARCHIVE EXTRACT 7953A-GM-ALPHA”.

    “What you are about to see comes from the Reticulan database.” Nikolayev began, again pressing a button on the table keypad, which now caused the title card to be replaced with the image of an Earth-like Class-M planet – a very large Earth-like Class-M planet. The image was quickly augmented by numerous LCARS data callouts and animations depicting rotation, atmospheric patterns, etc. “This is Gendalon Major – our first destination, once we reach the Alpha Quadrant shore of the Andromeda Galaxy. As you can see, it's a very large Class-M planet. Like Earth, it has water oceans and vegetation, as well as animal life. According to the Reticulan database, the planet is uninhabited by any sentient life, nor was it claimed by any major spacefaring culture or group at the time this record was taken.” he added, turning to face Rayza. “Are you aware of any cultures or groups nearby, which might have any territorial disputes in the surrounding regions?” he asked her.

    “No.” she began. “That region is devoid of any industrial civilizations. It's actually a pretty barren part of that galactic arm. Anyone you're likely to encounter in that region would be travelers or traders merely passing through, or the occasional scientific expedition, doing a system or planetary survey.” she added. “However, unless you're planning on doing all your study of Gendalon Major from orbit, or from inside a runabout, I suggest that any away teams visiting the surface wear EVA suits, due to the differences in both atmospheric density, and gravity.”

    “Agreed.” Nikolayev nodded. He was about to move on to the next data file, when his gaze was drawn to the lounge windows, along with everyone else's.

    The seemingly endless lines of light that were the streaking stars at high transwarp suddenly vanished completely – the view outside being replaced with nothing but utter and total darkness. The ship had now left the Milky Way Galaxy completely, and had entered the Great Divide – the vast void of nothingness which separates the various galaxies of the Local Group.

    Nikolayev subtly swallowed a small lump of apprehension in his throat, the realization dawning on him now that this was it – his ship and crew were now committed to the mission ahead – and to two weeks of nothing but complete blackness outside the windows. There would be nothing to gaze out at, and nothing with which to establish a stellar fix, except for the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies. There would also be no way to physically tell how fast they were going, except for the data shown by the ship's computers and instrumentation.

    “Well...” Nikolayev began softly. “that's it, then... we're in the Great Divide now.” he said, looking to his staff.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    The mighty ship shot through the solid black void, nothing behind it except for the tiny flat disc of light that was the Milky Way, and nothing ahead of it, except for a much larger flat disc of light that was Andromeda – a disc of light that would begin to grow larger and closer as the ship continued onward through the Great Divide.

    “Captain's Log – the Frontier has left the Milky Way, and is now traversing the 'long dark' that is the Great Divide. So far the Entomalian transwarp drive has functioned perfectly, with no issues, although it's a little unsettling to have no way of knowing how far we're going using visual references, and having to instead rely solely on our instrumentation for that information. We've been at maximum transwarp for a week and five days now. Two and a half more days, and we'll have arrived in the Alpha Quadrant shore of Andromeda, where we'll set a course at high warp for Gendalon Major.”

    MAIN BRIDGE

    Captain Nikolayev manned the center seat, his crew busy attending to their stations duties around him. The Bridge was silent, save for the sounds of buttons beeping, and the recurring 'bloop' of the main viewscreen's scanner lights converging at exact intervals.

    Suddenly there was a noticeable but gentle shudder, which was followed by the short whining sound of a power system failing. Nikolayev looked around the room with caution, just as a call came in through the intercom system.

    “Bridge, this is Engineering.” the voice of Chief Engineer Parsons announced.

    “Nikolayev here. Report.”

    MAIN ENGINEERING

    “Uh, Sir... um... we've dropped out of transwarp, according to our instruments. I can't explain why, but our computer indicates we're currently at sublight speeds, and our velocity is falling off from the upper impulse range.” Parsons began, walking all around the 'pool table' in Engineering, frantically checking and double-checking all the computer readouts and data indicators.

    Suddenly, another whining sound of power draining was heard, as Parsons turned to face the massive warp core, which suddenly went totally dark, powering down completely. The color drained from his face as Parsons witnessed the complete failure of the ship's FTL systems before his very eyes, with seemingly no explanation.

    “Sir?” he added, cautiously. “We've uh... we just... we just lost our warp core.” he reported.

    MAIN BRIDGE

    Nikolayev suddenly shot up from his seat, as Commander Jor looked after him.

    “What?” Nikolayev exclaimed. “What do you mean we've 'lost' the warp core? What happened?”

    “Sir, I'm sorry, Sir... I simply don't know – not yet. There was a momentary power drain, and the whole warp core just went dark. I have no idea what's going on, and I won't know anything until I can get inside the systems, and do a manual inspection, Sir. The Entomalian systems are extremely complex – I need to have my team do a complete shutdown, and we'll have to take everything apart, and see what's going on, although the system has pretty much completely shut itself down already.” Parsons offered, his voice apologetic and puzzled.

    All Nikolayev could do was look forward, absorbing the news as best he could, his eyes the size of saucers at the realization that his ship and crew were now stranded, literally in the middle of nowhere.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    The great ship sat adrift in the Great Divide, an island of window lights and an illuminated navigational deflector, surrounded by nothing but complete and total blackness.

    “Captain's Log – stuck – for the past two days, the Frontier has been stuck here in the Great Divide, the result of what appears to be some form of catastrophic cascade failure of all the FTL systems on the ship – including the Entomalian transwarp slipstream drive. Per my order, the ship has been at a complete stop, until my Chief Engineer can offer an explanation as to what has happened, and hopefully also offer me a solution as to how to fix it.”

