The Enterprise arrives in the Keshwa Sector to begin the observation. The crew didn't expect strange occurrences.
See if you can find a scene in "Sleeping Dogs" with a twist.
Captain's Log: February 7, 2151
Three days after the end of “May the Wind be at Our Backs”
We are entering the Keshwa sector, where Commander Mayweather has detected an unusual space phenomenon. A Class D white dwarf is in its final throes of life; it will eventually contract and fade out into a black dwarf. According to Travis, it had been a supergiant, but it released its outer layers of gas as the Keshwa Nebula, and this is what's left of it. It usually takes billions of years for a white dwarf to “cool”, so to speak, so no one has actually seen one this far along in its process. Astronomy and Astrophysics have been hives of activity as they record all sorts of data from both the white dwarf and the nebula.
Travis loves the vastness of space--he was born and raised a Boomer. His family lives on the ECS Horizon, a cargo ship. He has the zest and the enthusiasm of someone half his age, and the crew looks to him for guidance. I'm glad to have him as my First and Science Officer.
Travis grinned at his Science second-in-command as he stepped out of the turbolift. “Good morning, Ellen. Anything interesting happen on the night shift?”
“Got the latest readings for you,” Lieutenant Ellen Varianis said. She nodded at the image on the screen: a dense, glowing sphere of gas, its internal fuel almost exhausted. It struggled to flare up once more in a burst of gamma rays. As Travis and Ellen watched, the readings spiked briefly before settling back into a constant stream.
“How often does that happen?” Travis asked.
Ellen shrugged and answered, “It's completely random, but when it comes, it blankets the sensors with static for a couple of seconds. We've had to make adjustments to compensate for it.”
He sighed and touched the image of the dying star. “It'll take at least several more millennia before it burns itself out and the gravitational shifts finally settle.”
“It's amazing to see all the changes first-hand, sir, but I wouldn't want to get overly close to 'em.”
Travis nodded with a rueful laugh. “That's why we're watching from a safe distance. I think the Captain wouldn't appreciate us being caught by a gravity well.”
“Or hit by radiation? Or any other number of potential mishaps?”
“Exactly, but if we don't take a few calculated risks, we'll never know what's out there. Besides, we can't pass up on an opportunity like this.”
“Our contribution to science.”
Travis chuckled; Ellen was a scientist to the core, and he appreciated her enthusiasm. “Exactly. Transfer the data to my PADD, Ellen. I'll look at it while I'm on-shift. Go get some rest.”
“Yes, sir.” She downloaded the info onto a PADD and gave it to him before leaving the Bridge. He settled into the command chair with it as the lift doors hissed again to admit Lieutenant T'Pol.
“Commander,” the Vulcan greeted with a nod.
“Good morning, Lieutenant. Did you rest well?” Travis asked. T'Pol had regained her normal, serene demeanor; he'd worried about her after the strange mental assault she'd suffered nearly two weeks before. So far, there didn't seem to be any lasting side effects.
“I did indeed.” She slid into the helm chair and brought up a status report. “It was a rather uneventful evening. I spent the time in meditation.”
Travis fought a smile. As astronomer wouldn't have called it “uneventful”, but it was all a point-of-view. He brought his attention back to his PADD. A series of chimes over the intercom announced the shift change from Delta to Alpha. Travis bade good bye to the Delta crew as the Alpha shift took their places. He noted it into the ship's log.
Midway through the shift, Commander Phlox called from Engineering. “Phlox to Mayweather.”
Travis hit the comm. “Go ahead, Phlox.”
“I've run a routine diagnostic on the warp engines and there's a slight drop in power output.”
“Confirmed, sir,” said Ensign Wu from the engineering station on the Bridge.
Travis frowned. Any drop in power, especially this close to a brown dwarf, was a worrying thing. “How much of a drop?”
“Three percent. Not enough to compromise any major systems. We can adjust easily enough.”
“What caused it?”
“Unknown, but it may be a minor malfunction in the EPS grid. We're still working out the insects.”
Travis grinned and tried not to laugh as T'Pol swung around in her seat with her eyebrow raised up to her hairline. “Bugs, Phlox,” he said.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Working out the bugs.”
Phlox chuckled at the correction. “Ah, thank you. In any case, I'll run another Level One Diagnostic as soon as we've balanced the energy flow.”
Travis nodded, although Phlox couldn't see him. He trusted the Denobulan to take care of things. “All right, Phlox. Keep me updated.”
“I certainly will, Commander. Phlox, out.”
