STAR TREK: CALIBURN
"In The Works"
Based on "Star Trek" created by
Written By: Simon Arch - 16th July 2006
Captain Reece Corban
Commander Reene Laga'aia
Lieutenant Bryon Cassidy
Lieutenant Commander Seytek
Lt. Commander Sally Taylor
Lieutenant Kyle "Dodger" Dodgson
Ensign Amy Parish
Lt. Commander Dylan Biggs Murdoch
Lieutenant Rinla Vo
Ensign Ri Asio
Admiral Sonya Perri
Reece Corban felt a twinge in his leg again, it had been three weeks since he fell from the top of the warp pylon Jefferies tube. By rights he should be dead, luckily he had been spared with minor radiation burns and a fractured leg, which was healing up nicely due to the expert administrations of Dr. Sally Taylor.
Two days ago he'd left the walking stick he'd been using in his quarters, so far he'd been able to keep his balance and wasn't overdoing anything.
He found himself wandering toward main engineering. His first officer Commander Renee Laga'aia had been kind enough to keep the Excalibur running in perfect condition while he recovered and reconditioned his muscles. Her latest report had imparted news that wasn't at all welcome, but not unexpected.
Due to their detour into a magnetic inversion field, their deuterium fuel supplies had been depleted earlier than what was needed, forcing the Excalibur to drop from warp speed, the changed the remaining journey from an hour into two days at full impulse power.
Corban walked into engineering, smiling as he cast his eyes over the room in a causal inspection, a number of the crew nodded and greeted him with a few saying "Hi, captain" or "Sir".
Standing at the engine diagnostic table was his chief engineer, a Vulcan named Seytek who was talking to his assistant, a blue skinned , white haired Andorian called Telikk Refu his antennae twitching in a relaxed sway.
"Sir, I'm not quite sure that I understand how this is going to work, if you don't mind me saying sir..." said Refu.
Seytek nodded. "I know, it seems completely illogical."
The Vulcan typed in some more commands, the pulsing warp engine changed in pitch and Refu looked at the commander in wide eyed surprise.
If Seytek wasn't Vulcan he would be grinning smugly. "I have learned over the years that engineering has many solutions that logic dictates should not work."
Refu nodded and started taking notes from the screen. "Plasma pressure 160 over 370, reaction holding steady."
Seytek touched a comlink. "Engineering to impulse control, we are ready to transfer warp power to impulse at your command."
"Thank you Commander. We should be ready in a few moments." A voice responded.
Then Seytek walked over to Corban, who was casually inspecting the engineering consoles.
"It is agreeable to see you Captain, you are looking well." Seytek said.
Corban nodded. "Thanks. Renee told me the bad news."
Seytek gestured to the diagnostic table. "We still have enough deuterium and anti-matter to augment the impulse drive. However, warp drive should dissipate within the next ten minutes."
Corban shrugged. "Well, it is only a few days. I'm going to try a contact Space Station K-226 explain why we'll be late. How has the warp drive held up?"
Seytek nodded and turned to look at the pulsing warp core. "I am most impressed sir, for a new design there has been very little in the way of, I believe the terms are... glitches or bugs?"
Corban chuckled. He'd known Seytek for twenty five years (it had been a rocky meeting to start off with) but in that time they had developed a strong and lasting friendship.
Dylan Murdoch shuffled the deck of cards like a professional card shark, across the table was the Excalibur's doctor. Sally Taylor who was stacking her recently won chips into neat piles in front of her.
Amy Parish had invited the good doctor to the weekly poker game when Byron Cassidy said he couldn't make it.
Kyle Dodgson had been itching to play ever since he'd missed a game and been taken over by an alien entity, he now considered it to be seriously bad luck to miss a game.
Ri Asio was also there drinking another smoking concoction from his homeworld, he'd been really picking up the game and was rapidly becoming a formidable player.
Of course, Dylan considered himself to be an "Ace" poker player (or any other game of chance for that matter). So when he found himself losing solidly to Sally Taylor, who was a mere slip of a girl at twenty-two years of age. He had taken it about as personally as his notorious easy-going nature would allow and was soon laughing and ordering drinks for everyone. If there was two things Dylan loved it was a challenging player and fun.