    MAIN ENGINEERING

    A human hand placed a large isolinear circuit board down onto the 'pool table'. The isolinear board was badly charred, some of the remaining chips upon it partially melted.

    “Sabotage.” Parsons voice stated, as Captain Nikolayev's hand picked up the circuit board, bringing it up to eye level to examine.

    “Sabotage?” Nikolayev repeated, looking for a second to Parsons before returning his gaze to the board.

    “Aye, Sir. Those blank chip ports that are missing isolinear chips aren't supposed to be empty – they're supposed to have chips installed – and they did, when we left Seran T-3.” Parsons reported. “Sir, those missing chips – they were tasked with controlling the timing of the reaction between our native Starfleet warp core, and the Entomalian transwarp drive. When those chips were pulled, it caused a sudden transwarp power falloff, which cascaded down to our traditional warp drive, since the warp and transwarp fields were combined, to maintain the transwarp field.”

    “Who could have done this? One of the Entomalians?” Nikolayev asked, setting the isolinear board back down on the table.

    “No, Sir. In fact, nobody from the Entomalian team, the team from Seran T-3, or our own crew could have done it.” Parsons began to explain. “That circuit board came from deep inside the physical structure of the warp core, Sir. Nobody can access that board unless the warp core has been physically disassembled. Additionally, this could only have happened while we were at transwarp – whoever did this had to have been in physical contact with this isolinear board when the act of sabotage occurred. No humanoid could have done this, Sir.” he stated, offering Nikolayev a sobering look, which Nikolayev picked up on.

    As the realization began to dawn on him, the color from Nikolayev's face drained, his face wearing a look of utter worry.

    “A changeling. A changeling did this to my ship.” he softly realized. “It's most likely still on board.” he added, now tapping his communicator. “Doctor Rayza, report to Main Engineering for equipment analysis. Nikolayev to Bridge – intruder alert!”

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    The ship sat adrift in the middle of the Great Divide, surrounded by total darkness.

    “Captain's Log – a changeling has sabotaged my ship. Mister Parsons has informed me that the damage to the Entomalian transwarp drive and our warp core could only have been caused from within the actual engine components, ruling out any humanoid culprits. Upon a full biochemical examination of the affected isolinear circuit board, Doctor Rayza has confirmed the presence of residual changeling morphogenic compound on the board. The ship is on full intruder alert, but the crew is acting normally, so as not to tip off the changeling. In the meantime, Mister Parsons has said he has some news for me.”

    CONFERENCE LOUNGE

    The senior staff was once again assembled in the room, as Chief Engineer Parsons stood in front of the large central wall monitor, a large data PADD in his hand.

    “So, I've got some bad news, and some less-bad news.” he began, looking to Nikolayev. “Which would you like to hear first?”

    “Oh, please – the bad news – by all means.” Nikolayev replied, leaning back in his chair.

    “Well...” Parsons started, consulting the data on his PADD. “the bad news is that we'll never have transwarp again – ever. The Entomalian system is fried, and I can't do anything to fix it. The technology is simply beyond my scope of understanding. If we had an Entomalian spacedock at our disposal, maybe – just maybe. But as it is now, us being way out here in the middle of nowhere – there's just no way we'll ever see transwarp again, Sir.” he reported, allowing the magnitude of the situation to sink in for everyone.

    “So, are you saying we're stuck here, in the middle of the Great Divide?” Commander Jor asked.

    “No, Sir.” Parsons began. “We've lost transwarp. But my team and I have been working around the clock for a full two days, and I'm happy to report that we've been able to save and restore our traditional Starfleet warp drive system. We should be back up and running with full warp power available within three hours, Sir.” he added, his tone more optimistic.

    “How long?” Nikolayev asked.

    Parsons worked his PADD as he entered some computations into it, before giving his reply.

    “If we maintain maximum warp the whole time, we'll reach the Alpha Quadrant shore of Andromeda in approximately two months.” he offered.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    The sleek vessel shot through the Great Divide, her mighty warp nacelles once again alive with blue light, propelling the ship through space at maximum warp, the white starry disc of the Andromeda Galaxy looming ever closer, ahead of the ship's path.

    MESS HALL

    Various members of the Frontier's crew, both human and alien, mingled about, talking and eating together while the large windows that usually boasted views of the celestial vistas outside now only offered views of solid blackness outside. The doors to the room slid open, allowing Captain Nikolayev and Doctor Rayza to enter. The two stopped beside a wall replicator, and after giving their orders, took their replicated food and drink to a table in the middle of the room, sitting down across from each other.

    “I want to thank you again, for joining me.” Nikolayev offered.

    “No problem – it's my pleasure, Captain.” Rayza replied, as the two began to enjoy their food.

    “Do you have any idea why the changeling saboteur chose this time to strike – this mission?” Nikolayev asked, taking a drink of water.

    “Not a clue.” Rayza began. “As far as the Founders know, my people all migrated to the Milky Way, once the Dominion drove us out of Andromeda. We took all our active technology with us. There should be nothing they expect us to find left in Andromeda. All I can guess is that they simply wanted to destroy any chance of this mission being a success – to prevent the Federation from finding any avenue of salvation or hope.”

    “Why does the Dominion hate your people so much?” Nikolayev asked, softly shaking his head.

    This made Rayza look to him in puzzlement.

    “You're kidding – right? You – you don't know the story behind...” she began, realizing. “Starfleet didn't brief you on the historical background?” she asked.

