SPACE- THE FINAL FRONTIER. THESE ARE THE VOYAGES OF THE STARSHIP ENTERPRISE. HER FIVE-YEAR MISSION: TO EXPLORE STRANGE, NEW WORLDS. TO SEEK OUT NEW LIFE AND NEW CIVILIZATIONS. TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE!
Captain Christopher Pike of the U.S.S. Enterprise and Federation Ambassador-At-Large Lisa Fuller had been staring up into the gray sky of the planet Tarsus for a few minutes when Pike's communicator emitted the familiar beeping sound that signaled an incoming call.
“Troi here, sir.”
Knowing there was going to be hell to pay for the way he had slipped off of the ship without notifying his First Officer, Pike faced the music as calmly as he could.
“Go ahead, Number One.”
“Captain, this needs to be said, so here goes. You had no business failing to inform me of your actions in beaming into a situation that is confirmed as being hazardous.”
“Agreed. You can yell at me when I get back.”
As her tone of voice softened a bit, Troi spoke again. She owed Pike her life half a dozen times over. “No, Chris, I'm just going to make sure it never happens again. I've issued a standing order that I be notified if you decide to leave the ship at any time.”
“Fair enough. Any word from the Temporal Observation Post on Gateway?”
“Their initial scans show no alterations other than the one on Tarsus. Per standard procedure, the Klingon and Romulan governments have been notified of the situation.”
“After the fact of their spies on the research team having notified them, I bet.”
“Probably. Chris, I'm worried. Sensors are showing minor but ongoing temporal aftershocks. If the landing team gets caught in one-”
“Then there won't be a landing team. I'll reassemble us for beam up. Pike, out.”
Pike quickly drew his people together and as their figures shimmered with transporter effect, they returned to the Enterprise a few seconds later. As they rematerialized and made their way into the corridor everyone but Pike and Fuller made way for his or her duty station. Sensing that the ambassador had something to say, Pike held back.
“Captain. I know we just met yesterday and I know I'm new to my job, so if I'm out of line, say so, please,” she began.
“Of course,” he responded.
“If someone we've not met yet, that is the Federation hasn't met, is still here, then this is a first contact I'm dealing with.”
“Agreed. However, we have no evidence of a continued presence.”
“That's true. I do have the authority to order the Enterprise to remain in orbit of Tarsus for a minimum of twenty-four hours, you know.”
“I'm well aware of that. I'm asking you to not use that authority today.”
Sensing a hidden meaning in Pike's choice of words, Fuller parried his move. “But you are comfortable with my using it the next time I consider doing so?”
“I am. You're new to your job, Madame Ambassador but you are also highly qualified; you wouldn't have drawn the assignment to the Enterprise if you weren't.”
“Fair enough, Captain. I'm going to compose my report now and I'll note, for the record, that you were both calm and reasonable when we discussed the situation at hand.”
“I'll leave you to it, then. Should you need me, I'll be on the Bridge or in my quarters.”
Fuller then headed one way while Pike went off the other way. While he was nearing the closest turbo lift, a Red Alert was sounded. Klaxons blaring and lights flashing brought everyone to full alertness and people began running. Once he was in the lift, Pike keyed in his emergency override code to put his car ahead of all the others. Reaching the Bridge, he found it in turmoil as the main viewer displayed a vision of destruction. The Enterprise was being pulled down out of her orbit and the view was dizzying.
Pike took his seat as Troi yelled out orders and frantic questions.
“Flash alert to Command that we are in danger of destruction. Olmstead, we're never going to break free under impulse power. Can you handle a warp jump in atmosphere? Freeman, if he can, can you set course for somewhere no one can find us?”
As he heard the voice of his comm officer sending the alert, Pike turned his attention to the readings displayed on his command chair's left arm panel. Wave after wave of temporal energy was tearing the planet below them apart and gravitational levels were spiking. As the officers at helm and navigation nodded grimly that they could do what Troi was asking of them, Troi turned to face Pike.
“This was deliberate. A pair of ships flew in from the other side of the system and set off a chain reaction of some sort. Those aftershocks became an all-out time-quake. Chris, this is an attack on the ship. It has to be. There's no reason to destroy Tarsus now that the colony has been erased from existence.”
“Did we ID the ships?”
“No. Unknown configuration.”
“Time to impact?”
Pike began to count seconds off in his head. At ten, he thumbed his comm control. His voice echoed throughout the ship as he spoke. “All hands, this is the Captain. Prepare for warp jump in atmosphere and possible crash landing.” Ten seconds later, he nodded once to Troi as she stood over the panel of the Engineering sub-station. She nodded her head in return.
