STAR TREK: CENTURY XXX

PROLOGUE

          “Throughout the history of Mankind, the challenge of travelling to and seeing new places and encountering new races both human and non-human has always been…and always will be there to be met. 

           “Since the dawn of the Era of Space Travel that challenge has ever been pushed back further and further to its ultimate level.  Through triumph (witness the conquest of the Moon in the Earth year 1969 and the subsequent Space Shuttle missions of the 1980s and beyond) and unfortunate tragedy (the Apollo 9 fire in 1967, the Challenger explosion of 1986, and lastly, the Columbia disaster of 2003), Mankind always endured in his quest for the finding of the Unknown.

          “In no other era has this been more evident than in the latter part of the 22nd Century.  Based on the pioneering work of brilliant yet eccentric genius Zephrim Cochrane, the next level of space travel was brought forth: the means of propulsion known as ‘warp drive’.  Soon the first true starship, the Constitution, was designed and built…and a legend was planted into the minds of all.

          “That legend would ultimately have a bold new name:  Enterprise!

           “In due course of time, the name of Enterprise would bring forth new heroes.  Bold commanders and captains who pushed their respective vessels hard…and themselves even harder.  Men who became more than men.  Men with names such as Archer…April…Pike.  And of course, the two that changed all History for the better: James T. Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard.  Their deeds spread far and wide.  In spite of the occasional misstep, they continually persevered…and rode the waves into true legendry.

           “Now in this, the 30th Century, it is time for Enterprise to rise like the new phoenix…”

ONE

            “Blinding sings flap, flicker flicker flicker, blam.  Pow!  Pow!

             Stairway scare, Dan Dare, who’s there?”

–Syd Barrett, “Astronomy Domine”, from The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967

NOTES ON RECOMMENDATION

as logged by Lord Admiral John Basil Marcheese, Head of Starfleet Command

recorded Stardate 690574.2

               It has come to my attention that Starfleet’s mission of space exploration became, in a word, limited.  The long-standing edict of “boldly going where no one has gone before” still entails quite a lot of validity but it’s of my opinion that more needs to be sought in the ways of increased knowledge of not just Space Travel as it presently stands but also the theoetically aesthetic and daring notion of “temporal/spatial relations”.

             Of course I’m referring to, in the simplest term, Time Travel.

             Further research indicates that Time Travel, while an enduring subject for the more fanciful stories of science fiction, can in fact be of beneficial use in the fields of both theoretical and applied education.

            Therefore, I appeal to the higher representatives of the United Federation of Planets to commission a vessel capable of fufilling this test.

             And the vessel I wish to commission is the newly re-built and highly advanced starship serial number NCC-1701-X.  Ship title:  U.S.S. Enterprise.

Yours, etc.,

John Basil Marcheese, Lord-Admiral of Starfleet Command

From the Logs of the USS Enterprise:

          “Captain’s Log, Stardate 690574.7, Starswan Wright recording.

           “Though we have been active for only a short time the Enterprise seems to be in tip-top functioning form.  Our new engines, not yet tested at full warp capacity, are nonetheless peforming as expected…and yet I have a sense of forebode over me.  It’s as if I’m waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop.  But I know I can depend on my crew–well, they’re not so much my crew as more like my extended family.  And brother, will that be the case.  Log concluded.”

From the Private Diaries of Captain Starswan Wright:

             Man, was I nervous!

             Here we were, the newest starship to have the honor of carrying forth the name and legacy of Enterprise.  This isn’t an easy task, believe me.

             And yet, I’ve always been up for a bit of a challenge.  I mean, I’ve pretty much faced them my entire life.  Starting with, naturally, my heritage.  My mother is a felinoid (full-blooded and gorgeous as all get out) and my dad is a direct descendant of the keyboardist for the ancient “prog-rock” band Pink Floyd, Richard W.Wright by name.  Add to that people telling me I’ll more than likely flunk myself out of Starfleet Academy. Now that was a struggle.

