Le Morte d'Spock, c. 247000:
And in the wake of the speedy Enterprise the great magic of Dr. Marcus exploded, and a new green world came to be, and Captain Kirk looked down on it, and saw that it was good.
But when he turned to his right side an empty space met his eyes.
And in great fear did Captain Kirk run to the engine chamber, to bring Mr. Spock away; but Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott barred his way, entreating him not to enter, for the air was still bad.
"If I do not, Mr. Spock shall die," Captain Kirk said.
"Mr. Spock shall already die," they said; and Captain Kirk ceased to struggle with them, for he knew that it was so.
Mr. Spock carried himself to the window of the chamber where Captain Kirk waited for him. And the last words Mr. Spock said to Captain Kirk were to ask if the Enterprise was safe. And then did Captain Kirk finally learn, that ever had Mr. Spock loved his lady as did he.
Captain's Log, Stardate 43856.8: The Enterprise has been diverted to Sigma Delta V by the highest authority in the Federation. There we are to afford military protection to a scientific project which is so secret that there is no record of its existence on the Enterprise. Because of alleged Romulan presence, I have ordered the ship to Red Alert.
"Standard orbit, sir," Wesley reported.
The bridge crew eyed the planet on the main viewscreen. Sigma Delta V was a dead rock hanging in space.
"Sigma Delta V is a class D planet," Data reported; "0.89 Earth gravity, a thin atmosphere of the light gases. Incapable of supporting humanoid life."
"So how do they live?" Riker asked, smiling.
"Sensors are reading an environmental dome. In addition to possessing defensive shielding, the dome is security-shielded against sensor scans and against transporter beams."
"Mr. Worf," Picard called from his seat, "is there any sign of Romulan presence?"
"None, sir. But they could be present and cloaked."
"Open a hailing channel to the station. Counselor Troi, please inform me immediately if there is any prevarication on the part of the Easter station personnel."
"Yes, sir," said Troi.
Meanwhile Worf had keyed the comm board. "Hailing frequencies open, sir."
"This is the USS Enterprise calling Project Easter station," Picard sent. "We are in orbit around Sigma Delta V in response to orders from the Federation Council. Please reply on this channel."
After a moment there was a tone from the comm board. "Reply, sir," Worf said.
"On the screen."
At Picard's order the main viewscreen, heretofore displaying an unimpressive view of the unimpressive planet, switched to a view of an unimpressive little Terran man in standard-issue coveralls. There was an almost pathetic look of relief on his face. "This is Easter Station, Enterprise," said the little man. "Boy, are we glad to see you!"
"I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard. To whom am I speaking?"
"My name is Beck. I'm not one of the scientists, I just work here."
"Can you tell me what this is all about, Mr. Beck?"
Beck seemed taken aback by the question. "Well, we saw a Romulan ship."
Picard shifted in his chair. He looked at Troi, but she gave him no indication that Beck had intentionally evaded Picard's question. "I know that. I mean to ask, what is Project Easter?"
Now Beck became decidedly ill at ease. "I'm afraid I can't answer that."
When it had become obvious that Beck was not going to elaborate on this, Picard said with icy civility, "Who can?"
"I'll let you talk with Dr. David." He vanished from the viewscreen, replaced by Sigma Delta V.
Picard and Riker exchanged annoyed looks. "What do we have to do," Picard said with unusual frustration in his tone, "to be told what we're protecting?"
"For one thing, Captain," said Troi, "you'll have to speak to someone who knows."
"Beck doesn't know?"
Troi shook her head. "His only concern seems to be the sighting of the Romulan. He seems to believe that our protection is conditional on your questions being answered. I'd say he also believes no one will answer them. The relief he felt when he answered our hail disappeared when you asked about the project, and he became extremely agitated when you asked for someone to talk to you."
"Contact reestablished," Worf announced.
On the main screen, the planet was replaced by an old Earthwoman with a cold air of complacency. Picard guessed her age at much better than ninety, but she was still vigorous in manner. "Captain Picard," she sent, "I am Dr. David, the head of Project Easter."
"Dr. David, I would like to know the nature of your project." Picard was tiring of asking people that.