Dylan flicked the cards to each of the players who in turn scooped them up organising them into hands. The initial bets went around the table until they got to Sally who said. "I open with fifty."
Amy stared at her cards trying desperately not to roll her eyes, why had she gone and done a stupid thing like invite her to the game.
Renee Laga'aia was turning bright red in a mixture of embarrassment and humour. "Oh, you can not be serious!"
Rinla Vo was grinning her eyes sparkling with rueful delight. "I'm totally serious, this Admiral thought he was in luck when I asked to discuss my thesis. I went into his office, he was in a relaxed uniform pouring Andorian ice wine. He offered me a glass and a seat next to him...on the sofa!" she said the last part with a knowing wink.
Laga'aia burst into yet another fit of giggles and Lt. Perinnna Leopa stepped over from her science station, grinning with amusement she asked. "What did you say?"
"Well, I said; 'with all due respect sir I don't believe ice wine is the appropriate beverage'." Vo continued.
Laga'aia was in a giggling state so much she was having trouble breathing.
Leopa was purring uncontrollably.
"And he said, 'Oh, I have Orion mead?'," Vo said, now rolling her eyes in an amused way. "So, gently I explained to him that the claims of Deltan sexuality are gravely over exaggerated and that I had refused to sign my Oath of Celibacy on grounds of racial stereotyping, and if he wanted to discuss my thesis properly then I come back later."
Laga'aia just managed to get her breath back. "Oh my, did you get the subject you wanted?"
"Oh yes, he was embarrassed over the whole thing, he kept apologising to me, but in the end we could laugh about it." Vo smiled. "He sent me flowers when I graduated."
Leopa tapped Laga'aia on the shoulder, she handed her a padd and then asked. "What about you Commander? Any funny Academy stories?"
At that moment Corban stepped onto the bridge. Laga'aia stood and composing herself quickly. "Captain," she greeted Corban with a nod. "We have dropped from warp and impulse control informs me that the transfer from main engineering we through without a hitch."
"That's good, hopefully we won't be too tardy." He turned to Vo at the communications station. "Lieutenant can we contact Space Station K-226"
"We should be able to Captain." Vo delicate figure flew across her console, after a moment she frowned. "Well that's odd. They should have communications up by now, but I'm not getting any response from the stations. All channels appear dead."
Corban's eyes widened for a moment noting his surprise, he walked over to Leopa at the science station. "Conduct a long range scan Lieutenant, have a look for anything out of the ordinary."
Laga'aia grew concerned and joined Corban. "You think there is a problem sir?"
Corban sighed, not quite shaking his head he said. "I'm not sure. It's unusual for them to not respond to hails, unless their having problems with there comm systems, radiation interference?"
"Or if they are in a radio black out mode for some reason? Say they don't want to attract someones attention, or they could even have been attacked." Laga'aia suggested.
Corban caught her eyes and they exchanged a grim look.
"Scan complete sir," said Leopa.
Corban and Laga'aia moved closer to her to listen to her report.
"Long range sensor indicate a K-Serenity Class station at bearing seven two nine mark three, power signature are showing stable and in normal use." Leopa reported.
"Life signs?" Laga'aia asked.
"Sensors can't be certain at this distance, but it looks to be fully crewed."
Corban let out a sigh. "Lets hope then that they are just having communication problems. Lieutenant Vo hail them every hour. I'll be in my ready room."
As Corban walked into his office just off the bridge Laga'aia sat in the command chair, she studied the view screen, the stars looking painfully slow at impulse speed and she couldn't help but think that something was wrong.
It was a restless couple of days on the Excalibur, the lack of communication with the station made everyone uneasy. The station had symbolised their destination for the better part of a month and now the thought that something might be wrong there seemed to emphasise the aloneness of their ship, which had somehow taken on a feeling of being tiny in the vastness of space.
Corban had never been one for waiting, when he wasn't flipping through reports in his ready room he was pacing the bridge. Eventually he settled in his chair and idly watched as Kyle Dodgeson shuffled cards on the helm, failing to do tricks every so often, which ended with the cards all over the helm and floor. He'd just picked them up after one such moment when the helm console beeped making Dodgeson jump and the cards went flying in every direction.
