USS Bolivar Story 3: The Summer of Love

USS Bolivar Story 3: The Summer of Love

 

Starfleet Academy Recreation Facility, San Francisco, Earth 2366

“Are you coming to the party tonight, Alex?”  Says Gordon Bogdanović hitting a racquetball toward the wall.

“Probably not” replies Martin returning the ball with a quick swing, “I have to study.”

 

“Study for what? Finals are over. Its summer break!” Gordon says confused. “Plus there will be women there”.

 

“Not interested” Martin replies, “I’m taking some extra credit over the break. There will be so many opportunities after graduation in a couple of years. I want to make sure I am being picked for the best posts. There will be awesome ships out there needing officers: Odyssey, Enterprise, Vandalia, Concordia. The competition for those ships is fierce but I plan on being on one of them”.

 

“You think you could get on the Odyssey or Enterprise? Good luck my friend!” Gordon says half-laughing. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a ten year waiting list”.

 

“Of course I can. I’m that good!” Martin says jokingly. “Plus I hear Captain Keogh promotes from within the Odyssey quickly and regularly. I could make Lieutenant in less than 2 years.”

 

“Yeah right!” Gordon says. “Where did you hear that from anyway?”

 

“My friend Erika Benteen is on the Odyssey right now. She’s already made Lt. Junior Grade after one year”, Martin says. “I know I could kick some ass in an environment like that”.

 

Just then Gordon hits a strong forehand with his racquet. The ball whips off the wall and smacks Martin right in the head. As Martin holds his head in an effort to quell the stinging pain, the computer in the facility says “Game & Match. Cadet Bogdanović.”

 

Admitting defeat in the racquetball match as well as their conversation, Martin says panting, “Hmmm, on second thought, maybe I will come to the party after all”.

 

Gordon smiles, “You won’t regret it”

 

****

 

McCoy Hall Dormitory, San Francisco

 

McCoy hall is a twelve-story housing tower just off-campus. It mainly houses medical students at the Academy. Martin and Gordon’s elevator ascends to a hallway on the 10th level where a party originating in one of the dorm rooms has spilled out. The music echoes through the hall as people are drinking, laughing and talking. The stress of the school year has finally fallen away and the cadets are letting loose.

 

“There must be 300 people here”, Martin says to Gordon who is partially distracted by the all women around.

 

Yelling over the music, Gordon says, “Yeah! Isn’t it great! I’m getting a beer, you want one?”

 

“Definitely”, says Martin who is still unsure if he wants to stay, “I’ll be over in the lounge”.

 

Waiting for Gordon to return, Martin wanders over to a common lounge area where he finds a makeshift dance floor full of fellow cadets dancing and a DJ playing dance music. In one corner, there are dance lights rhythmically moving to the music and filling the room with color. Martin finds it hard to contain his astonishment. He had never seen such an elaborate party in a dorm before. This was definitely the party of the year, if not the century.

 

Gordon returns, handing a cup of light-colored beer to Martin.

 

“Are we even supposed to have alcohol here, Gordy?’ Martin asks.

 

“Who cares. Lighten-up Alex.” Gordon replies shaking his head.

 

Gordon, being the tall, red-haired and popular one in the group, always overshadowed Alex Martins attempts at wooing women. That’s on top of Gordon’s Australian accent. Martin figures he couldn’t compete with any of that.

 

One of the women in a small group on the dance floor notices Gordon and says “Hey, Gordy’s here!!”

 

They all flock over to him and pull him out onto the floor to dance. Gordon turns to Martin, smiles and shrugs his shoulders with excitement.

 

Laughing, Martin says, “You’re crazy, man! Have fun!”

 

Preferring to survey the party by leaning on one of the outer walls, Martin watches Gordon dance with his group of girl friends. He laughs a little to himself at his best friends’ uninhibited enjoyment.

 

Taking a quick sip of his beer, Martin looks around the room. He notices a young woman sitting with a group at a table in the opposite corner. He finds himself just as stunned as when Gordon hit him in the head with the racquetball. She has straight, blonde hair just past her shoulders, a light complexion and bright blue eyes. She is talking and laughing with what Martin assumes to be her friends. Suddenly, she looks up directly at him for a moment, and then looks away. The woman looks up at Martin again and smiles while pulling her hair back over one ear. Martin can’t take his eyes off of her.

