Star Trek: Genesis of Command, Chapter 3

Chapter 3
Visitation Rights

Marek had been in the fetal position for almost half an hour.  He heard someone come in twice, presumably to check the problem he had created with the monitor.  He did not want to risk the chance security would bring in a secondary monitoring system, so he opted to stop affecting the primary system.  At least until a few seconds before his transport out.
Most of that half hour was spent reading recent history.  His situation was not promising.  He had been in cryogenic sleep for one hundred forty-four years, eighty-two days.  All the advanced, experimental, and theoretical technology he had learned about was useless.  Most became commonplace seventy years or so after he disappeared.
The common earth year was 2450.  ‘Buck naked, in the twenty-fifth century.’
Optimum transporter range was fast approaching.  In the world of the ship’s computers that meant he had an hour.  But not wanting anyone to sneak up on him, he had to give part of his concentration to the real world, which meant he had about two minutes.
He thought up a few more ways he might be detected escaping, carefully, as he could, checking how to hide such evidence.  The ship’s deflectors were down, a common practice.  The computer would fail to log the beam out, as well as send an overload surge throughout the ship.  The overload would block internal sensors for 1.3 seconds, without damaging anything.
He felt the Dahlquist approaching.  He saw the transporter controls.  The coordinates would match.  Beam into space from Morass, then the Dahlquist would beam him onboard.  The chance of failure was 13.98%; Marek’s lucky number was fourteen.
Acceptable odds, considering he truly believed he would die if he went back to Earth as a prisoner.  And, if not die, then something worse.  He would be a lab rat.
Brig interference.  Power surge.  Energize.
*
“Skipper, the transporter just came on.”
A rather heavy, medium-light hued African woman turned to her right.  “Is there anyone on the transported deck?”
The very serious, balding, thirty-something Asian man answered, “No one is scheduled to be on that desk.  I am checking internal scan–,” he paused, “scanners are now offline.”  He began tapping functions out, as the Skipper watched, more curious than concerned.  “It would seem the internal systems have crashed.  I can’t remember ever experiencing this before.”
The Skipper rolled her eyes.  “You spent the last ten years with the Starfleet, that’s why. When you have an endless supply of everything, the most down time you have is when you do it on purpose.  The real world is a little different.”  She got up from her command chair, which seemed to tilt to the left slightly.  “Welcome to the world of no priority.  Find the problem, if you can, and fix it.  Then come and wake me up, if it’s important.”
With an audible yawn, she walked off the tiny bridge.
*
Marek had just checked the whereabouts of the crew, then disabled the internal communications.  He tried to think of what else to do, but really had no idea.  He hand never escaped anything before, and his training never included this scenario.
He had succeeded in escaping an outdated starship, getting inside a rusting, defenseless boat, shutting down a computer destined to crash anyway, and not much more.  He still had no idea what he was going to do in the long run.
‘Well, I take over the shi–, boat, and that’ll be easy enough.  But, then what?  Go see Mom, and see if she still has any pull?  If she’s alive that is.  I know no one, have no allies, and no way of knowing what is going on.’
He looked around, for weapons.  Nothing.  So, all he had to take over the boat with was the threat of death through suffocation, since he controlled the life support systems.  And what was to stop the crew from killing him, thinking it was just a bluff from a lunatic?
‘I have to get their attention, without spooking them too badly.’
An idea.  “Computer, engage self-destruct, ten minute countdown, audible.”
The computer responded in the transport chamber.  “The self-destruct systems are non-operational.”
‘Just perfect.’  “Computer, lockout command codes, on my order.  Then make a ship-wide announcement, as follows:  All functions have been shut down; the commanding officer is ordered to meet in the main transporter room, for terms of surrender.”
Marek wondered what he was going to do next.  Being a trained killer was easy.  Being a fugitive was not.  He would not allow mistakes as a Marine.  However, his choices for his own life were another story.  This was definitely in the latter category.
He thought, ‘Maybe I should have waited,’ as the computer made its announcement.