           But…I persevered and came out on top.  Valedictorian, in fact.  Go figure.

           And now here I am, in command of the most legendary starship in history.  Again go figure…and for this you can thank my grandmother (on my mother’s side, naturally).  That. though, is another story altogether for another time.

           Now…on with the mission.

           After my log was duly recorded I stared out of the viewscreen at the endless groups of stars moving slowly past us as we cruised on impulse power.  Swiftly I turned around to the Science Station.

           “Any sign of anomalies, Mr. Bedevere?” I asked.

           Mr. Bedevere was a short man, with long black hair, a flowing mustache done in a long Fu-Manchu style, hazel eyes, and a wise demeanor.  He was clad in a blue-and-white knight’s tunic.

            “None so far, Captain,” he replied in a Welsh accent.

            I couldn’t help but smile.

            Oh, before I forget to mention this we did away with the “traditional” Starfleet uniform leaving only the official badge.  Since I’m from a race of felinoid women by way, as I just said, of an Englishman the only “clothing” I had was my blond hair, going down to my shoulders.  Of course I still wore the badge with honor.

           But…not to digress too much here I sat back down in the captain’s chair and resumed gazing into the viewscreen showing the limitlessness of Deep Space when a shrill noise entered all our ears.

           “Incoming communique, Captain,” said my Communications Officer.

           I turned to her.  She was a tall, thin yet well-endowed (like myself) silvery android, Lt. Futura by name.

           “On screen,” I replied.

           I whirled back to look at the faces on the screen.  One of them was a tall, distinguished Englishman, long-faced with brown eyes, very short grey-brown hair, and grey mustache.  He wore the traditional Starfleet uniform a la the late 23rd Century. The other was a short man–well, it was in fact Mr. Bedevere’s identical cousin, only clan-shaven yet he, too, was decked out like the first gentleman.

          As to their names, the tall fellow was none other than Lord-Admiral Marcheese and the short guy was Vice-Admiral T.W. Praline-Jones, top brass at Starfleet Command.

         “Ah, Captain Wright, I presume.  How goes the voyage?” asked the Lord-Admiral.

        “Satisfactory so far, Admiral Marcheese.  Oh, and might I wish to add that Mr. Bedevere is performing his science duties with dedication and poise, not to mention with precision.”

         “Ah, splendid.  Now I turn this over to Vice-Admiral Praline-Jones.”

         Now it was Vice-Admiral Praline-Jones’s turn to speak.

         And what he’d say would send shockwaves to myself and my crew!

TWO

          Vice-Admiral Praline-Jones had a grim look on his face.  I can tell he didn’t really want to say what he had to, but it was clearly important.

           “We’ve been given greater expansion of Starfleet’s mission in regards to ‘exploring the final frontier’.  Now for long centuries we’ve done the usual procedures of space but we’ve decided to team up with a group of scientists in order to, using the vernacular, push the envelope, as it is such.”

          I looked around at my bridge crew (rather small in number, at that), focusing on Mr. Bedevere in particular.  I could never be sure but I thought I saw a glimpse of fear on his noble and wise face.  Then I resumed looking at the viewscreen.

         “How do you mean, ‘push the envelope’, Vice-Admiral?” I questioned.

          Then Lord-Admiral Marcheese resumed speaking.

          “I believe what Vice-Admiral Praline-Jones is driving at is this: our SR unit at Starfleet thinks we can use the otherwise theoretical notion of ‘temporal/hyper-spatial traverse and exploration’.”

          “You’re talking about time travel, right, sirs?  I think I understand.  In fact, I studied that report just before Enterprise was commissioned.  Might I make a suggestion, sirs?”

          The Admirals looked around at each other.

          “Well, we’re all ears, Captain,” said Vice-Admiral Praline-Jones.

           I sighed heavily as I weighed out my words.

           “Well, sirs, may I suggest journeying to the Omega Quadrant?”

