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John Randall

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  1. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11812.21) The mission came to a close, and the Challenger eased into the shipdock bay it had been assigned at the Utopia Planetia shipyards. John watched the docking over the ship's external cameras, and, as he always did, breathed a small sigh of relief when the big ship came to a complete stop safely inside the bay, and all the mooring lines were attached. Randall was about to address the crew in engineering when the ship's communication officer, Lieutenant Dvokr chim Hok's voice came over the ship's 'com. "All senior officers, report to the bridge," it said, and John sighed. He turned to his second-in-command, and his friend, Lieutenant Jeff Michaels, and raised his eyebrows. "Well, here we go again," Randall said in an exasperated tone of voice, and his long-time friend grinned. "Go do your duty, sir," he replied, and dodged a punch from Randall, laughing. "Get this department ready for the starbase maintenance team, Lieutenant," mock-growled the chief engineer, and Michaels came to mock attention, snapping off the Starfleet salute. "Yes, sir!" he exclaimed, and dodged another punch from Randall, who walked toward the engineering doors shaking his head. Randall walked through the doors, which swished open at his approach, and traveled down the corridor to the turbolift. A car arrived as he pushed the button, and he stepped in, saying, "Bridge." The door slid shut and the lift whisked him away. He arrived a few moments later, and stepped out onto the bridge to face a solemn-looking bridge crew. He was about to say something when his eyes caught the viewscreen, and the image displayed upon it. It was Fleet Admiral Nogura, the commander-in-chief of Starfleet, and Randall knew something was up. He walked over to stand beside the chief science officer of the Challenger, Lieutenant Caitlin Townshend, who gave him a brief glance as he took his place beside her, then both officers looked at the viewscreen. Captain Ja'Lale said, "My senior officers are all present, Admiral." Nogura nodded and looked frankly at them. "Captain, you and your crew have served Starfleet and the Federation well over the years," he said, and John suddenly got a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. "However, after much debate amongst the Federation Council, and us brass here at Starfleet, I have some bad news for you. It has been decided that the starship Challenger has seen its better days, and the mission you just completed will be its last one. The ship is to be decommissioned, and you and your crew will be re-assigned. The Challenger will take its place in history, a place that is well deserved. "This decision was not made lightly, and not without considerable protest, mainly from us here at Starfleet. But, and I dislike intensely saying this, the bureaucrats won the battle. The Challenger has undergone some extensive refits in the past few years, and the bureaucrats argued that the ship's time had come and gone. To our dismay, the Council agreed with them. I, for one, do not like the idea of breaking up one of the best crews, and ships, in the 'Fleet, but the situation is what it is, to coin the ancient phrase. Captain Ja'Lale, you will report at once to my office, and the rest of your crew will be given leave pending their next ship's assignment, if they decide to accept it. "Captain and crew of the Challenger, it was an honor to serve with you, and I wish all of you well in your future endeavours. Your service will not be forgotten, and you have benefitted the Federation greatly in your tenure of service. Nogura out." The admiral faded from view, and the bridge officers looked at one another, stunned. Captain Ja'Lale then walked to stand in front of the viewscreen, and turned to face them. "It has been a pleasure to serve with each and everyone of you," he/it said. "I hope our paths will cross again some day. We have been through a lot together, and I will hold your memories dear in my mind and heart. I also wish you success in whatever your future brings. Dismissed." With that, the captain strode to his ready room, and disappeared inside. The officers stared after him, then looked at each other. A few seconds passed with nothing being said, then John turned and headed for the turbolift. "Deck 3," he said as he entered the car, and the lift sped off. He arrived moments later, and stepped out of the car to hear the captain's voice on the ship's 'com, informing the crew of what had happened. John strode to his cabin, and went inside as the doors opened for him. He walked straight to the sofa and sat down, still not believing what had just taken place. **************3 DAYS LATER***************** John put the last of his possessions into the second duffel bag, then looked around the room. He still couldn't believe he was about to leave this place, and ship, forever. It had been his home for 7 1/2 years, and now it was over. When he left, he would no longer be the chief engineer of the Challenger; he would simply be Lieutenant John Randall, an engineer. He was about to pick up his bags when his computer terminal alarm went off, and he walked over to it. There was a live message coming in for him, and he activated the icon to retrieve it. When he saw who was on the other end, his jaw literally dropped, and he sat there staring at the screen. It was his lady friend T'Mira, the half-Romulan Vulcan who was a deep cover operative for the Vulcan High Command. John hadn't heard from her in months, and now she was on the screen smiling at him. "Hello, John," she said with a gentle smile. "I'm the last person you expected to hear from, I'm sure, but this is the first chance I've had to contact you. I hope it isn't a bad time." Randall said, "Well, you're lucky you caught me. I was just about to leave. I take it you've heard about the Challenger." T'Mira's face instantly fell as she nodded. "Yes, I did, John," she said sadly. "I'm so sorry. I know how much you loved that ship and loved serving aboard her." John shrugged. "Well, as the old Earth saying goes, all good things must come to an end." T'Mira looked at him intently. "You don't really believe that," she replied. "Well, it's happening now whether I want it to or not," Randall said. "I know you, John," the beautiful half-Romulan Vulcan female said. "It's killing you to leave; you just won't show it." John looked at her, then said softly, "You know how I feel," and T'Mira's eyes instantly shone with tears. "John, I contacted you because I have a proposition for you," she replied, and Randall looked at her. "It's not something I want to discuss over the airwaves like this, though," she continued. "I'm currently on Earth in San Francisco. Why don't you come down and we'll talk? Besides, I can't wait to see you again, my darling; it's been far too long." John grinned at that. "That it has, my dear," he intoned, and T'Mira smiled happily. "All right, I'll beam down to Starfleet HQ, then meet you at, say, the Presidio. How does that sound?" She replied, "Perfect, my darling. 15 minutes?" John nodded. "See you in fifteen," he said. T'Mira smiled and said, "I love you." "Love you, too," John replied. "Randall out." He broke contact and leaned back in the chair for a few seconds. His lady friend had found him again, and he was taking full advantage of this opportunity. He got up, grabbed his bags and strode toward the cabin doors. They sprang open as he approached, and he strode out into the corridor, heading for the turbolift. He got in as a car arrived, and said, "Deck 10." The car sped off. Randall later learned that the Challenger was NOT to be decommissioned, it would have a new crew and a new captain. Starfleet had won the fight to keep the ship in service with a massive appeal, and John wished the new crew and captain well. He was happy with his new life with T'Mira, whom he had married in an elaborate ceremony on Vulcan, and had no plans to return to Starfleet. END LOG