"Sir, we've just come into visual range of K-226." he said.
"Put it on screen," Corban turned to Lt. Vo. "hail them."
Vo worked her console for a moment. "Station K-226, this is U.S.S. Excalibur. Please respond."
There was a pause a little longer that usual. Vo took a breath to repeat her message, but then changed her tone completely. "Sir, I have a signal. Transferring to screen."
Admiral Sonya Perri appear on the screen. She was a human woman of Chinese decent, in her late forties to early fifties, her hair was black and just beginning to grey, cut into a loose bob. She also had slightly harassed appearance, as if she has gone too far into the morning without coffee.
Corban stood to introduce himself. "Admiral. Captain Reece Corban, Excalibur."
"Good to see you Captain. We were expecting you a few days ago, but better late than never I suppose."
"Apologies Admiral, we had some problems en-route. We tried to contact you, but we couldn't get a response. Frankly, we were beginning to get concerned." Corban explained.
Admiral Perri smiled thinly. "We've been having a few..." she didn't finish the sentence. At that moment something jumped onto her desk and into view of the monitor.
It was a creature, no more that ten or so inches tall, as far as Corban could tell. It had a pear-shaped body, atop of which were two beady black eyes that took one look at Corban and blinked. From between it's eyes protruded a trumpet-like snout and from it's body were quite thin looking arms that ended in hands with three fingers and an opposable thumb. At the bottom of it's body were two rounded feet. Corban couldn't tell if it had legs at all.
Upon seeing Corban on the screen. The creature hooted an odd sound "Wooble!"
Perri rolled her eyes and sighed, from under her desk her robotic replacement arm came up and she batted the creature away with a flick. She smiled satisfied as they heard the faint thump of the creature hitting a bulkhead or something.
Admiral Perri sighed. "They're called 'woobles' Captain. At least, that is what we've come to call them. Perhaps you and your science officer should beam aboard. Then I can fill you in."
Admiral Perri met Corban and Lt. Cassidy on the stations promenade deck shortly after they beamed in.
There was a general sense of panicked disorder on the station, a little more so that was normal for a new station finding it's feet.
"Good to see you Captain, Lieutenant. Can I offer you a drink, tea of coffee?"
Corban nodded and expressed his preference for tea, he glanced a Cassidy who opted for a black coffee.
Perri led them over to a small dining alcove, she kept shooing away the little creatures until she made it to the replicator where she started programming th drinks.
With a sigh she started to explain. "A few days after we first got set up here, a local trader approached us. Apparently he mines raw dilithium here, we offered to supply him with refined dilithium whenever he was in the area for information about the Nilbarri Event and any odd effects he's noticed or heard about."
Perri sighed and handed them their drinks.
Corban's tea was green and smelt oddly of moldy socks and meth, and Corban got the faint impression that something was floating around in there. Cassidy's coffee wasn't much better as it was smoking like one of Ensign Asio's concoctions.
"One of my junior officers also bought a 'wooble' from the trader thinking it was just a toy." Perri went on. "Somehow it activated, and started messing around with every piece of equipment on the station. Then it started replicating itself and now we are getting worried there might not be a station left by the time they are done, at least not one that we recognise."
Cassidy already had his tricorder out as the Admiral had been talking and was taking scans of a huddle of nearby woobles.
"Interesting. I'm not getting any readings from them, they appear to be shielded. Highly sophisticated."
Corban tilted his head and in a split second quick-draw had his phaser trained on one of them.
"Oh no, Captain that isn't such a great plan." Perri began, but it was too late.
Corban fired at a wooble around three metres away. The wooble shuddered as the beam struck its chest, but nothing happened. At least not until the beam ceased, then with an odd popping sound ten more woobles appeared out of thin air.
Perri sighed. "Yeah Captain, they tend to breed with phaser energy."
Cassidy however was looking intently at his tricorder. "Actually Admiral. That might have given us something. My tricorder has suddenly picked up information from the creature."
"The phaser beam must have disrupted the shield for a moment." Corban said.