 

Gordon returns to Martin from the dance floor out of breath. “Man, its crazy out there! You should join us Alex!” He says.

 

“Gordy, who is that sitting over there?” Martin asks, referring to the young woman in the corner. “The one with the blonde hair and blue eyes, facing us”.

 

“Um, I think that’s Cindy Wilson. She’s a second year cadet like us.” Gordon says. “I think she was with me in the Advanced Celestial Navigation class last semester. Why? You want to meet her?”

 

“I, um…” Martin says nervously.

 

“Come on”, Gordon says pulling Martin by the arm. “You’re not gonna meet anyone standing on the sidelines, mate”.

 

Crossing the dance floor, the music gets progressively louder as they approach the speakers. After winding through a sea of dancing cadets, they approach the table full of young women. All of them turn to look at the two men, which makes Martin very uncomfortable. Gordon, with all of his confidence, couldn’t care less.

 

“Hello, ladies. Would any of you care to dance?” Gordon says exaggerating his accent a bit.

 

With one glance at Gordon, one of the girls says “Sure! Who else is coming?”

 

One by one they get up from the table to join Gordon on the dance floor. Except for Cindy who seems content putting her hands on her lap and watching her friends abandon her for a cute guy. Martin could tell she is a little shy, like him.

 

Martin, still stunned by the whole experience, sits down across from her. With his last ounce of courage, he decides to break the silence between them.

 

“You don’t want to dance?” He asks her.

 

“No not really. I’m fine. Thank you for the offer though”. Cindy says smiling at him.

 

“Hi, I’m Alex Martin.” Martin says putting out his hand for her to shake.

 

Grabbing his hand, she says “I’m Cynthia Wilson. Most people call me Cindy though. Well, except for Tracy. She calls me ‘Cyn’ all the time”.

 

Hearing her voice for the first time made Martin melt. Suddenly feeling uninhibited like Gordon, he decides to make a bold move.

 

“You want to get out of here and go stand on the balcony? Martin asks, “It will be much quieter”.

 

“Sure, I’d like that”, Cindy says standing up.

 

The spring of 2366 was a particularly cool one in San Francisco. Seeing Cindy get a sudden chill out on the balcony, Martin takes off his ‘Starfleet Academy: Class of ‘68’ jacket and hands it to her.

 

She smiles and says “Thanks”.

 

“No problem”. Martin says smiling back.

 

After about an hour of Martin chatting, exchanging smiles and looking South upon the skyline of San Francisco with her, security officers arrive to break up the party.

 

Cindy’s friend Tracy pokes her head out the door and says “Cyn, we gotta go.”

 

“Alright, I’ll be right there”. Cindy quickly heads out the door without a word to Martin.

 

Martin is, understandably, disappointed. He turns slowly out to look at the city skyline shimmering in the dark once more. Just then he once again hears the door open.

 

Assuming its Gordon telling him they need to leave too, Martin says. “I’m coming Gordy, don’t worry.”

 

When he doesn’t hear a response, he turns to look. It’s Cindy standing there. She walks up and gives him the jacket she borrowed. They share one last deep glance before she dashes out.

 

Gordon comes out a short time later. Martin is standing stunned once again.

 

“I was wondering where you went.” Gordon says. “Were you out here by yourself?”

 

“No, I was out here with Cindy”. Martin replies.

 

“Blue eyes? Nice! She’s not bad looking. Good for you, mate.” Gordon says. “How you feeling?”

 

“Not bad”. Martin says with a big smile, “Not bad at all”.

 

“I told you, you wouldn’t regret this”, Gordon says slapping Martin on the back.

 

****

Twenty Years later: USS Bolivar Bridge

Commander Alexander Martin stands next to his Captain, Erika Benteen on the bridge of the Bolivar, while they both stare at the viewscreen. On it, is an abandoned starship, the USS Rutledge.

 

The Vesta Class vessel stands adrift with a dark and ghostly façade. Admiral Walter Harris is standing with the same stare as Martin and Benteen.

 

“Are there any lifesigns?” He asks.