*
A plain-looking woman in a filthy, baggy jumpsuit was waiting outside the transporter room when the Skipper showed up.  The Skipper sighed when she saw the phaser in the grubby woman’s left hand.
“What setting is that …,” yawn, “weapon on, Ann?”
“Kill, Skipper.”  She said it very casually, almost upbeat.
“Why?” the Skipper asked flatly.
Ann’s forehead wrinkled, and she took on an angry air, sounding much like an angry mother.  “Because I don’t intend to lose my engines to a nutcase!”
The Skipper looked at the floor, then back up at the transporter room door.  “Ann,” she began sympathetically, “we don’t even know if there is anyone in there.”
“There is,” Ann interjected.
“it could just be another computer glitch.”
“It’s not.” Ann’s voice rose, slightly.
“Who knows.”
“I do.”
“Windy might have forgotten his medications again.”
“He didn’t.” Ann was speaking quite loud, now.
“Remember before the implant?  He thought you were a Dominion spy.”
“You – are – not – listen – ing!”  Ann shouted.
“You!,” the Skipper yelled back, “are out of line, Mister!”
“Captain Roberts!”  Ann protested.
The Skipper raised a finger to Ann’s face.  “Not another word.  YOU are not even in charge of those engines; Windy is.  And, while I’m reminding you of what you are not in charge of, that’s my weapon, or have you forgotten my short list.  I let you people get away with a lot of things, but not murder.  Not while I’m in command.  And if you ever want that promotion, you will do exactly as I say.”
Ann pursed her lips.  Her eyes went left while her lips (followed by her nose, sort of) went right; then she switched sides.  Her head tilted down slightly as she looked back at the Skipper.  With her lips still tightly packed, she said, “O-”, then smiled, “kay.”  Ann held the smile, waited, and cocked her head, raising her eyebrows.  She look exceedingly goofy.
‘I hate when she does that.’ the Skipper thought.  With a second sigh, she asked, “So, what do you know that I don’t”
Conversationally, she answered, as if they had not just had a spat, “There is someone inside.  He is very serious about taking over Dahlquist.  I don’t know who he is.  And, because he is highly agitated, I can’t tell why.  But, I do know, he is very dangerous.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because, every now and then, he acts exactly like a trapped animal.  He’s ready to kill, in order to escape.
The Skipper thought quietly, staring at the door.  “If that’s the case, set your gun on heavy stun.  Just in case, you know.  Oh,” the Skipper’s voice lifted, “those are my engines, not yours; I just let you work on them.  Open the doors.”
Marek was standing on the far side of the control console, his arms in front, hands hidden from view.  The Skipper walked calmly through the doors, followed by Ann, who pointed the phaser at Marek.  “Captain Roberts and Petty Officer Phillips, I presume?”
“I prefer to go by Skipper, if you don’t mind.  And you are …?”
“Marek, formerly of the Federation Marine Corps.”
“Marine?”
“I told you he was dangerous.”  Ann input.
The Skipper glanced back at Ann, diligently aiming the phaser at their captor/prisoner.  “Mr. Marek, there is no Marine Corps.”
“I suppose, how do I put this,” he said, sarcastically, “that cryogenics stopped working before you were born?  And, by the way, Miss Phillips is correct.  I am very dangerous.”
“Um,” the Skipper paused for dramatic effect (or, perhaps outsarcast Marek), “if you are a throwback to barbarism.”
“Skipper!” Ann burst in, warningly.
The Skipper waved her off.  “If you are fresh from the freezer, then how would you be able to, poof!, show up here, without being detected?  You would have to be a hundred years old, making you a technical moron.  And, in that case, there would be no way for you to take over my boat.”  She let her words sink in.  ‘Am I wrong?”
“Only partially.”  Marek smiled sideways.  “I was the victim of a … special training program.  Basically, I was in an experiment gone wrong.”
“Which means what to me?” the Skipper asked.
“Which means that I can talk to computers,” Marek began.
“Everybody can talk to computers,” Ann interrupted.
“Really?”  He was very smug.  “Go ahead, then.  Talk to the computer.”