    “I only know what you've told me, and what's contained in the Reticulan database you gave us. Starfleet didn't provide me with anything not pertaining to our current mission.” Nikolayev replied.

    “Starfleet Intelligence interviewed me for days, after the incident on Deep Space Nine – with me and Odo.” she stated, looking at Nikolayev's reaction, which was just a clueless expression. “I'd have thought at least you'd have heard about that through Captain Ramsey...” she added, noticing he was still looking at her apologetically.

    “At this point, I'm guessing there's something I don't know which Starfleet Intelligence should have included in their mission briefing to me?” he asked her.

    Rayza set down her fork, letting out an exasperated sigh, as she prepared to retell the story that she thought the Captain had known going in – the story she had assumed Starfleet would have shared with the person assigned to lead this mission.

    “You know from the database record, that my people fought a war with the Dominion over two-thousand years ago, and that eventually, both the Reticulan Star League and the Dominion left Andromeda for the Milky Way. You know that Reticula Prime and Entomalius Prime are the only two worlds to have been physically destroyed by the Dominion in the Milky Way.” Rayza probed.

    “Yes.” Nikolayev replied.

    “Okay. Well, then I'm assuming that Starfleet has classified the rest. Basically, if it weren't for my people, there would never have been a Dominion. You see, thousands of years ago, in Andromeda's Gamma Quadrant, the Reticulan Star League was flourishing, covering a vast expanse of space. We needed an awesome amount of labor to help the League expand. To help with that, we engineered a subspecies of humanoid to serve us. That subspecies eventually located a species previously unknown to us – a species of changelings, which could alter their form, to suit whatever task needed to be performed. Throughout our mining colonies, we set up a system where the humanoid subspecies would serve as overseers to the changeling work force. The humanoid overseers would answer to the Reticulan 'Founder' of the operation. After some time, the changelings grew tired of serving us, and staged a massive uprising, revolting against their humanoid overseers and their Reticulan Founders. Most of the humanoid overseers were killed, and the changelings, now organized against us, were able to secure and reverse-engineer much of our technology, building up a fledgling military space force of their own, which they used to hunt down and kill my people, driving the Reticulan Star League out of Andromeda.” Rayza began. “What few humanoid overseers were left alive were sent out into space in all directions by us, with the mandate to distribute the humanoid genetic code throughout the galaxies. What we created as a subspecies to originally serve as overseers, your people came to know as the progenitors of the humanoid form. Human, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian – all the humanoid species can trace their ancestry to that one common form. That's why Odo's interpretation of the humanoid face is the way it is – that face has been imprinted into his being, from the experiences of his species. It's why the Female Changeling chooses to adopt that look, when she assumes humanoid form. It's why the structure of the Dominion is the way it is – Jem'Hadar, Vorta, and 'Founder'.” she explained. “It's why when Odo first saw me, his first instinct was to lash out in rage, and violently attack and try to kill me.”

    Nikolayev was floored as he tried to absorb all this information and history that Rayza was feeding him.

    “But your people didn't start the war with the Dominion – at least not the war here in the Milky Way. Queen T'Zek did, when the Jem'Hadar fired on the Feliz-Dat.” he offered, trying to understand.

    “That's true. But all the Dominion had to do, was study any sensor scans and computer databank extracts the Jem'Hadar ship was able to collect before they were forced to withdraw, to know of my people's presence here, as well as the bio-readings of the life-forms on the ships they had encountered. We know they scanned both the U.S.S. Quasar and the Entomalian ships, prior to opening fire on the Feliz-Dat. The Vorta probably reported to the Founders that there were 'solids' in the Alpha Quadrant – 'solids' being a derogatory term the Founders assign to humanoids.” Rayza explained. “That's why the Dominion is in the Milky Way – they followed us. It just took them some time to get to the point where they could. They knew we had gone to the Milky Way – they just didn't know where in the Milky Way. They assumed we'd end up in the Gamma Quadrant again, but we didn't – we made it all the way to the Alpha Quadrant.”

    “Wait...” Nikolayev began, motioning that he didn't understand something. “The Dominion doesn't have transwarp capability. So how did they get here? How did they follow you?”

    “They used a form of technology similar to the Iconian gateways.” Rayza began. “When my people left, we feared that such technology would be used in such a way, so we had all known examples of that technology destroyed – or so we'd thought. Obviously, we didn't destroy it all.”

    “I see.” Nikolayev replied, taking another drink of water, as a call came in for him through the ship's intercom.

    “Bridge to Nikolayev.” the young man's voice stated.

    Nikolayev tapped his communicator to reply.

    “Go ahead.”

    “Sir, we're reading a slight temperature fluctuation in one of the power-transfer conduits on deck seven, section twenty-one alpha. Security thinks it could be our stowaway.” the man reported.

    Nikolayev shared a look with Rayza as they both got up from their seats.

    “Acknowledged, Bridge. Seal off that section, and set up a security perimeter in the surrounding sections. Have Commander Jor and a security team meet us there – Doctor Rayza and I are on our way.” Nikolayev ordered, as he and Rayza walked out of the Mess Hall.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    - CONTINUED -




    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    The great ship continued its journey through the Great Divide.

    CORRIDOR

    Captain Nikolayev and Doctor Rayza rounded a corner, meeting up with Commander Jor and the security team, everyone armed with Type-III phaser rifles. Jor motioned to one of the security men who held an additional two rifles, slung over his shoulder and back via straps, and the man surrendered both extra rifles to Nikolayev and Rayza, who took them, activating them.