 

“No Sir, none.” Says Lt. Brenda Thompson manning tactical.

 

 

The Admiral suddenly appears more nervous. He walks over to Captain Benteen wringing his hands together.

 

“I’m going over there, Captain”, says Harris. “Prepare your transporter”.

 

“Admiral, we haven’t even secured the ship yet. It’s not safe.” replies Benteen.

 

“It’s not a debate, Captain. There is sensitive cargo over there I need to secure”.

 

Admiral Harris proceeds to the emergency turbolift near the front of the bridge. As soon as the doors close, Benteen turns to Commander Martin.

 

“He’s not going over there by himself”, She says. “I don’t care what kind of cargo it is. Take a small team and secure the bridge. I don’t want to risk unnecessary personnel right now. Let me know what you find”.

 

“Yes Ma’am.” Martin says, “Lt. Thompson, Lt. T’Pal, You’re with me.”

 

The three officers hurriedly walk to the turbolift. Captain Benteen returns her gaze to the viewscreen with a zoomed view of the Rutledge hull.

 

When Martin and the others arrive in the transporter room, Admiral Harris’ cycle had just completed. Martin goes to the transporter chief.

 

“Where the hell did he go?” Martin asks her.

 

“He ordered me to beam him to an area outside of cargo hold 4”, The Chief says.

 

“Fine, the hell with him. Beam us to the Rutledge’ bridge”, Martin barks as they step onto the transporter pad.

 

“Aye sir. Energizing”, says the chief.

 

Commander Martin, Lt. Thompson and Lt. T’Pal materialize out of a transporter beam in the middle of the Rutledge bridge. All of the power is off and it is dark. They flip on their wrist-mounted beacons and flip open their tricorders to begin the investigation. All of the consoles are dark, except for the Ops station, which keeps repeating the same message: Software ready for installation. Lt. T’Pal is the first to notice.

 

“Commander, I’ve got something on the operations display. It looks like whoever was here erased everything from the computer systems. Everything except the basic software for a Vesta-Class starship”, She says, “Usually this only occurs at the shipyard when a ship is ready to launch. I will attempt to reboot it now”.

 

“What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just blow up the ship when they left or take it with them”. Martin wonders.

 

T’Pal sits at the Operations console and begins to work. Martin taps his combadge and reports,

 

“Commander Martin to Bolivar”, He says.

The voice of Captain Benteen comes over the comm, “Yes Commander, report”.

“Captain, the bridge is secure, however it will take us a while to get the ship operational. It appears whoever took the crew also completely erased the Rutledge computer”. Martin says. “Once we get the software online, we can activate the sensors and engines.”

 

“Understood. Benteen out.”

 

A transporter beam appears in the middle of the bridge again. This time it is Admiral Harris.

 

“Admiral, did you locate your cargo?” Martin asks.

 

“No, they took it.” He says.

 

“What was it exactly?”

 

“I’m sorry that’s classified”. replies the gruff Admiral.

 

Martin is naturally disappointed. He really wants to know what it is and is now very concerned that the target was indeed the cargo in the hold and the Rutledge crew, including two visiting Starfleet Admirals, got in the middle.

 

“Admiral, I’m afraid we need more information in order to figure out what happened here”, Martin says.

 

“Out of the question!” says Harris. “You investigate who attacked this ship, you don’t need to know what cargo she was carrying! That’s an order. Not another word about it!”

 

Martin responds sternly, “Yes, sir.”

 

During the exchange between Martin and Harris, Lt. Thompson worked her way through the door of the Rutledge Captains Ready Room.

 

“Commander!” She yells from inside.

 

Martin, Harris and T’Pal all run over with concern. Inside, on the floor of the ready room are two bodies. One with four uniform pips, the other with three. Both with their throats cut.

 

“The Captain and First Officer”. Martin says reserved, “What the hell happened here?”

 

 

****

 

Captain Benteen is pacing up and down the length of the observation lounge of the Bolivar in front of her entire senior staff. What has her rattled is the fact that one of the most advanced starships ever built is sitting outside with her Captain and First Officer murdered, computer erased and some sort of ambiguous, secret cargo missing. Cargo that Admiral Harris refuses to disclose.