  2. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11806.20) The Challenger received word from Starfleet Command to travel to the Arcadian system to help establish trade and shipping routes with the non-aligned world. Arcadia was in Federation space, but was not a member, and, to anyone's knowledge, had ever asked to become a member. Captain Ja'Lale had the helmsman, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Hunter Matheson, lay in a course at warp 7 to the non-aligned world, and the ship sped off. Investigations into the planet of Arcadia had revealed that the natives of that world were a lot like the captain's home planet of Chelon. The Arcadians were mostly aquatic beings, and were just starting to venture out into space. They had been the ones who had contacted Starfleet about the possible trade and shipping routes, and some felt that the Arcadians were possibly on the brink of asking to become a full-fledged member of the Federation. During the trip to Arcadia, John was in engineering supervising his crew with the help of his two alpha shift command crewmates, Lieutenants Jeff Michaels and Susan Maloney. Maloney in particular had come a long way, John felt, and when he asked for her to take a supervisory role, she surprised him by accepting right away. Randall had been secretly pleased by Maloney's acceptance, and now knew he had two people on his alpha shift that he could trust to watch the crew. Not long after the ship got underway toward Arcadia, John noticed a strange sound coming from one of the warp engines while he was sitting at the main console. He immediately arose from his chair and went back to the warp core station, which was manned by Lieutenant Brad Mason. Randall nodded to Mason, then looked at the readouts on the panel. He instantly saw something he didn't like, and whipped out his communicator. "Randall to the bridge," the chief engineer said, and an answer came almost immediately. "Yes, Lieutenant, go ahead," answered Ja'Lale. "We have a problem with the starboard warp engine, sir," John reported. "Recommend we drop our speed to warp 5 until I assemble a team to check it out." Ja'Lale replied, "When will you have it fixed, Chief?" Randall said, "Depends on what I find, sir. I can give you an ETA in five minutes." The captain replied, "Very well, we will drop speed to warp 5. I will await your report." John said, "Aye, sir. Assembling a team now. Randall out." The chief engineer called Michaels over and gave him the conn. He then assembled a team and they rode the glass elevator to the top floor of engineering. He led them down the corridor to the starboard engine room, used his card to gain entry, and led them inside. He told the team to use their tricorders to amass information while he himself went to the panel at the readout station. After about five minutes, the team had the problem pegged, and Randall pushed the 'com button. "Randall to Ja'Lale," he said, and the captain answered immediately. "Yes, Chief, go ahead," he/it said. "We have a coolant problem with the starboard engine, sir," said Randall. "Nothing major, but it will take a few minutes to repair. ETA 10 minutes, sir." The captain said, "Acceptable, Chief. Contact me when you are finished." Randall replied, "Aye, sir. Starting work now. Randall out." John gave out instructions to his team, and they went to work. He stayed at the panel, making adjustments to the equations as needed while the team did their jobs. Ten minutes later, the job was finished, and the readouts showed the engine was back to nominal. John contacted Ja'Lale again and told him/it that the ship was safe to resume the warp 7 speed they had been traveling at earlier. The captain thanked him and signed off. Seconds later, the whine of the engine increased slightly, and John kept an eye on the readouts. Seeing everything was good, he nodded to his team, gave them a 'well done', and they returned to the ground floor of engineering. The team returned to their regular posts/stations, and John made his way to the main console. Michaels informed him everything was good, and Randall told him to keep the conn while he went into his office. The chief engineer made his way to his office and sat down at the computer. He powered it up and brought up some more information on the Arcadians, which wasn't much. He then had an idea pop into his head, and he composed, then sent, an e-mail to the science officer of the Challenger, Lieutenant Caitlin Townshend. In the e-mail, John inquired if she had recovered from her time spent aboard the Klingon vessel on their last mission. A few moments later, a reply came stating that, yes, she was; the food on the Challenger was much better, and not having to worry about getting a dagger slipped between your ribs was relaxing, also. She thanked Randall for thinking of her, then signed off. John laughed out loud at the food part, then sat back in his chair, smiling as he filed the e-mail from Townshend in his personal folder. He himself was very happy to be back on his home ship and in Federation space as well after their last mission. He then set to work logging reports onto the computer from the pile of PADDS on his desk. 'Some things never change', he mused to himself as he pounded away at the keyboard. END LOG
  3. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11805.25) The Challenger crew assisted the Klingons in hunting down some of their own. A renegade Klingon house had kidnapped a Federation starship crew and were holding them against their will at a secret base located deep inside an asteroid field. The officers of the Challenger set about learning their posts and stations aboard the Klingon bird of prey ship, the Klongat. The mission actually went fairly smoothly; the only outbreak of hostilities was when the Klingon search party, led by the Klongat, found the renegades' base hidden in the asteroid field. A battle ensued between the Klingon factions, and the Klingon search party emerged victorious. Several of the Klingons and some of the Challenger crew beamed aboard the base, where they found the Federation starship crew, captained by a Vulcan named Sivok, relatively unharmed. Everyone beamed back aboard the Klongat and the Klingon ship, along with the search party, returned to the Klingon homeworld of Qo'nos. Gronk, the H'oD (captain) of the Klongat thanked the Challenger crew for their help during the mission. Captain Ja'Lale acknowledged the Klingon