    Commander Jor produced his tricorder, and began to scan the area in front of them. After a few seconds, he moved his hand so that both Rayza and Nikolayev could inspect the reading along with him.

    “Looks like our changeling's here.” Jor whispered, silently gesturing with his head for the security team to take their positions.

    The lead security man began to gesture with hand signals to his team, indicating where he wanted each man to take position, as each man took their place, readying their phaser rifles in aim at a central ceiling panel.

    Suddenly, Rayza let out an audible shudder, as Nikolayev looked to her.

    “You alright?” he asked her.

    “Yes. It's definitely here.” Rayza began. “Like the changelings, our people have been conditioned to react to the presence of the other. - this must have been what Odo felt when I came aboard DS9 – I know danger is near.” she stated, boosting the power level of her phaser rifle to maximum, as she took aim, slowly moving forward.

    “What are you doing?” Nikolayev asked, cautious.

    “Drawing it out.” she replied, as she paused, stopping directly underneath the ceiling panel everyone was aiming at.

    Just then, the surface of the ceiling panel began to shimmer and distort, turning into a golden gelatinous form, which began to try to move downward for Rayza.

    “THERE! OPEN FIRE!” the lead security man called out, as everyone but Rayza opened fire, as the changeling began to shriek in pain while its form began to distort and destabilize, its golden color becoming charred and black, until it fell to the floor beside Rayza, a half-formed mass of a humanoid torso and head, emerging from an unformed golden pool of gelatinous material.

    Rayza instantly aimed her phaser rifle directly at its head, the rifle emitting a sound indicating it was fully “loaded”, and ready to unleash its fury, as the changeling looked directly into Rayza's eyes. The changeling made a very creepy attempt to laugh, which sounded extremely raspy and labored.

    Nikolayev stepped forward, while Rayza kept her rifle trained at the changeling's head, ready for fire in the blink of an eye.

    “Why... why have you sabotaged my ship?” he asked. “Our mission was no threat to you. We were leaving the Milky Way. We weren't fighting you.”

    “The future belongs to the Dominion. We will not allow the plaque of the solids to reach Andromeda.” the changeling spat. “We will not allow the plague of the solids to spread again. You cannot defeat the Dominion – not without cheating. The Reticulans proved that over two-thousand years ago, when they sent their solid taskmasters back in time and throughout the galaxies, to seed their cancerous genes in the primordial ecosystems of countless planets. They knew if they kept them here, in the present, that we would hunt them down and destroy them – every last one of them. And now, Queen T'Zek thinks she can prevail using the same tactic – cheating. But she won't. The Dominion has endured for over two-thousand years, and will continue to endure long after the Entomalian Empire and even the 'mighty' Federation has crumbled into dust. The Guardians don't lie.”

    “If you think this act of hatred will keep us from exploring the Andromeda Galaxy, you're dead wrong.” Nikolayev shot back. “This may not be the way we wanted this mission to go, but it will go – we're not a people consumed by bitterness and hate – we're explorers, and we openly embrace the unknown. We'll see this as an opportunity, not a curse. And Queen T'Zek will win – she'll win because she's fighting out of love. Love of her people. Love of her world. Her cause is just, and her heart in the right place. You fight out of hate and fury, and you've been doing it so long, that it's blinded you to everything else.”

    The changeling was about to reply, but was prevented from doing so by a series of phaser rifle blasts, which slammed directly into its head, causing gelatinous material to fly and spray out in all directions, literally frying and charring to a crisp in midair, as some of the material splattered all over the corridor walls, a charred blotch on the floor where the changeling had been.

    “Enough talk.” Rayza spat at the now-vaporized changeling, wisps of smoke rising from the firing chamber of her phaser rifle, as Nikolayev and Jor looked to her.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    The ship sailed through the Great Divide, the luminous disc of the Andromeda Galaxy growing ever larger and closer to the ship.

    “Captain's Log – we were able to locate and terminate the changeling saboteur and stowaway we had on board. We continue on course to Andromeda's Alpha Quadrant shore undeterred. There is far greater distance behind us than there is in front of us. We can't go back, towards the Milky Way. For better or for worse, the Andromeda Galaxy will now become our home, and we will be the only Federation ship assigned to it. I was right in what I said to the changeling – ours is a crew of exploration, which embraces the challenge of the unknown. I have absolutely zero doubt that my crew will rise to and meet this challenge with dignity, grace, and the unbridled enthusiasm fitting of Starfleet's finest. But that fact doesn't make it any easier for me to inform them that we'll never be going home – at least, not unless we can somehow find another source of transwarp power, or some form of suitable alternative.”




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    - CONTINUED -




    TWO MONTHS LATER




    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    CAPTAIN NIKOLAYEV'S QUARTERS

    The room was bathed in complete darkness, as Captain Nikolayev was fast asleep in his bed, the only sources of illumination in his quarters coming from the few LCARS displays on pieces of equipment such as his food replicator and personal desktop computer terminal.

    Suddenly, the complete blackness was broken, by a single streak of white light sailing past and away from the ship outside the window. That streak of light was followed a few seconds later by another, and a few seconds later another, and another, until suddenly, the vista outside the windows was filled with the familiar sight of stars streaking away from the ship at maximum warp – the Frontier had arrived in the Andromeda Galaxy.

    In space, the great ship sailed into the Alpha Quadrant shore of Andromeda, now enveloped by the familiar embrace of a streaking starfield.

