The Brigade of the Doomed

STAR TREK
THE NEXT GENERATION

THE BRIGADE OF THE DOOMED

CHAPTER ONE

Captain Jean-Luc Picard walked onto the bridge in an unusually happy mood. Starfleet Command
had finally given the Enterprise permission to explore the Seraris Regions. That area of space was one of
the most mysterious sections of the Alpha Quadrant, and the Enterprise was going to explore it first. If
anyone in civilized space hadn’t heard of the Enterprise before this mission, after it, they most certainly
would.
“You’re sure in a happy mood,” Counselor Deanna Troi noted as Picard took his spot at the
command chair. Commander Riker went to sit at the first officer’s seat.
“I most certainly am,” Picard told Troi. “Starfleet Command has given us permission to explore
the Seraris Regions.”
Troi looked shocked. Ensign Wesley Crusher’s mouth hung open. Commander Riker asked,
“How did you manage to pull that off?”
“Admiral Jordan is tired of all the mystery surrounding the Seraris Regions, and she felt that the
Enterprise was the only ship for the job. Also, if there’s anything valuable in the Seraris Regions, we want
to have the first grab at it.”
Riker nodded. “Understandable. Admiral Jordan also talked about sending the Yeltsin to explore
the Seraris Regions some years ago, but she felt that Starfleet should wait and send the newly commissioned
Enterprise to explore them when she felt the ship is ready.”
“She feels the ship is ready right now, Number One,” Picard said. “Mr. Crusher, lay in a course for
Starbase 123 at maximum warp. Engage.”
“Yes, sir.” Ensign Crusher turned to input the coordinates into the conn station, and he pressed the
engage button. The Enterprise sped towards the last outpost before the unknown.

Lieutenant Commander Data pressed the buzzer to Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge’s
quarters. “Come in,” Geordi said.
Data entered the range of the sensor above the door to Geordi’s quarters. The door whooshed
open. Geordi was listening to the popular band “The Warps”, who mutated jazz in an odd form that humans
seemed to like. Data entered the quarters. “I hope I am not disturbing you.”
“Not at all Data.”
Data stepped further into Geordi’s quarters. The door whooshed shut. “I wish to know about all
the wonder surrounding the Seraris Regions.”
Geordi got out of his chair and turned the music off. “How do you mean, Data?”
“There has been a great deal of controversy and myth surrounding the Seraris Regions. Little has
been backed up by fact. Why does this particular region of space seem more important than any other
unexplored region?”
Geordi sat back down in the chair and shook his head. “I don’t know, Data. Perhaps it’s because
it’s so close to us. That’s the most likely explanation I can think of.”
Data nodded. “Ah. So you believe that when we get closer to the Gamma and Delta Quadrants,
those regions of space will be like today’s Seraris Regions?”
“I guess. I really don’t know.”
“You have been most helpful, Geordi. Thank you.” Data exited Geordi’s quarters.

Lieutenant Worf struggled with his opponent. The creature was growing fatigued and was
breathing heavily. That’s when the Klingon abruptly stepped backwards away from the creature. The
strategy surprised this dumb animal. Worf took out his dahktog and stabbed his opponent in the ribs. The
thing fell to the ground, blood flowing from the wound. Then, the creature disappeared, as did the harsh
enviroment surrounding them.
“Level One of Program Kliog Nine is complete,” the computer said.
“Computer: shut down program and save the progress report under the file name Worf One.”
“Working,” the computer said. “Command carried out.”
“Exit.”
The holodeck exit appeared, and Worf exited the holodeck. His shift at tactical would begin in a
few minutes, and he never liked to be late, so he decided to jog to the turbolift on the other side of deck
eleven. He slowed down and strode into the turbolift, and said, “Bridge.” He made it to the bridge just in
time for his shift to begin.

“How nice of you to join us,” Picard said as Worf hurried to his station at tactical. It was April
Fool’s Day, and Picard liked the holiday very much, mostly because it tended to keep his crew in good
spirits.
“Did I miss something, sir?” Worf asked.
Riker was smiling. Data had no expression on his face, as usual. “Oh, nothing at all, Lieutenant.
Just our explorations of the Seraris Regions, the destruction of the Romulan Empire, the Borg changing
their prosthetic colors from black to periwinkle…”
Worf had a bewildered expression on his face. “In just one night, sir?”
Ensign Crusher burst out laughing. Riker was chuckling to himself. Worf looked at all of them
dubiously. “I see… It is the day of that accursed human holiday April Fool’s Day…” He looked down in
shame. “I constantly fall for them jokes…”
Picard grinned. “It’s good for you, Lieutenant.” He turned towards Ensign Crusher. “What’s our
ETA to Starbase 123?”
Crusher checked his console. “One minute, sir.”
“We made excellent time,” Picard said. “Hail Commander Zuskoe.”
The young form of Commander Zuskoe appeared on the main viewer. His black hair parted to the
left side was as shiny as ever. His face was equally bright. “It’s good to see you again, Jean-Luc.”
“Likewise, Ben,” Picard said. “We are less than a minute away.”
“We are preparing for your docking now.” Zuskoe put a bigger smile on his face. “It’s exciting.
We’re taking a major part in a major event in history.”
Picard smiled. “Ensign Crusher, are we in the Velusion system?”
“We are now, sir.”
“Then drop us out of warp, and prepare to dock.”

Geordi checked the matter-antimatter reactor status display in his office. It indicated that the
reactor was working perfectly. Finally. After two hours, Data and he had finally located the malfunction,
and fixed it. Who would ever have thought that a simple frequency imbalance would be so hard to find?
“I am intrigued at how that simple frequency imbalance eluded us,” Data said.
“Well, at least it’s over now,” Geordi said. “Why don’t you go over the sensor logs? These
frequency imbalances are usually caused by external influences. Meanwhile, I’ll go over the engineering logs
and see if any cause can be found there.”
“A reasonable course of action.” Data went over to the status table, and requested the sensor logs.
They appeared on the left raised screen, and he walked over to that screen. He set the scroll rate to
maximum, and scanned the sensor logs for anything unusual. “Sensor logs indicate that the Enterprise
passed through a field of very rare dronium particles. They are the most likely culprit.”
Geordi got a frightened expression on his face. “Will them dronium particles be a threat to anyone
else?”
“Unlikely. The dronium particles are now to few in number to pose any threat.”
Geordi gave sigh of relief. “Good. I’ll go check the engineering logs, just in case.”
“A wise precaution.”
Geordi hunched over the right raised screen and went to work.

Captain Picard went over the checklist. Almost every objective for the Enterprise at the starbase
was complete. Only getting a full supply of photon torpedoes and getting a slight upgrade of the phaser
banks remained. The crews of the Enterprise and Starbase 123 were making excellent progress.
The buzzer to the ready room buzzed. “Come.”
The door whooshed open. Commander Riker strode in. The door whooshes shut behind him.
“Captain, our photon torpedo supply is at maximum.”
Picard nodded. “Why didn’t you just tell me that over the comm?”
“Well, I received another starship command offer. The Lexington.”
“Take it. Not many people get to command Revolutionary-class starships, Will. And when they
do, their only the best. You should consider it an honor just to be offered to command one.”
“I know that, sir. But it’s not the Enterprise.”
“It’s pretty darn close. Revolutionary-class starships are between Excelsior and Ambassador.”
“I guess I just like it here, sir.”
Picard nodded. “I understand. I will support you no matter what your decision is.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Is that all?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Dismissed.”

CHAPTER TWO

Captain’s log, stardate 44111.1. The Enterprise has completed its objectives at Starbase 123, and
we are now ready to begin our explorations of the Seraris Regions.

Picard sat down in the command chair. “Ensign Crusher, take us out of dock.”
“Aye, sir.” Crusher concentrated on his task. One minute later, the Enterprise was within the
required one thousand kilometers of the starbase, where they were allowed to go to warp.
“Lay in a course for System A-95, warp eight,” Picard ordered.
Crusher pressed the engage button, and the Enterprise sped towards the unknown…

Captain’s log, supplemental. The Enterprise is now warping towards the Seraris Regions.
Estimated time of arrival: one hour at warp eight.

Doctor Beverly Crusher ran the tissue regenerator over Commander Riker’s nasty wound. The cut
was unusually deep, but no problem for the regenerator. “Tell me how this happened to you again.”
“Well, Worf and I were using wooden, dulled bat’leths against each other – much to his displeasure
– when Worf’s bat’leth came crashing into my shoulder. That is how I wound up with this wound.”
Beverly gave a sigh of disbelief. “Every time you play Klingon with Worf, this happens to you. If
you don’t get better, you’re going to have to stop.”
Riker laughed.
“I’m serious, Will! I have the authority to order you to stop.”
Riker stopped laughing.
Beverly looked at the spot of the wound. It was gone. To be sure, she did a tricorder scan on the
spot. The tricorder said the wound was gone. “Now, next time you play with a wooden bat’leth, just
imagine yourself if it was real, okay?”
Riker stood up. “Okay.” He exited the sickbay.

Thirty minutes later, Commander Riker strode onto the bridge. The entire senior staff was there.
Their arrival to the Seraris Regions must have been at hand. Riker took his customary seat to the captain’s
left.
“I see you decided to join us,” Picard said. “Mr. Crusher, ETA to the Seraris Regions?”
Crusher checked the conn. “One minute, sir.”
Riker’s adrenaline raced. The Enterprise was soon going to make history yet again. It felt
exciting. Before he knew it, they were there.
“We have entered the Seraris Regions!” Ensign Crusher announced. “ETA to System A-95 is
fifteen minutes.”
“We did it!” Beverly exclaimed.
“We most certainly did,” Picard commented. “Mr. Data, begin sensor scans of System A-25.”
“Aye, sir.”

Captain’s log, supplemental. We have reached the Seraris Regions, and are on a course for
System A-25. Estimated time of arrival: ten minutes. Initial sensor scans of the system indicate that there
are thirteen planets in the star’s orbit. There is a high probability that at least three of them are M-class
planets. We will make determinations once we reach the system.

“We have reached System A-25,” Ensign Crusher said.
“Slow to impulse,” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir.” Crusher adjusted the speed to full impulse. The Enterprise dropped out of warp.
“Lay in a course for Planet Five.”
“Aye, sir.”
Data whirled around to face the captain. “Sir, belay that order.”
Picard nodded. “Belay that order, Ensign.” Picard got a mystified expression on his face. “What
is the matter?”
“Planets Five and Three are surrounded by dronium particles; we cannot go into their orbits.”
Picard frowned. “Dronium particles? Aren’t they supposed to be rare?”
“Affirmative, sir. The concentrations here are to dense to have been caused by a natural source.”
Data paused. “Sensor scans have confirmed that there are ruins of a highly advanced civilization on Planet
Four; there is also evidence that a computer system is still operational. I recommend that we send over an
away team to investigate.”
“Agreed. Ensign, lay in a course for Planet Four, full impulse.”
“Aye, sir.”

Commander Riker, Data, Geordi, Worf, and Ensign Craig beamed into what Data hypothesized
was a central building in the city where the operational computer system was detected. The room they were
in was quite large, and the decor was a bluish-gray. The room was fairly dark, with the only light being from
flickering computer consoles that were on the walls.
Data took out his tricorder, flipped it open, and began scanning. “The operational computer system
is approximately nine hundred meters away.” He walked towards one of the flickering computer consoles.
“I am attempting to download any information databases on the aliens’ language that may still exist in the
main computer.” After two minutes, he announced, “Attempt unsuccessful.”
“We should try at the main computer itself,” Geordi said.
“Agreed.”
“Can you find a way out of here?” Riker asked.
Geordi began to whirl his head around. “I see some sort of energy field on that wall,” he said,
pointing towards the right.
Data began scanning the energy field. “The energy is not of a type we have encountered before. I
am now hypothesizing on how to neutralize it.”
Riker asked, “Are there any exits that you have confirmed, Data?”
Data consulted his tricorder. “There is no other way, Commander.”
“Very well,” Riker said. “Any ideas on how we can try to disrupt the field?”
“Perhaps we should use a phaser, sir,” Worf said.
“A phaser blast might alert any still functioning security systems,” Data said.
“I agree, sir,” Craig said.
“Do you have any other ideas?” Riker asked.
“I think we can generate a duonetic pulse that would knock it out of commission,” Geordi said.
“How do we generate a duonetic pulse?” Riker asked, puzzled.
Data shook his head in the manner that indicated he was processing information. “Using a phaser’s
frequency chip,” he said, withdrawing his phaser and removing the indicated chip, “I can attach it to the
tricorder,” he did so, “and then set the tricorder to emit a narrow-band subspace emission.”
“Do it,” Riker ordered.
Data aimed his tricorder at the energy field on the wall, touched a couple of buttons, then a low
whistle began. A white beam emitted from the frequency chip attached to the tricorder, and Data
announced, “The attempt has been unsuccessful.”
Sirens began to go off. Data quickly replaced the frequency chip back into the phaser. “I believe
we have activated a security system.”
Geordi got a frightened expression on his face. “Look!” he cried, pointing to the far end of the
room. Ten shadowy figures were moving towards them.
Data did a quick scan of the approaching figures. “Scans indicate that the approaching force is
composed of robots, sir.”
A red energy beam emitted from one of the figures. The team scattered. The beam missed Riker’s
head narrowly. Riker raised his phaser, set it to setting eight, and fired at the beam’s origin. The robot
continued on, unaffected.
“Setting sixteen, sir,” Geordi said. He raised his own phaser, and shot one of the robots. The
robot staggered, but that was all. That robot returned Geordi’s fire. Geordi dodged the blast, and fired
again. The robot fell down. All heat signatures disappeared from the robot. It was deactivated. “One
down, nine more to go.”
Worf set his phaser to wide beam to encompass all the robots, and fired. The robots shook a little
bit, then advanced towards Worf. He fired again. The robots staggered. He fired yet again. Half of the
robots fell to the floor, while the other half stood still, shaking wildly. Energy beams emitted from all of
them, striking wild locations. Unfortunately, one of the wild beams hit Ensign Craig, who vaporized
instantly.
Riker fired four phaser blasts, one for each robot. They all fell to the floor. The team relaxed, and
lowered their phasers.
“It would be prudent to contact the Enterprise,” Data said.
“Good idea,” Riker replied. He slapped his commbadge. “Riker to Enterprise.”
No response.
“Riker to Enterprise.”
Again, no response.
Data looked at his tricorder. “Another energy field has materialized around the building.
Communications nor transporter beams can penetrate it.”
Riker gave a sigh of disbelief. “They must have been real paranoid.”
“They might have had good reason, Commander,” Data said. “After all, the existence of all the
dronium particles-”
“I know, Data.”

Captain Picard was instantly alert. Contact with the away team had been lost, and a mysterious
energy field had materialized around the beam in point.
“Captain, sensors are detecting the launch of two dozen spacecraft,” Lieutenant Sheer, who was at
tactical, announced.
“Go to yellow alert,” Picard ordered. “Prepare to take evasive action.”
Twenty-four small spacecraft erupted from Planet Four’s atmosphere. They resembled small
pyramids. Each craft had the same color: black. The only reason Picard couls see them on the main viewer
was because of computer enhancements.
“They are arming what appears to be weapons systems,” Sheer reported.
“Go to red alert. Ensign Crusher, evasive maneuvers.”
“Aye, sir,” both Sheer and Crusher acknowledged. The red alert Klaxons wailed, while the
Enterprise went through a series of complex evasive maneuvers. On the main viewer, orange energy beams
emitted from the spacecraft and chased after the ship’s course.
“Fire full power phaser beams at the enemy craft,” Picard ordered.
This time, Sheer didn’t acknowledge Picard. Instead, he just fired the phasers. The blasts directly
his their targets. All nine enemy spacecraft that were targets were destroyed. Then, Sheer got a better idea.
“Why don’t we fire photon torpedoes, sir, and have each one strike a different target?”
Picard nodded. “Make it so.”
Sheer fired the photon torpedoes. After they were launched, Sheer gave each of the ten torpedoes
a different target. The torpedoes obediently went after their targets. The spacecraft took evasive action, but
the torpedoes’ onboard computer was more advanced than the enemy spacecraft’s. The torpedoes struck
their targets in rapid succession. Each of the targets were destroyed.
“Five enemy craft left, Captain,” Sheer reported.
“Then fire an additional five torpedoes,” Picard said.
“Aye, sir.”
As Sheer fired the torpedoes, three energy beams struck the Enterprise. The shields were knocked
down to eighty percent. The damage to the Enterprise itself was minimal, however. Sheer gave each of the
torpedoes a target, and then awaited further orders.
Picard watched each of the torpedoes strike their targets. The threat from the enemy spacecraft
was eliminated. “Damage report.”
“Shields are at eighty precent, damage is minimal, no casualties,” Sheer reported. “Damage control
teams are already working on repairs.”
“Work on figuring out how to disrupt the energy field surrounding the beam-in site.”
“We can try a duonetic pulse.”
Troi made a comment. “That might hinder what the away team is doing.”
“The dounetic pulse will dissapate along with the energy field,” Sheer said.
Picard considered the situation. “Do it.”
“Yes, sir.” Sheer manipulated the tactical station for a minute, then said, “Ready to emit the
pulse.”
“Emit.”
A white energy beam emitted from the Enterprise’s main phaser bank. Picard impatiently waited
for the results. He was not happy with them.
“No effect, sir,” Sheer said.
Picard got out of the command chair. He turned to Sheer. “Are there any other alternatives?”
“None that I know of, sir.”