T'Pol's questioning look hadn't wavered one bit. “Human expressions are confusing. It will take both Commander Phlox and I some time to decipher their meanings.”
“Our vernacular may be odd, but you'll get used to it.” He thought about Trip Tucker and his colorful use of said vernacular. In that case, both Phlox and T'Pol were in for some surprises.
“I am uncertain if I will ever 'get used to it'.”
He shook his head and replied, “Give it time, Lieutenant. Give it time.”
Captain Hoshi Sato sat at the computer in her quarters, reading Starfleet reports as she sipped her morning tea. The Columbia was completing Starfleet's formal contact with the Saurians. Hoshi chuckled at Captain Matt Hayes's official log entries. He'd also sent her his 'off the record' account of what happened; the introduction of Saurian Brandy had nearly caused a diplomatic incident.
“Tell Trip that good Kentucky bourbon is not the equivalent of a fair trade, as far as the Saurians are concerned. How was I to know that the Saurian chief was allergic to something in the bourbon? Luckily Rosie was able to neutralize the agent that was causing it---him?---trouble. Then the chief decided Nate Kemper's entire stock of Guinness was ample compensation for nearly killing him. Kemper's pissed about it...he wasn't expecting to lose his entire stash in less than a month.”
Hoshi laughed at the humor in Matt's voice. “Rosie” was Matt's Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Rosie Arroyo, one of Malcolm's colleagues. Major Nathan Kemper was Trip Tucker's counterpart on Columbia. She could imagine the fit that Kemper had thrown at the loss of his beer.
“Anyway, we're headed to the Kapella system. Hopefully, we won't have to deal with drunk dinosaurs with tails the length of my arm. Everyone says hi, and hope to hear from you soon. Take care, Hoshi. I love you. Hayes, out.”
She smiled and popped the comm chip out of its slot. Hoshi opened her desk drawer and place it with a stack of similar chips, tied in a neat bundle. She and Matt sent each other “letters” like these whenever they were on different assignments. It was a way to keep in touch during long deployments like this one. Hoshi sighed; it was going to be a long five years.
“Tucker to Sato.”
She touched the comm button. “Sato.”
“This is your five-minute ticker, Cap'n. Phase Pistol evals in the Armory at 0900.”
Hoshi glanced at her chronometer which read 0855. “Thanks, Trip, I'll be right there.”
“See you in five, Tucker out.”
Hoshi chuckled and shut down her computer. Trip took those phase pistol evals seriously. The Armory Officer was as methodical in his domain as Phlox was in engineering or Malcolm Reed was in Sickbay. She shook her head. Of course, the Captain had to set a good example for her crew, and you never knew when a lucky shot could save your life.
When she stepped into the Armory, she was surprised to see Malcolm going through the holosimulation. Her CMO was the last person she'd expected to go through phase pistol training, but she was pleasantly surprised that he'd taken the initiative. Trip stood nearby and monitored Malcolm's progress.
Malcolm glanced at him. “How was it?”
“Pretty good. Seventy-six percent.” Trip raised an eyebrow. “No offense, but I didn't expect to see this kinda result from a medic. 'Do no harm' and all that.”
Malcolm snorted good-naturedly. “My father designs weapons for Her Majesty's Navy. He wanted to make sure I could defend myself if need be.” He shrugged and added, “And as a doctor, I know where to shoot to minimize the damage.”
“Good point. Didn't think of it that way. Do no harm and all that.” Trip nodded as he accepted the phase pistol. “Your dad sounds like a smart guy.”
“I believe you two might get along, if you ever meet.”
“Really? I've been reading up on some of his designs. Maybe we could have a chat on the subspace channel sometime? It'd be nice to talk to someone who knows the difference between an EM generator and a phase coil.”
Malcolm laughed and shook his head. “Perhaps.” He spotted Hoshi and nodded at her, his tone becoming more formal. “Captain.”
“Good morning, Malcolm.” She nodded back, but a part of her wished he wouldn't close himself off whenever she entered the room. He seemed to relax around a very few people, and Trip looked like one of them. She looked at Trip and asked in a humorous tone, “I assume he passes?”
“Sure did. I'm glad that I have to worry less about the CMO bein' able to defend himself. Makes my job a lot easier,” he answered with a bright grin.
The doctor chuckled. “I try to. Now, if you would stay out of my Sickbay for more than just a few days at a time---”
“Believe me, Doc, I'm doin' my best. It's an occupational hazard.”
“At least, try to cut down on the frequency of your visits, if you can.”
“Can't make any promises, Doc. You know that.”
Hoshi chuckled as Malcolm rolled his eyes to the ceiling, as if praying for guidance. “How's Kov settling in, Malcolm?”