    “Captain's Log – we did it. After more than two months spent in the Great Divide, and the loss of our Entomalian transwarp slisptream drive, we've finally made it to the Alpha Quadrant shore of the Andromda Galaxy, and have now adjusted our course for our first mission destination – the planet known as Gendalon Major. I cannot say enough what a relief it is to see stars filling the vistas outside our windows again.”

    U.S.S. FRONTIER - SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    The crew was busy at their stations as Nikolayev and Commander Jor sat at their seats, watching as the warping stars shot by the ship on the main viewscreen.

    “Sir, we're entering the outer perimeter of the Gendalon System.” the Ensign at OPS reported.

    “Very well. Drop us out of warp, Ensign.” Jor began, turning his focus to the Ensign at CONN. “CONN, set course for a standard orbit around Gendalon Major, and engage.” he added, as the CONN Ensign acknowledged his order.

    GENDALON MAJOR

    In space, the arc of Gendalon Major was illuminated from behind by the system's star, which was rising slowly over the crescent arc of the planet as the U.S.S. Frontier entered standard orbit.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    The view of the sun rising over the curve of the planet filled the viewscreen, as Nikolayev noticed something as the sun continued to rise – as the sun's light illuminated the stellar dust surrounding the planet and its atmosphere, Nikolayev spotted a very tiny black blotch in the illuminated haze.

    “What is that?” he asked, mostly to himself, but also aloud so as to hopefully gain an answer.

    “Sir?” Jor asked.

    “That... that thing there...” Nikolayev replied, pointing to the blotch in the haze on the viewscreen. “That tiny dark blotch.”

    “OPS, isolate that section and magnify.” Jor ordered.

    The area around the small dark blotch was surrounded by LCARS brackets, which isolated the section of image, as the section then zoomed in, magnifying the dark blotch, which revealed itself to be some form of very small artificial orbital satellite.

    The object appeared to be completely metallic, the entire satellite a silvery color. The object was comprised of a spherical center section, with two tall 'fins' in a right angle triangle shape, one on the bottom and one on the top. The center sphere section appeared to have something inscribed on the surface.

    “Ensign, magnify that inscription, if you can.” Nikolayev asked.

    On the screen, the area with the inscription was isolated with LCARS brackets as the image again zoomed in, allowing a very close-up look at the alien writing on the satellite's surface.

    “That's Reticulan writing!” Nikolayev stated, tapping his communicator. “Nikolayev to Doctor Rayza.” he called.

    “Rayza here.” came her reply over the intercom.

    “Doctor, would you come up to the bridge, please? We've discovered what appears to be an old Reticulan probe, stuck in orbit of Gendalon Major.” Nikolayev stated.

    “On my way.” Rayza's comm voice replied, as the the channel was closed.

    “Sir,” the OPS Ensign began. “I've been scanning the probe, and there are no power reading of any kind. It appears to be inert, Sir. Our sensor dating puts it at being over two-thousand years old. It could have been abandoned – forgotten when the Reticulans left Andromeda – left here in a perpetual orbit of Gendalon.” he offered.

    “Hmmm... could well be.” Nikolayev agreed.

    “Obviously, it must not have anything of military value to it, or one would imagine that someone would have long-since tried to access it, or take it for themselves.” Jor offered.

    “You're both right.” Rayza's voice announced, as she walked over to the two men, looking at the image of the probe orbiting Gendalon on the viewscreen. “That's one of our old science probes. The Ensign is correct that it was left behind by us during the mass exodus to the Milky Way. This is most likely the very same probe that originally collected the information on Gendalon Major to begin with, which was filed in our database, and given to you for this mission.” she added.

    “Is there any harm in our attempting to either access the data stored on board, or bring it on board Frontier for study?” Nikolayev asked.

    “Not at all. However, that thing has been dormant for thousands of years... it might not be salvageable – its power cells may have decayed too much to be restored. But you have nothing to worry about from it – as I said, it's a purely scientific probe. There's nothing dangerous on board it.” Rayza offered.

    Nikolayev was about to give the order to further investigate the probe, when his Tactical Officer, a Bolian man named Drath Lezar, called out to him, reacting to some alarms beeping on his tactical console.

    “Sir... I'm tracking a ship in a low orbit of Gendalon's northern polar region. It's a very small vessel – the magnetic interference from the polar region prevented me from detecting the ship until now because of its small size, Sir.” Lezar reported.

    “Let's see it!” Jor ordered.

    The viewscreen instantly switched to a view favoring the planet's northern polar region, a vast ice shelf covering most of the planet's north pole. There, smack-dab in the middle of the image, highlighted against the backdrop of the vast white ice shelf, was a very small moving speck of a ship.

    “Isolate and magnify!” Nikolayev ordered, as the small moving speck was framed by LCARS brackets, which zoomed in very tight, offering a clear and close-up look at the alien vessel.

    The alien ship was unlike anything the Federation had seen before. The best way to describe the design of the alien ship was two boomerang-shaped sections, intersecting to create a cross-shaped profile from the front and rear, and the forward points of the boomerangs being the front of the ship. The entire ship was colored a medium-purple color, and the port and starboard sides of the vertical boomerang section was adorned with rows of windows. The horizontal boomerang section was devoid of surface details. As the image of the ship slowly sailed by on the screen, revealing its aft section, the Frontier crew could see that the aft edges of the horizontal boomerang section were illuminated in bright purple light. Evidently, these were embedded warp nacelles.

    “Rayza... do you know who they are?” Nikolayev asked, not taking his eyes off the image of the alien ship.

    “Not a clue.” she replied. “We've never encountered anything remotely like these ships. My guess is that this is one of the younger civilizations that has popped up since we left.”