Ann looked at the Skipper, who shrugged her shoulders.
“Computer,” Ann said, waiting for a response.  She cleared her throat.  “Computer, respond.”  But, nothing happened.
“Would you like to try, Skipper?” Marek asked.
She smiled.  “Communications, general announcement, all crew members are to arm themselves …” Something was wrong.  The announcement should have been made over the communications system, but all was quiet.  “Ann, shoot him.”
There was a soft clicking sound.  “Uh-oh.” Ann adjusted the weapon.  A second click, and that was all.
Marek took a deep breath.  “Computer, are all energy weapons, replacement components, and replicators offline?”
“Affirmative.”  Said the computer.
Marek smiled.  “I seem to be the smartest moron aboard, Skipper.”
“If I might be so bold,” a new voice said, “the term ‘moron’ is quite inappropriate.”  A rather small, and age weary Vulcan walked next to Ann.  She still had the useless phaser trained on Marek.  “I do not believe you will be needing this.”  he said, as he gently, yet resolutely took the weapon from her.
Marek seemed transfixed on the small Vulcan, who found him as intriguing.  “You don’t look right, Mister.  Do you have … ah,” he tried to recall the name, “zing’call?  No, ka—zhing’call, right?”
The old Vulcan slipped the phaser into the folds of his dark robe.  “K’tsung’cah.  I am allergic to certain types of radiation.  My skin should be much darker.  But your skin problem is much more difficult than mine.”
Marek was put on guarded.  “What skin problem are your referring to?”
“You are obviously human.  However, your eyebrows are very much vulcanoid, indicating a parent with vulcanoid blood.  However, your jaw, cheek, and brow are not necessarily human or Vulcan.  Which leaves me with only one option: you are part romulan.”
“This just got really weird.”  The Skipper put her hands in the air, stepping into the middle of the room.  ‘I have a tomboy engineer with psychic powers warning me about an intruder.  The intruder is running away from something, can talk to computers, and wants to kill everybody.  Then, if that isn’t enough, Temmit, Mister spooky Vulcan comes out from his hole, to let me know my homicidal intruder is part romulan.  Now, that explains the wanting to kill everyone, and running from whoever bit, since nobody in their right mind likes the Romulan Empire.  But, and help me figure this one out, okay?, … I, … I, … me, I, I am captain of this boat.  What is going on?  And, since he was kind enough to be the cause of all this, I think Mr. Marek should be the one to begin.”   She put her hands to her hips, leaned her head to one side, and waited for Marek to speak.
Ann and Temmit looked at Marek, too.  He felt even more out of place than before.  Finally, he said, “Well, I was part of an experiment last century.  The experiment, so it would seem, succeeded, to a certain degree.  I think the Federation has a reason to have me killed, so I would like to avoid that, if I can.  Since I am here, and you would have difficulty disposing of me, I intend to take over this vessel to effect my escape.”
Everyone seemed content with that.  With what they had to go on, what he said, in a manner of speaking, made sense.
“Um,” Ann asked, “where do you want to escape to?”
Marek had been taken off guard by that.  He  scrunched his eyebrows together, let his head sag back, and jaw slip open.  He looked very stupid.  “I have no idea.”
Ann turned and walked out, saying, “I think the term moron applies now.”
*
The Skipper had escorted Marek to a stateroom.  There was no point in standing around the transporter room.
As a show of his ability, Marek sprang on Temmit just after Ann left.  Evidently, he had been hiding a pipe, over a meter in length.  Before he could react, Temmit was face to face with Marek.  The pipe had been swung like a sword, stopping so close to the old vulcan’s head he nearly fainted.  Marek then asked him to give up the phaser he had taken from Ann.
“Does this room have a replicators?”
“No,” the Skipper answered, “because this vessel is so small.  We have two replicators in the dining room, one in medical, and one in the lab.  The one in the lab is the largest, so we get our replacement parts from there.”
“You shouldn’t use replicated parts.  They tend to degrade.”