Data went over the scans of the energy field again. He was beginning to think that using a phaser
would be necessary. “I believe that using a phaser may be necessary, Commander.”
“Agreed,” Geordi said.
Riker nodded. “All right.” He unholstered his phaser, set it to sixteen, and aimed at the energy
field. “Here goes nothing.” He fired.
At first, nothing happened. Then, they heard the sizzle reminiscient of one of their own force fields
going out of existence.
“Our attempt has been successful,” Data noted. “The tricorder now detects an exit from this area
spanning the entire portion of the presumed wall. The next section is a series of power generators.”
Riker nodded again. “Worf, you go first. I’ll go second. Data, you take the rear.”
“Aye, sir,” the other team members said in rapid succession. They took up their positions. Geordi
took the initiative and went behind Riker.
“Let’s go,” Riker ordered. “Though first, I’ll try to contact the Enterprise again.” He slapped his
commbadge. “Riker to Enterprise.” Still no response.
“The energy field around this complex is still online,” Data reported.
“We’ll try to shut it down at the power generators’ section,” Riker said. “Let’s go.”
The team proceeded into the next section.

“Still any luck, Mr. Sheer?” Picard asked.
“No, sir,” Sheer reported. “I still don’t think it would be wise to fire a phaser beam at the energy
field, because the beam might hit the building if the field dissapates in the wrong way.”
Picard considered all available alternatives. “It’s our only choice. How much power can be safely
transfered to phasers for the beam?”
Sheer shook his head. “I would estimate… forty-three percent at most.”
“Set the power to that setting, and fire.”
Sheer touched a few buttons on the tactical console. “Firing.”
Troi tightened her grip on the right arm of her chair, while Picard turned his attention to the main
viewer. The phaser beam went into the planet’s atmosphere, out of site.
“The phaser beam has eradicated the energy field,” Sheer said, “and has not even touched the
building.” He smiled.
“Don’t celebrate so soon,” Picard said, standing up. “Are you picking up the away team’s
commbadge signals?”
Sheer glanced at the tactical console. “I am sir, but they’re faint.”
“Contact Commander Riker.”
Sheer touched a button. “Comm channel established.”
Picard nodded. “Number One, are you all right?”
“Yes, sir. We’re now going through a facility full of power generators. A while ago, we were
attacked by robots, and Ensign Craig was vaporized. The rest of us are uninjured, sir.”
“How long do you think it will take you to reach the operational computer system?”
“About an hour, sir. This facility is claustrophobic.”
“Picard out.”

Lieutenant Worf struggled through the uncharacteristically small passageway. After that, there was
a small intersection before them. The intersection was dark, like the rest of the godforsaken place, with the
only light coming from small consoles that were on the walls. This intersection, however, had a small,
brightly lit console standing in the center of the intersection.
Riker, Geordi, and Data followed Worf into the intersection. Geordi examined the console closely.
“Data, this is odd. Let’s check it out.”
“Agreed,” Data said. He scanned the console with his tricoder. “I cannot ascertain its function, as
we do not yet understand the language. However, if I were to hypothosize on its function, I would say it is
a control panel for a transporter.”
Riker got a surprised expression on his face. “A transporter? How can you be so certain?”
“We are now standing on a transporter pad.”
Riker looked down at the floor, and up at the ceiling. “I don’t see anything.”
“The flooring of this intersection looks just like the flooring in all the other sections. However, the
actual material is reminiscent of our own transporter pads.”
“He’s right,” Geordi said, looking down at the floor. He took out his tricorder, and scanned the
transporter pad. “I wouldn’t recommend using it unless we absolutely have to, though.”
“I concur,” Data said.
Riker took out his own tricoder and scanned the vicinity. “I don’t think we have much of a choice.
The other three corridors lead to dead ends, and we can’t go back the way we came.”
“How would we use the transporter if we do not understand the language?” Worf spoke up.
“I can use my tricorder to bypass the control panel and just initiate actions,” Data said.
“How can you determine where we will beam to?” Worf asked.
“All indications are that this transporter is permanantly set to one location: the main computer
room.”
“We have no choice,” Riker said. “Data, beam us out.”
“Aye, sir.” Data began manipulating the transporter components with his tricorder. He met limited
success at first, but then the components started to cooperate. “Initiating transport.”
Before Data could finish his sentence, robots appeared at the far ends of each of the surrounding
corridors. Riker fired his phaser, still set on maximum, twice into each corridor. The robotic threat ended,
for the moment.
“Get us out of here before more show up,” Riker said.
“Energizing,” Data reported.
The team dematerialized slowly. Before the process was complete, Worf saw an energy beam
racing towards his location. The beam crossed through Worf’s position just before he dematerialized
completely.

The team materialized in the main computer room. Immediately after that, Worf slumped to the
ground. Data scanned Worf with his tricoder.
“How is he?” Riker asked.
“Not well, sir,” Data said. “He requires medical attention.”
One bad thing after another, Riker thought. Out loud, he said, “Can we call for a beam up?”
“I’m afraid that we are too far underground,” Data said. “We would need pattern enhancers.”
“Underground?” Riker asked. “You didn’t say anything about the computer center being
underground.”
“That is because our readings of the location were slightly retarded by the emissions from the
power generators. I didn’t realize that the main computer room was underground until now.”
Riker nodded. “Well, let’s find out what we need to know, and get out.”
“I’m with you, Commander,” Geordi said.
Data redirected his tricorder scans towards the surrounding room. “First, I will need to activate the
light sources.”
“Please,” Riker said.
Data fiddled with the tricorder for a moment, then the room lit up. The lights were a fluorescent
green. With the lights on, they could see that the room was a fairly large one. In the center of the room was
a black, large pole rising from the floor to the ceiling. It bore no markings or lights whatsoever. This was
all old news to Geordi, who said, “It sure is the weirdest looking computer I’ve ever seen.”
“Can you download a language archive, Data?” Riker asked.
“Attempting to do so now, sir,” Data said. He paused for a moment, his tricorder still in the air.
Then, the lights started to flicker.
“What’s going on?” Riker asked.
“I do not know,” Data said. Then, everything returned to normal. “I have successfully
downloaded a language archive. Feeding the archive into our Universal Translators.” Data paused for a
moment, again. “Done.”
“Ask why there are dronium particles surrounding Planets Two and Three,” Riker ordered.
“Acknowledged.” Data manipulated his tricorder for a moment, then stopped. “The memory bank
has very little information. Besides the language database, it has only ten relatively short files. Attempt to
download the files?”
“Go ahead.”
Data touched a button on his tricorder, and stood motionless for a few seconds. It seemed like an
eternity to Riker. However, after those few seconds, Data reported, “Files downloaded.”
Riker nodded his acknowledgement. He slapped his commbadge. “Riker to Enterprise.”
“Picard here.”
“We have downloaded all the information in the memory banks into Data’s tricorder. The main
computer chamber is underground, so we will have to return to the power generation facility. Also, Worf
needs medical attention.”
“I will inform Doctor Crusher. Meanwhile, didn’t you say it would be an hour?”
“It is a long story, sir. I’ll give you a report when we get back.”
“Very well, Commander. Picard out.”
Riker tapped his communicator, switching it off. “Are we all on the pad?”
Geordi looked down at the ground. He scooted to the left a little bit. “Now we are, sir.”
“Then energize, Mr. Data.”

The away team materialized at the same place they beamed away from. Conditions were different,
however. This time, the corridors surrounding the intersection were full of robots. And they were coming
towards the away team.
Riker frantically slapped his commbadge. “Four to beam up, emergency transport!”
The team dematerialized.

Picard stood up quickly when he heard the turbolift doors open. He was relieved to see Riker and
Data stride out of them. “Report.”
“We have gotten what was left in the aliens’ memory databanks. In the proccess, though, we
alerted some sort of security system. The place is infested with robots by now. I wouldn’t recommend
sending another team down there unless it was heavily armed.”
“Something similar happened up here. We were attacked by small craft guided by artificial
intelligence. Not very smart, though.”
Riker and Data took their positions. Data automatically began touching buttons on his operations
console. Picard and Riker looked at Data patiently as he did so. Then, Data stopped.
“What do you have?” Riker asked.
“Nothing specific, sir,” Data reported. “However, the information from the memory banks makes
frequent mentions of `command center’ and `Vraris’.”
Wesley Crusher joined the conversation. “Vraris? Isn’t that mythed to be around System H-19?”
“You are correct, Wesley,” Data said.
“I’ve never heard of it,” Picard commented.
“It is believed to be the capitol of the ancient Garthusian Empire. The existance of that empire has
never been proven, but it has often been mythed about by cultures surrounding the Seraris Regions.”
Picard began to have a look of understanding. “Of course, the Garthusian Empire. Supposedly the
most powerful of presences in this part of the galaxy in the distant past.”
“Unfortunately, there is very little other knowledge of the Garthusian Empire, not even in myth.”
Picard considered the options for what seemed like the millionth time today. “Mr. Crusher, lay in a
course for System H-19, warp nine.”
“Course laid in, sir,” Crusher reported.
“Engage.”
The Enterprise sped towards the center of myth and legend, the center of power for one of the
most powerful empires of all time…

CHAPTER THREE

Captain’s log, stardate 44112.3. After investigating Planet Four in System A-25, the Enterprise is
now on a course for Vraris, which is believed to be in System H-19. Vraris is the mythed home of the
mythed Garthusian Empire, which was supposedly the most powerful presence in this section of the galaxy
in the distant past. It is unknown just how distant this past is, but it is speculated to be more than five
thousand years ago.

Captain Picard looked at his weary-looking chief of security. “Are you all right?”
“I am able to serve,” Worf said.
Picard had to smile at that. He looked at Doctor Crusher. She nodded her agreement. “All right,
then. Mr. Worf, report for duty.”
“Yes, Captain.” Worf walked exited sickbay. Picard soon followed.

Commander Riker jumped out of the command chair as he was Picard and Worf enter the bridge.
“One hour till Vraris, Captain.”
Picard nodded as he took his seat in the command chair. “Good.” He looked in Ensign Crusher’s
direction. “Increase to warp factor nine point two.”
“Aye, sir.”
Riker looked to see that Worf had taken tactical, then took his own position. “Why the speed
change, sir?”
“Just to get there a little faster,” Picard replied. “Ensign, what’s our ETA now?”
Crusher checked his console. “Fifty minutes, sir.”
Data turned around. “You have only removed ten minutes from our estimated time of arrival,
Captain.”
“I needed something to do,” Geordi La Forge said as he entered the bridge. He took the
Engineering station. “Now that we’re just under the red line, I have something to do.” He turned his
attention to the console.
Data shook his head in the way that indicated he was proccessing information. “I see.” He turned
back to his duties.
Picard turned back to Geordi. “Are you happy, Commander?”
“Very happy, now,” Geordi said.
Picard noticed Worf’s eyebrows shoot up. “What is it?”
“Long-range sensors detecting a vessel on an intercept course!” Worf reported.
“Is it in visual range?”
“Not yet.”
Picard got out of the command chair. “Hail it.”
Worf touched several buttons on his console. “No response, sir.”
Picard raised an eyebrow this time. “Data, report.”
Data rapidly touched multiple places on his console. “It is sphere-shaped, sir. Composed of pure
carbon neutronium. Multiple weapon arrays. Mass is nineteen thousand kilotons. I cannot get any more
specific than that at this point.”
Picard turned back to Worf. “Is it in visual range yet?”
“Yes, sir.”
“On screen.” Picard whirled around to face the main viewer. A huge, sphere-shaped vessel was
being presented. The vessel was colored a dark gray, with purple spots dotting the hull that Picard guessed
were weapon arrays. The vessel was almost half the size of a Borg cubeship. Thinking of the Borg made
Picard sick. He stumbled for a moment, but quickly regained control.
“They are arming weapons!” Worf reported.
“Red alert!” Riker ordered.
The red alert Klaxons sounded throughout the ship. Picard ordered the accursed noise turned off.
“Full power to defensive systems. Ensign Crusher, evasive maneuvers.”
Neither Geordi nor Crusher replied. They just did what they were told.
“Hail them again,” Riker said.
“Still no response.”
Data turned around to face the captain. “Sir, our weapons are useless against carbon neutronium.
I recommend that we retreat.”
“We’ll keep that option open,” Picard said. “Can you determine the status of their propulsion
systems?”
Data scanned the enemy again. “They are pursuing us at warp nine point six.”
“Then we’ll do better. Mr. La Forge, maximum warp.”
Geordi gave a sigh of disbelief. His contmpt was apparent in his voice. “Whatever you say, sir.”
For a moment, the Enterprise seemed to be winning the speed battle. However, Data reported:
“Our speed is warp nine point nine, theirs is warp nine point nine nine nine.”
“Powerdown in five minutes!” Geordi called.
“Drop to impulse,” Picard ordered. “Course seven mark eight, bearing 134 mark 3.”
The Enterprise slowed to impulse, while the enemy vessel was still in subspace. They overshot the
Enterprise by two light years.
“Prepare multiple Picard Maneuvers,” Picard ordered.
“Multiple, sir?” Crusher asked.
“You heard me.”
Crusher gulped as he set to his task.
“Alien vessel is approximately one point nine eight light yeas away,” Data reported. “They are
preparing warp engines.”
“Ready, sir,” Crusher said.
“Engage!” Picard ordered.
While the enemy vessel was still at sublight speeds, the Enterprise warped right next to the enemy
vessel, went away, and came back again, repeating continuously, all at warp eight. At this point, there were
a dozen Enterprises hopefully appearing on enemy sensors.
The pink weapon arrays lit up. They began firing pink energy blasts at the Enterprises.
“Our attempt has been successful, sir,” Worf reported. “Their tactical sensors are locking onto the
fake starships.”
“Do this until we have been foiled,” Picard ordered Crusher. “Mr. Worf, what type of energy
weapons are they using?”
“Disruptor energy, Captain.”
“Similar to any we know of?”
“No.”
Picard nodded. He turned to Data. “Make a thourough sensor scan of the enemy vessel. I want to
know everything we can know about it.”
“That would be impossible, sir-”
“Just try, Data.”
“Acknowledged, sir.”
Picard turned his attention back to the main viewer. The disruptor blasts were becoming more and
more on target.
“I think they know our secret, sir,” Riker noted.
“Agreed, Number One. Ensign Crusher, drop to impulse at our original position.”
“Aye, sir.” Crusher took the ship to sublight speeds at their original position: two light years away
from the enemy vessel.
“They are going to warp,” Data reported. Just after he said that, the sphere appeared on the main
viewer. The ship resumed blasting away.
“Sir,” Geordi said, “all them Picard maneuvers took their toll on our systems. To keep the
defensive systems up, I might have to cut into life support.”
“Do whatever you need to do,” Picard ordered. He sat back down in the command chair. The ship
rocked under repeated impacts. “Hail them.”
This time, they responded. They only allowed audio, though. “SURRENDER!”
Picard was taken aback at this blunt approach. “I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation
Starship Enterprise. We intend no harm.”
“YOUR INTENTIONS DO NOT MEAN ANYTHING TO US. SURRENDER OR DIE!”
“If you are upset because we might have violated your space, we will leave-”
The aliens cut the communication channel.
“Nice fellow,” Riker commented sarcastically.
Picard considered his options. He didn’t have very many. The aliens were faster than they were,
and had an unpenetrable hull. Unless… “Mr. Data, can we beam something through the weapon arrays?”
Data considered it. “Excellent idea, Captain. The weapon arrays are not made of carbon
neutronium… it is concieveable that we could beam photon torpedoes into their vessel through one of the
weapon arrays.”
“If we get that close and lower our shields, we’re toast,” Riker said.
“It is our best chance of success,” Data said.
“Make it so,” Picard ordered.
Data concentrated on his task. “I request control of helm, tactical, and transporter systems.”
“Take control of whatever you need to.”
Data turned his absolute concentration onto the task at hand. The Enterprise went on a course for
the rear end of the vessel. Picard thought that what Data was doing was ridiculous, because there were so
many weapon arrays that were closer, not to mention firing disruptor blasts at them, but he assumed Data
knew what he was doing, so Picard didn’t say anything.
The Enterprise rocked under four disruptor blasts hitting them at once. “Damage report,” Picard
requested, looking up at Worf.
“Shields are down to eighty percent, sir,” Worf reported. “Minor damage to decks nineteen
through twenty-one. Thirty casualties reported.”
Picard nodded his acknowledgement. He turned his attention back to the main viewer. The
Enterprise had reached the rear area of the enemy ship. The view from this side was different from the view
on the other. This time, a large blue strip lined the middle section like an equator. That was the only thing
different, though. This side still had the same dark gray color and the same pink weapon arrays. Data was
piloting the Enterprise to the weapon array located nearest the blue strip.
“I sure hope he knows what he’s doing,” Riker whispered to Picard.
“He does,” Picard whispered back. “He does.”
The Enterprise was rapidly approaching the weapon array. The blasts started hitting the ship
harder. The enviromental console in the back exploded. Fortunately, no one was manning that particular
console at the moment.
“Shields at sixty percent,” Worf reported.
The Enterprise was now practically hovering over the weapon array. The array spat out disruptor
energy every second, causing the crew to grab onto handholds to keep from falling onto the deck.
“Any suggestions on how to lessen the impact of the disruptor blasts?” Picard asked.
Crusher seemed to think for a moment. “We could lock a tractor beam onto the weapon array.”
“I concur,” Data said.
“Do it,” Picard said.
Worf touched several buttons on his console, then a blue beam emitted from the Enterprise’s main
tractor emitter. It locked onto the array perfectly. The blasts now seemed like little tremors compared to
the big earthquakes they were having.
“Commence transporting of torpedoes,” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir.” Data’s hanced danced rapidly across his console. “Shields are down, commencing
transport.”
After Data said that, the big earthquakes started again. The crew once again took handholds.
Stations all over the ship exploded. Picard felt his arm rests get hot. He leaped from his chair just before
sparks began flying from the small button pads on his arm rests. The ship rocked again, and he fell to the
deck.
“Captain!” Riker said, jumping up.
Picard regained his footing, and grabbed a hold of Data’s chair. “I’m all right.”
Riker got a worried expression on his face, and returned to his seat.
“Transporting complete, sir,” Data said.
“Disengage tractor beam and raise shields!” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir.”
“Acknowledged, sir.”
Picard climbed back into the command chair. “Detonate the torpedoes, then get us out of here!”
“Detonating torpedoes, sir,” Data said. “Laying in a course for a safe position.”
The Enterprise vaulted away from the enemy ship. As the photon torpedoes detonated, Picard saw
the weapon array explode, then the weapon arrays near it exploded. The big blue strip then was consumed
in a surge of power, then the blue strip turned into a dark gray strip, undistinguishable from the rest of the
ship.
“Report,” Picard ordered.
“The detonation of the photon torpedoes has disabled their propulsion systems, sir,” Data said.
“We are now free of pursuit.”
Picard nodded. He got up, and turned to Geordi. “Damage report.”
Geordi turned his attention away from the Engineering console. “Shields are at forty-two percent,
sir. Major damage to decks fifteen through twenty-three, and minor damage to decks five through eleven.
Damage to the warp drive has rendered our safest maximum warp to warp factor seven point three six. The
thrusters have been knocked out. We can only get half impulse out of the impulse engines.”
“Acknowledged.” Picard sat in the command chair. “Recommendations.”
“Going to Vraris seems pretty crazy right now,” Riker said. “If that ship was Garthusian-”
“Commander, the odds of the unidentified vessel being Garthusian are nearly nine million to one,”
Data said.
“It still is a possibility.”
“Some of the repairs are going to have to be done in drydock,” Geordi said. “I recommend we
high-tail it back to Starbase 123.”
“I’m with Geordi,” Crusher said.
Picard considered his options. “Staying here is not an option. We are also considerabely disabled.”
He paused. “Mr. Crusher, lay in a course for Starbase 123 at warp factor six.”
“Course laid in, sir.”
“Engage, Ensign.”
Crusher pressed the engage button, and the Enterprise sped back towards the last outpost, Starbase
123.