 

More importantly, her compliment of 350 personnel and two Starfleet Admirals are missing as well. The fortunate part of all of it is the fact that this class starship normally carries 750 but since the ship was new, they hadn’t come aboard yet. Benteen figures that falls under ‘Thank God for small favors’.

 

“Captain, all of the engines are in-tact, as well as all of the Rutledge systems. The issue lies in activating the actual software to run the computer system. Some of the basic program has been corrupted and needs to be replaced.” says Commander Connors, the Bolivars new Chief Engineer. “We would need to have it sent by Starfleet. Some how I doubt they will send it over subspace”.

 

“What else can you tell me?” Benteen asks to no one in particular.

 

Commander Martin chimes-in, “We searched the Rutledge deck-by-deck. We didn’t find any other crewmembers, dead or alive. Nor did we find the Admirals cargo”.

“And we still don’t have any clue what this cargo is, do we?” Benteen asks looking around the room. The overall answer was no. This was shown with a few shakes of the head by Commander Martin and stern silence from the others.

 

“We need to find out what that cargo is…and fast”, Benteen says. “I also want the entire crew manifest pulled”

 

“You shall have it”, Martin says.

 

 

 

****

Personal Log: Stardate 64027.2

Commander Alexander Martin Reporting. Today has been a disturbing experience. I traded attending an inquiry that would have placed my career in jeopardy for a starship whose crew has been either killed or kidnapped. On top of that, Admiral Harris has been acting strangely. Not enough to make a formal request for him to be removed but enough to remain guarded.

 

Harris still never mentions his daughter. I am assuming it is either too difficult to discuss or he is trying to remain objective. Not quite sure yet but either way I don’t trust him. The cargo that the Rutledge was supposedly carrying is top secret. To me that means it might be some sort of weapon. A weapon that someone would kill an entire crew for perhaps but why are they missing? Why was only the Captain and First Officer killed?

 

Too many questions…

 

Today I hope to talk to my parents. I have been too busy these last couple of days to even call my dad back. I feel horrible. I don’t even know what to say anymore.

****

Twenty Years Earlier, 2366:

The summer of 2366 was the longest of Alexander Martins life. Not only did he have classes and have to stay on-campus during this time, the woman he had met at the party three months earlier was at her home in Ohio. He only knew that because he found out during their somewhat brief conversation. He found himself thinking about her all of the time. That had never happened before. Martin was hoping that Cindy would return to the Academy this year. She was considering taking a year off to stay with her starship Captain mother in order to get some practical experience. Martin and Cindy did write a few letters back and forth. Nothing romantic but friendly ‘get-to-know’ you kind of letters as Martin called them. He liked getting to know her better and was looking forward to her return to San Francisco.

 

One week after regular classes had resumed, Martin was sitting in the park reading when he heard a familiar voice.

 

“Hello Alex.” The female voice said.

 

Martin looks up to find a smiling Cindy carrying some PADDs on her way to class.

 

“Hi!” Martin says with a sudden rush of elation. “I wasn’t sure if I would see you again”.

 

“Did you think you would rid yourself of me that easily?” Cindy says playfully. “I have to get to class but hopefully I will see you at the cadets lounge later. A group of us are going there. Bye!”

 

Before Martin could even say anything else, she was gone. He was left to sit there with his mind racing. He decided the best course of action would be to do what Gordon always said. That was ‘take it one day at a time and see what happens.’

 

Later that day, Martin decided to take up Cindy’s offer to meet at the Cadets Lounge. He wasn’t sure what any of this would amount to but he figured it was worth a try. Martin didn’t want to let this go without at least trying. He would regret it forever knowing he might have a chance to have a relationship with her and never act on it.

 

The Cadets Lounge is a large room with low lighting, a bar along one wall and the rest filled with tables. Martin considered it a nice accommodation in an otherwise sterile Academy building. The room had about 30 or so fellow patrons but was by no means crowded.

 

Gordon, of course, was near by. If Martin was going to crash & burn he wanted to witness it for further good-natured ribbing down the road.

 

“Just don’t embarrass me. That’s all I’ll say.” Martin says.

 

“Don’t worry, I won’t”, Gordon says. “I’ll be over at the bar if you need me”.