Pike spoke with as much calm as he could muster. “Helm, warp speed...now!”
As the warp field began to form around the Enterprise two sets of energies, one quantum and the other temporal, began to conflict with each other. Going to warp in a planetary environment was hazardous under normal conditions and was strictly forbidden where any life forms were present. Doing it now with the temporal field present was asking for trouble. The warp field began to stretch out then somehow regained its normal shape and the Enterprise jumped into warp.
Pushing the engines for all they were worth, Ensign Olmstead watched as the numbers indicating the ship's speed kept changing. He knew that warp seven was the normal safety limit; as they approached it he kept at it, not stopping till the ship was doing warp eight-point-three.
Beside him, Ensign Freeman had set a course for the Maranis Asteroid Belt which was just two systems over. Olmstead and Freeman had trained together at Star Fleet Academy and knew each others moves backwards and forwards. Olmstead cut warp speed at the precise instant he had to and then switched to full impulse as Freeman maneuvered the ship into the belt. The trip had taken less than four minutes.
Pike, rising from his command chair, indicated to Troi for her to take over. Moving over to the Science station, he waited while Thelev ran a set of sensor scans. The young Andorian officer spoke when he was done. “Sensors indicate we were not pursued.”
“I'd like to confirm that. Run a second scan,” Pike ordered.
“Aye, sir.” Thelev ran another set of scans then spoke again. “Confirmed. No vessels in sensor range.”
Pike turned to issue an order to Youmans and then realized she was dead. Her body was aged horribly. Just seven minutes earlier she had been twenty-five years old and now she looked to be near ninety. Her skin was wrinkled. Her spine was deformed. The voice of Troi calling for someone from Medical to come up to the Bridge was the only sound on the Bridge other than the sounds of equipment functioning.
A few minutes later Doctor M'Benga stepped onto the Bridge and moved to examine the body. His dark skinned face fell ashen as he realized what had happened. “This woman was exposed to temporal energy. She died so quickly she almost certainly felt no pain,” he stated.
“Thank you, Doctor,” Pike responded.
Fifteen minutes later, the senior staff found themselves in the Main Briefing room facing a grim-faced captain that walked into the room and had his people fall silent almost immediately as they waited for him to speak.
“It's been a hell of a first day, people. We ran into a warp constant fluctuation, almost flew the ship apart, the planet Tarsus no longer exists and quite possibly never did exist, and one of our own is dead. The ship though, is intact. We've received orders to make an attempt at tracking our attackers. We will find them, and make them pay. Is there anything any of you want to say before we get back to work?”
No one had anything to say, so Pike dismissed them. When he returned to the Bridge, he was relieved to see open space in front of the ship on the viewer in front of him. The sight of stars passing by at warp speed always had a calming effect on him no matter how tense the situation. Thelev motioned for Pike to join him at the Science station, unbending himself from a crouched position over his scanner.
“Good news, Mister Thelev?”
“Yes. I've picked up our attackers' warp trail. It's faint but detectable. If you take a look, Captain, you can see that they've dropped out of warp in the Tarsus system.”
Pike was no science officer but he knew the basics of how to interpret the readouts of the scanner; a quick look confirmed what Thelev had stated.
“They're sure fascinated with the Tarsus system, maybe to a fault,” Pike stated as he yielded the station back to Thelev.
“One can hope,” the Andorian responded.
“Helm, new course. Get your coordinates from Mister Thelev.”
Pike turned to face the new delta-shift Communications Officer.
“Ensign. Your name?”
“Ensign Colt, signal Yellow Alert and send word to Star Base Twelve that we've located our attackers.”
Colt closed her eyes for just a few seconds, hoping that she would be up to the task. She had, just earlier in the day, been assigned to the ship to serve as Pike's yeoman. The call from Commander Troi had woken her from a deep sleep, the order to report to the Bridge as the new delta-shift communications officer had jolted her into being fully awake. She had minored in Communications while training at Star Fleet Academy with a major in Ship's Services, hence the posting to serve as the captain's personal aide.
The signaling of a Yellow Alert was a simple enough task but she had to think hard for several seconds before she could remember how to put an outgoing call through to a Star Base.
“Star Base Twelve, this is the U.S.S. Enterprise, we have located our attackers. We are on course for the Tarsus system, arrival estimated at seven minutes present speed. Please respond.”
A voice, calm and clear, came over her earpiece. The call was crystal clear with no static.
“Acknowledged, Enterprise. Be advised that the U.S.S. Republic is on course for the Tarsus system as well, estimated arrival in one hour.”