captain, then asked his crew, when they all met in the quarters assigned to them on the Klongat, whether they wanted to tour the capital city of Qo'nos, or return to the Challenger. The crew elected to beam back aboard the Challenger, and John, for one, couldn't wait to get back aboard his home ship. The Challenger's chief engineer had not had an easy time of it in the engineering department of the Klongat, but he wasn't about to tell anyone that. Randall had been on guard the very instant that the senior officers had beamed aboard the Klingon vessel, and he relaxed only when he materialized on the transporter dais of his home ship. He stepped off the pad after a brief conversation with the helmsman of the Challenger, Marine Gunnery Sergeant Hunter Matheson, and exited the transporter room. He strode down the hall to the turbolift and stepped into a car when it arrived. "Deck 3," he said, and the lift sped off. He arrived a few moments later and made his way down the corridor to his cabin. He walked into the cabin and deposited his duffel bag on the sofa. He then let out a huge sigh of relief; he was home, and could relax again. He stripped off his uniform, which he vowed to trash, it still reeking of the smell of Klingon, and went quickly to the head. He activated the shower and stayed in it for 25 minutes, savoring the time spent. He then stepped out, toweled himself dry and went to his bedroom to put on civilian clothes. He then went to the computer terminal and pulled up the schedule for engineering. His friend Lieutenant Steve Davis was on duty, it being evening on the ship. He contacted Davis, informing him of his return, and said he would see his friend in the morning. Randall looked over the charts and graphs of his crew's performance while he had been gone, and sat back in his chair, pleased with what he saw. He then yawned hugely and got up from the chair after powering down the computer. He went into the bedroom and stripped off his clothing. He got into bed, told the computer what time he wanted to be awakened, and was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. END LOG
  4. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11802.05) John packed a duffel bag with spare uniforms to take over to the Klingon vessel that the senior crew of the Challenger would be serving aboard. He then had the computer replicate a medieval-style dagger for him as a backup weapon, and for show to the Klingons, who respected strength above all else, or at least a show of position of strength. He inspected the weapon, nodded, shrugged, and clipped it to his belt. He then made his way out of his cabin and strode down the corridor to the turbolift. He rode the 'lift to deck ten where transporter room 1 resided. He exited the lift and walked down the corridor to the transporter room. He entered and strode straight to the transporter dais. He walked up on it and poised himself for the beamover to the Klingon vessel. The rest of the away team came into the room and joined him on the pad. Captain Ja'Lale then nodded to the transporter chief. The officer checked his panel, then looked up at the captain. "Energize," Ja'Lale ordered, and the away team shimmered out of existence. They re-materialized in a dimly lit room about half the size of the Challenger's transporter room. As they got their eyes acclimated to the lower light settings, a door slid open and in walked a group of burly Klingons. John immediately went on guard, his senses on full alert as the two groups studied each other briefly. Then, one of the Klingons stepped forward. "Greetings," he said into his universal translator. "I am Gronk," and he also told what house he was from, but John was tuning it out; his eyes were on the remaining Klingons. His right hand drifted down to rest on the butt of his phaser as he watched the Klingons stare at the away team. The captain of the Klingon vessel finished his introduction, and Ja'Lale responded for the away team. Gronk indicated that the Challenger officers would be assigned to their Klingon counterparts so they could learn the terminology and technology of the Klingon ship. The communications officer of the Challenger, Lieutenant Dvokr chim Hok, exchanged a few words with the Klingon captain in the Klingon vocabulary, and the Klingon captain was impressed by the Tellarite's capability to speak his language, though he took pains not to show it. Gronk invited the Challenger crew to dine with them in the mess hall, or if they preferred, to hone their skills in the sparring room. Most of the away team opted for the mess hall. John, on the other hand, wanted to get down to business, and not spend any more time on the Klingon vessel than he had to. He looked directly at the remaining Klingons and boldly asked, "Which one of you is the engineer?" One of the Klingons stepped forward and said, "I am Marek, chief engineer of the Klongat. I presume you are the engineer of the Federation vessel?" John nodded. "That is correct," he answered. "Are you on a dinner break, or shall we go to engineering so I can begin learning your technology?" The Klingon answered, "I am anxious to get back to engineering myself. Follow me." So saying, he turned and walked out of the transporter room. John fell in behind the burly Klingon, and followed him to a turbolift. They entered the car, and Marek rasped out a command in his language. The lift sped off and stopped only a few moments later. The two beings exited the car and walked down a short corridor where they entered the engineering compartment. John's eyes were instantly drawn to the double warp core setup in the middle of the room. The two tubes ran vertically up to another floor of the engineering compartment. John let his gaze roam for a few seconds around the compartment, ignoring the looks he was getting from the various other Klingons working in the compartment. John then turned to the burly Klingon. "I would like to begin immediately," he said. "My rank is lieutenant. How should I address you?" Marek answered, "My rank is jonpin, which I understand is the same as your rank in Starfleet." John nodded. "Very well," he replied. "I would like to begin learning your systems and terminology." Marek nodded and led him around the engineering compartment, pointing out various systems and controls. John pulled his tricorder from his belt, which made the Klingon flinch at first, but then he saw the readouts and the lighted buttons on the device, and knew it was not a weapon. He continued his tour with Randall around engineering, John recording everything on the tricorder. The tour continued for the better part of a half hour, then Marek announced the tour was over. "I think you would like to go over what you have recorded," he said to Randall, "so I will leave you to your device. There is a matter I need to attend to on the upper floor. It is an adjustment I have to make to the starboard nacelle. You may come along if you wish." John nodded. "I would," he answered, and the Klingon nodded. Marek took Randall over to the warp core and then walked behind the assembly. There was a lift similar to the glass lift onboard the Challenger, and the two beings stepped into it. The lift rose, taking them to the top floor of the engineering compartment. They