    “Hmmm...” Nikolayev began, looking at the alien ship. “We'll keep an eye on them, but I want to try and access that old Reticulan probe before making any attempts at contact with these people, just in case they're also interested in it. My guess is that we have a more urgent need of the data contained in it then they do. Once we've secured the data or the probe, we'll open hailing frequencies.” he added, as the image of the alien ship continued to sail by on the viewscreen.

    ALIEN SHIP

    The ship held a low orbit over Gendalon Major's north pole, the large Class-M planet rotating below it.

    ALIEN SHIP BRIDGE

    The inside of the alien ship was just as strange-looking as the outside. The walls and contours of the room were all in variations of straight and sharp angles, and literally everything was colored in varying shades of purple, ranging from light lavender to dark purple, including the lighting and computer displays. This purple motif also carried over to the alien beings themselves – beings which were extremely physically imposing. The aliens were quite tall, compared to the average human – roughly seven feet tall – and were very robustly built. The aliens wore layers of extremely thick and shiny purple armor, which covered the bulk of their bodies. The very few bits of the alien's actual bodies that were visible between the layers of heavy armor, revealed a reptilian-like form of life – a thick scaly layer of purple skin, with yellow reptilian eyes. Their heads and faces bore some resemblance to 'raptor'-style dinosaurs from Earth, but these were obviously not dinosaurs. The alien's main viewscreen displayed a computer graphic of Gendalon Major, and their own ship, along with the Frontier and the old Reticulan probe, in orbit of the planet. Finally, the alien leader 'spoke', in a series of guttural snarls, growls and grunts.

    (translated from alien language) “Who are they, and why are they so interested in that old derelict probe in orbit? They've been scanning it for over an hour now.” the leader remarked, looking to the display on the screen.

    (translated from alien language) “Leader, we need the alloys and materials from that probe! The prices they will fetch will feed our families for at least another full cycle!” the alien leader's second in command stated.

    The alien leader nodded, still gazing at the computer readout.

    (translated from alien language) “We will watch them, and see what they do. If they make any moves for the probe, or send any scouting parties down to the planet below, we will deal with them.” the leader stated, as he reached for and picked up a weapon that was by his side...

    An energy rifle – an absolutely massive energy rifle. The rifle was made out of the same shiny purple armor that the aliens were wearing, and visually, the rifle looked extremely heavy and utterly lethal. It was clear that this thing had one purpose, and one purpose only – to utterly devastate and obliterate anything it came in contact with. And you could assume just by looking at it that somehow the resulting death would be neither quick nor painless.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    The great ship sat in orbit of Gendalon Major, the bright white light of its star silhouetting the Reticulan probe that was also orbiting the planet, between the Frontier and the star.

    “Captain's Log – after a careful sensor study of the old Reticulan probe orbiting Gendalon Major, we've come to the conclusion that the best way to access the systems and data on board it, is through direct physical contact, interfacing with its on-board computer to download the data to a mobile storage unit. To that end, I am preparing to send an EVA team over to the probe in our runabout. The Frontier will of course be keeping close watch on our new alien friends orbiting the northern polar region.”

    MAIN SHUTTLEBAY

    The large doors to the massive primary hangar facility/launch bay of the Frontier slid open with a hefty sound, allowing a small Engineering team along with Doctor Rayza to enter the shuttlebay, and walk towards the large Starfleet craft parked a mere dozen feet away, waiting for them – the Danube-Class runabout, U.S.S. Wilder. As the team approached the Wilder, Razya tapped her communicator, signaling the Bridge.

    “Razya to Bridge – we're entering the Wilder, preparing to depart Frontier.” she reported.

    MAIN BRIDGE

    Nikolayev and Jor shared a look, as Nikolayev pressed a button on his chair's arm console to reply.

    “Copy that, Doctor. Good luck. Let's just access that data module, and download what we can as fast as possible. I don't want you guys out there, exposed to that alien ship any longer than absolutely necessary.” he stated.

    “Understood. Rayza out.” she replied, over the comm system.

    “Sir, I have cleared the Wilder for launch.” Tactical Officer Lezar reported. “Runabout is away.”

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    In space, the large central door of the Main Shuttlebay slid open, allowing the large runabout to exit out into open space, as the craft executed a turn over the Frontier's starboard nacelle, and over the globe of Gendalon Major, heading forward towards the Reticulan probe in the distance.

    ALIEN SHIP

    The purple cross-shaped ship sat in orbit over the northern polar region of Gendalon Major.

    ALIEN SHIP BRIDGE

    The display on the alien's main viewscreen showed the image of the runabout Wilder angling towards the Reticulan probe, the large form of the U.S.S. Frontier in the distance behind it, like a protective big brother looking after its younger sibling.

    The alien leader sneered, revealing rows of razor-sharp white teeth, as it took in the sight of the Wilder heading for their prize.

    (translated from alien language) “So... now we know they do indeed have an interest in that old derelict probe.” he stated, mostly to himself.

    The leader's second in command worked his panel, regarding some incoming data, before looking up to the leader, to inform him of the readings.

    (translated from alien language) “Leader, I detect a total of six life-forms aboard that small craft.” he reported.

    (translated from alien language) “Prepare to alter course, and place all weapons systems on standby!” the leader ordered.

    U.S.S. WILDER – DANUBE-CLASS

    The runabout shot towards the Reticulan probe, which was growing larger through the forward windows of the runabout cabin. Rayza looked over the shoulders of the pilot and co-pilot, her hands on each of their chairs as she took in the instrument readings with them.