            Vice-Admiral Praline-Jones’s face blanched!

             “The Omega Quadrant?  Good grief, what on earth is so special about that sector?!”

             I didn’t answer at first.  That’s when Science Officer Bedevere stepped in and saved my (admittedly lovely) keister.

             “If I may, sirs, the Omega Quadrant has, in the past, been the locale of many unusual forms of anomalous phenomenae.  From that information–” he began.

             Lord-Admiral Marcheese grew slightly poker-faced with anger.

             “Absolutely not.  I forbid it.  It’s too damned risky for you and your untried crew. not to mention that your vessel hasn’t even had the decent courtesy of having a proper shake-down.”

            “With all due proper respect, Lord-Admiral, it was in fact your proposal that resulted in getting the Enterprise launched for this mission, was it not?”

            Lord-Admiral Marcheese thought this over for a few seconds.  Suddenly his face beamed considerably, having seen the light as it were.

             “Oh, that’s right, isn’t it?  Oh.  Completely slipped my mind.  That’s the way it is with old age, you know. Jolly good.  And, Captain Wright, you have my official permission, as well that of Vice-Admiral Praline-Jones.  I do, however, advise extreme caution.  We haven’t the jolliest clue as to what the Omega Quadrant holds.”

            “Understood, Lord-Admiral.  Enterprise signing out.”

             The viewscreen flashed off with “End Transmission” for a milli-second then resumed showing the limitlessness of Space itself.

              For the briefest of seconds I stood still, contemplating the enormity of Lord-Admiral Marcheese’s words.  I mean, this was not an easy decision to make.  I’d be putting many young lives at severe risk; the guilt wouldn’t be livable, believe me.

             Then I made my choice.

             It was now or never…

THREE

              I raced to the Navigator Station, where my young Ensigns were at the helm.  I turned to the one, a young boy of no more than 12 or 13 years of age.  He had dark-brown hair, Celtic blue eyes, and a thin physique.  He was wearing the late 23rd Century uniform, like the Admirals.  He was also the youngest cadet ever to graduate the Academy…not bad for a kid who was basically orphaned a few years earlier, I must admit.

           “Mr. Smyth, set a course for the Omega Quadrant.  Ahead Warp…12.5.”

           He turned to look at me.

           “Uh, Captain, request to ask a question?”

           “Granted,” I replied.

           He paused sadly before asking.

           “Captain, with due respect, are you sure the ship can handle going to the Omega Quadrant, let alone at the rate of warp-speed you requested?”

           Now, normally most captains would take umbrage at their crew questioning the decisions…but I was a bit more understanding.

           “Mr. Smyth…” I said, gently lifting his head, “I can see you’re frightened, aren’t you?”

           He nodded his head slowly.  Plus his eyes were welling up on him.

           I leaned down to him, not at all angry though he didn’t know this for sure.

           “It’ll be okay.  Trust me, okay?” I said, stroking his hair maternally.

           He smiled broadly.  Then he turned to his fellow helm pilot, a young girl dressed like him, with long brown hair, hazel eyes, and was quite attractive.  Though at least two years older than the ensign she, too, graduated from the Academy relatively young.

          “Well, Amy?  You heard the Captain, right?” he told her, smiling.

           She returned his smile and proceeded to program the Enterprise’s main computer.

           “Course and speed plotted and confirmed in computer, Captain.”

           I sat back down at the Captain’s chair and activated the intercom.

           “Attention, all on board.  This is the Captain.  We have been given the task of entering the Omega Quadrant.  The reason for this is to the benefit of all space exploration though the details must be confidential.  Now, we’ve not tested our new warp engines as yet but will do so soon.”

           Afterwards I looked out at my crew on the Bridge.  Lt. Futura, Ensigns Smyth and Nesmith, Science Officer Bedevere; all good people, I thought.

          “All right, Mr. Smyth.  Miss Nesmith…engage!!”