exited the lift, and Marek led John to a panel located on the west wall of the room. John again took out his tricorder and watched the Klingon as he made his adjustment. Marek then nodded to him, and they returned to the ground floor. The Klingon led Randall to a panel at the warp core assembly, and pointed out the adjustment he had made. John nodded, recording everything with his tricorder. Marek then said, "I think that is enough for a while; you need to study what you have recorded, yes?" Randall nodded. "That is correct," he answered. The Klingon said, "I am now going to the mess hall to get some dinner. Feel free to join me." John answered, "I would like to know if it would be possible to convert one of your food replicators to Federation Standard. I mean no offense, but Klingon food doesn't agree with my body chemistry." Marek studied him a moment, then nodded. "No offense taken," he said. "You are a very straight talking human, which, to be honest, I find refreshing. We only have one food replicator, but most of what we eat is live food anyway, as you are no doubt aware," raising his eyebrows at the Challenger's chief engineer, who nodded in return. "So I will accompany you, and we will convert the replicator together," he finished, and John nodded again. "Your help is appreciated," he said, and the Klingon nodded. The two beings left engineering and rode the lift to the mess hall. They entered to find the away team sitting at one end of a long table, and a group of Klingons at the other end. The away team had food in front of them, and were eyeing it hesitantly, especially the young science officer, Caitlin Townshend, who had a plate of what looked like tomatoes in front of her. John suppressed a smile, and followed Marek over to a machine on the wall. He turned on his tricorder and brought up several food items to display on the panel, and the equations for the items. He showed it to Marek, who merely nodded, and the two engineers set about deciphering the other's technology and terminology. The two groups seated at the table watched the engineers work. END LOG
  5. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11801.29) The Challenger arrived at the Klingon world they were supposed to help. As the ship settled into orbit, John saw on his monitor that the starboard impulse engine had mysteriously slipped out of calibration, and the computer reported a 5 millicochrane discrepancy. The chief engineer then blinked as a directive came from the bridge over his monitor that he was to report to the transporter room to join an away team that was beaming down to the Klingon planet. John knew the captain wouldn't like it, but his first duty was to keep the ship running, and he couldn't be in two places at once. He also knew none of the other crew members in engineering knew the impulse engines like he did. He called his friend Jeff Michaels over, who was also John's second-in-command in engineering, and told him to report to the transporter room to join the away team. Michaels raised a mild objection, but John told him that he could not leave because of the problem with the impulse engine; that took priority. Michaels agreed, and John told him to report the situation to the captain. Randall also said, "Tell the captain I'll beam down ASAP. Don't worry, Jeff, he won't bite your head off." Michaels nodded, giving a small smile, then turned and left engineering. John then assembled a team, and led the way to deck 14 where the impulse engines were located. They walked into the chamber, and were instantly struck by a strange smell. Randall knew there was also a problem with the coolant flow, and that was probably the cause of the engine discrepancy. He pulled out his tricorder and scanned the engine. A few seconds later, the readouts he received confirmed his suspicions. He assigned the crew to different tasks, and put them to work. He himself oversaw the computer algorithms as each task was finished, inputting them into the computer. Around a half hour later, the work was completed, and John asked the computer to run a scan on the engine. A few seconds later, the computer announced the engine was operating within normal parameters, and the crew smiled at each other. John gave them all a 'well done,' and they returned to engineering. John went to his locker to get his toolkit and strapped on his phaser. He knew he was about to beam down to a Klingon planet, and knew he could not go unarmed; to the Klingons, that was a show of weakness. He told Lieutenant (j.g.) Susan Maloney that he was beaming to the planet, and she would be temporarily in charge until Lieutenant Michaels returned. She nodded and swallowed hard. John noticed it and told her to relax, it wouldn't be that long. He then left engineering and rode the lift to deck 10. He stepped out of the car and made his way down the corridor to the transporter room. During his walk, he contacted Michaels by communicator and told him to tell the captain that he was about to beam down. Michaels acknowledged him, and John entered the room. He walked up onto the dais and told the chief to transport him to the away team's location. The chief nodded, made a few adjustments on his console, then looked up at Randall. "Energize," John said, and shimmered out of existence. He materialized in a dimly lit large room, and the first thing he saw were Klingons, about twelve or so, and they were all staring at him. John instantly drew his phaser, but the Klingons made no hostile moves, they simply stared at him. Randall looked around for a few seconds, then slowly holstered his phaser. He looked at the nearest Klingon and activated his universal translator. "Where is the Starfleet contingent?" he asked boldly, and the Klingon motioned toward a small room located at the back of the building, which looked like an office of sorts. John nodded to the Klingon, who, to his secret surprise, returned it, and strode toward the office. He opened the door and entered the room. He saw a table where several people were sitting, including the captain, the acting science officer, Lieutenant Caitlin Townshend, the communications officer, Lieutenant Dvokr chim Hok, and a man in civilian clothes who was talking to Ja'Lale. John glanced to his right, and made eye contact with Marine gunnery sergeant Hunter Matheson. He nodded to the Marine, and Matheson returned the nod. John also noticed Lieutenant Dyan Sylvanis standing near a small window in the rear of the office, and knew the two Marines had the room secured. Randall walked forward and took a seat at the table, nodding to the man in civilian clothing, who returned it. John had seen in the mission briefing that the man in civvies was a Starfleet Intelligence operative named Jacobs; to Randall, the man looked vaguely familiar. John thought to himself, 'I think I've seen flashes of this dude around SI headquarters in San Francisco.' He wasn't sure about that, however, so he kept his thoughts to himself. Jacobs was wrapping up the meeting with the Challenger crew, and as they got up from the table to leave, Randall said to Ja'Lale, "Sorry I'm late, sir." The captain nodded, and gave him a brief outline of the mission, which made John raise his eyebrows. The Challenger senior officers were to beam aboard a