Cassidy smirked. "Something like that."
It was then when Corban's communicator beeped. "Corban here."
Laga'aia spoke. "Captain, we have detected a number of transports from the station."
"Oh hell! Commander get the ship out of transporter range. It's these wooble creatures, they get into the works. . ."
There was a moments silence on the communication.
"Oh my!" came Laga'aias voice. "Captain, there appears to be something."
There was the sound of a phaser shot.
"Oh my gosh... they breed with phaser fire!" that was Ensign Dodgson.
"Captain, there appears to be several somethings sitting in your chair." Laga'aia amended.
Corban cringed as he saw out of the corner of his eye a smug look appearing on the Admiral's face.
If anything could be said about Commander Laga'aia, it would be that she is quick in taking action. Within seconds of ordering Dodgson to take the Excalibur out of transporter range, she had contacted Seytek in engineering about scanning for the woobles and using the transporter to contain them.
As the Excalibur settled into it's new orbit, Seytek was just reporting that he had managed to contain the woobles into a cargo bay, securely behind a forcefield.
"That's great news commander," she turned her attention to Corban, now on the Excalibur's main view screen. He, Cassidy and Perri were now in the stations ops centre. "Captain. We could try beaming the woobles from the station, make a series of runs into transporter range."
Corban considered it for a moment. "No, I don't want to risk compromising the Excalibur if we have to evacuate the station. Have the shuttle bay on stand by and stay on your toes, Corban out."
On the station Corban turned to Perri, Cassidy was talking to one of the stations science personnel and with Lt. Leopa on one of the smaller screen.
Corban lowered his voice. "Admiral... evacuation. What do you think?"
Perri sighed. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the Excalibur out of fuel?"
"Your not wrong. If we have any hope of getting safely back to Federation space, then we have to use this stations facilities, meaning we have to find a solution to this problem, or find another solution down the road." Corban explained.
"We should give our science officers time to work out the problem." Perri said.
"Say... an hour?" Corban suggested.
"In the meantime, I can co-ordinate moving some of our refining equipment out to the Excalibur. If things go sour here, then it'll mean a solid month or so of mining to get the fuel together for a return trip, even some of the smaller units we have here could make that easier." Perri explained.
"Need a hand?" Corban asked, raising his hands in an "I'm pretty useless around here" gesture.
Perri smirked. "Come on."
She lead him down to the cargo decks and they corralled some ensigns and lieutenants along the way to help them. Corban was impressed when the Admiral grabbed several crates and started lugging them down to the shuttles.
"So..." Perri said, a cheekiness rising in her voice. "how'd you get lumbered with this mission."
"We were just getting our space legs back after a general refit. Admiral Munro scrounged a lift of us and then dropped this plum in our laps." Corban placed his own crates into the shuttle, dusted off his hands and asked. "What about you?"
"Well, I was a starship captain for about eight years, then they offered me a position at the academy, which had been a wish of mine for a while so I accepted. Then the Khitomer Incident and the subsequent scandal."
Corban nodded. "We heard about that. It was hard to believe."
Perri nodded. "Top ranking officers involved in a conspiracy. It's created a power vacuum, and out of the blue I get a call from the Federation President himself! Asking me, ex-captain come teacher, to accept a promotion to admiral."
"Aha!" Corban gave her a knowing look. "Drafted."
"Oooh, you betcha!"
They worked like that for the hour they had given their respective science teams, then decided to take a break for a moment in the admiral's office.
Perri absently ordered a cup of coffee from the replicator, only realising moments after she had made her selection that it wouldn't be what she wanted. She groaned in frustration and flopped down into one of the sofas.
"There should be a cosmic law against depriving an admiral of her coffee!"
Corban chuckled. "Rank maybe be privileged, but it's not that privileged."
Perri suddenly burst into a fit of giggles. "I always used that think that becoming admiral somehow made you forget all the lessons you learned as a captain." she didn't finish the thought because she notice that Corban had suddenly become alert.
"Does that coffee smell odd to you?" he asked, eyes keenly on the steaming mug in the replicator.