CHAPTER FOUR

Captain’s log, stardate 44114.9. After engaging in battle with an unknown starship while en route
to Vraris, the Enterprise is warping back to Starbase 123 because of heavy damage. We do not detect any
signs of pursuit within our sensor range.

Captain Picard got out of the command chair. He turned to face Worf. “Lieutenant, hail
Commander Zuskoe.”
Worf pressed a button on the tactical console. Zuskoe’s face appeared on the main viewer. This
time, his hair was parted to the right, and it wasn’t so shiny. He had a worried expression on his face. “Can
we expect an alien invasion anytime soon, Captain?”
Picard frowned. “I honestly don’t know. I am going to suggest to Starfleet Command that they
send twenty starships to this sector just in case, and I want to take five starships to investigate Vraris.”
“These days, that’s a lot to ask for,” Zuskoe said. “You missed things while you were gone, Jean-
Luc. The Romulans are making increasingly aggressive moves against us. We’ve got fifteen starships
patrolling the Neutral Zone. And, considering Wolf 359…”
Picard suppressed a shudder. “I know,” Picard said, harried. “However, this threat is potentially
more serious. Their ships have carbon neutronium hulls, weapon arrays scattered all over their hulls that
shoot disruptor blasts, maximum warp speed which is higher than anything we’ve got…”
This was Zuskoe’s turn to suppress a shudder. “Well, you can submit your request to Starfleet, but
with the Romulans and all… we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Picard nodded. “We’ll be docking in fifteen minutes. Picard out.”

Later that night, Picard finally got around to hailing Starfleet Command. During the day, constant
reports on the Enterprise and its crew members demanded his attention. Only now did he have time to try
to get his request in.
Admiral Jordan’s wrinkled face appeared on the monitor. “Yes, Captain Picard?”
“Hello, Admiral. Let me get down to the point: we need to prepare for a possible alien invasion
from the Seraris Regions.”
Jordan frowned. “We just repelled a Borg invasion, the Romulans are asking for war, and now
aliens from the Seraris Regions who might come and invade. Just splendid. What do you know about
them?”
“They have spherical ships roughly half the size of a Borg cubeship. Their hulls are made out of
carbon neutronium. Scattered all around their hull, they have weapon arrays that shoot disruptor blasts.
Their maximum warp is many times our own. They have no shielding that we know of.”
Jordan frowned even harder. “What do you suggest?”
“I suggest that Starfleet assign twenty starships to patrol this sector. I also want to take a task
force of five starships, including the Enterprise, to Vraris.”
Jordan raised an eyebrow. “You’ve managed to locate Vraris? You most certainly accomplished a
lot in a short time.” She then got back onto the subject of assigning starships. “I will send ten starships to
patrol the sector, and three starships for your task force. That’s the best I can do.”
Picard nodded, and managed to keep the disapproval out of his voice. “Acknowledged, Admiral.
Picard out.”

Counselor Troi strode through the promenade on Starbase 123. The starbase most certainly felt
and looked like it was on the frontier: a bar, a casino, a shop, and that was all. The food tasted frontier as
well: Gronian mushballs, Huschk formons, Brunun biscuits, and Jordas kleeberworms. None of these foods
suited well with Troi. She hungered for chocolate.
“Not a very popular place,” Doctor Beverly Crusher noted of the bar. Only ten people were in
there, and none of them were human. Most of them were from races they had never seen before.
“I can understand why,” Troi replied. “The bar doesn’t serve human food, and most of the
station’s population is human.”
Crusher laughed. “Be thankful you don’t serve at this starbase, Deanna. The lack of chocolate
would drive you nuts.”
Troi was made even more hungry by the mention of chocolate. “The starbase’s replicators serve
human food, including chocolate, right?”
“There are only a very few human food selections,” Crusher said. “Chocolate is not among them.”
Troi got an ugly expression on her face. “This has got to be the strangest starbase I’ve ever been
to.”
Crusher smiled. “It’s strange, yes, but it’s not like the Federation outpost on Argania…”
Troi got a quizzical expression now. “Tell me about that outpost.”
Crusher was about to begin explaining when their commbadges beeped. “This is Captain Picard.
Repairs aboard the Enterprise are nearly completed. All personnel, report to the ship.”
Troi got an expression of glee on her face. “Good. My chocolate reserves are nearly dry.”
Crusher laughed as they headed for the airlock that led to the ship. “Well, you’d better stock up
now, before we go back into the Seraris Regions…”
Troi’s expression darkened. “I know.”

Captain Picard sat in the command chair. He touched a button on his right armrest that activated
the intercom. “Comamnder La Forge, report.”
“We’re ready to go, Captain,” Geordi’s voice came back. “All systems are as good as new.”
“Good work,” Picard said. “Picard out.” He turned to Ensign Tilda, who had taken over Wesley
Crusher’s position at the conn. “Ensign, take us out.”
“Taking us out, aye, sir,” Tilda said as she concentrated on her console. “Thrusters responding.”
Picard looked at the main viewer as he heard the Enterprise disengage locking clamps. The ship
sped towards the bay doors. They weren’t opening.
“Mr. Worf, ask Commander Zuskoe why the bay doors aren’t opening,” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir,” Worf acknowledged.
Picard waited for the answer while the Enterprise continued on its course. After a minute, he
ordered the ship to all stop. “Well, Lieutenant?”
“Commander Zuskoe is reporting that the power conduits to the bay doors are malfunctioning,”
Worf reported. “His engineers are already working on it.”
Picard nodded. “Get Commander Zuskoe on the screen.”
Zuskoe’s face appeared on the main viewer.
“Is this a fairly regular occurrence, Commander?”
Zuskoe nodded. “Happens every once in a while. We have requested new conduits from Starfleet,
but haven’t gotten any yet.”
Picard sighed. “How long until the power conduits are repaired?”
“Anywhere between two and three hours. There are an awful lot of power conduits for the bay
doors.”
“Acknowledged, Commander,” Picard said in a frustrated tone. “Picard out.”
“Zuskoe out.”
Picard was about to get out of the command chair when Counselor Troi said, “Can I see you for a
moment?”
Picard nodded as he got out of the command chair. “In the ready room.”
Picard and Troi walked into the ready room. The doors whooshed shut behind them.
“Captain, you’re worried,” Troi said.
“Of course I’m worried,” Picard replied. “We have powerful unknowns who might invade us, and
we have Romulans who want war. I think that’s a pretty good reason to be worried.”
“That’s not all of it.” Troi sat down in the guest chair. Picard sat in the captain’s chair.
“What else is it?”
“You tell me.”
Picard turned to the window behind his desk. “The Borg nearly destroyed us. These aliens are
most likely more powerful than the Borg. If they launch an invasion…” He shuddered.
“We can repel them,” Troi responded, with a worried tone in her voice. “Our disabling of that one
ship proves that.”
Picard turned back to Troi. “We disabled their propulsion systems. Who knows how many
starships it will take to actually destroy one ship? And who knows how many ships the enemy has? Also,
what if that was just a small scout ship?”
“That is a possibility,” Troi said. “But we repeled the Borg, and a century ago, the Furies. We can
repel this enemy.”
Picard raised an eyebrow. “The Furies? They had a powerful ship, but according to Kirk, no
strategy. The Furies had no battle experience. What if these aliens do have battle experience?”
“Then we will deal with it,” Troi replied. “It’s okay to be worried, but don’t let it control your
destiny.”
Picard got out of his seat. “I most certainly will not let it.”
“Good.” Troi said, getting out of her own seat. “Just remember: we can repel this enemy.”

Captain Picard sat down in the command chair. “Are the power conduits repaired?”
“Commander Zuskoe reports yes,” Worf reported.
“Then take us out, Ensign Tilda.”
“Taking us out, aye, sir,” Tilda replied. The Enterprise moved from its stationary position to the
bay doors. This time, the doors began to open. The blackness of space lay beyond.
The ship exited the starbase. Three Revolutionary-class starships were waiting for the Enterprise.
“The Lexington, the Concord, and the Ticonderoga are reporting, sir,” Worf reported.
Picard stared at the huge starships on the main viewer. These ships were in between Ambassador-
and Galaxy-class starships in the class system. The Revolutionary-class starships were named to honor the
American Revolution, and only names associated with that revolution could be tagged onto a Revolutionary-
class starship. The line of ships had a goos track record as well: one Revolutionary-class starship, the
Independence, had been destroyed. That starship was lost with so many others at Wolf 359. Picard was
sickened at the bitter reminder.
“Captain, are you all right?” Troi asked from his left.
“Quite fine, Counselor,” Picard replied. He smiled and stood up. “Ensign, all stop. Mr. Worf, hail
the Lexington.”
“Stopping the ship, aye, sir.”
“Yes, Captain.”
A red-haired young woman appeared on the main viewer. She had the most dazzling blue eyes, and
was quite attractive. She immediately looked at Commander Riker. “You couldv’e had this chair, you
know…”
“Don’t remind me,” Riker said. “If I knew who Command was going to put in charge of the
Lexington, perhaps I would have accepted the captaincy.”
The Lexington captain’s eyes bore into Riker’s. “You’re never going to forgive me for that, are
you?”
“Don’t count on it.”
Picard looked from Riker to the other captain. “Have you two met before?”
“Unfortunately, yes, Captain,” Riker said.
Picard decided not to pry. “Down to business. Lexington captain, is the fleet ready?”
She rolled her eyes. “Of course it’s ready. We haven’t been sitting around here for the past two
hours doing nothing. The name’s Grayson, by the way.”
Picard stared at Captain Grayson harshely. “All right, Captain Grayson. One more thing: do you
make a habit of smarting off to more experienced officers?”
Grayson was taken aback. “Me? Smart off? You’re dreaming, Captain Picard.”
Picard gave a long, heavy sigh. He got the feeling that he wasn’t going to like Grayson very much.
“Grayson, watch out. Picard out.”
After the main viewer returned to the view of space, Picard returned to his command chair. He
then began giving orders. “Mr. Worf, order the other starships to lay in a course for Vraris at a speed of
warp nine.”
“Aye, sir.”
“Ensign Tilda, engage the warp nine course for Vraris.”
“Engaging the course for Vraris, aye, sir.”
As the Enterprise went to warp, the other starships followed.

CHAPTER FIVE

Captain’s log, stardate 44115.2. The Enterprise, the Lexington, the Concord, and the
Ticonderoga are now on a course for the hypothosized location of Vraris. I have the feeling that I am
leading my crew into a death trap.

Captain Grayson gazed out the Eight-Forward front window. The view of space was the most
beautiful from this spot. She thought so, anyway. She wasn’t sure what everyone else thought, because she
was relatively new to the ship.
“Enjoying the view, Captain?” hostess Lydia Parker asked. She took the only other seat at
Grayson’s table.
“I suppose so,” Grayson replied, still gazing out the window.
Parker stared at Grayson, concerned. “What’s on your mind?”
Grayson turned to Parker. “I… just can’t stop offending people. I try so much not to, but I keep
on doing it. I have no friends.”
Parker still had that concerned look. “Obviously you have some friends. You do have command of
the Lexington, after all.”
Grayson smiled a little. “I suppose. However, I just wish I can just keep my mouth shut…”
Parker rose from her seat. She smiled a little, too. “Be careful what you wish for, Captain. You
just might get it.”
Grayson rose as well. “Are you an amateur counselor, by chance?”
“No, Captain. But I’m pretty sure my friend Guinan on the Enterprise is. I learned a lot of stuff
from her.”
Grayson didn’t reply to that. Instead, she said, “It was nice meeting my Eight-Forward hostess.
Good-bye.”
Parker bowed. “May the Force be with you, Captain.”
Grayson grinned. “That’s Star Wars, isn’t it?”
“Right, Captain.”
“That was a great trilogy, if scientifically inconsistent.”
“It doesn’t have to follow the laws of science to be great, Captain.”
Grayson nodded. “I agree.” She decided not to take up any more of the hostess’ time. “Bye.”
She rushed out of Eight-Forward before Parker could say anything more.