“We’ve come a long way since your time.  But, just so you know, we don’t replicate vital components unless it’s an emergency.  Then, if we do, I get everything checked as soon as we hit port.”
They settled down to a table in the larger of the two rooms.  Marek looked uncomfortable, fidgeting and looking around the floor.
“Is there something wrong?” the Skipper asked, in a friendly way.
“Well, I just don’t feel right calling you ‘Skipper’, since I’m not part of your crew.  Is there another …,”
“April.”  She smiled.  “Just don’t call me Captain, alright?”  She waited for Marek to respond, but he seemed preoccupied.  “Is there something I can do for you?”
Marek shook his head.  “No.  Yes!  Eh, no.  No.  I, I’m listening to the computer, watching the crew.  Temmit is having trouble seeing everything at once.  I never had this trouble when I was asleep.  I, I –, I’m just so confused.  I can’t —, hear, see, ah, no, watch everything.  Ah —.”
April sat helpless, watching Marek’s face churn in agony.  He looked on the verge of tears.  She grabbed his hand.  “Go to sleep.”  Her glare fixed on him, and she waited until he looked up.  “I won’t let anyone bother you until you wake up, okay?  I promise.”
Marek was trembling. Sweat was forming on him.  But something was calming him down.  Her eyes, perhaps, or something behind them.  He had … a feeling.  “Why? Why would you make a promise like that?”
She smiled again.  “What else am I going to do?  I don’t have anything else to do right now.  And you’re the most exciting thing that happened to this tub since I took over.”
Marek laughed.  He seemed to relax, even letting out a yawn.  The Skipper remembered that she was tired as well.
“Ugh, Marek?”
“Yes?”
“I need to get some sleep.  Now, I can get a lot more done if I had a little control.  This room has a manual lock, plus you have my phaser toy to play with.  How about you give me internal communications?  I promise no one will bother you.’’
Marek laid his head on the table.  His hand was still in April’s.
“Marek?”  No response.  She got up, pulling her hand slowly away from his.  “Computer,” she looked at Marek again, “dim lights.”  She half expected nothing to happen, but the lights dimmed.
She walked out the door, leaving Marek alone.  She gave several orders along the way to her own room.  The first was to lock Marek’s room.  She figured, once he woke up, he could open the door, no matter what she, or anyone else, did.  She was so tired, though, she did not much care.
*
He was on a beach, at the base of a cliff.  Though he had never been there, it was very familiar.  He had been there often.  It was a place of sorrow, but not yet.
He looked up and saw her.  She was dressed in a flowing dress, like waves of silvery vanilla blowing in the wind.
His heart rate went up, and he had to swallow.  It was one of the most important days of his life.  He fought back the tears, because he was not the only one waiting for this moment.  They were all there with him; the lost, the forgotten, and the dead.  It was too much.
He had to blink, hard, to hold back the tears.
When he opened his eyes and looked up he saw the woman leap from the cliff.
He tried to blink the tears away again, but failed.
It was the most wonderful day of his, or any other, life.
He embraced the lady in silvery white.
*
The blackness of space was like a blanket.  Emotion was behind.  Peace was here.
There was an explosion.  The stars, or the peace, began to melt away.
A familiar female voice sounded very sad.  “You let this happen.  Save us; make it all right again.”
“No!”  he cried.  “I was still too small!  I couldn’t help!”
“But you can …” she said.
The burden was too great.  “No.”
“Save us.”
He sobbed, “No.  It’s not my fault.”
*
Marek woke, sweat rolling into his eyes.  His heart was beating fast, matched by his breathing.
The room was dark.  He was cramped, from sleeping in a chair.  There was a clean spot on the table his face had been pressed on.
He put his hand on the table, fingers splayed.  “How long have I been asleep?”  His voice was on the verge of panic.
The computer calmly said, “Five hours, seventeen minutes.”
“How many people have been in this room in that time?”
“One.  Roberts, Captain of Dahlquist, left this room and ordered it sealed 14.3 seconds after unconsciousness.”
Marek was confused by this.  “What is the current course?”