"I'm sorry, Captain," said David, with no sympathy for Picard's mood if she'd noticed it, "I can't discuss that over a broadcast channel, no matter how secure."
Picard now became truly angry. "Then what do you suggest?"
"I suppose you'd have to beam down to the station."
"That would require the lowering of our shields and yours," Picard pointed out. "Not a wise move when there might be Romulans about."
David shrugged. "Your choice, Captain."
Picard had had enough. Rising, he said, "Very well. You will coordinate your timing with my First Officer, Commander Riker. I will beam down with some of my officers in three minutes. Enterprise out."
"Captain!" Riker rose into Picard's field of vision the instant David had disappeared from the viewscreen.
"I have to go, Number One," Picard said, his ducks already in a row against Riker's duty-bound reluctance to allow Picard off the ship during an alert. "It's a code-one situation. Besides, these people are security-conscious to the point of paranoia. They're only barely willing to talk to me; they certainly wouldn't to you."
"Then I should go with you."
"No, I need you here, in case that Romulan shows up. I'll take Lt. Worf if you like -"
"I was going to suggest that, sir," Worf said.
Riker struggled internally, first with Picard's determination to lead the Away Team, then with Worf's to go. "No ... no. If there are Romulans out there, I need you on the bridge."
Worf was unhappy about this and did not insult Riker's intelligence by hiding it. "Yes, sir."
"Mr. Worf," Riker said, "your best man to the transporter room." At this Worf practically bristled. Riker realized his mistake and smiled. "Sorry - your second-best man."
"Dr. Crusher, too," Picard directed, "and you as well, Mr. Data. And you, Counselor, for the sake of a full and truthful report from Dr. David." Picard turned back to Riker. "If you spot the Romulan, I want you to take any steps necessary to insure the security of Federation space, up to and including pursuit and capture."
Picard started toward the turbo-lift. "Counselor, Mr. Data, come with me." Data's relief, Walters, took the ops station as Troi and Data followed Picard into the turbo-lift.
"Mr. Worf," said Riker, facing the main viewscreen, "reopen the channel to the station."
When Picard, Troi, and Data entered the transporter room, Dr. Crusher, with a medikit, and an armed lieutenant from Security were already there; as was Transporter Chief O'Brien, standing arms akimbo behind the console. "Ah, Dr. Crusher," greeted Picard; and, turning the man from Security, "Lt. Thorpe, is it?"
"Yes, Captain." Thorpe was a young, slender man who had joined the crew recently enough that Picard had met him only once.
"Nice to have you along. Mr. O'Brien, are we ready?"
"Beaming in thirty seconds from your word, Captain," said O'Brien, still with his hands off the console. The entire operation, transporter and shields, would be handled by computer, for speed.
"Go ahead, Chief," said Picard. "Stations, everyone." The Away Team mounted the transporter pads.
On the bridge, Riker heard Beck's voice from the comm speakers: "Enterprise, are you receiving our computer countdown?"
"Aye, sir. Twenty seconds."
"Transporter room," Riker called; the comm carried his voice to the transporter room. "Captain, is your away team ready?"
"Yes, Number One."
"Ten seconds," Worf announced, also carried to the transporter room. "... Shields down, transport energizing."
In the transporter room O'Brien watched the Away Team dematerialize in the customary blue glow.
At that exact instant, on the bridge, a warning light shone on the conn console. "Romulan warbird decloaking!" Wesley shouted.
Riker leapt to his feet from the center chair as the warbird appeared on the main screen. The Romulan would not have decloaked except to transfer power to offensive armament. "Transporter room! Abort beaming!"
"It's too late!" O'Brien had just watched five pillars of light fade away into nothing.
Wesley tore his eyes from the main screen to read his instruments. "They're locking phasers on the Enterprise!"
"Shields up!" Riker bellowed.
"Transport beams are still energized!" Worf said simultaneously.
"Belay that shields order!" Riker snapped. The response to Worf came so hard upon Riker's original order that the two utterances sounded like the same sentence. "Easter Station, keep your shields down!"
"Incoming fire!" Wesley yelled.