Lieutenant Commander Data monitored his Operations console. The Enterprise was operating at
optimum efficiency. He also focused on the sensor readings. They indicated nothing that warranted much
attention. But then, something interesting did show up on the sensors: a dense field of dronium particles one
million kilometers ahead of the starship. “Captain, dronium particles ahead. ETA is thirty seconds.”
Picard leapt from his chair. “Ensign Tilda, all stop!”
This time, Tilda didn’t bother replying. She just touched a button on her console. “All stop, sir.”
Data glanced at his board. “The dronium particles are five hundred kilometers in front of us.” He
then noticed something else. “Sir, the Ticonderoga and the Lexington went through the field of dronium
particles. They have suffered heavy damage.”
“Is there any way we can dissapate the dronium particle field, Mr. Data?” Picard asked.
“The majority of the field dissapated when the Ticonderoga and the Lexington went through it,
Captain.”
Picard nodded. “Hail the captain of the Lexington.”
“Their communication systems are down,” Worf reported.
“Then try the Ticonderoga.”
A young face appeared on the screen. His face was dirty with a huge cut going down his right
cheek. He only had the pips of a full commander.
“Where is your captain, Commander?” Picard demanded.
“He was in Engineering,” the commander said, his voice full of sorrow. “We have lost all contact
with Engineering.”
Picard surveyed the portion of the bridge that was shown on the main viewer. The bridge was lit
only with emergency lighting. The red alert klaxons were going off. Technicians were scrambling about.
“Do you require assistance?”
The commander nodded his head. “Yes, sir.”
Picard sat down in the command chair and activated the intercom. “Engineering, the Ticonderoga
needs assistance. Commander La Forge, assemble a team.”
“Yes, Captain,” Geordi’s voice said.
“Sickbay, Doctor Crusher, assemble a team to beam to the Ticonderoga.”
“Aye, sir,” the doctor’s voice acknowledged.
“Thank you, Captain,” the commander temporarily in charge of the Ticonderoga said.
“Your welcome, Com-”
Captain Grayson’s face appeared on the right half of the main viewer, and the commander’s face
shifted to the left. Grayson’s face was as dirty as the commander’s, her hair was a mess, and she had a slight
cut on the forehead. The Lexington’s bridge was in the same condition as the Ticonderoga’s. “I hope you
don’t mind if I butt in.”
The commander frowned. Picard sighed.
“Nothing makes your attitude go away, does it, Captain?” Riker asked.
Grayson sneered. “I am now a superior officer, Riker. I could give you a reprimand and put you
on report for such a remark.”
“Not a superior officer, Captain Grayson, but a higher-ranking one.”
Grayson took on an expression of fury. “All right, Riker! You asked-”
Picard put up his right hand. “Not now. Captain Grayson, do you need assistance?”
Grayson looked surprised. “Of course we need assistance,” she said matter-of-factly.
“We’re tied up with the Ticonderoga,” Picard replied. “The Concord is available.”
Grayson nodded, then winced. “All right, Enterprise. Lexington out.” The commander filled the
screen once again.
“Commander Patterson on the Ticonderoga out.”
“Chief O’Brien to Captain Picard, the medical and engineering teams are ready. Awaiting your
order, sir.”
Picard nodded at no one. “Energize, Mr. O’Brien.”
“Aye, sir,” O’Brien’s Irish voice replied. “Transport successful.”
Picard got out of the command chair. “Commander Data, why weren’t we so heavily damaged
when we went through that field of dronium particles prior to our arrival at Starbase 123?”
“The field wasn’t as dense, sir.”
Picard nodded. “Mr. Worf, scan for any signs of any alien vessel within sensor range.”
“None within sensor range, Captain,” Worf reported.
“Very well.” Picard made his way to the ready room. “Number One-”
“Alien vessel entering sensor range!” Worf reported. “It matches the configuration of the one we
encountered before.”
“Battlestations,” Picard ordered. He went to sit in the command chair as the red alert sirens wailed.
“Hail them.”
“We are getting a response, sir. Speakers only.”
“HUMAN CAPTAIN, SURRENDER YOUR FLEET OF STARVESSELS OR DIE!”
Picard frowned. How could the aliens know that they were called humans? They would have to
investigate that later. “Alien vessel, this is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the United Federation of Planets. We
mean you no harm. Our mission is of exploration, not conquest.”
“YOUR MISSION IS IRRELEVANT. THE STARVESSELS OF YOUR FLEET WILL BE
SURRENDERED TO US, OR YOU WILL BE DESTROYED.”
“You won’t take us without a fight,” Picard responded.
“FOOLISH. PREPARE TO DIE.” The aliens closed the channel.
Picard sighed. “Do the Lexington and the Ticonderoga have a chance, Lieutenant?”
“No, sir,” Worf said.
Picard rubbed his chin with his right hand for a moment. “Then we will have to go and meet it.
Data, ETA of the enemy?”
“One minute at present velocity, sir,” Data reported.
“Ensign Tilda, lay in an intercept course at maximum warp. Mr. Worf, tell the Concord to do the
same thing.”
“Laying in an intercept course, aye, sir.”
“Yes, Captain.”
Picard stared at the main viewer. The alien starship wasn’t visible yet. He held out his hand, and
pointed forward. “Make it so.”
“Making it so, aye, sir.”
The field of stars suddenly transformed into multicolored streaks flashing by. A light on Data’s
console flashed. “Visual range, sir.”
“On screen.”
The dark gray sphere appeared at the dead center of the main viewer. It was getting bigger by the
second.
“Is that the same one?” Picard asked Data.
Data touched some buttons on the Ops console. “The dimensions are precisely the same, sir.”
Picard nodded. “Mr. Data, do you think the tactic we tried before will work again?”
Data scanned the enemy vessel. “Affirmative, Captain.”
“Can you determine where we should beam in the torpedoes to destroy the enemy vessel?”
“The carbon neutronium prevents me from getting accurate information.”
“Can you hypothosize?” The alien ship was getting closer on the screen.
“My hypothesis is that if we beam twenty photon torpedoes into each of these tubes,” Data said as
the alien ship was magnified and two weapons tubes on opposite sides along the bottom were highlighted in
red, “and detonate them, the Threat force will be destroyed. I am seventy-four point thirty-nine hundredths
percent sure that destruction will occur.”
“We will beam torpedoes into one tube,” Picard said, “and the Concord will beam them into the
other. Mr. Worf, inform the Concord of our plans.”
“Aye, sir,” Worf said.
“Data, you will control the maneuver again.”
“Acknowledged, Captain.” Data changed the configuration of the Ops console to the one he had
used to attempt the maneuver before. “I am ready.”
“Very well,” Picard said. “ETA?”
“Five seconds at present velocity.”
“Slow to impulse,” Picard ordered.
“Slowing to impulse, aye, sir,” Tilda acknowledged.
The stars of normal space returned. The alien ship flickered for a moment to Data, but a normal
person would not have noticed it. The person would have assumed that the ship had come out of warp
simueltaneously. Data’s superior vision, however, saw otherwise. The starship had appeared in normal
space one millionths of a second after the Enterprise did. Data thought of this as he heard Picard say, “All
stations, prepare for… a Data Maneuver.”
Data raised his eyebrows. “Captain, it was your idea.”
“You perfected the maneuver, Data. Are all stations prepared?”
Data accepted the explanation as all stations reported ready.
Picard nodded. “Commander Data, engage.”
Data keyed into helm control, and put the Enterprise on a course for the weapon array on the port
side of the alien vessel. He kept his primary attention on navigation as the enemy fired disruptor blast after
disruptor blast at the Enterprise and the Concord. Most of the blasts hit their targets.
“Shields are at eighty percent!” Data heard Worf report in the background.
Data attempted to evade as much of the blasts as possible, while still maintaining a course for the
port weapon array. The ship was thirty seconds away from the target. The Enterprise shook with little
tremors until the ship reached its destination.
“Commencing the transporting of photon torpedoes,” Data reported. Everyone held their breath as
Data initiated a tractor beam, lowered the shields, and commenced transporting. “The process will require
ten seconds to complete.”
The tremors, meanwhile, escalted into quakes. A console in the aft section of the bridge exploded,
throwing the charred remains of Lieutenant Parseia over the tactical console and Worf to the command
section just before the command chair. Picard looked horrified at the site. “Sickbay, medical emergency on
the bridge.”
Data noted that everything was going considerably well so far. That changed, however. Seven
seconds into the process, he detected a torpedo being launched from the weapon array just above them. It
was aimed at the tractor beam. “Incoming torpedo.”
Picard slapped the shipwide intercom. “All hands, brace for impact!”
The process completed before the torpedo arrived. Data instantly raised the shields. He noted that
they were operating at twenty-nine point fifty-three hundredths percent power. It might not be sufficient to
protect them from a torpedo blast. He initiated an evasive maneuver.
It was too late, though. The torpedo struck three seconds after the process stopped. The conn and
several stations aft exploded, killing the people manning them. The turbolift doors opened, admitting
medical personnel. They stared in horror at all the dead bodies.
Data returned Ops to its normal red alert state. “Control restored to all stations except for conn.”
Picard nodded. “Get us out of here!”
Data engaged a course that led away from the enemy vessel at full impulse. The blasts and the
quakes continued at a rate worse than before. Data estimated that they would have to take the punishment
until the Enterprise was nine thousand kilometers away. The estimated time of arrival was thirty-seven
seconds.
The medics finished with the corpses. They put them on advanced gurneys, and with the gurneys
went into the turbolift.
“Captain,” Data said, still paying attention to his navigating, “I believe we can safely detonate the
torpedoes now. We will be at a safe distance when the enemy has been completely destroyed, resulting in
shock waves.”
“Do what you feel you need to do, Commander,” Picard said.
“Aye, sir.” Data sent the signal to detonate the photon torpedoes. The Concord did the same.
After five seconds, the bottom half of the ship was glowing with electricity. After ten, the entire ship was
glowing. All the pink weapon arrays shut down. After twenty seconds, the ship exploded. Shock waves
emanated from the explosion. By this time, however, the Enterprise and the Concord were safely out of
range. “Maneuver successful, sir.”
Picard grinned a little. “Well done, Commander Data.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
Picard activated the intercom. “Engineering, damage report.”
“Lieutenant Williamson here, sir. The shields are at nine percent. Due to damage to the warp
drive, the safest maximum warp factor is six. Impulse power has been knocked down to a max of half
impulse. Major damage to decks nineteen through twenty-five. Minor damage to decks eleven through
thirteen. Holodeck systems rendered inoperative. Phasers are at a maximum of seventy-five percent power.
And, finally, life-support is at eight-two percent.”
Picard sighed. He hadn’t realized that they were damaged this badly. “Estimated time for repairs?”
“Two days, Captain.”
Picard frowned. “Get to work immediately.”
“Right away sir. Engineering out.”
“Sickbay, casualty report.”
“Doctor Selar here, sir. Twenty dead, thirty in critical condition, seven minor injuries.”
“Acknowledged, Doctor. Picard out.” He thought for a moment. So much damage and so many
injuries. The Borg were worse, though. He still couldn’t shake the thought that this enemy might be more
powerful than the Borg, though.
“Captain,” Worf said, “Concord, Captain Robertson, is hailing us.”
Picard looked at the main viewer. “On screen.”
A middle-aged man appeared on the main viewer. He had gray hair and a wrinkled face. “Captain
Picard, how do they know that we’re humans?”
“I don’t know,” Picard answered. “Commander Data?”
Data twitched his head a little, which indicated he was processing information. “They might have
downloaded information from our computers over the communications channel.”
“Wouldn’t we have been warned?” Worf asked.
“They obviously have technology superior to ours. They might have found a way to deactivate the
warning systems.”
“If that was true, why didn’t they deactivate everything?” Riker asked.
“They might have an honor system similar to the Klingons,” Data offered, glancing at Worf. “That
might prevent them from using some of their advantages.”
Robertson spoke up. “I don’t think so. These people remind me of the Borg. They just sit there
and fire. They also access our computers.”
“Either way, we have a dangerous foe on our hands,” Picard said. “Mr. Worf, hail the
Ticonderoga.”
This time, another man filled the main viewer. He had a large bloody gash on his forehead, one on
his right cheek, and another on his chin. His face was dirty as well. His hair was gray, like Captain
Robertson’s. “This is Captain Frike of the Ticonderoga. I’m sorry I couldn’t talk to you earlier.”
“Captain, how are repairs coming along?” Picard asked.
“Just fine and dandy. Your Geordi La Forge says that repairs will be complete within three days.
Besides that, your teams are ready to beam out.”
Picard nodded. “Inform them we’re on our way. Picard out.” Frike’s image winked out.
Picard made his way to the ready room as the aft turbolift doors opened. Ensign Wesley Crusher
strode to the conn, and sat down. “Ensign Crusher, lay in a course for the Ticonderoga, best speed.”
“Aye, sir.”
“Senior staff meeting at twelve hundred hours in the observation lounge,” Picard said. He entered
the ready room.

At twelve hundred hours, all the senior officers were in the ready room. “All right,” Picard said,
“Mr Data.”
“The alien race clearly has technology superior to ours,” Data said. “As the hulls of their ships are
constructed of carbon neutronium, however, I cannot say how superior. What I can say is that they are a
dangerous foe, along the scale of the Borg. We believe that they have already accessed our computers
without our knowledge. The information they might have retrieved puts the entire Federation at risk.”
Crusher spoke up. “Wouldn’t the Data Maneuver work again?”
“In all likelyhood, it will not, Doctor.”
Geordi said, “Data, why do they still use electricity?”
“It is very similar to electicity, but it is more advanced than electro-plasma.”
“What is your analysis of the disruptor energy?” Riker asked.
“It is not of a type we know of, Commander. It is more advanced than the disruptors encountered
by the Federation as of yet.”
Picard cleared his throat. “Data, do their ships have any other weaknesses?”
“None that I could detect.”
Picard’s commbadge chirped. “Picard here.”
“The starships Yamamato and Samurai from the Velusion Sector have arrived,” Sheer said. “They
are bringing repair crews to assist in repairs.”
Picard frowned. “Who contacted Starfleet?”
“They claim that you contacted Starbase 123 and requested assistance in repairing the Enterprise.”
“I made no such request.” Picard’s frown darkened. He looked around the table. “Duty stations.”
The senior personnel filed out of the observation lounge.

CHAPTER SIX

“Lieutenant Worf, I want continual sensor scans of every cubic milimeter within sensor range,”
Picard said, sitting in the command chair.
“Aye, sir,” Worf said, taking over the tactical station.
“Sir,” Data said, “that would take approximately-”
“Data, he knows what I mean,” Picard said.
“Affirmative, sir.” Data turned back to his Ops station.
“Worf,” Picard said, “tell the Yamamoto and the Samurai that we would welcome their assistance.”
“Yes, Captain.”

Captain’s log, stardate 44116.9. With the Yamamoto’s and the Samurai’s help, Commander La
Forge estimates repairs on all starships in the fleet will be completed within the day. After repairs are
complete, we will investigate the mysterious transmission to Starbase 123 that requested help.

“La Forge to bridge,” the intercom said, “repairs on all starships are complete.”
“Very good, Commander,” Picard said.
“Thank you, Captain. Sometimes I amaze even myself. La Forge out.”
Picard smiled for a moment. “Worf, did sensors pick up anything unusual in the last twelve hours?”
“Nothing, sir,” Worf reported.
“Then let’s lay in a course for Vraris, Ensign Crusher.”
“Course laid in, sir,” Wesley Crusher acknowledged. “Speed, Captain?”
“Warp nine point two.”
“Aye, sir.” Crusher inputed the intructions into the conn.
Picard leaned forward. “Make it so.”
Ensign Crusher didn’t acknowledge him. He just touched the engage button. The view on the
main viewer transformed from one of immobile stars to one of multicolored streaks flashing by.
“The Lexington, Ticonderoga, and the Concord are following,” Data reported.
Picard rose. “Number One, you have the bridge. I’ll be in my ready room.”
“Aye, sir,” Riker said, sitting in the command chair. “We’ll let you know if we find anything.”
Picard didn’t comment. He entered the ready room.

Picard finished going over every ounce of information Starfleet had on the Seraris Regions. Only a
tiny fraction was based on facts; the rest was on myth and legend. No species had ever reported contact
with any of the race the Enterprise was now encountering.
His commbadge chirped. “Picard here.”
“Sensors are detecting five enemy ships,” Worf reported. “They are on a direct course for Starbase
123.”
Picard shuddered. Starbase 123 didn’t stand a chance without help. And the fleet led by Picard
wouldn’t stand a chance, either. “Send an encypted subspace transmission informing them of the threat.”
“Aye, sir.”
Picard got up and walked into the bridge. “Yellow alert.”
There was a slight beeping noise. Bright yellow lights lit up throughout the ship.
“They should have us on their own sensors now,” Worf said.
“What are they doing?” Picard asked.
“Speed and course unchanged.”
Picard got out of the command chair. “Ensign Crusher, be ready for evasive maneuvers.”
“Aye, sir.”
“We are being hailed,” Worf reported.
“Put them on,” Picard ordered.
“FEDERATION STARVESSELS, IF YOU ATTEMPT TO INTERVENE, WE WILL DESTROY
YOU. THIS IS YOUR FIRST AND FINAL WARNING.”
Worf looked at his console. “Channel has been closed.”
Picard stared at the main viewer. “Data, are the vessels in visual range?”
“They will be in one minute,” Data replied.
“What is their speed?”
“Warp factor nine point nine nine seven five.”
Riker whistled. Picard frowned. Data was neutral, as usual.
“Extreme visual range,” Data said.
“On screen, full magnification.” Five dots the size of periods appeared on the screen. They were
almost indistinguishable from their surroundings. Then, suddenly, they were gone. “Data, what just
happened?”
“They increased speed to warp nine point nine nine nine nine.”
Picard’s frown got deeper. Then, Worf’s report only compounded matters. “They are sending a
subspace message to Starbase 123.”
“Let’s hear it,” Picard ordered.
“This is Captain Picard of the Enterprise,” a voice just like Picard’s said. “There is no longer an
alien threat. I repeat, there is no longer an alien threat. The situation is under control. Picard out.”
Picard got mad. “Data, is that voice indistinguishable from mine?”
“No, sir. Zero and nine one hundred billionths percent difference.”
“Devise a way for the computer to set up a warning system for fake voices, install it in our
computers, then send it to the other ships and Starfleet.”
“Aye, sir.” Data busied himself at the Ops board. His fingers danced across the console faster than
any human’s could. “Program complete and installed on our ship’s computers. Transmitting the program
now.”
“Include this: This is Captain Picard of the Enterprise. The alien threat remains. I repeat, the alien
threat remains. The previous transmission has been faked by the aliens. The attached program will help you
decipher the difference. Picard out.”
Data nodded, and attached Picard’s message. “Transmitting now.”
The voice of the aliens’ suddenly thundered over the speakers. “WE TOLD YOU NOT TO
INTERVENE. YOUR ATTEMPT TO REPEL OUR OFFENSIVE IS IN VAIN. WE WILL PREVAIL.
YOUR DEFENSES ARE USELESS AGAINST US.”
“They weren’t so useless when we disabled and later destroyed your other ship,” Picard replied.
His voice reflected his irritation. “I think-”
“IRRELEVANT. YOUR CIVILIZATION WILL EITHER SURRENDER OR BE
DESTROYED. THERE ARE NO OTHER ALTERNATIVES.” The aliens paused for a moment. They
heard chirping in the background. “RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”
Picard broke out in a sweat. The aliens knew just where to strike him. “Resistance is not futile.”
“IT IS. WE WILL PROVE IT WHEN WE DESTROY STARBASE 123.” The channel closed.
“They are exiting sensor range,” Worf reported.
Picard was still sweating. He sat in the command chair. Riker looked at him, concerned. “Are you
all right, Captain?”
“Yes, Number One.” Picard faked a weak smile. “Don’t worry.”
Riker still had a concerned look on his face. He saw right through Picard’s smile. He said nothing
of it, though. “If you say so, sir.”
Picard turned away from his first officer, and towards the main viewer. The multicolored streaks
were still going by. What? Picard thought he’d ordered them out of warp. He guessed he hadn’t.
“Captain,” Troi said, “why don’t you get some rest. You haven’t done that in the last twenty-four
hours.”
Picard nodded. “I think you’re right.” He got out of the command chair, and headed for the aft
turbolift. “Number One, you have the bridge.”

Picard looked at the bridge on the viewscreen. Rather, he was forced to look. “If you attempt to
intervene, we will destroy you.”
The Vulcan captain strode to his command chair. “Arm photon torpedoes, ready phasers.”
Not again! Picard thought. He jumped back to consciousness. He was in his quarters, on the
Enterprise, not on a Borg cubeship. He was in a cold sweat. He hadn’t had one of these dreams for weeks.
The door chime rang. Picard checked the chronometer. Four hundred hours. What was anyone
doing up at this hour? “Come.”
Counselor Troi strode in. “I sensed strong fear and anger from you in my sleep.” Troi looked at
Picard. “Want to talk about it?”
Picard turned away. He stared out into space. “I haven’t had a Borg dream in weeks. Why are
they starting again now?”
“Why do you think?” Troi asked.
Picard looked at Troi again. “These enemies… they know exactly what to do, exactly what to say,
to strike me hard. There’s no telling what else they couldv’e downloaded from our computers.”
“That’s a valid concern,” Troi acknowledged. “But you can’t let that concern dominate your
decisions.”
“I know.” Picard got up and walked to the replicator. “You want anything?”
“No thank you, Captain.”
Picard nodded. “Tea, Earl Gray, hot.” The cup of tea materialized on the replicator platform.
Picard picked it up and took a sip.
“Captain, just remember: this enemy can be repeled, just like we repeled the Borg. In a sense, the
Borg were more powerful than them. We repeled the Borg, and we can repel this one.”
Picard looked at her. “I will try to keep that in mind. Good night, Counselor.”
Troi still looked concerned, but didn’t voice it. She just said, “Good night, Captain.” She exited
Picard’s quarters.