“Dahlquist is on course to Deep Space Three. Speed and course has not deviated since the current course was laid in.  Time to DS3 is ninety-seven hours, eight minutes.”
Marek began searching the computer for the whereabouts of the crew.  Nothing seemed out of place.
‘It’s like I wasn’t even here.’ he thought.  “Computer, what is the location of Ann Phillips?”
“Engineering.’ it responded.
Marek looked around the room, spotting a monitor on the wall left of the door.  He put his left hand on the table; the screen flashed on.  The profile of a ‘chubby’ craft, somewhat resembling a seaworthy boat, as well as a dorsal view, appeared.  A flashing dot appeared, in the midsection on the third of the five main decks.  A highlighted path began moving back and down, showing the shortest route to engineering, in the tail of the craft.
Marek got up from the table and stepped toward the door, stopping two paces from it.  He looked down at the beard and prison clothes he was sporting.  Walking over to the monitor, he first looked in the shiny black face, like a dark mirror.  ‘Wow!  No wonder they thought I was crazy.’
He splayed his left hand next to the control pad. With his other hand he pulled back his hair on the back of his head.  There was enough for a short ponytail.  He smiled, just as a new path was being traced on the Dahlquist diagram.  This time the path led up.  His eyes shifted into thought.  The picture changed to show an old style uniform jacket.
A few more things came up, before he departed.
He had not bothered to check to see if anyone would be in the lab.  Since Temmit had stopped trying to override his control, Marek assumed the lab would be empty.
It was an open space, with stations along the roundish walls.  The lab was a rough oval, about ten meters long and six meters wide.  The centered was cratered, with important looking crystal apparatuses inside.  The workstations could accommodate twenty technicians.  Only one was occupied.
“Who are–, he stumbled, “I mea–, w– … .  Identify yourself!”  the man found courage enough to jump to his feet.
Marek calmly walked forward.  “I am the one who took control of this vessel.  Who are you?”
“Lieutenant Commander Barry Majil, first officer of the Dahlquist.  I order you to lay face down, with your arms and legs spread out.”  He took a defensive stance.
Marek walked a little slower.  He wanted this to be embarrassing.  “You graduated Starfleet Academy, with honors, didn’t you?”
Majil smiled, ever watching Marek.  “Yes, I did.”
“Good.”  Marek was almost to him.  “I have been a marine for almost one hundred and fifty years.  No honors, except being deemed expendable.”  He stopped just out of arms reach.  Smiling, he said, “I hate honor grads.”
Majil faked a kick, pushing him forward.  He threw a punch to Marek’s throat.
Marek held up his right hand, catching the punch, twisting it right, and bringing up his left hand.  Majil fell.  As he hit the ground, Marek had Majil’s arm straight, twisted, and his own hand on Majil’s shoulder.
“That was easy.”  Marek let him go, and walked away from the honor grad.
Majil got up, expecting Marek to turn and attack.  He followed Marek to the lab door.  When it was clear Marek was going to leave, fearing he might lose the opportunity, Majil put his hands on Marek’s shoulders, thinking he could pull the hairy beast back, tripping him, and holding him down.
Unfortunately, Marek pivoted, grabbing Majil’s sore right arm.  Marek twisted.  “You should have let me go.”
The pain almost made Majil faint.  Marek lifted him up, expecting to throw the man two, maybe three maters.  With all the strength he could muster, Marek threw the executive officer.
Marek was very surprised when the man smashed two monitors at the far end of the room.  If there had been no wall, Majil would have gone twenty meters, easy.
Marek looked at his hands in shock.  They were the same hands he had always had.  “What did they DO to MEEEeee!”
He looked at the replicators, just right of Majil’s limp body.  “Ann ….  Computer, replicate my uniform, shaver, and hair band.”
The pile of clothing that appeared was midnight black, with silver trim.