On the screen, bright beams of deadly amplified light lanced toward the Enterprise. The bridge crew were thrown from their seats. Riker, who'd been standing, was thrown against the horseshoe-shaped railing. "Mr. Worf! Fire phasers at the Romulan at will!"
In the transporter room, O'Brien recovered his feet, looked at his console, and swore at what he saw. He seized control back from the computer. "Bridge! The Romulan phaser fire has disrupted one of the transporter beams!"
"Take manual control, O'Brien!" Riker replied.
"I have, Commander! Cross-ciruiting now -"
"Bring them back!"
"No good, sir, I'm going to have to put them on the station."
On the bridge Riker asked Walters, "Is the station shield still down?"
"The Romulan is locking onto the station!" Wesley said.
"Mr. Worf, I ordered phaser fire on the Romulan!"
"Damage to phaser fire and photon control!" Worf had been trying to get the damage report in edgewise for some moments. "We will have phasers in ten seconds."
As the Romulan fired on the station dome O'Brien's voice came over the intercom speaker. "Bridge! Transport complete!"
"Shields up!" Riker ordered. "Easter Station, raise your shields!"
"Shields up," Worf responded.
"Station's shields are up," Walters added.
Worf had been eyeing his board for a particular indicator which now rewarded his vigilance. "We have phasers, Commander!"
"Fire phasers, full power, continuous until I countermand!"
Worf's expression didn't change, but there was a feral glint in his eye. This time the light beams displayed on the main screen jumped away from the ship, disappearing with perspective into pinpoints against the shields of the Romulan. "Major power losses to the Romulan, sir," Worf reported.
Just then the warbird disappeared from the main screen - not recloaked, but retreating. "The Romulan has broken off!" Wesley cried. "He's gone into warp speed, out of phaser range."
"Cease fire, Mr. Worf. Mr. Crusher, break orbit."
"Breaking orbit in pursuit of the Romulan."
"Picard to Enterprise." Picard's filtered voice came over the bridge speakers. Riker had not had time to remember until now that there had been trouble with the transporter - but the captain at least had not been seriously hurt. "Number One, report ship's status!"
"Captain, the Romulan is running and we are pursuing per your orders."
"Captain," Worf interposed, "I have identified the warbird as Tomalak's ship."
There was naked steel in Picard's voice. "Number One, I want that ship captured."
"Aye aye, sir. Enterprise out," Riker acknowledged. "Mr. Crusher, a pursuit course. Warp nine. Engage."
"Yes sir!" Wesley shot the Enterprise off after the warbird.
Crusher materialized on Easter Station at a forty-degree angle from upright, stumbled and fell over. With a quick look around her she discovered the whole Away Team similarly indisposed. She could hear the sounds of phaser barrage and see panicked personnel running around the station control room.
"What the -" Picard was already getting to his feet. "Is everyone all right?"
"Functional, sir." Data was up. Thorpe was rising. But -
"Deanna's not moving," Crusher said. She bent over Troi and took out her medical tricorder.
Picard exclaimed, "Romulans," and moved away, hailing the ship. The rest of the Away Team gathered around, and were joined by Dr. David, Beck, and another of the station personnel. Crusher started for a moment, initially mistaking this third for a Romulan; but his garments were the robes of a Vulcan Healer.
"Are you all right?" Dr. David said. "Our shields are back up now -"
"Oh my god." Crusher's tricorder showed massive internal damage to Troi - she had not been materialized properly. Crusher looked up at Dr. David. "This woman needs medical attention. It's transporter scramble, she can't be moved."
The Vulcan Healer knelt next to Troi, on the other side from Crusher. "I am Stark," he introduced himself, and he touched Troi's forehead with two fingers from his left hand.
Crusher tapped her communicator. "Crusher to Enterprise - Transporter Room. Counselor Troi's been scrambled - beam her back immediately, and overlay her last transporter trace."
"Doctor, I can't," came O'Brien's pained voice. "The shields are up, we're under attack."
Crusher thought perhaps that the signal faded toward the end of his sentence, but her attention jumped to Picard, returning to the beamdown site from his conference with Riker. "Captain! Deanna's been scrambled, she needs to be beamed up, now."