Commander Riker arrived on the bridge early. Data got out of the command chair and took his
seat at Ops. “We are fifteen minutes two seconds away from Vraris, Commander,” Data reported.
Riker sat in the command chair. He activated the intercom. “Senior staff, fifteen minutes away
from Vraris. Man your duty stations.”
Two minutes later, Worf and Troi walked out of the turbolift. They took their places on the bridge.
Captain Picard was no where to be seen.
“Where’s the captain?” Riker asked.
“He’s coming,” Troi said.
Five minutes later, Picard walked out of the turbolift. Commander Riker vacated the command
chair so Picard could sit there. “All hands go to yellow alert,” Picard ordered.
The condition lights lit up with an amber color. The alarm system gave a loud beep.
Picard activated the intercom. “Picard to La Forge, prepare for absolute maximum warp.”
Geordi’s disapproval showed in his voice. “Captain, the engines will automatically shut down in
ten minutes at maximum warp. Not to mention that the rest of the ships in our fleet only have a warp factor
nine point seven maximum warp.”
“I am aware of that, Commander,” Picard replied. “Prepare for absolute maximum warp.”
Geordi hesitated. “Aye, sir. Engineering out.”
Picard got out of the command chair and walked up to the front section of the bridge. “Mr. Data,
what would are ETA be at absolute maximum warp?”
Data checked his console. “Five minutes, sir.”
Picard turned to the officer manning the conn, Ensign Merrek. “Ensign, make it so.”
The Vulcan touched several controls. The background hum of the engines grew louder, and the
multicolored strips of light on the viewscreen began to go by at a faster rate. “We have achieved absolute
maximum warp, sir,” Merrek reported. “Nine minutes and fifty-seven seconds till power-down.”
Picard nodded and sat back down in the command chair. “Data, I want you to examine that star
system as thoroughly as we can from this distance.”
Data’s hands danced across the Ops console as fast as his android body would allow. “From this
distance, I can ascertain that there are twenty planets orbiting a type G star. I will report more information
as it becomes available.”
Picard turned to face his first officer. “Commander, I want you to prepare a possible away team for
beam down to Vraris.”
Riker nodded. “Very well. Worf, Data, Geordi, and Merrek are going for sure. Mr. Worf, assign
a security officer of your choice to accompany us on the away team.” Riker got out of the first officer’s
chair. “I’ll wait until we are within transporter range.”
Picard turned to face the main viewer. “ETA, Mr. Data?”
“Three minutes twenty seconds.”
“Time until power down, Merrek?”
Merrek checked her console. “Eight minutes and twenty-eight seconds, sir.”

Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge scanned the readouts on the matter-antimatter reactor in
his office. The reactor wasn’t showing any sign of strain. That would change soon, though. “Reg?”
The nervous engineer came up behind Geordi. “Yes, sir?” Lieutenant Barclay asked nervously.
Geordi waved at the blinking consoles in front of him. All hell was breaking loose already. “Keep
a close watch on the warp engines and the reactor, and tell me if anything happens.”
“Right.” Barclay took Geordi’s place as Geordi rushed to the master systems display, which
basically was a large table in the middle of Main Engineering with tons of readouts. Geordi checked the
fusion power reactors. These were showing signs of strain. He tapped his commbadge. “La Forge to
bridge.”
“Picard here, go ahead, Mr. La Forge.”
“The fusion reactors are showing signs of strain. We can’t keep this up much longer.”
There was a pause. “Mr. Data, what’s our ETA?”
“Fifteen seconds,” Data replied in the background.
Just then, Geordi heard an urgent beeping. On the ship display, a section of the EPS conduit
system providing power to the engineering section was flashing a bright amber. If they didn’t do anything
soon, the conduit would rupture. “Ensign Miller!”
“Yes, sir?” Miller asked, coming up behind Geordi.
“Shut down the power flow to that conduit,” Geordi said, pointing. Miller started her task as
Geordi rushed back into his office. “Reg, notify me if the matter-antimatter containment field fluctautes
even a fraction of a percent.”
“Yes, sir,” Barclay said, closely studying the status of the matter-antimatter reactor.
“Shut down complete!” Miller called. The lights began to dim. The flashing lights on all the
consoles weren’t as bright.
“All right,” La Forge acknowledged. “Bridge, we’re having problems down here. We might need
to shut down early.”
“I heard,” Picard replied. “Data, ETA?”
“Entering the solar system now, Captain.”
“You may drop out of warp now, Mr. La Forge.”
Geordi gave a sigh of relief. “Thank you, sir.”
“And, Commander, you’re on the away team in twenty minutes. Picard out.”

Captain’s log, stardate 44118.6. The Enterprise and the fleet of ships following her have reached
the Vraris system. Lieutenant Commander Data is beginning initial scans now.

“Sensors are not detecting any dronium particles in this system,” Data said. “There is nothing that
would impede our movement except for an asteroid belt in the area between the fourth and fifth planets. It
should be relatively easy to navigate through, however.”
Picard nodded. “Where do you hypothosize Vraris is?”
“The only class-M planet in the system in the third planet.”
“Then lay in a course for the third planet, Ensign Merrek,” Picard ordered. “Full impulse power.”
“Aye, sir.” Merrek’s fingers danced across the conn. “Course laid in.”
“Engage.”
Merrek touched the engage button. “Course engaged, sir.”
Data assimilated the information reported by his Ops console quickly. “Sensors are detecting an
operational computer system, similar to the type we encountered at System A-95. The atmosphere of the
planet is an exact match as well.”
Riker whistled. “The Garthusians were obviously far more advanced than we are now.”
Data’s head twitched for a moment. “Sensors are also reading operational disruptor banks and
shield systems. They have been used fairly recently.”
Picard frowned. “Are you detecting life-signs?”
Data checked. “No, Captain.”
Picard got out of the command chair. “Number One, while you’re down there, make sure you find
out why those systems were used recently.”
“Acknowledged, Captain.” Riker stood up. He slapped his commbadge. “All away team
personnel, report to transporter room three.” Riker, Data, Worf, and Merrek piled into the turbolift.

The away team materialized in the outdoors this time. The sky was blue without a cloud in the sky.
Trees with healthy green tops stood all around. Blue grass covered the ground, while huge black buildings
surrounded the Starfleet officers. They were in the shape of spheres. Green tubes halfway up the height of
the buildings connected them. It was a pretty sight.
Something was terribly wrong, however. Humanoids were walking all around them. They were
approximately four feet tall, with thin arms and legs. They were the color gray, with huge black eyeballs on
their faces and a small slit for a mouth. Data realized that a record of this species existed in his memory
banks: these were the Grays from twentieth century Earth mythology. They supposedly abducted hundreds
on humans beings in a hundred year period from 1932 till 2032. After that, no more abductions were
reported to the authorities and media. They were long since forgotten about.
A group composed of seven Grays stopped to look at the away team. The large eyeballs made
slight movements as they examined the strangers before them. Riker cleared his throat. “I am Commander
William Riker of the Federation Starship Enterprise. We are on a mission of peace and exploration.”
The Grays did nothing to indicate that they understood what was being said to them. Instead, a
saucer-shaped craft appeared above them. It locked some sort of tractor beam on the away team. It paused
all senses and awareness. It then sucked them into the craft.

Data’s senses and awareness returned. He opened his eyes. He was in a brightly lit room that was
pure white. The intensity of the light would have hurt a human’s eyes, but Data’s android eyes were
unaffected. There were approximately twenety Grays in the room with him. The room was quite large.
Data sat up.
The Grays all looked at Data. The ones who were working on other matters stopped what they
were doing. Data hypothosized that they were curious as to how he managed to sit up.
[It is not like the others,] Data heard in his mind. [It is not organic, but artificial.]
“I am an android,” Data replied.
The Grays didn’t react. [What is an… android?]
“An artifical life-form,” Data said. “I have consciousness and sentience, just like the others, except
I am not organic.”
[I see. We must make use of this… android.]
“What do you mean?”
The Gray who was communicating didn’t answer him. Data simply shut down.

Riker awoke at the same spot he was standing before. The details were still fuzzy, but he could
remember weird little aliens surrounding him. He surveyed his surroundings. Everything was the same
except for the fact that this time, there was no one around. He didn’t care. He just wanted to get back up
to the ship. He felt terrible. “Riker to Enterprise. Beam us up.”

Picard gazed sternly at his first officer. “What’s the matter with you, Number One? You spend
eight hours down there, making no reports, and come back up with absolutely no information. Explain
yourself.”
Riker looked as if he was concentrating hard. “I… don’t remember. I only know that, one minute,
we were standing there and humanoids were surrounding us. The next minute, the aliens were gone, and I
was feeling terrible, so I called for a beam up. That’s all I remember.”
Picard frowned. “We’d better get everyone on the away team to sickbay.” He pressed the
intercom button on his ready room desk. “All away team personnel, report to sickbay for testing. Picard
out.”
Riker stood up. “Going down there now, sir.” He made his way for the door.
“I’m going with you,” Picard said. Riker and Picard exited together.

One hour later, Doctor Beverly Crusher was done with all her tests on the away team personnel.
She had them all sit on the diagnostic beds, for the moment. She faced Picard. “Captain, these people must
have been experimented on. There is an unusually high count of hipocantotine in their blood.” Beverly
noticed Picard had a blank expression on his face. “It’s an agent produced by hyperimaging scanners.”
Picard still looked blank. “The point is, these people were experimented upon using dangerous scanners. If
the hipocantotine count gets too high, it could mean death…”
Beverly motioned to Data. “We picked up numerous anomolies in Data’s programming, but he
insists he’s just fine and dandy.”
Picard walked up to where Data was sitting. “Why would they detect anomolies if there are none?”
“I don’t know, Captain. Perhaps they’re equipment is malfunctioning.”
Picard considered this. “Doctor, run tests on all your equipment. See if there’s anything wrong
with-” Picard noticed a worried expression on the doctor’s face. “What is it, Beverly?”
“He used contractions. Data never uses contractions.”
Data’s head twitched. “Perhaps the Grays gave me the ability to use contractions. I don’t know.”
“Then find out,” Picard ordered. “Find out exactly what the anomolies are and neutralize them.”
“I’ll need Geordi’s help,” Beverly said.
Geordi stood up. He walked over to where Picard and Data were. “Sure, Doc.”
Picard nodded. “Are the rest of them free to go?”
“Yes,” Beverly stated.
“Good.” Picard turned to the away team members. “Man your stations.”

Captain Picard looked at the main viewer. Captain Grayson was still a smart alec, as usual. “What
did your team find?”
“Well, you know the aliens in the huge ships you encountered? They’re the Garthusians.”
Picard was shocked. The mood of everyone on the bridge changed. Troi had a worried expression
on his face. Riker looked equally worried. Only Worf didn’t look affected. “This would probably be
consistent with Garthusian behavior. Myth and legend shows that they were militaristic. Your worries are
probably equally wrong. The Garthusian Empire was eliminated nearly four thousand years ago. I doubt
they are anything to worry about.”
“You’re wrong, Lieutenant. The Garthusians have been building up their fleet. They have an
almost bloodthirsty desire to regain their former power,” Grayson said.
“Why didn’t the aliens abduct your team?” Picard asked.
“I have no idea. I just know that they didn’t. Commander Richards has described the mission as
one of the most boring mission he’s ever led.”
Picard turned to Worf. “Inform Starfleet of our findings.”
“Aye, sir.” Worf got to work.
“Grayson out.” The main viewer returned to a view of Vraris.
The turbolift doors opened. Data, Beverly, and Geordi strode onto the bridge. The crew looked at
them. “I can’t find a thing really wrong with him,” Beverly said, motioning towards Data.
Picard frowned. “What about the anomolies?”
“They just disappear whenever I begin to examine them closely,” Geordi said.
“I’m just fine, Captain,” Data said.
Picard considered the situation. “All right. Data, take Ops. If you feel anything out of the
ordinary, go down to sickbay right away.”
“Certainly, sir,” Data said. He quickly relieved the officer manning Ops. “Orders, Captain?”
Picard sat in the command chair. Geordi and Beverly exited the bridge. “Right now, we attempt to
contact the Garthusian government and try to make a peace.”
“It would most likely be futile,” Data replied. “In all other communications, they’ve made it clear
that they wish to take over or destroy the Federation.”
Picard looked at Data strangely. “They never said that implicitly, Mr. Data. We know that they
want their empire back, but they never expressed any wish to go beyond that.”
“Captain,” Worf spoke up, “the Garthusians are a militaristic race. They would most certainly want
to conquer the Federation.”
“We must at least try to make peace,” Picard said. “Mr. Worf, open a channel to the planet.”
Worf scowled but did as he was told. “No reply.”
“Then make them hear us.” Picard paused as Worf complied. “This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of
the Starship Enterprise, representing the United Federation of Planets. It is our desire to make this conflict
come to an end.”
A hideous creature appeared on the main viewer. It was a gray being, with huge black eyeballs on
its face. It was quite thin. “I am Jokork Mizalonono, leader of the Garthusian race. Captain Picard, your
desires are irrelevant to us. Your weak Federation will bow before the might of us. As will all races who
stand in our way. Manifest Destiny will be satisfied. For your foolish incursion into our system, you will
die. Out.”
Picard cursed as Mizalonono’s image disappeared. He noticed Data busy at his console. “What is
it, Data?”
“A most puzzling event. Several of the asteroids in the asteroid belt are now being read as
starships! Ten of them!”
“Red alert,” Riker ordered. The alarms started sounding.
Picard frowned at Data’s emotion. “Data…”
“I am quite all right,” Data replied.
Picard decided not to pursue the matter further, especially not with this crisis. “Can we warp away
before they reach us?”
“No, sir,” Data responded. “The outer edge of the system is full of dronium particles!”
So they’ve been doing it all along, Picard thought. “Well, we most certainly can’t stand up against
these ships. Warping away is our only option. Ensign Merrek, take us to the outer edge of the system, warp
three.”
Riker’s eyebrows shot up. “Inside a solar system?”
“We haven’t much choice, Number One,” Picard said. “Engage!”
Merrek engaged the course. The Enterprise reappeared in normal space several seconds later at
the system’s outer edge. “Data,” Picard said, “find any holes in the dronium field.”
“I will try,” Data said, beginning his task.
Picard got out of the command chair and paced the bridge while Data tried to find a hole. Before
that hole could be found, though, Worf reported, “Ten starships off our starboard bow. The other captains
have informed us that they will follow our example.”
Picard raced back into his command chair as the enemies began firing. “Mr. Worf-”
“Hole found!” Data said excitedly. “Engaging warp drive!” The Enterprise and her fellow
starships warped away from the Vraris system.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Captain’s log, stardate 44209.9. Five days after our encounter with the Garthusians at Vraris, the
Enterprise, Lexington, Ticonderoga and Concord are on a course for Starbase 123.

“We are thirty seconds from Starbase 123,” Data announced cheerily. Data then suddenly frowned
at his board. “Sensors are detecting evidence of a battle. Heavy concentrations of nadions, suggesting
heavy use of phasers, and heavy concentrations of positrons, suggesting heavy use of Garthusian-style
disruptors.”
“Slow to impulse,” Picard ordered. “Status of Starbase 123 and the fleet?”
“There is a heavy concentration of debris at the former location of the starbase,” Data said.
“Starbase 123 has been destroyed. I am also reading concentrations of debris suggesting four Excelsior-
class starships and one Ambassador-class starships were destroyed as well.”
“Almost the whole fleet,” Riker whispered. “Half of it, anyway.”
Picard scowled at the findings. The Garthusians cut through their defenses like scissors through
paper. “What about the other five starships?”
“They are not within the sector,” Worf reported.
Picard stood up and went to the aft section of the bridge, just behind Worf. “Contact the nearest
starship outside our fleet, Leiutenant.”
Worf touched several places on the tactical console. “Starship Ariel on speakers, sir.”
Picard nodded. “This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise. Have you seen the five
remaining starships of the defensive fleet leave the Velusion sector?”
“This is Captain Williams. Not at all, Captain Picard.”
Picard cursed under his breath. “What about the five enemy starships?”
“We monitored four of them enter our sector,” Williams said. “Admiral Jordan has ordered us not
to engage them.”
“What is their course?”
“They are heading for the colony on Pineiro Thirteen at warp factor nine point nine nine nine. They
will be there in five minutes. A task force of six starships is waiting for them.”
“Judging by the evidence here, that won’t be enough.”
“I know. But Starfleet has ordered us not to engage the enemy.”
“I’ll see what I can do about that. Picard out!” He made his way for the ready room. “Mr. Worf,
get me Admiral Jordan on the double!”
“Aye, sir.” Worf touched his console in several places. “She’s on your ready room screen.”
Picard entered his ready room.

“Captain,” Jordan said, “we just received your information on the enemy aliens, the Garthusians.
Excellent work, Picard.”
Picard grimaced. “Admiral, are you taking the threat at all seriously?”
“Most certainly.” Jordan smiled. “I am assembling quite a fleet of ships to meet them at the
Feronium system. Fifteen Federation starships, and the Klingons have agreed to send some as well.”
“What about the colonists on Pineiro Thirteen?”
“They have been warned that the Garthusians are coming. Anyone who wants to evacuate can.”
Picard scowled. “Picard out.”