          The Enterprise lurched backwards…then the normally stationary cluster of stars morphed into streaks of multi-colored light as we entered warp speed…

FOUR

From the Logs of the USS Enterprise:

            “Captain’s Log, Supplemental.

            “We’ve just made our first trip through Space on warp-drive.  I admit the prospect was a bit daunting for my young crew but they seemed to be up to the task and have performed admirably.  Science Officer Bedevere estimates our arrival in the Omega Quadrant to be within the frame of 12.56 hours on full warp speed capacity.  The initial fear sensed by Mr. Smyth has totally dissipated; instead his curiosity has grown by leaps and bounds.  Now my only concern is–well, we’ll worry about that when it happens.”

From the Private Diaries of Captain Starswan Wright:

            Overall the voyage to the Omega Quadrant went off smoothly.  We didn’t encounter any sort of obstacle or hindrance whatsoever, to all our relief.

           “Signs of anomalous phenomenae, Mr. Bedevere?”

           “None so far as yet, Captain,” he said, not looking up from his monitor.

           “Let me know of otherwise, Mr. Bedevere.”

           “Very good, Captain.”

           Having said that I looked to the Navigator Station, turning to Miss Nesmith.

           “Decrease speed to Warp 9.6 and keep scanners and probes on standby.”

           “Aye, Captain.  Decreasing speed now.”

           The multi-colored streaks of light resumed their normally inert status as the Enterprise slowed her speed to allow for cruise-control to self-activate; this was a new function designed to save on dilithium usage.  It also allowed us to keep watch for any ships other than Federation vessels even though the Omage Quadrant was rarely travelled to due to the long amount of time to get there.

          Impulsively I turned to the Communications Sector.

          “Lt. Futura, open all frequency channels for any and all vessesl within our range.”

           “Aye, Captain, I’m doing so right now.”

           Seconds passed, then a minute.

           “Captain!!” shouted Lt. Futura, turning to me.

           “What is it?”

           “I’m picking up a signal of some sort.  It sounds like…singing.

           “Put it on Audio.”

           “Aye, Captain.”

           Immediately the signal played itself all throughout the Enterprise.

“Starship Enterprise, what a big surprise.  You’re the apple of my eyes…”

           Everybody on the Bridge giggled for a few seconds.

           “All right, guys, settle down.  Miss Nesmith, please trace the direction of the signal.  There has to be some kind of vessel from where the song’s originating.”

           “Aye, Captain.  Tracking now.”

           In the meantime I turned to Mr. Smyth.

           “Open all phaser banks and have photons armed…just in case.”

           He smiled and did as I asked.

           “Armed, ready, and itchin’ to fire, Cap!”  Sometime soon in the near future I need to talk with that boy.

            Then…the waiting began.

FIVE

            The minutes dragged into hours as the probe continued scanning for the vessel emanating that weird signal.  The waiting was taking a heavy toll on the crew’s nerves.

            Suddenly the scan-probe emitted a siren-call.

            “Unknown vessel in scan-probe range, Captain,” called out Miss Nesmith.

            “Confirmed, Captain.  Signal is drawing closer to our position,” stated Lt. Futura.

            “On screen.  Now.”

            In an instant we were greeted by undoubtedly the weirdest vessel ever constructed in Space.  Try, if you can, to picture a ship that actually resembled a flying foot!

            The sight just totally stunned us for a brief moment, but then we regained our composure.

            “Open all hailing frequencies, Lt. Futura.”

            “Hailing frequencies open, Captain.”

            I turned to the “vessel” now on the screen.

            “Unknown star vessel, this is United Starfleet Ship Enterprise.  Come in.  This is USS Enterprise.  Will you respond?”

             After a few seconds of static an image made its way to our eyes.

            “Oh, hello.”

            That greeting came from the commander of the other vessel. He had bluish eyes, straight long black hair with a widow’s peak going to the bridge of his nose (!), and on overly friendly smile that seemed to belie his (hitherto unknown to us) intention.  His outfit was a simple one-piece shirt/slightly baggy pants outfit with a hooded cloak.