“He's doing well. I've briefed him on procedures and he seems to be adjusting. He and Phlox are planning some sort of joint project, something about the study of Human customs---”
Trip winced and groaned, “Aw, God, Cap'n, you can't imagine the kind of questions the two of 'em have asked me already! Phlox ambushed me here in the Armory and asked about all sorts of stuff, including things you don't usually talk about in polite company! I think Graves damn near died of embarrassment when he asked her about her preferences for a mate...in all situations.”
Hoshi waggled her eyebrows at him. “So, they're curious.”
“Curious and blunt like no one's business. It'll be a miracle if Kov and Phlox get enough info without someone bein' offended.” Trip exchanged the discharged pistol for a new one, which he handed to Hoshi. “Okay, whenever you're ready.”
She adjusted her grip and her stance. “Ready.”
Hoshi fired at the holographic targets as they zipped around the Armory. The first run went well, and so did the second, but she wasn't prepared for what happened on the third. She fired at the target, but the beam went wide. Hoshi frowned and tried again. This time, the beam appeared to bend in mid-air, as if it had hit, and reflected, off an invisible mirror.
“Stop.” Trip narrowed his eyes at the readings on his PADD. “What the hell kinda trick was that?”
She shook her head, mystified. “I don't know. I wasn't trying to be fancy.”
“Maybe we oughta try that again.” He reset the simulation. “Go.”
Hoshi began again. This time, the beam bounced off the far wall, reflected off the ceiling, and went in the opposite direction of where it should have gone. Both Trip and Malcolm involuntarily ducked as it shot over their heads. If it had been a live beam, it would have singed Trip's hair.
“What the---” he exploded.
“You all right?” Hoshi asked. She flipped the safety on the phase pistol; they couldn't afford an accident with a faulty phase pistol.
“Yeah, fine.” He glanced at Malcolm. “At least I know you saw it too, so I don't have to get my eyes checked.”
Hoshi scowled. “Maybe it's the phase pistol, or the simulation itself.”
“It worked for Malcolm, and for the six other people I tested this mornin'.” Trip sighed. “I'll check it anyway, just to make sure, though. I'd hate to think our equipment's already breaking down less than a month out of Spacedock.”
“Have Phlox look at it too. If it's an equipment malfunction, he could pinpoint the problem and fix it.”
“Yes, Cap'n.” Trip blew out a frustrated breath and ran his hand through his short-cropped hair. “In any case, you've done well enough to pass for this time out, so you won't have to go through another trial.”
“Thanks, Trip.” She handed him the pistol. “Let me know when you find the problem.”
“Will do.” He nodded at her and Malcolm, then climbed the ladder to the upper deck of the Armory. Hoshi sighed as she watched him go.
“It's probably an odd blip in the simulation. I'm sure it will be corrected soon.”
Hoshi nodded. “I'm headed for my Ready Room on the Bridge. Are you going to Sickbay?” At his return nod, she went on, “Lunch at thirteen hundred, Captain's Mess?”
He seemed surprised at the invitation, but he hid it under a smile. “I'd be delighted to join you for lunch, Captain.”
“I'll see you then.” She left the Armory without a backward glance, and Malcolm followed, heading for Sickbay on E Deck.
More strange happenings and a hostile intruder appears on the ship. What does it want?
Question: How did Malcolm get into medicine in this AU? You find out in this chapter.
Travis finished reading the daily reports on his PADD, then he took out a stylus and began making notes in the margins. Granted, it was old-fashioned, but he enjoyed the feel of writing on the smooth surface. The personal touch, as his mother put it. The rest of the crew thought it was a charming habit, and some of the other department heads had began to do the same with the drafts of their own reports. He could already decipher Trip Tucker's scrawl from Hoshi Sato's elegant cursive and T'Pol's block print. The easiest to read was Doctor Malcolm Reed's handwriting, which struck Travis as odd, for he had always thought all doctors had lousy handwriting. Malcolm didn't.
His PADD buzzed once and the screen changed. “What the---?” Travis found himself looking at a list in Denobulan script. “Um...Lieutenant Commander Archer, I think I got Commander Phlox's mail by mistake.”
“What? The daily comms haven't arrived from Echo Two yet. Are you sure?” Archer tapped his board and checked the ship's internal frequencies. He frowned as he turned to address Travis again. “Internal communications are running normally. Let me see your PADD.”
Travis got out of the command chair, went over to Jon, and handed over the PADD. After a few moments, Jon shook his head. “I don't see anything wrong with it. Maybe it's just a glitch.”