Klingon Bird-Of-Prey, and help fly the ship to look for a renegade Klingon captain and his crew. Ja'Lale then said, "How are the engines?" Randall filled the captain in on the work that had been done, and Ja'Lale nodded. "If you can't go on the mission, that's fine; we can take Michaels instead," he/it said, and John replied, "That's all right, I can go on the mission, sir; Jeff can look after things in engineering while I'm gone." The captain nodded, then addressed the team. "Are we exploring the city, or beaming back to the ship?" The team responded that they wanted to beam back aboard Challenger. Ja'Lale nodded and said, "All right, then; let's beam aboard, grab something to eat, and get some rest. We'll be rather busy the next few days, I imagine." The away team returned to Challenger, and a discussion ensued as they materialized on the dais about the Klingon food dish named gagh. Jacobs had mentioned something about the food dish just after the meeting had ended, and John had overheard Townshend, Sylvanis and Matheson talking about it. He smothered a smile as the young science officer's face paled when she found out exactly what gagh meant. John leaned in and addressed both Matheson and Townshend. "Don't worry, I'll see if I can get permission to convert a food replicator." Townshend gave him a rather sickly smile, and the gunnery sergeant responded, "Thanks, sir," and John could hear the relief in the Marine's voice. Sylvanis then cautioned the team to arm themselves and make sure they had some kind of bladed weapon on their person. John nodded. "Klingons respect power," he said. "Don't go lightly armed." Sylvanis agreed. "John's right," she said. "You have to show a presence of strength." Townshend was clearly uncomfortable with the weapons talk, then her brow creased even more when John said, "One other thing. Klingons believe women are good for one thing, and one thing only. You'll have to earn their respect." Sylvanis nodded grimly at that, but said nothing. Matheson tried to reassure Townshend, but the young science officer was clearly disturbed. John then said good night to all of them and left the transporter room. He rode the lift to the deck which housed the officers' mess, and got himself something to eat. He finished his meal, dumped the remains in the recycler bin, and left the room. He strode down the corridor to his cabin and went inside. He went into the bedroom, stripped off his uniform and climbed into his pajamas. He went back into the living area and powered up the computer. He checked his mail and read a status report on engineering sent to him by Michaels. He powered down the computer, returned to the bedroom and climbed into bed. He told the computer what time he wanted to be awakened, and dropped off into sleep. END LOG
  6. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11712.18) The group sitting at their table in the restaurant received a message on their PADDs that told them to board the ship for their next mission. They all said goodbye to each other, and left the restaurant. John made his way to the starbase transporter room, and was beamed to the Challenger. He descended from the dais and exited the transporter room, heading for the turbolift. "Deck 3," he said as he stepped into the car, and the lift sped off. It arrived moments later, and he exited the car, walking briskly down the corridor to his cabin. He entered and went straight to his bedroom, where he changed into a duty uniform. He exited the bedroom and went over to the computer terminal. He powered it up and checked his mail. Seeing nothing for him, he powered down the terminal and exited his cabin. He walked down the corridor to the turbolift and stepped into the car. "Deck 12," he snapped, and the lift whisked him away. It arrived at its destination, and John stepped out of the car. He walked the short distance to the engineering doors, which slid open at his approach. He entered the department, nodding and smiling at the crew that were already present, and went into the CE's office. He went around the desk and sat down in the chair. He powered up the computer and pulled up the mission statement. The Challenger had been assigned to make a medical run to a planet on the outer rim of the Klingon Empire. John's eyebrows rose as he read that part, then sat back in his chair. He heard the warp engines increase in whine, and his eyes shifted back to the monitor screen. He read that the ship was to maintain warp 7 all the way to the Neutral Zone, and his eyebrows rose again. The Challenger was delivering medical supplies to the Klingon planet that was still feeling the effects of the explosion of the Praxis moon. John sat back in his chair again and a sardonic smile came over his face. 'Wonder what kind of reception the ship will get from the Klingons,' he thought to himself. He then brought up the engineering reports and nodded in satisfaction that they all seemed to be in order. He then powered down the computer and left the office. He made his way to the warp console where he joined Lieutenant Brad Mason, who was in charge of watching the engines while the ship was at warp speed. They exchanged pleasantries, and John watched the readouts on the console with him for a while. He was pleased to note that the enhancements and modifications he had requested had been approved and installed in the engines and the console, and the engines were performing nicely at warp. John then smiled at Mason, clapped him on the shoulder, and made his way back to the main console, nicknamed the "pool table" by the crew in engineering. A few hours passed as the Challenger sailed for the Neutral Zone. John informed his crew during that time as to the nature of the Challenger's mission, and noted with some amusement the looks of disbelief and even awe on the faces of some of the newer ensigns. The whine of the warp engines then began to decline, and the chief engineer knew the ship had arrived at the Neutral Zone. 'Well, here we go,' he thought to himself as he sat at the main console. 'It's always an....interesting.... mission when you're dealing with the Klingons,' he thought to himself, and waited to see how this one would unfold. END LOG