“Acknowledged, Base Twelve. Enterprise, out.”
Colt ended the call and swung around in her seat to face Pike who was now seated in his command chair. Troi had taken up watch at the Security substation as that was her battle station.
“Captain, Star Base Twelve is aware of our situation and advises that the Republic is due on-scene in one hour.”
“Good work, Colt. Can you patch me through to Captain Stone?”
“Yes, sir. Just a minute and I'll have the call placed.”
Colt breathed a sigh of relief when the call went through with no problem. Once again, the call was as clear as clear could be. Republic's communications officer sounded as though he was just a few feet away from her as he answered the hail.
“You're on, sir,” she informed Pike as she transferred the call to him.
“Roger. You old space dog, I see they let you out from behind a desk one last time.”
“One last time is right, Chris. I've got a promotion to Commodore coming through next week and a ship full of cadets and trainees who are supposed to be learning the basics of an actual cruise. That's why we're so close to you.”
The two captains had never served together but knew each other fairly well from the times that their ships had worked together in the past.
“Understood. With any luck, we'll have things handled by the time you get here.”
Stone laughed before he spoke again. “I hope so too. See you in a bit. Republic, out.”
The next voice Pike heard was Colt's as she called out to all decks. “All hands, prepare for exit from warp speed.”
Good work, Ensign, Pike thought to himself. You knew enough to watch the readings from the helm on your board and sound the word when the time came.
As the ship dropped from warp, the view of space in front of the ship changed. The stars were gone, replaced by a single blue star and three lonely looking uninhabited and uninhabitable worlds. All three were steady in their orbits, a sign that the gravitational field of the system had not been altered. Ergo, Pike said to himself, the fourth planet never existed.
“Mister Thelev, run a full check through our memory banks. You're looking for any references to the existence of the planet Tarsus Prime. I'll take over the sensors and start scanning for our attackers.”
As he slid into place next to the now-seated Thelev, Pike peered into the scanner's blue screen. Rotating the control arm of the scanner he fine-tuned its readings and after several seconds found what he was looking for.
“Got them!,” he exclaimed, then continued with a rapid-fire series of orders, “Helm, sending coordinates now. Colt, signal Red Alert. All hands to battle stations. Helm, raise shields. Navigator, power up the phaser banks.”
Once he was in his chair, Pike saw the ships that had tried to destroy his ship. They were ominous looking vessels, cube-shaped and devoid of decoration or lettering. The sound of the Red Alert klaxon echoed as it bounced off the walls of the Bridge.
“Colt, shut that off. Go to silent alert,” Pike ordered.
The sound went silent as Colt obeyed the order she had been given. The alert lights on both sides of the Bridge continued to flash on and off with a deep red hue. Pike counted off as the seconds ticked by and when they were in weapons range, smacked the transmit button for short-range communications that was built into a goose-necked microphone on the right arm of his command chair.
He composed his thoughts carefully before speaking. “This is the U.S.S. Enterprise, representing the United Federation of Planets, Captain Christopher Pike, commanding. By attacking this vessel and destroying the planet Tarsus Prime, you have placed yourselves in jeopardy. Please respond.”
Several seconds passed before a machine-like sounding voice replied. 'We are the Borg. The planet you refer to was never meant to exist. It was eradicated.”
“Erased, you mean.”
“It existed only because of an error. That error has been corrected.”
“And the life forms that called that world home. What has become of them?”
“Eradication carries no guarantees. Some never existed, others exist in altered form.”
“And who are you to determine which worlds live and which die?”
“We are the Borg.”
“I get a feeling I'm going to get tired of hearing that. To whom am I speaking? Do I at least get to see your face or hear your name?”
The screen in front of Pike had its image shimmer and change in response to his challenge. The being he saw was humanoid, to a point. Part of his skull had been carved out and replaced with a cybernetic implant of some sort. His left eye had been removed as well, replaced with an artificial one that shone a bright red.
“I am Unit Two-six-one-one of Cube One-four-five-five. I am in charge here.”
“We've never encountered you before. What part of the galaxy do you come from?”
“Our home world is in what you refer to as the Delta Quadrant. We became aware of your kind after the cube accompanying mine emerged in this quadrant after traveling through a wormhole.”
Pike, hearing that, made a quick downward slashing motion with his left hand. Colt had remembered enough of her training to watch for such a move and reacted properly by cutting the audio portion of the transmission. Turning his back to the screen, Pike addressed Thelev. “Is that possible?”