He stifled a groan of dismay. “It's one heck of glitch because I've lost some of the daily reports.”
“I can pull up some copies and transmit them to your PADD, Commander. You'll lose anything you're currently working on, but---”
Travis winced again, but he reassured him, “That's okay. I'll live. Thanks, Lieutenant Commander.”
“No problem, Travis.” Jon turned back to his board and uploaded the reports from the ship's databanks. “There, that should do it---”
Travis narrowed his eyes as Jon's frown deepened at something on his console. It was the exact expression he'd seen on his father's face whenever something went haywire on the Horizon, the family cargo ship. “Now what's wrong?”
“The Universal Translator's gone off-line. That's strange; I just installed some new protocols on it and now it's set back to the default. It shouldn't have done that.”
“Maybe there are a few bugs in the ship's systems that need to be worked out. This is our maiden voyage, after all.” Travis's words were reassuring, but his expression was skeptical. Enterprise was the first NX-class ship to be built and launched by United Earth Space Administration and Starfleet. An equipment breakdown less than a month out of spacedock certainly didn't imply good things about them.
Jon made a face as he replied, “Maybe, or we've got a pack of wild sehlats in the conduits somewhere.”
Lieutenant T'Pol raised her eyebrow and turned toward them. “Wild sehlats would find the atmosphere within the ship's conduit system to be quite uncomfortable, not to mention...aromatic.”
Jon chuckled and shook his head. “A figure of speech, T'Pol. In any case, I'm going to have to redo the upgrades from scratch. It'll take me five or six hours, if I can get help.”
Travis sighed. This was getting better and better. “Get whatever help you need. In the meantime, I'll let Phlox know we're having trouble with some of the ship's systems---”
And on cue, the lights began to flicker on and off, screens faded to black, and the main viewer winked out for a brief second. Travis swore under his breath and hit the comm button on the command chair. “Engineering!”
“Power drop to the Main Bridge,” came Commander Phlox's voice from the speakers. “Switching to back-up power generators...now.” The lights came back on and the Bridge's computers roared back to life. “Commander Mayweather?”
The crew confirmed that everything was back to normal. Travis nodded and answered, “We're okay up here, Phlox. What happened? That power drop was a lot more than the first one.”
“Indeed; that was closer to fifteen percent. I will need to run diagnostics on the EPS grid and a visual inspection of the power conduits on A and B Decks.”
“How long will that take?”
“At least six or seven hours. I would suggest we also take the warp core off-line for the meantime, at least until we can get the power flow problems solved. The last thing we need is a surge that could burn out our warp core.”
Travis didn't have Hoshi's talent for languages, but he could swear in several different trade-tongues and he did, silently. “Go ahead, Phlox, but don't leave it too cold. If that dying sun we're observing decides to do more than just hiccup, we might need to get out of here in a hurry.”
“Understood, Phlox out.”
Travis glanced over at T'Pol. “Plot us a nice, wide course around Keshwa, Lieutenant, that still allows us to get the maximum amount of interstellar data. If it's affecting the ship's systems, I don't want to hang around it too long. The safety of the crew's more important.”
She nodded in agreement. “Yes, Commander.”
He looked back at Jon. “Find the captain and get her up here.”
Hoshi glanced at the clock in the Captain's Mess. Twelve-fifty five. Five minutes until lunch with Malcolm, then she planned to relieve Travis in time for the shift change from Alpha to Beta at 1400. She made it a point to have a meal with at least one of her senior staff during the first few weeks of their new mission. Travis, of course, as her First and Science Officer. Phlox, Jon and Trip. The only two people she hadn't had a chance yet were Malcolm and T'Pol.
And Kov. She liked the young Vulcan doctor, thrown into a situation not of his own making, but doing the best of it. She was glad of Malcolm's promise to watch over him; Kov and T'Pol already had fundamental differences in temperment and attitude. Hoshi hoped it wouldn't be a problem.
The doors opened and Malcolm came in. “Captain?”
“Have a seat, Malcolm. This is an informal lunch, so no ranks here. Call me Hoshi.”
He looked uncomfortable at that, but nodded as he took a seat. “Hoshi, then. Thank you for inviting me to lunch.”
“You're welcome.” She signaled her steward, Crewman Cunningham, to take their orders for lunch. Once that was done, she steered the conversation toward Sickbay and Kov, then to his experiences at the Vulcan Medical Academy in Shi'Kahr. As they talked, she got the impression that he was dedicated to his profession, so dedicated that he sometimes forgot about his own needs. He'd grown up in a military family, and his father, Admiral Stuart Reed, worked in Her Majesty's Defense Ministry.