  7. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11712.11) John finished entering the pile of PADDs into the computer and sat back in his chair. He closed his eyes to rest them for a few moments, then decided he would go aboard the starbase and see what it had to offer in terms of entertainment and cuisine. He arose from the chair after powering down the computer, and made his way out of engineering. Randall rode the turbolift to his deck and made his way down the corridor, entering his cabin. He went into the bedroom, stripped off his uniform, and donned civilian clothes. He then left his cabin and walked back down the corridor to the turbolift. He rode it to deck ten, where the transporter room was located. He exited the lift and strode to the transporter room. He entered, told the chief where he wanted to go, and ascended the dais. He then glanced at the chief, who nodded, and said, "Energize." He shimmered out of existence. John materialized in the starbase transporter room, nodded to the officer present, and descended from the dais. He made his way out of the transporter room and walked over to where there was a schematic of the starbase building plan on the wall, showing where to go in case of an emergency. He studied it for a moment, then walked to a nearby turbolift. "Deck 2," he said, and the lift whisked him away. It arrived at its destination and he exited the car. He began walking down the corridor and ducked into the first restaurant he came to. He sat down at a nearby table and ordered a chicken dinner from the pretty waitress. His food came a few moments later and he proceeded to devour the meal, not realizing how hungry he had actually been. During the meal, he looked casually around the restaurant, and spotted a very pretty redhead a few tables over. He considered going over to meet her, then a thought of T'Mira, his Vulcan-Romulan lady friend, popped into his head, and he thought better of the impulse. He finished the meal, wiped his mouth with a napkin, and sat back in his chair. He casually surveyed the room again, then his eyebrows rose as he saw SMC Sergeant Hunter Matheson and Lieutenant Dyan Sylvanis sitting together a few tables over from his location. They looked very cozy, he thought, then he raised his eyebrow again as Matheson had apparently seen him, and raised his arm to beckon him over. John smiled in return, and arose from his table, making his way over to where the couple was sitting. "Hello, Sergeant, Lieutenant," he said as he found a seat at the table, then noticed Lieutenant Dvokr chim Hok at the table as well, and nodded to the Tellarite. "Hey, Lieutenant," answered Matheson as Randall sat down. "What brings you to these parts?" Sylvanis said, "Hello, Chief," and John nodded to her. "Just finished a seminar back on Earth, and hopped a ship to bring me to the Challenger," Randall answered, and Matheson nodded as another female arrived at their table. John didn't know her, and so regarded her with mild interest until Matheson arose from the table, and got the new arrival a chair. She gave him a grateful look and sat down. She then held her glass up and gave a small toast to the military couple, and Randall's eyebrows rose. They all obviously knew each other, and he sat there sipping a glass of sparkling water he had brought over with him. He was then mildly surprised when the female turned to look directly at him. "Hi," she said. "I'm Lieutenant Caitlin Townshend." John's eyebrows rose as he thought, 'So this is Anastasia's replacement.' He smiled and replied, "Pleased to meet you, Ms. Townshend. I am Lieutenant John Randall, the chief engineer of the Challenger." Caitlin's eyes widened as she said, "Ohhhh, you're him. I'm the new science officer." Randall wasn't sure about the tone of her voice, so he kept his own carefully neutral as he answered, "Welcome aboard the Challenger, Lieutenant. I hope you enjoy your stay with us." She gave him a brief smile, then asked, "Is it true you once chased a Starfleet admiral through a wormhole?" John noticed Matheson and Sylvanis exchange glances at the question, then the lady lieutenant pilot answered, "It was actually a general," and her voice had a strange tone to it. The gunnery sergeant merely nodded. Townshend glanced at Randall, who said, "I........wasn't aboard the ship for that one. I was busy escaping the Romulans." Caitlin's eyes widened again, but she said, "I've often wondered what Romulans are like." John said, "Imagine a Vulcan with emotions, some darker than humans." The science officer shook her head. "I was raised on Vulcan," she answered, which made John raise his eyebrows. "It's.....hard to imagine a Vulcan with emotions," she finished. John said, "You could say the Romulans are the cousins the Vulcans don't claim," and that remark elicited a strange look from the young science officer. She then said, "It's been an.....interesting...... time aboard the Challenger so far. I'm not used to this much.......adventure." John smiled and said, "That's just the way things tend to run aboard the Challenger." He then addressed the table. "I'm sure the brass has some more....interesting.....assignments coming up for us." Everyone at the table nodded as John took another sip of his sparkling water. The conversation then lagged a bit as everyone seemed to direct their thoughts inward upon themselves. END LOG
  8. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11712.04) The USS Tobias docked at the starbase, and John made his way to the transporter room. "Energize," he told the chief, and a few seconds later, materialized aboard the starbase. He stepped down from the dais, nodded to the transporter officer, and strode out of the room. He made his way to a nearby turbolift, and stepped into the car. "Main Lobby," he snapped, and the lift sped off. He arrived a few moments later and stepped out of the car. He looked around for a moment, then made his way to the big circular desk in the middle of the cavernous room. He smiled at a pretty receptionist, and inquired about the Challenger. She consulted her computer terminal, then told him which dock the ship was berthed in. He thanked her and walked back to the turbolift. "Deck 4," he said, and the lift whisked him away. It arrived moments later and he stepped out of the car. He walked over to the huge port in the west wall, and gazed at his home ship for a few moments. Then he looked around and spotted a nearby airlock. He walked over to it and the door rolled itself open at his approach. He stepped into the airlock and pulled out his communicator. "Challenger, one to beam up," he intoned, and a few seconds later a reply came back. "Stand by, energizing," came the voice of the transport chief, and John slowly dematerialized. He shimmered into existence on the transporter dais, and stepped down. He then smiled at the chief as the officer said, "Welcome home, Lieutenant." John replied, "Thank you, it's good to be back." The chief inquired, "How was the seminar?" Randall said, "You've been to one, you've been to 'em all. Mostly sitting around shooting the bull, but we did learn one or two new things." The chief grinned. "I can imagine," he replied. "Good to have you back." John nodded and left the room. He strode down the corridor to the turbolift. "Deck 3," he said as he stepped into the car, and the lift sped off. It arrived a few moments later, and he exited the car; he made his way down the corridor to his cabin, and the door swished open at his approach. He walked inside and deposited his duffel bag on the sofa. 'Home again,' he thought to himself, and went into the bedroom. He stripped off his civvies, and went into the head to take a shower. 