Captain Franklin watched the four approaching dots on the main viewer. The red alert sirens
howled in the background. Tension was high everywhere on the ship. He raised an eyebrow as the ships
began to get more pronounced. “They’re sure fast.”
“They will arrive in fifteen seconds,” the tactical officer, a Vulcan named Corrik, reported.
Franklin bit his lip. “Hail them,” he ordered nervously.
“Aye, sir,” Corrik acknowledged. “No response.”
“Force it.”
“Forced, sir.”
“This is Captain Benjamin Franklin of the Federation Starship Legacy. You have made several acts
of aggression against us and have violated our space. Withdraw immediately.”
No response came from the enemy starships. Franklin waved up his hand, signaling the channel
should be cut. “Order the Hornet to fire several warning blasts at the approaching ships.”
Corrik nodded. “They are doing so now, Captain.”
“Change to a view of the Hornet,” Franklin said. He watched the Miranda-class starship fire
several phaser blasts several kilometers from one of the enemy starships’ hulls. The enemy dropped out of
warp, and all four starships fired disruptors at the Hornet. Franklin didn’t need to be told that the Hornet
was suffering.
“Their shields are down to forty-six percent,” Corrik said. “They have damage on all decks.”
Franklin kept his eyes on the main viewer. He could see the Hornet limp forward, towards the
enemy ship farthest to the right. “What are they doing?” he barked.
“Commander Vistril is informing us he intends to ram the starship,” Corrik said. “They are
engaging warp drive.”
Franklin’s eyes never left the Hornet. It’s warp nacelles lit up, then it disappeared into subspace.
The enemy ship was still there, though. Franklin cursed under his breath. “Any damage to the enemy?”
“Hard to tell,” Corrik said. “Our sensors cannot penetrate their hull, as it is constructed of carbon
neutronium. There is no significant damage to the hull, though.”
“Why don’t you try scanning through the weapon arrays? They aren’t made of carbon
neutronium.”
“I have already attempted that. They have erected some sort of energy field which prevents
scanning.”
“Fire phasers on full power at one of the fields and see what happens.”
“Aye, sir.”
Franklin turned his attention back to the main viewer. By now, the enemy vessels had focused their
attention on the Columbia. Red phaser beams lanced out from a point underneath the viewer’s line of vision
and struck one of the weapon arrays. At that point, Franklin saw an orange cackle of energy. The beam
must have struck an energy field.
“One energy field neutralized,” Corrik said.
“All right.” Franklin got out of the command chair. “Target-”
“Computers being probed!” the Operations officer, a human named Dean, exclaimed.
“I thought that they could hide it when they did that?” Franklin said.
“It is probable that this time, they are choosing not to disclose their probing,” Corrik said, “or that
the masking technology requires open communication frequencies.”
“Find a way to stop the probing,” Franklin ordered his Ops officer. “What are they probing,
anyway?”
“Information on our defensive and propulsion systems,” Dean said, not nearly as excited this time.
“They seem to be really interested in our propulsion systems, though.”
“Why our propulsion systems?” the first officer, Commander Balboa, muttered.
“The warp drive,” Corrik answered.
“They might be trying to cause a core breach,” the conn officer, Lieutenant Davidson, said.
Franklin punched on the intercom. “Engineering, is there a warp core breach in progress?”
“Chief Engineer Vigin here, sir. No, there isn’t. Why?”
“The aliens are probing our computer systems. They are particularly interested in the propulsion
systems, and they might be trying to cause a warp core breach.”
“I’ll do my best to prevent one from happening.”
“Good. Franklin out.” He looked at the main viewer. The four enemies were closing in on the
Legacy. Their weapon arrays were a hot pink. They were obviously waiting for something. He wondered
why they didn’t just attack and be done with it. He decided to take advantage of this opportunity. “Helm,
evasive maneuvers. Don’t let them trap us.”
“Evasive maneuver pattern Riker Beta confirmed, Captain,” Davidson acknowledged. The Legacy
veered away from the enemies, and the main viewer showed their four remaining friends. So far, the
enemies hadn’t fired on them.
Franklin considered the mystery. The Garthusians had an enormous tactical advantage. He
wondered why they weren’t exploiting it. “Mr. Corrik, hail them.”
“Aye, sir.” Corrik touched several buttons on his tactical console, and then touched another series
of buttons. “I was forced to force a connection, Captain.”
Franklin nodded. “This is Captain Franklin. We still have a chance of resolving this peacefully.”
Just as Franklin had anticipated, no response from the aliens. They sure were stubborn. Then, he
decided to take a bold step. “If you do not withdraw, we will destroy you.”
That got a response. “FEDERATION STARVESSELS, SURRENDER IMMEDIATELY OR BE
DESTROYED. THIS IS YOUR FIRST AND ONLY WARNING.”
“No, Garthusian vessel. We will not surrender. If you want to destroy us, you are welcomed to
try.” Franklin tried to put a lot of confidence in his voice. He had no idea if he was succeeding.
They heard a lot of activity over the communications system. Beeps and woops were heard
repeatedly. Finally, “YOU ARE ATTEMPTING TO DECEIVE US. YOU WILL NOT SUCCEED.
PREPARE TO DIE, FOOLISH HUMAN.” The channel was cut.
Franklin sat back in the command chair. “Is there any way we can mask one of their vessels from
sensors?”
The bridge crew all put their noggins to work. Corrik came up with an answer first. “We could
enclose the vessel within a field of tetryon particles.”
“Then let’s do it.”
“Aye, sir. All vessels will be needed for this maneuver.”
“Do what you need to.”
“Yes, Captain.” Corrik bent over his tactical console, and his fingers danced speedily all across the
board. Then, he was ready. “Helm, lay in a course for nine mark two, bearing one twenty-three.”
“Aye, sir.” Davidson laid in the course. “Speed?”
“Full impulse. Engage.”
Davidson complied. The other starships also changed their positions. Two seconds later, a red
frame surrounded one vessel. “This will be our target,” Corrik said.
Franklin nodded. “Make the tetryon field so.”
Corrik didn’t reply. He just fired a barrage of phasers and photon torpedoes. Franklin leapt out of
his seat. “Corrik-”
“Initiating tetryon field… now.” Corrik touched several buttons. The enemy starship disappeared
from the main viewer.
“Where’d it go?” Balboa asked.
“The concentration of tetryon particles was great enough to conceal it from view,” Corrik replied.
“That is why all five starships were needed.” He then looked at a spot on his tactical console. “We are
being hailed.”
Franklin smiled. “Pipe it through.”
“YOU HAVE SOMEHOW DESTROYED OUR FLAGSHIP. YOU WILL GIVE US THIS
METHOD, OR WE WILL TAKE IT BY FORCE.”
Franklin scowled. Didn’t these people ever learn? No wonder their empire collapsed. “How do
you know we just won’t use the same method on your remaining ships?”
There was no reply. Just a bunch of beeps, woops, and whirs. Then, he heard the alien mutter,
“LaBeem… SokJoy?” Finally, “YOU HAVE HIDDEN OUR FLAGSHIP FROM SENSOR VIEW. WE
ARE NOT FOOLED. YOU UNDERESTIMATE GARTHUSIAN INTELLIGENCE. THIS DECEPTION
WILL NOT WORK.” Then, a pause. “PREPARE TO BE BOARDED.”
Franklin raised an eyebrow. So far, they had only expressed interest in destroying them, not
boarding their starships. “If I refuse?”
“YOU HAVE NO CHOICE.” The channel was cut.
“Captain,” Corrik said, “they are firing.”
Franklin sat back down in his command chair. The other personnel took hold of whatever they
could. Then, the purple disruptor beams poured onto the Federation starships from the Garthusian starships.
Shields crackled, consoles exploded, people screamed. “Evasive maneuvers!”
“Aye, sir!” Davidson punched franctically at the conn. “Propulsion systems down!”
“Shields are down, sir,” Corrik reported calmly.
“This sucks,” Balboa said.
Franklin scowled. Then, his bridge personnel started disappearing, one by one. Then, finally, he
was taken.

Captain Picard looked at the schematics of the battle at the Pineiro System with displeasure. The
Hornet was gone, and the other five Federation starships weren’t in much better shape. Then, the ships
began losing life-readings, one by one. It was unlike any weapon Picard had ever seen before.
“Their shields are down, Captain,” Data surmised. “Perhaps the aliens simply beamed the crews of
the starships into their own to run experiments on them.”
“It is possible,” Worf said.
Picard sat there, a grim expression on his face. “We have to see what’s going on. Ensign Merrek,
lay in a course for Pineiro Thirteen, warp factor nine.”
Riker spoke up. “Starfleet has ordered us not to go to the Pineiro System, Captain.”
“To hell with our orders!” Picard exclaimed angrily. “Engage the course and speed!”
Data turned around. “I concur with the captain. Our orders stink.”
Troi and Riker got a smile on their faces. Worf grunted. Merrek didn’t react. Picard allowed
himself a small grin. “Ensign Merrek, sometime today please.”
Merrek did as she was told. The still stars on the main viewer were replaced by multicolored
streaks passing by.
“ETA is fifteen minutes, Captain, since we took the wise precaution of being relatively close to the
system, but not getting too close,” Data said.
“Sucking up, Data?” Riker asked.
“I am not a suck-up,” Data replied. “I am offended that you would mistake me for one.”
Picard held up a hand. “Stop.” Picard looked back at Worf. “Red alert.”
The red alert sirens sounded throughout the ship.
“Let’s prepare for battle early,” Picard said. “Overstaff the bridge.”
“Ordering the bridge overstaffed, sir,” Riker said, tapping the instructions into his screen. Several
minutes later, a variety of redshirts, goldshirts, and blueshirts entered the bridge from both turbolifts. They
stood to the side of the bridge, out of the way.
“Ten minutes, Captain,” Data reported.
“Captain,” Worf barked, “the Garthusians have sent shuttles down to Pineiro Thirteen.”
Picard scowled. “Have any colonists evacuated?”
“None, sir,” Worf reported.
Picard cursed under his breath. The colonists would most certainly be murdered, or worse,
experimented on. Picard shuddered at the thought.
“Starship Ariel is contacting us,” Worf said.
“On screen.” Captain Williams’ features appeared on the main viewer. He was a middle-aged man
with wrinkled skin and gray, balding hair. He had a stern expression on his face. “Captain Williams?”
“Starfleet specifically ordered us to stay away from the Pineiro System,” Williams said angrily.
“We have to obey those orders, even if we don’t like them.”
“Captain Williams,” Picard said, “we can’t just leave the colonists on the thirteenth planet to die.
We have to do something.”
“And just what are we going to do, Picard?” Williams asked. “Six starships failed to stop them;
what makes you think two can?”
“The Ticonderoga, Lexington, and the Concord are lurking out there somewhere, waiting to help
us.”
Williams scoffed. “The addition of three starships won’t do squat. Plus, they’re in the Velusion
sector; it will take them a long time to get here.”
“Captain-”
“I’ve made my decision, Captain Picard,” Williams said. “Ariel out.”
Picard slammed both arms of the command chair. Troi looked at him, concerned. Picard stared
back. “No, I am not taking a rest this time.”
“Captain, you haven’t slept in-”
“Neither have you, Counselor!” Picard got out of the command chair. “How long, Mr. Data?”
“We are entering the Pineiro System now, sir,” Data said nervously.
“Slow to impulse, Merrek,” Picard ordered.
“Aye, sir.” Normal space returned to the viewscreen, except this time, multicolored charged
energy was floating everywhere. In the distance, five Federation starships were sitting still. Four sphere-
shaped ships were near their locations. A debris field was floating near one ship. Pineiro Thirteen could be
seen quite a distance away, with five brightly colored moons in tow.
“Take us to the planet,” Picard said. “Full impulse power.”
The Enterprise slowly went past the fields of energy and the starships, and made its way towards
Pineiro Thirteen. The four spheres didn’t make a move.
“Scan the planet, Mr. Data,” Picard ordered. “Tell me what’s going on.”
Data’s fingers danced across the Ops console at a superhuman rate. “Thirty-two flying saucers are
on the planet or flying within the atmosphere. Approximately thirty-nine thousand human life-signs are
detected, out of the orginal forty-nine thousand five-hundred and twenty-seven. One thousand life-forms
unknown to the computer are being detected as well; I believe it is safe to assume that these are Garthusians.
I request permission to enter that information into the computer.”
“Permission granted.”
Data touched several buttons on his console, then continued. “Approximately nine settlements are
completely dominated by the Garthusians. I hypothosize that the Garthusians intend to use this planet in
their conquest of the Federation.”
“I see where you’re going,” Riker said. “They’re killing all the people in the cities, and then just
taking over. That’s why they don’t just bombard the planet from orbit.”
“Correct, Commander.”
“We have to stop them,” Picard said.
“We can just destroy their saucers from orbit,” Worf offered.
“That will attract the attention of the four spheres out there,” Riker commented. “We don’t want
to do that.”
“I don’t see any other choice,” Picard said. “We cannot allow the Garthusians to take the planet.
Mr. Worf, locate and destroy the saucers.”
“Aye, sir,” Worf acknowledged. He targeted ten saucers at one time, fired phasers, and then fired
photon torpedoes. Each saucer only took one phaser blast and one torpedo to implode, which was good,
because the Enterprise could only fire ten phaser beams and ten photon torpedoes at a time. Worf then
noticed something alarming. The Garthusian spheres had indeed noticed their activity, and were moving to
intercept. “The Garthusians are moving in, Captain.”
“They will arrive in thirty seconds,” Data reported.
“Destroy as many saucers as you can before we have to break orbit,” Picard ordered.
“Yes, Captain.” Worf targeted another ten saucers, fired another series of ten phaser blasts and ten
photon torpedoes, and then targeted another ten, and repeated the process. After that, two saucers were
left.
“Fifteen seconds,” Data said.
Worf quickly targeted the remaining two, and fired. They both imploded as expected. “All saucers
have been destroyed, sir.”
“Eight seconds, sir.”
Picard punched a pair of coordinates into the keypad on the command chair’s right arm, raised his
right hand with pointer finger erected, then pointed pointed forward. At the same time, he said, “Helm,
warp one, engage!”
Merrek brought up the coordinates on the conn, set the speed, and pressed the engage button.
“Engaged, sir.”
The Enterprise sped past the Garthusian sphereships, and raced towards the edge of the system.
“Raise warp factor to nine,” Picard said.
“Aye, sir.” Merrek made the alteration to the ship’s speed, and pressed the engage button. The
multicolored streaks on the main viewer began going by faster.
“There are no signs of pursuit,” Worf reported. “We are being hailed by Admiral Jordan.”
Picard cursed under his breath. He’d been doing that with alarming frequency lately. “On screen.”
Picard got out of the command chair and walked towards the main viewer at the front of the bridge. Jordan
had an angry expression on her face. “Can I do something for you, Admiral?”
“You violated a direct order not to go into the Pineiro System. I am officially-”
“Admiral,” Picard interrupted, “the Garthusians have attempted to take over Pineiro Thirteen. The
Enterprise has prevented that-”
“You don’t interrupt a superior officer!” Jordan raged. “Now, I am officially reprimanding you for
this action. Make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Picard sighed, exasperated. “Yes, sir.”
Jordan nodded. “I’m glad we see eye to eye on this.”
Worf interrupted the conversation. “The Garthusian vessels are leaving the Pineiro System, and are
on a course for Outpost 199 on Halbson Six.”
Jordan looked upwards, towards Worf. “We will warn the outpost. Estimated time of arrival?”
Worf checked his console. “At their present speed of warp nine point nine nine nine, one hour.”
Jordan raised an eyebrow. “Sure are fast all right.” She looked down at Picard. “The Crazy Horse
and the Gorkon will intercept the Garthusians at Halbson Six. The Enterprise will lay in a course for
Kimistara.”
Picard nodded. “The closest strategic Federation planet to Halbson Six.” He turned to Ensign
Merrek. “Lay in a course for Kimistara at warp factor nine.”
“Aye, sir,” Merrek said. “Course laid in.”
“The George Washington, Pearl Harbor, Ariel, and the Aristide will meet you at Kimistara.
Jordan out.” The view returned to warp space.
Picard sat down in the command chair. “Make it so, Merrek.”
“Yes, Captain.” She pressed the engage button on the conn. The multicolored streaks shifted
around slightly, then returned to a straight course.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Captain’s log, stardate 44212.9. The Enterprise has arrived at Kimistara, along with the George
Washington, Pearl Harbor, Ariel and the Aristide. The Garthusians’ attack on Outpost 199 has not been
repeled, and the Crazy Horse and the Gorkon were found simply floating adrift in space, in similar
condition to the fleet at the Pineiro System. As of yet, we do not know the fates of the missing personnel.

Lieutenant Commander Data sat in his quarters, as he had been for many nights, pondering why the
Garthusians had given him emotions. It was puzzling. They did not seem to have any good will towards the
Federation. He wondered why they would give him special treatment.
The chime to the entrance of his quarters buzzed. “Come.”
Geordi walked in, looking tired. He had worked overtime in Engineering today. “Data, I came to
see what you were doing.”
Data stood up and walked away from his sofa. “I am still pondering why the Garthusians gave me
emotion.”
“Don’t ask me,” Geordi stated. “I can’t actually find a thing wrong with you. The only obvious
differences are your emotions, use of contractions, and your occasional use of slang words. Everything else
is unaffected.”
Data shook his head. “That is contradictory to what we know of the Garthusians. I may be
affected in a way we don’t yet realize.”
Geordi paused for a moment. “Well, we’ll deal with that when the time comes. For now-”
Commander Riker’s voice sounded through the comm system. “Red alert, battlestations!”
Data and Geordi looked at each other for a moment, then exited the room.