Picard stopped short. "The Enterprise has warped out in pursuit of the Romulan."
Picard was already activating his communicator. "Picard to Enterprise!" After several moments there was no response. "Out of range. Dr. David, is there a transporter on the station?"
"Yes, there is."
"But the power secondaries are offline!" Beck protested. "The transporter won't work."
"Neither will the long-range communications," Data pointed out, "so we are unable to call the Enterprise back in order to use its transporter."
"Data, help Beck get the station transporter back online." At Picard's order Beck led Data hurriedly to a nearby wall console, while Picard turned back to Crusher. "Doctor, can you build a transporter trace from Counselor Troi's cellular genetic information?"
She was ahead of him. The superimposition of pattern trace, first used to cure Dr. Pulaski of a DNA-infecting disease, had since become the standard Starfleet procedure for dealing with transporter scramble. Its success rate was approximately seven in ten cases, whereas previously transporter scramble had had no treatment. "I'll get it," Crusher said, watching the data pour into her tricorder's RAM, "but if the transporter isn't up in two minutes it'll be too late."
"Perhaps," said Stark, "I can assist her body in it own attempts at healing." He folded his hands and shut his eyes, concentrating on his Vulcan mental disciplines.
"She's half Betazoid," Crusher told him. It would simply Stark's preparations if he knew not to expect the resistence to telepathic contact that full humans often exhibited; and if he wasn't assuming that Troi's mental configurations would be close to the human norm.
"Sir ..." said Thorpe quietly to Picard. "I thought that Vulcans didn't initiate mindmelds without permission."
"Privacy is a high priority in the medical profession, Lieutenant," said Picard, "but not the highest."
Stark bent over Troi and placed his hands on her face in the classic Vulcan mind-touch position, palm over cheek, fingers splayed across the temple toward the center line of the face. Privately Crusher suspected that the first message Stark would send once he made ephemeral contact would be to ask permission to intrude further.
"What is the condition of the Romulan ship, Mr. Worf?" Riker was still standing at the center of the bridge.
"Enemy ship sustained heavy damage to power systems under our phaser barrage. Their warp engines cannot hold out for long."
"Commander ..." Wesley staring in puzzlement at his board.
"Yes, Mr. Crusher?"
"I'm getting a reading of mu radiation from the Romulan ship." Mu waves were a radiation associated with circumradiation reactions - cloaking devices.
"The Romulan ship is not cloaked," Worf said. "Their power levels are insufficient to run a cloaking device."
"If it were cloaked, the mu radiation would be cloaked too," Wesley said, pointing out the obvious. If cloaks didn't cover their own mu leakage, it would give them away.
"So what you two are telling me," Riker said, "is that the cloaking device is inoperable, but it's operating, but it's not cloaking the ship."
Wesley and Worf exchanged a look, and said at not quite the same moment, "Yes, sir."
Riker mulled this over, turning back to the command chair. "What is the Romulan's course and speed, Mr. Crusher?"
"Warp 9, for the Neutral Zone, sir. We are matching course and speed."
"Maintain pursuit speed, Mr. Crusher."
Riker settled into the center chair. "We'll get the Romulans to explain it soon enough."
Belatedly he realized that he still didn't know the outcome of the disrupted transporter beam.
Picard called, "Mr. Data!"
Data, with Beck, was elbow deep in wall circuitry some meters away. "Ninety seconds, Captain."
Crusher suddenly set down her tricorder, picked a hypo out of her medikit, and gave Troi an injection.
"What was that?" Picard asked.
"Stimulant," Crusher said, eyes back on her tricorder. "But it's no good! Her circulatory system is too disrupted to distribute it."
"Data!" Picard snapped.
"Sixty seconds, Captain."
But a flat tone began emitting from Crusher's tricorder. "No," she said. Stark sighed and dropped his hand from Troi's face, and Crusher looked from him to Troi, to Picard.
Picard called gently, "Mr. Data."
"Forty seconds, Captain."
"No rush, Mr. Data," Picard said, still gently.
Data and Beck looked over from their work, Data bemused, Beck stunned. Crusher had set her tricorder down, the flat tone still issuing from it.
"It's too late," Picard said.
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