20 minutes later, he stepped out, toweled himself dry, and returned to the bedroom where he put on a fresh uniform. He then walked back into the living area, paused, sighed, and left the cabin. He rode the turbolift down to the engineering deck, and strode into his department. He nodded at the starbase repair team, taking pains not to get in their way, and strode into his office. He sat down in the chair behind his desk and reclined back in it. He was home; this was where he belonged. He then straightened in the chair and sighed as he saw the PADDs that had accumulated on the desk. He ignored them for the moment and powered up the computer. He pulled up the status report on the Challenger and sat there reading. After a few moments, he then pulled up the report on the ship's last mission, his eyes narrowing as he read. He then nodded and sat back in the chair. A few minutes later, he accessed his personal e-mail, and found a message from his Vulcan-Romulan lady friend, T'Mira, who was actually an undercover agent for the Vulcan High Command. John read the highly personal message, which brought him up to date on her activities, and she then told him she loved him and hoped to see him soon. He sat there a few moments, then wrote a return message and sent it to her e-mail inbox. He then thought of something, and pulled up the ship manifest. He had heard a rumor while at the seminar that the Challenger had undergone some personnel changes, and when the manifest appeared on the screen, he knew that the rumors were true. Commander Erica Rinax was gone, no longer the executive officer of the Challenger. And then, he saw that Anastasia Poldara was no longer even in Starfleet. She had resigned her commission. John sat there stunned as he read the script on the screen. The new acting chief science officer was someone named Caitlin Townsend. He read the meager information on the science officer, then sat back in his chair again. In his mind, he sent out a silent wish to Ana that she would be happy and safe with whatever she was going to do next in her life. He then set to work on the pile of PADDs sitting on his desk. The crew of the Challenger was on leave aboard the starbase, and John was looking forward to seeing his friends Jeff Michaels and Steve Davis when they returned to the ship. He noted with satisfaction that Jeff had done a good job in his absence, and entered a commendation for his friend in the engineering status report. The pile dwindled slowly away as he pounded away at the keyboard. END LOG
  9. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11701.16) John materialized on the transporter dais of the Challenger. He looked around for a moment, gratified to see the familiar walls, then stepped down off the dais, nodding to the transporter chief. "Welcome home, Lieutenant," said the chief, and John replied, "Thanks, chief, good to be home." The chief said, "You've been gone for a while, haven't you?" Randall replied, "Yeah, it's been an....interesting time." The chief chuckled. "I bet it has. Good to have you back, Lieutenant." "Thanks again, chief," said John as he strode toward the door of the transporter room. The door swished open at his approach, and he walked down the corridor to the turbolift. "Deck 3," he said as he stepped into the car, and the lift sped off. Arriving a few moments later, he exited the car, and strode down the corridor toward his cabin. He was met by various personnel who all greeted him enthusiastically, then he arrived and walked through the door as it swished open. He deposited his duffel bag on the sofa and just stood in the middle of the living area for a few moments, taking in the fact that this was his cabin. He had thought at various times over the previous 8 months that he would never see this cabin again, and he was greatly relieved to be back. He then gave a mighty sigh, stripped off his uniform and went to the head to take a shower. 25 minutes of heaven later, he stepped out, toweled himself dry, and went into the bedroom, grabbing his bag as he went. He put the various items of clothing he had into their proper drawers, then donned his pajamas, told the computer what time he wanted to be awakened, then climbed into his bed, and went to sleep. ************************************4 DAYS LATER*************************************************************** John awakened after 10 hours of sleep, sat up in the bed and rubbed his eyes. He then climbed out of bed, stripped off his pajamas and went to the head to take a shower. The previous 3 days had saw Randall slip back into business as usual aboard the Challenger. His first trip to engineering had been a satisfying one for the chief engineer of the Challenger. He had been met with shouts of glee and a few hugs from some of the female ensigns and junior grade lieutenants. Susan Maloney had hugged him tightly, sobbing into his shoulder, and John just held her for a few moments, weathering the emotional storm. Jeff Michaels also gave him a long hug, then told him it was about time he resumed command of engineering, which drew a laugh from the crowd. John laughed with them, then told everyone to get back to work in mock anger, and they all laughed and went back to their stations. Michaels brought John up to speed on the status of engineering, then told him about the recent goings-on of the Challenger. John nodded through it all, then stood back and watched the crew go about their business for a few moments, savoring the fact that he was back in his own engineering department on his home ship. The next 2 days were the old familiar routine for the chief engineer of the Challenger, although he did wonder if he would ever be called for a debriefing, then he reminded himself that this was Challenger, they would get around to it when they got around to it, if they ever did. He did make a brief trip to the bridge not long after his initial return. He had stepped out onto the bridge to be met by wide-eyed stares from most of the crew. He and the captain talked briefly, then as he turned to leave, got a 'welcome back' remark from Erica Rinax, the XO of the Challenger. He had then left the bridge and returned to his cabin. He stepped out of the shower after 20 minutes and toweled himself dry. He then went into the bedroom to put on a duty uniform. He then left the cabin and walked down the corridor to the officers' mess. He went in and went up to the ordering wall. He gave and received his order, then sat down at a nearby table to eat. He finished the meal and deposited the remains in the recycler. He turned to leave the mess hall and spotted the science officer of the Challenger, Lieutenant Anastasia Poldara, intently reading a PADD. He debated for a moment as whether to greet her or not, then squared his shoulders and went over to her table. It was the first chance he would have to talk to Ana since he had left her in the mess hall of Starbase 179 when he was undertaking the covert mission to find the Starfleet officer who had betrayed his father. She had told him, rather strongly, her feelings on the matter, then said she hoped he came back so he could put that part of his life behind him, and they could move forward, or there would be problems. John now intended to find out if there were indeed problems between himself and Ana. He cleared his throat as he arrived at her table, and said, "Hello, Lieutenant." She didn't move a muscle for a few seconds, and John thought, 'Well, guess she doesn't want to talk.' He turned to leave, and heard her voice say in surprise, "Wha--oh, John. I'm sorry, I didn't see you standing there." Randall turned back to her and said, "I'm sorry if I bothered you, Lieutenant. You look busy, so I'll see you later." Ana quickly shook her head, putting the PADD onto the table. "I'm not busy," she replied. "Do you have time to join me?" John regarded her a few seconds, then went to the chair across the table