    “Looks like we've attracted the attention of that alien ship out there – it's altered course – heading for us.” the co-pilot stated, while the pilot opened a comm channel to Frontier.

    “Wilder to Frontier – that alien ship out there is on an intercept course for us. Do you want us to disengage, or continue on course?” the pilot asked.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    Captain Nikolayev intently watched the viewscreen, which showed the small cross-shaped ship altering course and heading for the Wilder.

    “We see them, Wilder – and negative on a disengagement – continue with the mission. We've got your backs. Keep this channel open, and continue to report.” Nikolayev ordered, turning to address Lezar at Tactical. “Mister Lezar, put us on an intercept course – between the probe and that alien ship out there. Standby phasers, and open me a hailing frequency to the alien ship, all subspace channels and bands – begin broadcasting our universal greeting and hello message.” he added, looking back to the main viewscreen.

    ALIEN SHIP BRIDGE

    The leader looked to face his second in command as the second in command reacted to new incoming data on his panel.

    (translated from alien language) “Leader, we are receiving a general-band signal from the alien mothership – it appears to be some form of universal greeting, but none of the languages contained in it are known to us – they're all completely alien.” he stated, looking to the leader.

    (translated from alien language) “Begin to run it through our translation matrix. In the meantime, I bet they've armed their weapons systems, and have adjusted their course to intercept us. This could be merely a stalling tactic on their part.” the leader stated.

    (translated from alien language) “Yes, Leader – their weapons are armed, and they are on an intercept course!” the second in command confirmed, as the leader sneered, looking to the viewscreen.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    Captain Nikolayev and Commander Jor stood by their seats as Tactical Officer Lezar reacted to a series of beeps from his panel.

    “Sir, incoming message from the alien ship, audio only.” he reported.

    “Let's hear it!” Nikolayev ordered.

    The ship's intercom speakers came to life, at first with a staticky-crackling sound, which gave way to the guttural grunts, hisses, and growls of the alien's language, which began to warble and distort as the Frontier's computer system tried to find a matrix match for the universal translator. Finally, clipped chunks of fragmented words in English began to filter through the jumble, until the computer had settled on a translation match, and the alien's words came in clearly.

    (translated from alien language) “- you must withdraw at once! This derelict probe is claimed by the Vralex! Disarm your weapons, recall your scouting party, and leave this system, or you will be fired upon!” the alien voice of the leader stated.

    Jor looked at Nikolayev as he took in the alien leader's words of warning, as he took a few steps forward, gazing at the scene playing out on the viewscreen.

    “Mister Lezar, open a channel to the Vralex ship.” Nikolayev ordered.

    “Aye, Sir.” Lezar acknowledged, opening the comm channel.

    “Attention, Vralex ship – this is Captain Yuri Nikolayev of the starship U.S.S. Frontier, representing the United Federation of Planets. We will be more than happy to allow you to take ownership of the alien probe in orbit. However, we are attempting to recover some data files contained within it. Aside from that, we have no interest in it, and will gladly surrender it to you, once our work with the data extraction is complete. We have no hostile intent towards you. Please acknowledge and reply.” he submitted, awaiting the Vralex's response, watching the alien ship draw closer to the runabout Wilder on the main viewscreen.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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    In space, the Vralex ship shot towards the runabout Wilder, as the U.S.S. Frontier also began to close in on the area, aiming to put itself directly in the path between the Vralex ship and the Wilder.

    U.S.S. WILDER – DANUBE-CLASS

    The port-side door to the runabout slid open, allowing the three members of the EVA team to slowly exit the craft, and enter open space in their full EVA suits. Two Engineering crew and Doctor Rayza stepped out into space just as the Wilder came up right alongside the Reticulan probe, making a soft complete stop alongside it, allowing the EVA team to grab hold of the probe, and take position on board it, as the two Engineering crew began to open an access panel on the probe's exterior using a small laser tool.

    Doctor Rayza looked forward, ahead and over the top of the Wilder, to see the Vralex ship coming up fast towards them. The image was repeated in the glass of her EVA suit helmet, the reflection of the oncoming Vralex ship quickly filling up the glass visor.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    The image on the screen showed the Vralex ship pass over the Wilder at extremely close range, 'buzzing' the runabout and the EVA team, as the image of the Vralex ship zoomed past the Frontier, disappearing off the side of the viewscreen.

    “Captain Nikolayev was not amused. He turned back to face his Tactical Officer as he sat back down in his chair, pressing some buttons on the armrest panel.

    “Sir!” Lezar began, reacting to some new readings on his panel. “The Vralex ship is coming around for another pass... they appear to be powering up their tractor beam – looks like they intend to try and secure the probe by force.”

    “Mister Lezar, target phasers on the location of their tractor beam emitter, and prepare to fire.” Nikolayev began, activating the intercom. “Bridge to away team, prepare for transport. Bridge to Transporter Room One, lock onto the EVA team, and transport them aboard!” he ordered, looking back to the main viewscreen.

    VRALEX SHIP

    In space, the cross-shaped purple ship maneuvered into position, making a fast pass towards the Reticulan probe, as the massive form of the U.S.S. Frontier loomed large ahead of the ship. The Vralex ship passed over the probe, and as it did, launched out a shimmering lavender tractor beam, which extended out to grab hold of the probe, as well as the EVA team members, who were thrown off the probe due to the violent action of it being grabbed by the tractor beam. The force of the tractor beam also pulled the EVA teams towards the Vralex ship.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    “Transporter Room, do you have them?” Nikolayev asked, his eyes wide as he watched his away team being pulled after the Vralex ship and probe by the tractor beam.