*
She let out a slow breath, looking at the palm monitor.  With her left thumb she tapped a few keys; her right arm was buried inside a filthy machine.  She watched a computerized image of a hand, moving toward something.  There was nothing between her hand and what she was trying to touch … on the small monitor.  Her face wrinkled.  “Oh, God, no!”  The hand on the monitor pulled back, trying to fling off an invisible goo.  She took a deep breath and tried again.
“Ann!” Marek frantically called. “Ann, where are you?”
Her hand was almost there when his call distracted her.
“Ann?” he called again.
She turned away, just for an instant.  Pain lit her face.  With a scream of absolute agony, she pulled her arm out.  As she held her hand, blood began to wash the greasy film away.
Marek found his way into the crawlspace she was hidden in.  “Oh, no.  What happened?”  Marek forgot his own problems just then.  He tried to see Ann’s hand.
“NO!  Get aWAY from me!”
“No, let me help …,”
“Go away!” she closed her eyes hard.  Marek could feel tears forming, before they rolled down her cheeks.
“No …,” he whispered.  He put both his hands around Ann’s.  He knew both tips of her middle and index fingers had been cut off, somehow.  He held her hands with his right, looked around, while his eyes darted aimlessly, and placed his left hand on the machinery Ann had her arm in.
He closed his eyes, lowering his head.  Ann had begun to breathe heavily, fighting back the tears of pain.  (She considered tears a sign of weakness.)  Marek began to breathe heavy.  Shortly, he began to let out small breaths, each getting louder.  The breathing became moaning, then sobbing.  All the while Ann’s face showed less and less pain, until there was none.
Marek’s face was pulled tight with pain.  His head was down, his cheeks wet, and his mouth was open, because of the congestion.  He was breathing heavy, which slowed after a few seconds.
Ann pulled her hand free from Marek, wiping his eyes with her fingers.  All of her fingers.  “Cry baby,” she said softly.
Marek came to himself, quickly, yet gently, taking Ann’s hand.  He flattened her fingers, inspecting the creases in the two he thought she had lost.  They were dirty, but intact.
“What are you looking at?” she asked.
“Your fingers,” he said, “they were cut off.  But,”
“You must be stupid.”  Ann pulled her hand free.  “I’m fine, see?”  She held up her hand and wiggled her fingers.
Marek went back to being a cold machine.  He grabbed her hand, twisting the palm to her.  “Then why is there fresh blood pouring down your arm?”
Ann looked at him as if he were crazy.  Then, hesitantly, she looked at her wrist.  Fresh, bright, oxygenated blood was on every part of her hand, except the tips of the index and middle fingers.
“How did you …?”
“I don’t know.  But, before I came down here, I threw your first shirt [Marine slang for executive officer] across the lab.”  He waited for it to sink in.  “Humans aren’t that strong are they?  And neither are romulans, are they?”
Ann looked a little scared.  She nervously shook her head.
“They did something to me.  I don’t know what, but it was something big.  “Now,” he looked down, thinking of what to say next.  “I …, I don’t know what to do next.”  His eyes began to fill.  “What do I do next?”
Ann was shocked.  At last, she said, “We have to help Barry.”  She tried to pull her hand from him, but he squeezed.
“Temmit was called.  Unless I am mistaken, he is in charge of medical, isn’t he?”
Ann nodded.
“Then the only thing you could do is give moral support, right?”
Ann nodded.
Marek feverishly thought of what to say next.  “You’re the only person who can help me right now.”
Ann seemed to be wanderinig.  She lifted her left hand to Marek’s chin.  “Did you shave for me?”
Marek looked to one side, with a look of bewilderment.
*
They made their way to Ann’s room, a few doors down from the room Marek had been asleep in, next to the outside door to the upper observation deck.  There were books of every kind in the bookshelves that covered every wall.  A few shelves were obviously hand made, very unlike the prefabricated shelves.  Yet, as unorganized as it seemed, they were all categorized.  There had to be two thousand books in that tiny room.
“So,” Ann asked, “have you figured out what you want to do?”
marek put his hand on the bulkhead.  The Dahlquist jerked, then steadied.  “I think so.  And, the first thing I want, is what’s in your head.”
Ann took a half step back.

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