 

Martin waited patiently for any sign Cindy was there. It had already been over an hour since he and Gordon arrived. Granted, they hadn’t set up an official meting time but it would have been nice to have a ballpark.

 

Right before he was going to get up to leave, a group of cadets in-uniform come into the lounge. One of them is Cindy, who sees Martin and directs them all to sit near-by him. Martin is, of-course, delighted to see her. She sits down next to him.

 

“Hi, how are you Alex?” Cindy asks smiling.

 

“Good. How are you?” Martin says.

 

Cindy and Martin chat for a minute about their summers. He is so in awe of her that he can barely keep track of the conversation. Suddenly Cindy interjects:

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m being rude. Alex this is my boyfriend, Steve”. Cindy says directing her attention to the male cadet on the other side of her. “We started dating during Summer Break”.

 

Steve puts out his hand for Martin to shake, “How you doin?” He says.

 

“Nice to meet you”, Martin says shaking Steve’s hand.

 

Great. She has a boyfriend. He thinks to himself as his heart sinks to the floor.

 

After a moment, Martin politely excuses himself from the table, “Excuse me, I’ll be right back. I want to tell Gordy something”.

 

“Okay”. Cindy says before returning her attention back to her group.

 

Martin gets up from the table to make the long trek to Gordon, who is flirting with the female bartender. He sees Martin coming, looking disappointed.

 

“You don’t look so good, mate”, he says.

 

“She has a boyfriend now. I missed my chance”, Martin says defeated. “I guess I will have to settle on being friends with her”.

 

“I’m sorry, buddy. Come on I’ll get you a pint.” Gordon says.

 

Martin pulls out a stool and sits next to Gordon at the bar. He turns to glance at Cindy, who is sitting arm-in-arm with Steve laughing.

 

“Thanks. I need it” he says.

 

****

As the semester went on, Martin concentrated all his efforts on his studies. Aside from an occasional trip somewhere with Gordon, he remained in his dorm room reading and writing. Cindy became only a memory as he never even saw her, not even in any of his classes. Barely knowing her to begin with was a hurdle he could not overcome. It would be strange to ask her friends how she is doing at such an early stage. He did see her boyfriend Steve occasionally as they had labs together. Martin held no grudge against the man because of course he barely knew Cindy. Her business was her business and that was that. He took a small bit of comfort believing she had found happiness.

 

One day in late November, word got around the Starfleet Academy campus that a few cadets were involved in a shuttle accident. They were performing low-altitude maneuvers over the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. According to the news reports, they weren’t sure of the details other than 4 cadets were injured and another was still missing.

 

The names were listed on the official communique Starfleet sent out:

 

The Injured are:

Fourth Year Cadet Enomar Iniki

Third Year Cadet Robert Anderson

Third Year Cadet Jason Vorchek

Second Year Cadet Egot Mol

 

and still missing is Third Year Cadet Cynthia Wilson. Daughter of Captain Janet Wilson of the USS Concordia and Admiral Harold Wilson.  Younger sister of Ensign Victor Wilson of the USS Winnetka.

 

When Martin saw Cindy’s name on the missing list, his heart was nearly crushed. Although he didn’t know her well, he knew she was someone special in his life. Martin tried to hold back all of his feelings but to no avail. He wept softly in his dorm room for the rest of the night.

 

****

Twenty Years Later, 2386: USS Bolivar: Engine Room

 

Down in Engineering, Commander Martin and Commander Connors were looking over some sensor logs. Connors had called Martin down after finding something unusual.

 

“I was preparing to archive the records from our encounter with the subspace anomaly when something weird caught my eye”. Connors says.

 

Commander Martin comes back with a curt “Define ‘Weird’”.

 

“I believe the navigation logs were somehow manipulated after the fact. I’m not sure exactly but I was able to recover some of the original data. It looks like the Bolivars course was covertly changed before we hit the plasma cloud”.

 

“What are you saying?” Martin asks.

 

“I’m saying I believe someone on this ship secretly changed our course and our contact with the subspace anomaly two weeks ago was not an accident”. Connors says. “Someone wanted us to be trapped there”.

 

Commander Martins face turns pale with grave concern, “We need to tell the Captain”.

 

 

To Be Continued: Part 4: Legal Tender

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