    “Not yet, Sir... I'm boosting the signal to the confinement beam” the Transporter Chief's comm voice replied.

    VRALEX SHIP

    The small purple ship shot over the globe of Gendalon Major, the tractor beam pulling the probe in closer to the ship, along with the EVA team from the Frontier. At the aft intersection of the vertical and horizontal boomerang sections, was a small pod bay, which was beginning top now open up to accept the incoming Reticulan probe, just as the three members of the EVA team were enveloped in transporter beams from the Frontier, vanishing in a shimmering curtain of silvery light. Just then, the purple glow of the Vralex's warp nacelles began to increase in intensity, and the Vralex ship shot itself into high warp, leaving behind only a quickly vanishing streak of brilliant purple light, ending with a pinpoint flash of white light in the far distance.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    Nikolayev sat in his seat as he got the news from the Transporter Room over the intercom...

    “Transporter Room to Bridge, the away team is aboard, Sir.” the young man's voice reported.

    “Very good! Lock on to the Wilder, and beam it back into the Main Shuttlebay.” Nikolayev ordered, turning his attention to his CONN Officer. “Ensign, lay in a pursuit course for the Vralex ship – follow their warp trail. Once the Wilder is secured, engage at maximum warp!” he ordered.

    In space, the mighty Frontier angled about, and vaulted into high warp, vanishing in a long streak of white and blue light, leaving only a pinpoint flash behind, off in the distance.

    MAIN BRIDGE

    The main viewscreen displayed the image of stars streaking by the ship at maximum warp, the Vralex ship a tiny cross-shaped form off in the far distance, dead-center of the vista on the screen.

    “Sir, we will overtake the Vralex ship in approximately twenty seconds. It looks like their warp drive is no match for ours.” the CONN Ensign reported.

    “Match their speed, Ensign.” Commander Jor ordered, looking to Nikolayev as he worked some buttons on an armrest panel.

    “Mister Lezar, ready a photon torpedo. I want that ship out of warp, now.” Nikolayev began. “We don't have torpedoes to waste, so I need their engines taken out with one shot. Can you do it?”

    “You bet, Sir.” Lezar returned, inputting the settings on his panel.

    The image on the viewscreen now displayed the Vralex ship's aft side, almost filling the screen, its warp nacelles alive with bright purple light as the warping stars flew by all around the ship.

    “At your discretion, Mister Lezar – let's get it right.” Nikolayev stated, waiting for his Tactical Officer to fire.

    Lezar focused on his Tactical display, inputting targeting coordinates and other pertinent information, before looking up to the viewscreen, his finger hovering barely above the firing button.

    “Torpedo... away!” he stated, his finger hitting the firing button, the sound of the photon torpedo launching filling the bridge, as on the viewscreen the single orange photon torpedo sailed through space, slamming directly into the starboard wing blade nacelle of the Vralex ship, causing a small explosion which caused the starboard nacelle to go totally offline, while the port nacelle's light began to flicker.

    On the screen, the stars in front of the Vralex ship shrank from streaks of light, to mere pinpoint dots of white light as the ship was forced out of subspace.

    VRALEX SHIP

    In space, the ship came to a slow drift from a falloff from full impulse speed, just as behind it, the U.S.S. Frontier shot out of high warp, sailing over the Vralex ship and overtaking it, eventually coming about in the far distance, and turning to face the Vralex ship, heading back towards it.

    VRALEX BRIDGE

    The leader faced the viewscreen, looking at the image of the mighty U.S.S. Frontier charging directly at it, his side lip curling, revealing his sharp teeth as he snarled in defiance.

    (translated from alien language) “Ready all disruptors, and initiate a strafing run along their dorsal axis!” he snarled.

    In space, the Vralex ship charged forward, racing towards and over the Frontier, spitting out bolts of bright violet energy, which struck the Frontier's shields.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    The deck shook with each disruptor impact, causing lights and computer readouts to flicker, as the crew held onto their seats or stations for support.

    “Sir, that ship may be small and slow, but her weapons pack a punch! Our shields are holding, but that's a lot of firepower for a vessel of that size!” Lezar reported, the ship rocking again with another weapons hit.

    “Return fire – full phasers!” Commander Jor ordered.

    In space, the Frontier gave chase to the Vralex ship, spitting out orange phaser beams from all of her forward phaser banks, the multiple phaser beams scoring multiple accurate and direct hits on the Vralex ship's hull. Finally, one of the phaser strikes caused the Vralex's port nacelle to begin venting drive plasma, an increasingly long trail of smoke trailing from the nacelle as the Vralex ship attempted to make a run for it, heading in the direction of a distant Class-M planet.

    U.S.S. FRONTIER – SOVEREIGN-CLASS

    MAIN BRIDGE

    The viewscreen displayed the image of the wounded Vralex ship making a run for the small Class-M planet in the distance.

    “Sir, they're making a run for that planet. They'll either crash-land there, or evacuate the ship and beam down.” the OPS Officer reported, looking to Nikolayev, who was standing behind her.

    “Let's stay with them. I intend to get some answers.” Nikolayev began, now turning to address Commander Jor. “Assemble an away team. Heavy security, armed with phaser rifles.” he ordered.

    “Aye, Sir.” Jor began, pausing as a thought came to him. “Sir, do you want Doctor Rayza to accompany us?”

    “No, thank you, Commander... I want her to remain here on the ship.” Nikolayev replied, looking back to the image of the fleeing Vralex ship on the screen as Commander Jor made his way to the turbolift.




    - TO BE CONTINUED -

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