Perri picked up the mug and took a tentative sip before giving Corban a wide eyed look. "I've been trying to get that machine to make my coffee exactly the way I like it for months, even before the problems with the..."
She stopped as alarms sounded throughout the station and the familiar glow of red alert filled the air around them. Both were out of the admirals office and in the ops centre in seconds, due to years of training and duty.
"Report?" Perri snapped.
"Admiral the auto-destruct just activated. We can't shut it off!"
"What?" Perri walked over to the nearest station. "Computer acknowledge Perri, Sonya Admiral. Deactivated auto-destruct system."
Corban had his communicator out before the computer had a chance to deny the admiral her request.
"Laga'aia we need a pick up here. Repeat we are requesting immediate evac. The self-destruct has been activated!"
Laga'aia voice was more than welcome when she said. "We've been monitoring captain and are already on our way."
Corban opened his communicator to the station at large. "Attention. We have an evac situation here. The Excalibur's en route, all crew to the promenade deck and assume transporter-evacuation positions."
With that he nodded to Cassidy, who had already begun to round up the ops crew and broadcast his own version of Corban's evacuation order.
Corban walked over to Perri, who was still trying to override the computer.
"Admiral. It's time for us to leave!" Corban said.
Perri shook her head. "No... Mister Corban. I'm not losing my station to a bunch of pint-sized robotic space hamsters!"
Corban sighed and before Perri knew what was happening he had scooped her up into a fireman's carry, and they were both heading for the turbolift. Corban let her go once inside the lift, it didn't seem dignified for her to be seen like that by her crew.
Transporter beams from the Excalibur were already playing a symphony throughout the promenade deck. Corban had only moments to get a nod from Cassidy, confirming that everyone was accounted for, then the transporters claimed them as well.
Corban and Perri raced to the Excalibur's bridge. By the time they got there all the stations crew had already been safely beamed aboard, and the Excalibur itself had swung out of the system at maximum impulse.
"Captain we have the stations crew aboard. Commander Seytek was also able to beam a quantity of deuterium into our tanks before we left transporter range." Laga'aia reported.
Corban was looking at the view screen, now at reverse angle. "How long?"
"Two minutes captain. According to the countdown."
At that moment a puzzled Lieutenant Vo said. "Captain. I'm getting something on the translation circuit. A message."
"From where?" Corban asked.
"The station! wait... there's a visual signal."
The image of a wooble appeared on the main viewscreen, several of it's companions were standing around in the background. Along with the image the now familiar warbling, cooing sounds the woobles made accompanied the image over the speakers. Every so often a single word of English would come through.
"Repairs complete. Return station to." the message said.
Corban frowned. "I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure I understand."
"Repairs to station complete. Please return to station. Woobles complete repairs."
"Am I to understand... that you have been repairing the station?"
"Affirmative. Repairing and upgrading of station systems. Now complete. Please return to station." said the wooble.
"What about the auto-destruct?" Corban asked.
The wooble blinked, turned to one of its companions, who also blinked. They both made a warble that to Corban sounded oddly like a chuckle. The wooble turned back to the screen.
"Countdown only. Needed to synchronize work. Time to reprogram it. Didn't have." the wooble shrugged. "Sorry."
Corban grinned. "Thank you. We'll be returning shortly."
He turned back to his chair and sat down. "Mister Dodgeson. Return course back to the station."
"Captain's Log: Stardate 9601.92 With the true benevolent nature of the woobles discovered, we have returned all personnel to Station K-226. Now that full communication with the woobles as been established, I have allowed for a small group to come aboard the Excalibur to assist in minor repairs and the re-fueling. I am informed by Commander Seytek we should be ready to go in the next five hours.
In the meantime, both science teams from the station and Excalibur will be meeting to compare notes on the Nilbarri Event. They'll be analyzing data from a series of probes Admiral Perri had sent out before the trouble with the woobles. From my discussions with the Admiral it seems we have an number of points to investigate."
Corban stood up, stretched and walked over to the replicator in his quarters. The wooble that had been repairing it stood quickly to attention and gave Corban a traditional salute.
Corban smiled and ordered himself a cup of tea... a perfect cup of tea.
To be continued...