Picard examined the attack pattern Worf was proposing. It was frequently used by Klingon
commanders, and had all ships moving quickly at the enemy in a series of thruster and impulse maneuvers,
meant to confuse the opponent. He wasn’t convinced it would work. Picard pointed at the speed and
position of the two flanking ships. “These two would be vulnerable,” Picard said. “They could be picked
off easily.”
“The two ships in those positions are not expected to survive the maneuver,” Worf replied. “They
are meant more as… destractions.”
Picard grimaced. “Unacceptable.” He glanced towards the aft turbolift as Data entered the bridge.
He gestured to the tactical console. “Ah, Data, perhaps you could help us over here.”
“Certainly, Captain,” Data said. He walked over to where Picard and Worf were standing. “How
may I be of assistance?”
Picard motioned towards the tactical display of the Glorital Maneuver. He pointed at the two
flanking ships. “How could we modify this maneuver so that these two ships won’t be vulnerable?”
Data studied the display closely. “It cannot be done. At least two ships will be vulnerable no
matter how we modify the attack pattern.”
Picard sighed. “Thanks anyway, Data.”
“None necessary, sir. Is that all?”
“Yes.”
Data turned around, and manned the Ops station. Worf shut down the display for the attack
pattern. Picard rounded the bridge horseshoe and sat in the command chair. “How long until the
Garthusians arrive?”
Data checked his console. “Five minutes, sir.” There was an edge of nervousness in his voice.
“Data, during the engagement, I want you to scan the enemy vessels as closely as you can. I want
to know everything about them as we possibly can.”
“We already do have-”
“Just do it anyway, Commander. That’s an order.”
“Aye, sir.”
Riker looked at Picard. “Armageddon awaits us, Captain.”
Picard shook his head. “Not quite yet, Number One. Not quite yet.”
Riker listened to what Picard said. “How are we going to win? They’ve adapted to the Data
Maneuver and the Picard Maneuver, and they’ve got hulls made out of carbon neutronium.”
“We’ll find a way, Commander.” Picard paused. “Just have faith.”
Riker nodded. “I’ll try, sir.”
“One minute, Captain,” Data reported.
Picard got out of the command chair. He turned to Worf. “Are the other ships ready?”
“All but one, sir,” Worf said. “The Pearl Harbor is experiencing minor power fluctuations.”
“Not now, dammit,” Picard cursed. “How long do they expect to be unready?”
“They do not know. They haven’t found the source of the problem yet.”
“Well, tell them-”
“They are entering the system,” Data interrupted.
Picard whirled around to face the main viewer. “On screen.”
The view shifted to show four huge, gray, sphere-shaped vessels against a starry background.
Their weapons arrays were the hot pink of powered-up status, and dozens of flying saucers were flying
around them. A flotilla of pyramid-shaped craft were leading the fleet. Almost half of the pyramids veered
off towards the Pearl Harbor. They began firing disruptor beams.
“Forty pyramids attacking the Pearl Harbor,” Worf said. “They are converging on the engineering
section.”
As Picard watched, the pyramids began focusing their attack on the rear of the Pearl Harbor. Hot
pink disruptor beams collided with the ship’s shields, causing a blue-green crackle of energy. Phaser beams
flashed from the Pearl Harbor. They mowed down the pyramids like a human would mow down a gnat.
“Fifteen pyramids have been destroyed, Captain,” Worf reported. “Another five are in critical
condition.”
Just then, all shields of the Pearl Harbor’s engineering section went down. Disruptor beam after
disruptor beam struck against unprotected hull. Fire and gases leapt into space from the big gaping gashes
left by the disruptors.
“They have severe damage to their engineering section,” Data said. “The damage has worsened the
power surges. They now place the Pearl Harbor in grave jeopardy.”
The pyramids began firing disruptors at the warp nacelles. The big, long warp nacelles of the
Excelsior-class starship were hard to miss. Both warp nacelles exploded, and the Pearl Harbor followed
suit moments later. Picard watched the scene with agony. He had seen too many ships go like that at Wolf
359.
“Sensors detect no escape pods,” Data said. “There are no survivors.”
Everyone on the bridge, except Merrek, got grim expressions on their faces. One starship was
already gone in an incredibly short period of time. And that was just by the pyramids. Picard sat back down
in the command chair as he watched all the pyramids move in on the Enterprise. “Mr. Worf, destroy all of
them as quickly as possible.”
Worf didn’t bother replying. He just fired at the pyramids with fully powered phasers, ten at a
time. He destroyed half of them before they began firing their own weapons. The Enterprise rocked a little
with each impact, but that was about all. The shields were holding quite nicely. After another minute, he’d
destroyed the remaining pyramids. “Targets destroyed, sir.”
Picard gave a sigh of relief, but he knew it wasn’t over yet. He watched all of the saucers veer
towards the Enterprise and her sister, the George Washington. The saucers were all small vessels, about the
size of the saucer of an Oberth-class starship, were dark grey in color, and had a huge hot pink spot on the
bottom that Picard assumed were weapon arrays. “Lieutenant, destroy the saucers.”
Worf locked on phasers and photon torpedoes, and fired the maximum ten shots at a time. The
George Washington did the same. Twenty saucers were destroyed. The saucers fired back with a
vengeance. The Enterprise shook under the impacts of the disruptor beams. Then, the shaking stopped.
Worf no longer detected any Garthusian ships within sensor range. “Sensors detect no longer detect any
Garthusian ships.”
The main viewer showed asteroids in their places. Data unnecessarily said, “Sensors are now
detecting asteroids at their former locations.”
Picard scoffed. “They did this trick before. It won’t work this time. Mr. Worf, inform the fleet to
target the saucer-sized asteroids and fire.”
“Aye, sir.” Worf notified the fleet, then locked onto ten asteroids, and fired. The other starships
also fired all the weapons they could at one time. The remaining saucers were destroyed before the
Garthusians could do anything. “All Garthusian saucers destroyed, Captain.”
Picard eyed the four largest asteroids revert back to Garthusian sphereships. They were heading
towards the sun. “Ensign Merrek, lay in a course for the sun at warp one! Mr. Worf, inform the fleet of the
course!”
“Aye, sir,” Worf said.
“Yes, Captain,” Merrek responded.
The Enterprise and the other Federation starships warped to the sun in ten minutes, beating the
Garthusians by twenty minutes. The sun blazed on the main viewer, its light toned down by the Enterprise’s
computers.
“Why would they want to go to the sun?” Riker asked, a hint of anger in his voice.
“If they warp into the sun,” Data replied, “they will cause a supernova, destroying everything in the
system.”
“How many spheres will be needed to do that?” Troi asked.
“They need only one,” Picard said. “Mr. Worf, track the course of the spheres, and tell me if any
break away.”
“Aye, sir.” Worf bent over his console, then nodded. “Three spheres are indeed veering away.
They are engaging their warp drives.”
“Just as I thought,” Picard commented. “Now, what can we do about the kamikaze?”
“I don’t know for certain,” Data said. “However, while we were in the Vraris System, I detected
quite unusual energy frequencies before the dronium field was put in place. I believe that if we send the
Garthusians a communication on those frequencies-”
“They will generate dronium particles and they’ll be forced to stop,” Picard finished. “Make it so.”
Data brought up the frequencies on his Ops console, set up similar communication codings similar
to the ones he observed in the Vraris System, and transmitted to the Garthusian sphere. The Garthusian
sphere appeared to be unaffected. “I believe our attempt was unsuccessful.”
Picard scowled. “Mr. Worf-”
“They are engaging their warp drive!” Worf interrupted.
Picard jumped out of the command chair. “Mr. Data-”
Data broke in before Picard could finish. “Standby.” His fingers danced across the Ops console.
“The Garthusian sphere is imploding.”
“What?” Picard and Riker both muttered loudly. They both raced to the front of the bridge and
faced the main viewer. “Can we see it?” Picard asked.
“At a magnification factor of nine hundred ninety-five percent,” Data said. The Garthusian sphere
appeared on the main viewer. Blue-grey tendrils of energy were whipping across the dark gray hull.
Weapon arrays were exploding. Chunks of the carbon neutronium hull were thrown into space. Then,
finally, the ship imploded. The massive fireworks were impressive.
“How did that happen?” Riker asked, surprised.
“I don’t know,” Data said. “I transmitted the correct frequencies and codings.” He glanced at his
console. “A field of dronium particles is present at the spot where the Garthusian sphere exploded.”
“I don’t get it,” Riker said. “The only explanation is that dronium particles are fatal to their own
ships…”
“That is possible, Commander,” Data replied, “but highly unlikely. The most likely explanation is
that their emitter for the dronium particles was facing the inside of the sphere.”
“As a result, the dronium particles damaged the power generators or warp drive,” Worf said.
“But that doesn’t make any sense…” Riker said.
“Few things do, Number One,” Picard said. He returned to sit in the command chair. Riker did the
same with the first officer’s chair. “Mr. Worf, contact the Ariel.”
Captain Williams appeared on the screen. He had a puzzled expression on his face. “Captain
Picard, I don’t know what you did, but it worked.” He paused. “What did you do?”
“We sent them the signal to start producing dronium particles,” Picard answered. “The dronium
emitter was facing the inside of the ship, as far as we can tell.”
Williams grunted. “What’d you know. Well, do you think it will work again?”
Picard looked at Data. “Possibly,” Data said. “However, it is not likely.”
“When the Garthusians come to Feronium, the first thing we’ll do is send them that dronium
particle signal. It’s a shot, anyway.”
Picard nodded. “I will contact Admiral Jordan. Picard out.” He turned to Worf. “Make it so.”
Worf touched several buttons on his console. “Admiral Jordan on screen.”
Picard turned back towards the main viewer. Jordan’s featured were shown prominently on the
screen. “Admiral Jordan, we have prevented the Garthusians from taking Kamistara.”
Jordan smiled and gave a sigh of relief. “Well done, Captain. How’d you do it?”
“We sent them a signal to start producing dronium particles. It will all be in the report.”
Jordan nodded. “We will need that report as soon as possible. The Garthusians are fifteen hours
away from Feronium. Several nonstrategic outposts are located between Kimistara and Feronium; two
starships are assigned to defend them. Meanwhile, I managed to get twenty Federation starships to the
Feronium System; the Klingons are sending twenty as well. And, very surprisingly, the Romulans have
agreed to send five of their warbirds. Hardly significant, but it’s better than nothing.”
Picard was surprised as well. The Romulans had been causing problems for the Federation lately…
perhaps they had a change of mind? He frowned. “Admiral, regarding the Romulans-”
“I know what you’re thinking, Captain,” Jordan said, “but we’re going to need all the help we can
get. We can deal with the repurcussions later.” Jordan paused. “Your orders are to go to the Feronium
System as fast as you possibly can. Like I said, we’re going to need all the help we can get. Jordan out.”
The UFP symbol flashed, then the view returned to the Kimistara sun. Picard got out of the command chair.
He slapped on the intercom. “Engineering, damage report?”
“We’re in pretty good shape, sir,” Geordi said. “The damage is already repaired.”
“Good. Mr. La Forge, prepare for red line warp velocity till Feronium.”
There was a pause at the other end. “Done, sir. There might be a flicker in the lights and some
gravitic fluctuations, but we can do it.”
“Very well. Picard out.” He turned to Merrek. “Ensign Merrek, lay in a course for Feronium at
warp factor nine point two.”
“Aye, sir.”
Picard turned to Worf. “Order the other ships to do the same thing.”
“Done, Captain.”
Picard again faced the front of the bridge. “Engage.” The multicolored streaks covered the main
viewer. He then walked to the aft turbolift. “I’m calling off the alpha shift early. We will return to duty one
hour before we reach Feronium.”
Everyone began moving towards the turbolifts. Beta shift officers took their place. The only alpha
shift officer remaining was Worf, standing at the tactical console. Picard allowed himself a slight smile.
“You too, Worf.”
Worf protested. “Sir, I normally-”
“That’s an order, Lieutenant.”
Worf walked away from the console, resigned. Picard walked to the fore turbolift, which was
much less crowded. He entered the turbolift, which had only two people in it, and said, “Ten-Forward.”
The turbolift doors slid shut.

Data watched the action on his desktop monitor. What he was watching was part of the Star Wars
troligy, called The Empire Strikes Back. In this scene, Darth Vader had just severed Luke Skywalker’s right
hand– Luke was moaning in pain. Before the scene could finish, though, the door chime rang. “Pause,”
Data said. He walked into his quarter’s main area. “Come.”
Geordi La Forge entered. The doors slid shut behind him. “Hi, Data.” He paused. “What are you
doing?”
“I am watching the Star Wars movie The Empire Strikes Back. It is quite… intruiging.”
Geordi nodded. “I’ve seen the Star Wars trilogy; it was great. That’s not what I came for, though.
How are you holding up?”
Data walked into his desk area and sat down in his chair. Geordi followed him. “I am holding up
quite fine, Geordi.”
“That’s good to hear.” Geordi’s commbadge chirped. He slapped it. “La Forge here.”
“Commander La Forge?” a nervous voice asked. Data recognized it as Lieutenant Barclay’s.
“Yes, what is it, Reg?”
“Uh, sir, there are some power fluctuations in on deck ten. People have reported lights going out,
replicators not working, that sort of thing.”
“I’ll be down there right away. La Forge out.” Geordi rushed to the door. “Sorry.”
“It is all right.” Data walked to the door as well. “I will report to the bridge.” Geordi and Data
walked out the door.

Picard winced as the lighting in Ten-Forward came back on. The lighting had been off for five
munutes, and he was just getting used to the darkness. He slapped his commbadge. “Picard to Engineering.
What’s going on?”
“Power fluctuations specific to deck ten,” came Geordi’s reply. “The situation is under control.”
Picard frowned. “What caused the power fluctuations, Commander?”
“It was a failure of an EPS router on your deck,” Geordi answered. “It’s been completely burnt
out; it’s being replaced right now. In the meantime, deck ten is going to have to be evacuated.”
“All right. Have Lieutenant McKenzie begin an evacuation procedure for this deck. And, how
long is this going to take?”
“Two hours at most, Captain.”
“Then snap to it. Picard out.” Picard made his way to the exit doors of the lounge when Data’s
voice came over the intercom. Picard was surprised; the alpha shift was relieved. “All civilians and
personnel on deck ten, an evacuation procedure is currently in effect. You must go to another deck within a
ten minute time span commencing now. Data out.”
Picard exited Ten-Forward before everyone rushed out. He entered the turbolift. “Bridge.” The
turbolift began moving.
When the turbolift doors slid open, Picard rushed out. Commander Riker was standing next to
Data at the Operations station. Picard joined them. “Report.”
“The cause of the failure of the EPS router is unknown,” Data said nervously. “Commander La
Forge and an engineering team will begin replacing the router in five minutes.”
Picard nodded. “Very well. Staff meeting in five hours. I want to know what’s going on. Mr.
Data, keep on the look-out for any more power fluctations.”
“I already am, sir,” Data replied.
“Good.” Picard made his way for the aft turbolift. “Tell me if you find anything.”
“Yes, Captain,” Riker said.
Picard entered the turbolift.

Five hours later, Picard, Riker, Data, Worf, Geordi, Crusher, and Troi were gathered around the
observation lounge table. “All right,” Picard said. “Geordi, what caused the failure?”
Geordi shook his head. “We don’t really know, sir. It could have been caused by damage from the
battle, I don’t know.”
“If it was battle damage, why didn’t we detect the problem before?” Riker asked.
“They might have hidden it some way,” Worf suggested. “Their capabilities are still largely
unknown to us.”
Picard looked at Data and Geordi. “If they did mask this damage somehow, I want you to find out
how they did it, and find out ways to avoid damage being masked again.”
“We’ll try, Captain,” Data said.
Picard turned to Troi. “What did you sense from them?”
Troi sat there for a long time, thinking hard. She had an unpleasant expression on her face. “The
impressions are still unclear…” she said uncertainly. “I think they had some sort of telepathic/empathic
shield in place…” She paused. “I got vague feelings of confidence and resentment…” She shut her eyes and
got a pained expression on her face.
Riker got a concerned expression on his face. “Are you all right, Deanna?”
Troi nodded. “I’m fine. I was just thinking. I can’t remember anything more than that.”
Worf leaned forward. “There are telepathy-blockers in existence; however, they are only on the
black market.”
“They can cause extensive brain damage to the telepath,” Crusher added. “They are a relatively
new technology; they debuted three years ago.”
“They are, as of yet, illegal in the Federation and the Klingon Empire,” Worf said.
“They must have been developed in the Garthusian Empire,” Picard noted, “or they simply don’t
care.”
“I would like permission to examine Deanna,” Crusher said.
“Agreed.” Picard paused for a moment. “Didn’t you tell me, Counselor, that you’d tell me if you
sensed anything?”
“I wasn’t sure, Captain… I had to try to distinguish between the feelings of the Enterprise crew and
the other starships, and then the Garthusians… I just didn’t know who I was sensing those feelings from.”
Picard nodded. “I’m sorry, Counselor.”
“That’s all right, Captain.”
Picard looked around the table. “All right. Now, you all have your assignments. Dismissed.”