“Yes. Though we know of no stable wormholes, the existence of one is indeed possible. And Captain, Tarsus Prime never existed. There is no external record of it. We remember it only because we were within the field of temporal alteration ourselves.”
Pike knew what order he had to issue next as he spoke. “Erase it from our own records, then. Pass the word to everyone on this ship that it's a forbidden subject as well.”
“I shall do so at once, sir.”
“Colt, restore audio, now.”
“You have consulted with a subordinate, Christopher Pike,” the Borg captain questioned.
“I have. And I'll kindly remind you to refer to myself or any other starship captain as such.”
“I will note that for the commanders of all Borg cubes.”
“Good. Is it now your intent to attack this ship a second time?”
“Our intent was not to attack you. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
“I am unfamiliar with that phrase.”
“Scan this vessel thoroughly and you'll see what I mean.”
“I have. You jest as to your ship being new and presumably understaffed. Your vessel departed ahead of schedule.”
“We did. We were en route to assist the colony on Tarsus.”
“Of that, I was not aware. We were not aware. We had presumed that your people would allow the weak to perish.”
“That's not how we do business. And those people were not weak. They were strong. Stubborn, also, to a fault perhaps. But they were our people.”
“ “Were” is the operative word, Captain. The Borg are what you refer to as...I believe the word is “surgeons”. Where a cancer exists, where a world is beyond redemption or never should have existed to begin with, we remove that cancer.”
“No offense, but this is Federation space. You have no right to act as you did today.”
“We are superior in both wisdom and technology. We are to you as you are to your ancestors of more than a century ago.”
“A century isn't that much time on a galactic scale.”
“It is sufficient. We apologize for any damage done to your ship and for any lives lost. We will give you warning of any further eradication actions.”
“So that we may evacuate our people beforehand?”
“Evacuation is unsafe. Those who live on a world scheduled for eradication must be present. Any successful attempt to remove them will damage the time stream of this universe.”
“But we'll pull our people out anyhow. You must realize that.”
“Any vessel attempting to interfere with our actions will be considered hostile. You may wish to scan our vessel thoroughly, Captain Pike. I will lower our interference field so that you may do so.”
Pike waited, with a feeling of dread. When Thelev spoke it was to inform Pike that the ships in front of them were carrying weapons systems that could destroy the Enterprise or any of her sister ships with ease.
“So you can blow me out of the water without even really trying. That'll buy you some time. Six months, a year at most. You have to be aware of the existence of various other powers in this quadrant. Once they become aware of the threat you pose, they'll be knocking on the Federation's door to offer their help in improving our shields and our weapons systems.”
“I concede that you will be able to challenge us at some future point. I also trust that we can and will overwhelm you with sheer numbers. Defy us and your worlds will be cut off from each other, one by one. Allow us to carry out our mission and we will leave you alone. This transmission ends, now.”
With that, both cube ships turned and warped out of the system.
“Tracking them, sir,” Thelev reported.
“Let it go, Mister Thelev. There's no point in getting the Enterprise destroyed on day one. Not for this reason, at least.”
“As you say, sir.”
“Colt, signal all clear, ship status normal.”
Pike, after giving his next to last command of the day, reached out with one hand to rub his temples. He felt a nasty headache coming on. He also wondered why his First Officer had been so quiet during the events of the past several minutes.
“You've been quiet through all this, Number One.”
“Studying, sir, and acting when I saw a weakness. I didn't want to tip our hand, but I used the security systems to sneak something past the Borg.”
“I managed to plant a tracking algorithm in one of their computer cores.”
“ “One of”...they have more than one?”
“Three, each independent of the other two. That's the bad news. We can track them only when they're using that first core. During the time you were talking to them, they switched back and forth between all three half a dozen times.”
“It's better than nothing. We'll have some idea of their course and probable next destination.”
“I did what I could, sir.”
“You did good, Commander. I'm heading for my quarters. You are to yield the center seat to Mister
Rensler when he arrives to relieve you. Understood?”
Pike stood and yielded the chair to Troi. As he reached the back of the Bridge, he stepped through the lift's doorway and let himself relax just a little as the doors slid shut. He entered his destination code and closed his eyes as the lift car began to move downwards.
Day one, he thought to himself. An erased planet. Federation citizens who now were never born and ones whose whereabouts we can't begin to guess at. One of my crew is dead. What was I thinking when I accepted the offer of command for this ship? Why in hell didn't I just let HQ promote Troi?
Chapter Notes: Spoilers for Part 1. As requested by moderators, I will add each new story as a chapter to this series. When it's complete, I will begin a brand new series under a new title. Sorry for any misunderstanding or confusion.