           Figuring I had nothing to lose, I addressed the man.

          “To whom do I have the distinction of speaking?”

          He had to think about that for a little bit.

          “Oh!  Sorry.  Name’s Shrubberog, Captain of the TSV Flying Python.  Now…who are you?” he said.

           “This is Starswan Wright, Captain of the USS Enterprise.  We’re heading to the Omega Quadrant.  We’re commissioned to find any anomalous phenomenae relating to–”

           “Time Travel, right?  Well, I’m sorry but you can’t get there.”

            This perplexed us all.

            “And why can’t we get there, Captain, uh–?”

            “Just plain Shrubberog.  Well, see, I rule the Omega Quadran and well, can’t let you in.  Sorry, but you know how it is, right?  See, if you try it we’ll blast you out of Space, if necessary.”

            He forced us to play our hand by this time.

            “Understand, sir, this is a highly advanced starship, and any attack regardless of intent will result in your being destroyed.  But I know you don’t want that, correct, sir?”

             “Oh, well, don’t bother me none, right?  But you still can’t enter the Omega Quadrant, Captain.  Oh, incidentally didn’t I see you or your mum in a cat food advert on the telly?”  he said in a crass manner.  His smile barely left his face.

             I turned to Communications, giving a signal.

             “What’s that brand of–?” he said before transmission ended.  The viewscreen resumed displaying the Flying Python, still within our range.

              I raced to the Helm Station with some fierce determination as befitting my race.

              “Mr. Smyth, standby on phasers and photon torpedoes.”

              “Sure thing, Cap.”

              After a few more seconds passed, we received another incoming transmission.

              “Captain, this Shrubberug requests to re-establish contact.”

              “On screen.”

              We didn’t like what came on the screen.  Shrubberog!

              ” ‘Ere!  That wasn’t very nice o’ you to cut me off, Captain.”

              We didn’t know it as yet, but there was a war coming on!

SIX

              The standoff between Shubberog and myself was intense!

              “I repeat, do not force us to attack your vessel.”

              “What’ll you do, nibble me bum?”  he stated in deference to my noble race of felinoid women.

              Trying a bit too hard to ignore his insults I maintained my inner dignity.

              “I repeat, Shrubberog, do not underestimate my crew or my ship.  We don’t want a war over a sector of Space.  Incidentally, how did you know about our research into temporal-spatial traversement theories?”

               “Oh, we intercepted your transmissions, is all.”

               “Understand this, sir, no one person or institution is entitled to to rule any sector of Space.  I should imagine as a time-space traveller you should have learned that, sir.”

              “Well, see, Hist’ry isn’t my suit, sorry.”

               “Sir–I mean, Shrubberog, if you don’t understand History then I’m afraid it’s Warfare that must teach you.  As I said–”

               “You don’t want that, right.  Hmm..tell you what, I’ll make a deal with you.”

                I looked around at the crew, trying to gaze their reactions to this “deal”.

               “What kind of deal are we talking here?”

               “I’ll let you enter the Omega Quadrant if–you can be so kind and tell me…the ultimate secret.”

                “And what secret is that, sir?”

                There was a long and even more tense pause.

                “The secret of warp drive.  That, and a good salmon flambe.”

                “Please understand, sir, warp drive isn’t exactly a secret, and I don’t know anything about salmon flambe.”

                 “Ah.  Well, can’t let you into the Omega Quadrant, then.  Sorry.”

                At that my last ounce of patience ran out fast!  Swiftly I turned to the Communications Station.

               “End transmission.  Now.”

               The image of Shrubberog switched off, and the viewscreen flashed back to the image of Space with the Flying Python still in range.  I then raced to the Helm Station.

               “Mr. Smyth, send out a phaser blast 300 centimeters above the Flying Python.  Miss Nesmith, aim Photon Torp Scope same distance below.  Understood?”