“Why medicine? I understand your father would have wanted you to follow in his footsteps.”
Malcolm raised a sardonic eyebrow. “He would have, most definitely, but he discovered early on that we were of different temperaments and attitudes. I learned self-defense and how to shoot—we both did, my sister and I---but my interests took a different turn.” He paused to take a sip of water. “There had been an accidental explosion at a firing range. Maddie and I happened to be there, and we both assisted the medical personnel in caring for the injured. That was the start of it for me.”
“How old were you at the time?”
“Ah...nine years old. Maddie is the elder by three years, so she would've been twelve.”
“And you knew you wanted to be a doctor at nine years old?”
“Pretty much.” He chuckled and shrugged lightly. “Father didn't take it well at first...eldest son, family tradition, and all that. I pointed out that it takes skill to destroy, but just as complicated a skill to put back together. Eventually, he unbent a little bit.”
Hoshi shook her head and smiled. “How long did that take?”
“Well, I was in my third year of medical school at Cambridge at the time, so sixteen, seventeen years.” Malcolm grinned at her laughter. “Funnily enough, my sister decided to go her own way as well. She's a museum curator, at the Tate in London.”
“Your father must have had an apoplectic fit.”
“Not quite, though it came very close. My mother, bless her, is the sane one of we Reeds.” Malcolm finished his salad and started on the pasta. “I'm close to her, and Maddie to my father. We all get along, though. More or less.”
Hoshi shook her head. Who would have known that her chief medical officer had a genuine warmth under that dry wit? She had the distinct feeling he didn't show that side of him to many people, and felt privledged to see it.
The lights in the Captain's Mess flickered briefly before they failed completely. She muttered some choice words in Old English as she hit the intercom. “Sato to the Bridge. Commander Mayweather, what's going on?” There was no answer. “Malcolm, you okay?”
“I'm fine, Captain, but there might be people who might need our help.”
She got up and slowly made her way to her door, which had opened part way for her. She grabbed one side, Malcolm the other, and they pulled until they managed to make an opening wide enough for them to slip through. The red emergency lights bathed the Mess Hall in an eerie glow.
“Here, Captain!” The steward was at the door of the galley, taking a head count of everyone in the Mess. “No one's hurt, just startled. Lucky Chef wasn't slicing and dicing when the lights went out.”
“Good. Everyone stay where they are while Doctor Reed and I find out what's going on.”
“No arrgument from here, Captain.” Other voices chimed their agreement as she and Malcolm managed to find the main door. Two engineering crewmen helped them pry it open and they slipped into the corridor.
“Crewman Manetti, is everyone all right?”
“We're okay, ma'am,” Manetti answered, with the quiet confidence of one of Trip's Security men. “Comms are down---”
“We need to make sure we don't have people lying injured,” Malcolm told him. “Do a door-by-door sweep of this deck, Mister Manetti. Ensign Payne, we need someone to alert Doctor Kov in Sickbay---”
“Captain Sato!” Crewman Ivanovich shouted as he pointed further down the hall. “What is that?”
A faint shadow passed by the turbolift. At first, Hoshi thought it was merely an illusion from the alert lights, but it stopped at Ivanovich's shout, reversed its direction, and approached them at high speed.
“Down!” Malcolm yelled. He pulled Hoshi down, protecting her with his own body. Everyone else dropped to the deck as the shadow swooped over their heads. It hit the far bulkhead, went through it, and disappeared. A minute later, the lights came back on as if nothing strange had happened.
“Bridge to Captain Sato. Captain Sato, report to the Bridge. Doctor Reed, medical assistance needed in Engineering. Doctor Kov, medical assistance needed in Cargo Bay Three. Acknowledge, please.”
Hoshi lay there for a minute, stunned. Gradually, she became aware of Malcolm's breathing in her ear, his weight on her, and felt her cheeks flame with...embarrassment? Oh for God's sake, don't even go there. He's your chief medical officer!
“I'll all right.” He offered her a hand and pulled her up to her feet. She dove for the comm and smacked the button with her hand. “Acknowledged, Commander Mayweather. I'm on my way.” She nodded at Manetti and Ivanovich and added, “As soon as we figure out what's going on, we'll let the crew know.”
“Yes, ma'am,” both men chorused and went on their way.
Hoshi headed for the nearest access ladder; she didn't quite trust the lifts, even with the power restored, and the last thing she wanted was to be trapped in a tight, enclosed space. She pushed the dread to a corner of her brain as she began her long ascent.