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Two lightyears from the Badlands: Federation Occupation Zone, Cardassian Space

Stardate: 53240.2

“Chief Science Officer’s Log, Stardate: 53240.2. I have been invited to Vulcan to present my paper on ‘The Artificial Creation of Dynamic Subspace Folds to Increase Warp Field Efficiency’ before the Science Academy. Though it is a six day journey alone in a runabout, I’m very much enjoying the peace, quiet, and solitude of the trip. I have decided to use the opportunity to continue my personal survey of my favorite period in Earth’s musical history…”

Laria danced up to the replicator and grabbed her mug of hot tea. The strains of a piano and electronic drums boomed through the cabin of the runabout. She began singing at the top of her lungs as she twirled back into the pilot’s chair in the front of the ship.

“Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds? Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need!”

She placed her tea on the console and jumped back to her feet, spinning around the front

of the runabout, still singing towards the ceiling.

“I need a hero! I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night.
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.
I need a hero! I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light!

He’s gotta be sure, and it’s gotta be soon, and he’s gotta be larger than life…”

The music continued as she danced and jumped around the compartment. Suddenly, she dropped to her knees, closed her eyes, and pressed her fist against her heart.

“Up where the mountains meet the heavens above, out where the lightning splits the sea,
I would swear that there’s someone somewhere, watching me.

Through the wind and the chill and the rain and the storm and the flood!
I can feel his approach, like a fire in my blood!”

She jumped back to her feet as the music reached its zenith. She raised her hands above her head and belted out the chorus again.

“I need a hero! I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night.
He’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.
I need a hero! I’m holding out for a hero ’til the morning light!

He’s gotta be sure, and it’s gotta be soon, and he’s gotta be larger than life…”

The music faded out and she collapsed back into the pilot’s chair.

“Whew,” she said to herself. “Computer, pause playlist.”

“Playlist paused.”

“What’s our current ETA at Vulcan?”

“At present course and speed, will arrive at Vulcan in three days, nine hours, and sixteen minutes.”

“Nice, and we’re only on 1984!” she said resting her feet on the console and taking a sip of tea.

Suddenly, an alarm sounded and she sprang into action.

“Computer, report,” she commanded as she pressed several keys in front of her.

“Long range sensors indicate the presence of a Jem’Hadar fighter.”

“How is that possible? The war’s been over for almost seven months!”

“Please re-state your inquiry.”

“That was a rhetorical question, Computer! Shields up, arm phasers.”

“Acknowledged.”

“Have they scanned us?”

“Negative. There are no indications of any active systems on board the Jem’Hadar fighter.”

“Computer, activate sensors. Scan the vessel.”

“Sensors indicate that there are no life signs aboard. Negative indication of any anti-matter reaction, or power generation of any kind.”

“Analysis?”

“Ship is derelict and adrift.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that at the very beginning?” Laria said angrily.

“Please re-state your inquiry.” Laria sighed.

“Lower shields, alter course to take us to the ship. We might as well take a look and report its position.”

“Acknowledged. Altering course to intercept in five minutes.”

The runabout approached the fighter. Its hull was covered in micro-meteor impacts and its warp nacelles were dark. It had obviously been floating out here for a long time.

“What happened to you?” Laria thought out loud. She punched a few more keys.

“Computer, can we conduct a power transfer from our warp core and attempt to access the ships computer?”

“Affirmative. Activating power transfer beam.”

A blue beam projected out from the belly of the runabout. Another alarm sounded the cabin.

“Warning, sensors indicate activation of a tamper fail-safe mechanism about the Jem’Hadar fighter.”

“It’s booby trapped! Computer cut the power transfer beam and back us off!”

It was too late. A feedback pulse shot back through the beam and into the runabout’s warp core. The entire ship rocked and the console exploded in front of Laria. The explosion sent her backwards onto the floor. She was dazed, but still conscious. Another alarm.

“Warning: Damage to warp core. Warp core breach in one minute. Abandon Ship.”

“What?” Laria said in a panic. The alarm continued.

“Warning: Damage to warp core. Warp core breach in fifty seconds. Abandon Ship.”

“Computer! Eject the warp core!

“Unable to comply. Warp core magnetic interlocks are fused. Warning: Damage to warp core. Warp core breach in forty seconds. Abandon Ship.”

“Send out a general distress call to any other ships in the area.”

“Unable to comply. Communications systems are offline. Warning: Damage to warp core. Warp core breach in thirty seconds. Abandon Ship.”

“Oh, Prophets,” Laria jumped to her feet and pulled open a panel in the floor. She grabbed a bag of emergency supplies and a phaser rifle before heading to a small hatch located next to the transporter. She pried open a plastic panel and pulled a large red handle. The hatch slid open and she climbed inside the tiny space. Ironically, the dimensions were approximately identical to a coffin.

“Warning: Damage to warp core. Warp core breach in twenty seconds. Abandon Ship.”

With one last deep breath, she slammed the large red button next to her hand. The hatch sealed and the escape pod blasted away from the runabout. The acceleration pulled the blood away from her brain and she began to black out.

The warp core of the runabout breached in a brilliant flash of white light that quickly encompassed both Laria’s former ship and the Jem’Hadar fighter. The dual explosions produced a shockwave that slammed into the escape pod. Laria’s head crashed against the console next to her. Instantly, she was unconscious.


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