               “Understood, Captain,” said Miss Nesmith.

               “Sure thing, Cap.”

               I went back to the Captain’s chair.

               “Okay…execute now!!

               The phaser blast was right on, going the distance as programmed.

               “Now, Miss Nesmith.”

               She fired one photon salvo, again as instructed.  I played my hand.

              “Open frequencies, Lt. Futura.”

               The image re-presented Shrubberog.  He looked shaken up.

               ” ‘Ere!  What’s the idea, then, hey?!”

                “I’ve played my hand, Shrubberog.  Let’s see you play yours, sir.”

SIX

                “Captain’s Log, Supplemental.  Starswan Wright recording.

                “We are presently engaged in a standoff with Shrubberog, commander of the TSV Flying Python, a vessel apparently capable of travelling through Known Space and especially Time.  He claims total rule and ownership of the Omega Quadrant, where we are to discover the means of achieving our assigned task of using ‘temporal/spatial traversement’ for beneficial uses…but this struggle with Shrubberog isn’t making this any easier for myself or especially my crew.”

From the Private Diaries of Captain Starswan Wright:

I can’t speak for the next person but the tense standoff was really taking a frighteningly bad toll on my crew.  I mean, these weren’t battle-hungry ruffians here. And Shrubberog knew it, too!

“All right, Shrubberog, what’s it going to be?  Are you to allow us free passage to the Omega Quadrant, or do I destroy your ship and crew?!”

Shrubberog furrowed his brow as if trying to activate his common reasoning skills, not to mention his last remaining piece of decency.

             “Y’know what?  I think you’re danglin’ me chain, pussy-cat-9-Lives.  But…” he said, smiling, “I can let you into the Omega Quadrant for a small fee.”

            “No deal, Shrubberog.  We’ve tried this before and it didn’t work.  We’re going into the Omega Quadrant regardless of your threats.  Now…let’s see if I’m still dangling your chain, sir.”   I turned to Lt. Futura.  “End transmission.  Now.”

Instantly she switched off the ship-to-ship communication.

“All frequencies closed, Captain.”

Then my young helmsmen turned to look at me, their faces showing real worry.

“Well, Cap, what’s our next move?  Do we blast them out of space?” asked Mr. Smyth, his voice dripping with a hint of anger.

Miss Nesmith’s eyes echoed that question.  I don’t know why I responded the way I did, but nonetheless…

“I think the real question is: is there going to be a next move?

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I was going to regret asking that.

“Captain, Shrubberog requests further exchange,” uttered Lt. Futura.

I sighed very heavily.  How much more of this could we take?

“On screen,” I wearily moaned.

Instantly Shrubberog’s smug smile flashed onto our faces.  Again, as usual.

” ‘Ello, Cap’n Cat Chow.  Still tryin’ to out-think me, eh?”

If any, my anger almost reached the boiling point.  I don’t really like to show it…especially in front of my crew.

“What the hell is your game now, Shrubberog?!”

Once more he played the “offended innocent traveller” act to the hilt.

” ‘Ere!  You don’t need to do that, Cap’n.  I’ve changed me mind, is all.”

Now that took us all by complete surprise!

SEVEN

“Captain’s Log, Supplemental:

 It seems that Shrubberog had an apparent change of heart regarding our entry to the Omega Quadrant.  He’s offered to guide us there but I’m suspecting there’s a more ulterior motive here.”

From the Personal Diaries of Captain Starswan Wright:

“What’s your price for getting us to the Omega Quadrant, Shrubberog?!  I warn you now, sir, Starfleet will not tolerate any kind of deceit or treachery!”  I hoped he’d gotten the message but judging from the look on his face, it was obvious he didn’t.

“What d’you mean, price for me services?  I’m not one of those, y’know.”

My patience grew increasingly thin, as did that of my young crew.

“If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to discuss this with my crew.”

Shrubberog nodded his head, and communications ceased.  I turned to Mr. Bedevere.

  

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