Captain Williams glanced around the bridge. The bridge crew were all nervous. His first officer
was drumming his fingers on his console that protruted from the left armrest of the first officer’s chair. The
conn officer, an Andorian, was twitching her antennae nervously. Williams was also nervous, but tried his
best not to show it.
“It’s going to be another Wolf 359,” the first officer said.
“Don’t be so negative, Commander,” Williams replied. “Two of their vessels have been destroyed
so far.”
The commander sighed nervously. “But what if they just change their codes? Then Data’s trick
would be useless.”
“What if they do?” Williams asked rhetorically. “Then we’ll just have to find another way. The
best thing to do is not worry about it.”
The XO nodded. “All right, sir.”
Williams turned his attention to the main viewer. The multicolored streaks were passing by at an
amazing rate. He got out of the command chair, and walked to the front of the bridge. “Lieutenant
Narosie?”
The Andorian turned her attention away from her panel and faced the captain. “Yes, sir?”
“I want you to-”
“Captain!” Lieutenant Commander Black at tactical said. “Sensors are detecting vessel one light-
year away!”
“Yellow alert,” Williams said as the chimes rang. He sat in the command chair. “Identification?”
Black concentrated on her tactical console. “Not as of yet, sir. It is not transmitting Federation
codes.”
“Hail it,” Williams ordered.
Black nodded. She punched a button on the tactical console. “They’re on speakers.”
“This is Captain Williams of the Federation Starship Ariel. State your intentions.”
“TO KILL YOU.”
Williams understood immediately, as did the rest of the bridge. It was a Garthusian ship. “Red
alert, battlestations.”
Sirens howled as crew rushed into their positions. The sound of shields and weapons charging rang
throughout the ship. “Garthusian vessel, you will not succeed-”
“They have cut the transmission, sir,” Black reported.
Williams slammed the right armrest. “Notify the rest of the fleet.”
“They already know what’s going on, sir,” the XO said.
“Then, bring the ship about on a course of coordinates nine mark eight, bearing seven mark seven,
full impulse, engage.”
The multicolored streaks were replaced by normal space as the Ariel swerved to meet the
upcoming threat. The Garthusian ship was a dot in the distance.
“Magnify by a factor of one thousand.”
The Garthusian dot became a huge sphere. There were hot pink circles all over the dark gray
sphere. The sphere was rapidly getting larger.
“One minute till intercept,” Norosie said.
“Lock two torpedoes onto their hull and fire,” Williams said.
“They are ineffective-” Black began.
“Just do it, Comamander.”
Black swallowed. “Yes, sir.” She punched several buttons on her panel. “Torpedoes away.”
Williams watched as the red dots smashed harmlessly against the carbon neutronium hull.
Something came over the speakers.
“YOU INSULT US WITH SUCH WEAPONS, CAPTAIN,” the oppressive Garthusian voice said.
It sounded like a low rumble. “YOU ARE FOOLISH TO THINK THEY WOULD BE EFFECTIVE
AGAINST US. NOW, PREPARE TO DIE.” The channel was cut.
Williams sat still for a few moments. He had only one idea. “Let’s try to make them produce
dronium again. Commander Black?”
“Commander Data on the Enterprise is already trying, sir,” Black reported. “So far, no effect on
the Garthusian sphere.”
“Keep me advised,” Williams said. “Narosie, ETA?”
“Thirty seconds, sir.” Her voice was tense with fear.
Williams looked at the main viewer. The whole Garthusian ship wasn’t even visible at this setting
anymore. “Restore to standard magnification.”
The whole Garthusian sphere became visible again. It was still quite large.
“They are entering phaser range,” Black said.
“Evasive maneuvers,” Williams ordered. “Miss Black, fire all phasers at full power.”
“Yes, sir,” Black said in a resigned tone. “Firing all phasers.”
Nine red streaks collided with the hull of the Garthusian sphere. Again, no visible damage.
“Commander Data on the Enterprise has ceased trying to make the Garthusians produce dronium
particles,” XO reported.
Williams sighed. Then, several hot pink streaks lanced out from the Garthusian weapon arrays.
The Ariel rocked under the impacts.
“Shields are at ninety percent!” Black reported. “Minor damage to all decks.”
Williams considered the situation. It seemed the fleet had a pretty hopeless cause. Unless…
“Commander, was their any damage to the Garthusian sphere? Even at the molecular level?”
Black punched several buttons on her console and examined the results. “There were some
indications of damage to the structural integrity. Nothing significant, though.”
Williams thought about that. “Lock all weapons onto that spot we fired at, and put them on full
power. Inform the other ships to do the same.”
Black got a concerned look on her face, but nonetheless complied. “Aye, Captain.” She punched
several buttons furiously. “Executed, sir.”
Williams looked at the Garthusian sphere on the viewscreen. The Ariel still rocked from continued
disruptor blasts. “Fire!”
Numerous red beams and dots slammed against the Garthusian sphere. At first, no damage was
apparent. But then, Williams could barely see a hole opening up in the hull. “What’s beyond that hole?”
The Ops officer, Lieutenant Viers, scanned beyond the hole. “It seems to be a series of power
conduits.”
Williams nodded. “Commander Black, you focus on firing inside that hole. Tell all the other ships
to maintain their firing patterns.”
“Yes, sir.” Some of the red beams and dots went into the hole that was getting larger every
second. Williams could see power conduits being ruptured by their weapons, spilling electric blue energy
into space. It was quite a sight.
“Status of the Garthusian vessel,” Williams demanded.
“They are no longer firing, sir,” Viers reported.
“We are being hailed,” Black said.
“I’ll just bet we are,” Williams commented. “Keep on firing, but answer their hail.”
A hideous alien appeared on the main viewer. Its skin was gray; it has an elongated heard with
huge black eyeballs, with thin slits for a nose and a mouth; it had no hair. “CAPTAIN WILLIAMS, YOU
HAVE FOUGHT WELL TODAY. I COMMEND YOU. YOU WILL DIE WITH HONOR.”
Williams scoffed. “I have no intention of dying, Garthusian. Now, retreat from Federation space,
or we will destroy you.”
The Garthusian made scraping sounds which Williams guessed was the equilavent of laughing.
“YOU CANNOT DESTROY US. NOW, WE HOPE YOU WILL DIE WITH DIGNITY.” The main
viewer returned to the space battle.
“I can’t believe the nerve of the Garthusians,” the XO said with disbelief.
“That’s not our chief problem right now, Commander McGrady,” Williams replied. “Damage to
the Garthusians?”
“Massive power fluctuations,” Viers said. “Two weapon arrays have blown apart. Pieces of their
carbon neutronium hull have blown away as well.”
Williams smiled a little. “Keep it up-”
“Captain!” McGrady shouted in shock. “The Aristide is going to ram the Garthusians!”
Williams looked at the main viewer in shock. “On screen.” The view changed to show an
Ambassador-class starship on a suicide course. He could see the warp nacellles lighting up. “Get us out of
here!”
Narosie didn’t bother replying. She punched the commands into the conn, and the Ariel veered in
the opposite direction. The warp drive kicked in, and multicolored streaks began sliding by. Then, they
stopped.
“Status of the Garthusian sphere?” Williams asked.
“It’s gone,” Black said. “Along with the Aristide.”
Williams slammed the left armrest. “Hail Captain Picard.”

Captain Williams’ stern features appeared on the main viewer. He didn’t look to happy. “I wonder
why they attacked us?”
Picard shook his head. “We don’t know why.” He turned to Worf. “Status of the two remaining
Garthusian spheres?”
Worf checked the tactical console. “Five hours away from Feronium.”
Picard turned to Data. “Our ETA?”
“Seven hours.”
Picard looked at Williams with apprehension. “That’s why they attacked us. They wanted to delay
us. The question is why.”
“Well, the important thing is, we know how to beat them now.”
Picard nodded. “Mr. Worf, communicate our battle report to Admiral Jordan.”
“Aye, sir.”
Williams looked at Picard warily. “Do you think that they might adapt?”
“It might be our only shot left,” Picard said. “How long do you think repairs on the Ariel will
take?”
Williams looked at a point somewhere out of the visual pickups. “Half an hour.”
Picard sat down in the command chair and activated the intercom. “Engineering, how long will
repairs take?”
“Forty five minutes, sir,” Geordi’s voice came back.
“Snap to it, Commander. Bridge out.” Picard looked up at the main viewer. “Anything else,
Captain Williams?”
Williams shook his head. “No, Captain. Ariel out.” The viewer image shifted to a view of the
Ariel.
“Alpha shift will be relieved as soon as we are underway for Feronium,” Picard declared. “I will be
down in Main Engineering. Commander Data, you’re with me.”
Picard and Data strode for the aft turbolift. Riker stood up and took the command chair, then he
turned around to face the captain. “What are you going to do?”
“You’ll see, Number One,” Picard said. Data and Picard entered the turbolift.

Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge looked at the status display. The antimatter containment
field was still showing dangerous fluctuations, and he couldn’t figure out why. He had Reg run a level three
diagnostic on the plasma coils.
“Ah ha!” Barclay exclaimed. “We’ve found it!”
Geordi looked over Reg’s shoulder. The console showed a minor malfunction in the magnetic field
of the plasma coils. Such a malfunction could prove deadly, though. It had to be handled with caution.
“Don’t get too excited, Lieutenant. We’re not out of the woods yet.”
Lieutenant Reginald Barclay looked down at the console. “I agree, sir.”
Geordi turned around, just in time to see Captain Picard and Data walk in his office. He turned his
whole body around to face the captain. “May I do something for you, sir?”
Picard looked around Main Engineering thoughtfully. “I want to go over every sensor record we
have of Garthusian vessels. It might be important.”
“We can check the master systems display,” Data said, pointing at the huge table in the middle of
Main Engineering.
“All right,” Picard replied.
“I don’t see the point, though, sir,” Data said. “Everything we know about the Garthusians is in my
memory. Consulting the sensor logs is illogical.”
Picard raised an eyebrow. “An emotional android talking about logic… if you say so.”
Data got a puzzled expression on his face. “I don’t see the relevance of having emotions and being
an android, sir.”
Picard waved him off. “Never mind. Let’s get to work.”
Data seemed unnerved as he accompanied the captain to the master systems display.
Geordi focused on the task at hand: repairing the plasma coils. He waved Barclay out of the way
of the console, and checked on the precise nature of the magnetic field problem. It showed him that the field
was slightly out of shape, and that the plasma couldn’t flow correctly. “All right, Mr. Barclay, let’s get to
work.”

CHAPTER NINE

Captain’s long, stardate 44215.7. The Enterprise and the rest of the fleet are one hour away from
Feronium. I have reviewed all we know of the Garthusian civilization… and I must admit, the situation
does look grim… I am hopeful that the Federation will survive this threat, however. There are just two
Garthusian spheres remaining in Federation space.

Captain Jean-Luc Picard looked at the tactical display on the tactical console. The combined fleet
of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan ships was being deployed in a standard hit-them-hard formation…
quite similar to the one used at Wolf 359. Picard wondered if that would work.
“It’s the best one we’ve got,” Riker said. “The Borg won because they had your knowledge and
experience-” He paused when Picard got a haunted expression on his face. “My point is, the Garthusians
are not the Borg.”
Picard studied the display again. The tactic did look sound. “Very well, Number One… make it
so.”
Riker nodded. He walked to the front of the bridge. “Ensign Crusher?”
The young field officer looked up at the XO eagerly. “Yes, Commander?”
“Call up the plans to the battle tactic,” Riker said, “then move us into position delta.”
Crusher tapped several commands into the conn and looked at the display. He then layed in his
course. “Speed, sir?”
“Keep us at the red line,” Picard ordered as he took the command chair. “ETA, Mr. Data?”
“Fifteen minutes at warp nine point two,” Data responded.
“All right.” Picard looked at the main viewer. “Hail Admiral Jordan.”
Admiral Jordan appeared on the screen. She looked tired. “Captain Picard, current status?”
Picard paused for a moment. “Fifteen minutes away from Feronium. We will take position delta.”
“My thoughts exactly,” Jordan replied. “My flagship will be the Legacy. It will assume position
alpha. George Washington will take the beta.”
Picard nodded. “God’s speed, Admiral. Picard out.”
For the next fourteen minutes, Picard sat there in the command chair, while the crew throughout
the ship were rushing around, preparing the Enterprise for the explosive battle that was sure to come. All
Picard could do was sit and wait.
“One minute from position delta,” Data announced.
“Slow us to full impulse,” Picard ordered. “Red alert, all hands to battlestations.”
Klaxons howled as the crew raced to their stations. Picard waited for a moment. “Overstaff the
bridge, Number One.” He wanted to prepare for everything he possibly could.
“Aye, sir.” Riker rapidly began inputting instructions into his console. Moments later, fifteen
officers strode out of the turbolifts.
“Position delta,” Data reported.
“All stop,” Picard said. “Now, put the Garthusian spheres on the screen.”
The Garthusian spheres appeared on the main viewer. They were already in a monstrous battle
with the rest of the fleet. Hot pink disruptor blasts and red hot phaser bursts were everywhere on the
screen. It was dizzying just to look at it.
“Not as bad as we predicted,” Riker commented.
After Riker said that, two Klingon attack cruisers imploded. Their debris slammed into nearby
Federation starships, which the Garthusians began to pick off one by one.
“Lock all weapons onto the Garthusians, and fire at will!” Picard cried angrily.
“Yes, sir.” Worf proceeded to punch forcefully at his tactical console. Phaser beams and photon
torpedoes blasted from Enterprise and crashed against both of the Garthusian spheres’ hulls.
“Their hulls are showing a decrease in structural integrity,” Data said. “However, the percent of
decay is not as great as before.”
“They must have adapted somehow,” Troi spoke up.
“There is still damage being done,” Picard said. “As long as that is so, we will continue with this
course of action.”
Three Romulan warbirds decloaked in the Enterprise’s line of fire. They took heavy damage from
the barrage.
“Stop firing!” Picard said in a fury. “Hail them now!”
“No response!” Worf called back.
“Open a channel!”
The Romulans began opening fire on the Enterprise as Picard spoke. “This is Captain Picard of the
Federation Starship Enterprise. State the meaning of this!”
No response. The ship rocked, throwing everyone on the bridge onto the deck.
“Return fire!” Picard barked as he climbed back into his command chair.
“Aye, sir!” Worf punched at his console in anger, and red phaser beams and photon torpedoes
smashed against the Romulan traitors. Four Klingon attack cruisers then decloaked right beside the
Romulan warbirds, and let loose a fury of disruptor blasts and torpedoes at the Romulans. One warbird
imploded after a few moments of the heavy fire.
“Damage report!” Picard called out as the ship rocked with another disruptor blasts from the
Romulans.
“Shields are at seventy percent!” Data called out, letting Worf concentrate on firing. “Damage on
all decks, repair crews responding!”
Another Romulan warbird imploded, leaving just one Romulan ship left. Worf picked it off with
four torpedoes. “Romulan warbirds destroyed, sir. The Klingon attack cruisers Pit’Hag, ChuJee, Lakroge,
and Conqueror send their compliments.”
“Status of the fleet?” Picard asked.
“Twenty-two Federation starships remain; eight Klingon attack cruisers remain,” Worf reported.
“Begin firing all weapons at the Garthusians again,” Picard said.
“Aye, sir.”
Picard looked on as red beams and dots from the Enterprise collided with the Garthusian spheres.
They were almost indistinguishable from the rest of the fire. Then, the Garthusian spheres began heading
towards the ship.
“Evasive maneuvers, Mr. Crusher!” Picard said. “Transfer auxiliary power to the shields.”
The stars and ships on the main viewer began shifting around rapidly when the impacts began. The
Garthusian disruptors seemed to be non-stop.
“Shields at fifty-three percent!” Data reported. Then the Ops console exploded, throwing Data to
the deck.
“Data!” Troi screamed.
Riker rushed to Data’s side. He examined Data’s condition carefully, then looked back at the
captain. With tears in his eyes, he shook his head.
“Damn!” Picard exclaimed and slammed both armrests in pure anger. “Mr. Worf, make them pay!”
Riker scrambled back to his seat as the barrage continued. Another officer took Ops.
“Damage report!” Picard barked.
“Shields are thirty-six percent!” the new Ops officer, Lieutenant McKenzie, said. “Heavy
casualties,” she said sadly, looking down at Data’s body.
“One sphere imploding!” Worf said.
Picard punched on the intercom. “Engineering, transfer all power to the shields!”
“Trying, sir!” came Geordi’s voice. There was a huge explosion over the speakers, then nothing.
“Sheilds are being increased!” Worf said. “Fifty percent, fifty-five, sixty… seventy-five percent!”
The lights suddenly all went out. The consoles went black. Picard stared around the bridge. He
tapped his commbadge. “Picard to Engineering,” he said quietly. No response came.
“He must have transferred all power all right,” Riker said. “Bridge crew, brace for impact!”
The crew rushed to do what they were told. Then, a massive quake rocked the ship. Everyone on
the bridge was thrown hard onto the deck. The shaking increased. A bulkhead collapsed, revealing the
circuitry underneath and smashing a person to death. Since the life-support system was off-line, breathing
was difficult.
The shaking stopped. Picard scrambled to his feet, and scrambled to the command chair. Everyone
else did the same for their own respective stations. A minute later, the power came back on. The consoles
began flashing warnings, and the lighting was dull at best. Better than nothing, though.
“We have emergency power only,” McKenzie said.
“The majority of the fleet, as well as the remaining Garthusian sphere, has been damaged by the
shock wave,” Worf reported.
“Damage report,” Riker demanded.
“Shields are at ten percent,” Worf said. “Weapons are off-line. Life-support is barely functional.
Propulsion systems are off-line as well.” Worf checked his console again. “The fleet is resuming fire.”
Picard watched the fury on the main viewer. “We’ll have to be towed out.”
“Don’t count on that anytime soon,” Riker said.
“Captain,” Worf said, “the remaining Garthusian sphere is imploding.”
The bridge crew watched, transfixed, as the shock wave from the imploding vessel raced towards
them. It knocked the other vessels out of commission, and they weren’t as severely damaged as the
Enterprise. They would survive it; Enterprise wouldn’t.
“It is a good day to die,” Worf said as the shock wave was within moments of destroying the
Enterprise.

Captain Williams on the Ariel watched in horror as the shock wave took out the Enterprise. It was
so clean… there wasn’t even any time to think about it.
“There are… no debris…” Black said with puzzlement. Then, she nodded. “The shock wave had
residual tryolic waves, no doubt from the power core of the Garthusian sphere. That explains the lack of an
implosion or any debris.”
Williams got out of the command chair and looked at Commander McGrady. “Memorial service at
nineteen hundred,” he said. “I’ll be in the ready room.”

Jason Vines, 1997.
https://members.aol.com/dbald56576/trek.html
Star Trek: The Next Generation is the property of Paramount Pictures.

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