from her and sat down. "It's good to see you again, Anastasia," he said. "It's been a while since the last time I saw you on Starbase 179." She nodded quickly again. "About that," she began, then fell silent for a few seconds. John waited for her to continue. "I would like to apologize for the way I treated you," she continued, and Randall raised his eyebrows. "It's okay," he replied. "I actually took your advice, and it served me well on that mission. It ended badly, I'm sorry to say, but it was going to anyway, so no harm, no foul as far as I'm concerned." Poldara looked puzzled for a moment. "Advice?" she queried, and John filled her in. "Oh, that," she answered. "Right. I give good advice." John smothered a smile. "Coming from you, that's quite an admission, Lieutenant," he said, and Anastasia cocked her head at him. "Would you like to hear another?" she asked in a low voice, and Randall raised his eyebrows at her sudden change in demeanor. She told him about her misgivings on the past few weeks aboard the Challenger, then she suddenly went very quiet, and put a hand to her mouth. John sat up a little straighter in his chair, sensing he was about to hear or see something completely out of character for the science officer. Ana's dark eyes were moist as she stared at him, still with her hand over her mouth. "John, I tortured somebody for information," came the muffled remark, and Randall's eyes went wide. He leaned toward, speaking softly. "You did what?" he asked gently, and Anastasia nodded, taking her hand away from her mouth. "It's true," she said softly. "And, maybe the worst part is, I actually enjoyed it for a few seconds." She sat back and put her hands to her face briefly, then dropped them and looked Randall squarely in the eyes. "And I'd do it again to get the results I got," she said defiantly. John stared at her a few seconds, not believing his ears. "You must tell me about that sometime," he said. "And I'll tell you how I was on my way to rejoin Challenger at the Utopia Planetia shipyards when I was kidnapped by a Romulan ship." Her eyes went wide at that remark, but she only said, "Yes, I'd like that." John nodded and stood up. "Well, I won't take up any more of your time, Lieutenant. I need to report to the bridge." Ana quickly arose, grabbing her PADD from the table, and said, "It's time I was on the bridge as well, I will accompany you. I'm wondering what we're going to report to the Romulan ships." John stared at her. "We're contacting Romulan ships?" he asked in disbelief, and Ana smiled at him. "John, do you mean to tell me you've been back 4 days, and you haven't read the mission reports?" she asked. John turned toward her, but her eyes were twinkling now, and a strange smile played around her lips. Randall thought, 'She's actually trying to tease me. She has changed some.' He said, "Hm, maybe I shouldn't go to the bridge, the Romulans think I'm a Starfleet Intelligence operative." She turned toward him, her eyes widening again at his remark, then an announcement came over the ship's comm for all department heads to report to the conference room on deck 1. Anastasia and John left the mess hall and strode to the turbolift, riding it to the top deck. They exited the car and strode down the corridor to the conference room. END LOG
  10. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11612.29) The next day (ship's time), Randall was in engineering helping Ensign Taylor with some of the bureaucratic details that he would have to know to be the chief engineer of the Arizona. The young man from Sri Lanka, Earth, was a bit overwhelmed at first, but John showed him some shortcuts that he had learned, and Taylor began to catch on to them fairly quickly, leaving Randall satisfied he had chosen the right officer to recommend to Captain Russell as becoming the chief engineer of the Arizona. John was in the officers' mess just finishing lunch when he was paged by Lieutenant Alison Mays, the communications officer of the Arizona, to report to the bridge to see the captain. Randall acknowledged the message, dumped the remains of his meal into the recycler, and left the mess hall, walking down the corridor to the turbolift. "Bridge," he said as he entered the car, and the lift sped off. He arrived a few moments later and stepped out onto the bridge. He made his way to the captain's chair where Russell was seated. He raised his eyebrows at her in a silent question as the captain made eye contact with him. "Well, Lieutenant, we have good news for you at last," Russell said. "The XO of the Challenger just contacted us, and said that the Challenger has eradicated the virus inside the ship, and it is now safe for you to beam over. Your captain has requested that we beam you aboard ASAP. You're going home, Lieutenant John Randall, so if you need to do any packing, I suggest you get below and get it done." John stared at Russell for a few seconds, not believing his ears. He was going home. He was going to be beamed to the Challenger. He would finally rejoin his crew and his friends. He was speechless for a few seconds, then took a deep breath, and nodded. "Acknowledged, Captain," he said. "Permission to leave the bridge." "Granted, Lieutenant," replied Russell, and John turned to leave. "John," continued Russell, and Randall stopped, turning to look at her. The captain of the Arizona got out of her chair and went over to him, looking up at him. "It has been a pleasure having you on my ship," the lady captain went on. "You have been a tremendous help to my crew. And, you were absolutely unbelievable when we ran into the Klingons. I'm sorry to see you go, Lieutenant, and I hope we run into each other again someday. Safe travels, and good health, John Randall." She held out her hand, and John took it. They shook hands and Randall replied, "Captain, it was an honor to serve with you and your crew. I think Starfleet is going to have a good ship with you at the head of it. Safe travels to you and your crew." The bridge applauded as John strode to the turbolift. "Deck 3," he said as he entered, and the lift whisked him away. A few moments later, he arrived and stepped out of the lift. He walked down the corridor to his cabin and went inside. He quickly packed a duffel bag with his few clothes and uniforms, then left the cabin and went back down the hall to the turbolift. "Deck 10," he said, and the lift sped off. He arrived, exited the lift, and went down the corridor to the transporter room. As he strode inside, he was met by Captain Russell, who smiled at him as he came in; John noticed, however, that the captain's eyes were bright, and he steeled himself, having an inkling of what was coming next. "All set, Lieutenant?" she asked, and he nodded. She turned to the cadet standing at the transporter board. "I'll handle this one, Ensign," she said, and the cadet nodded and left the room. Russell waited until the door slid shut, then turned to John. "I wanted to say a private goodbye to you after my so-called 'official' one on the bridge," she said, and Randall nodded. "John, I'm saying goodbye not only to a valued officer, but, I hope, also to a good friend. You didn't have to come on our shakedown cruise, Lieutenant, but I was sure glad you did. I meant everything I said on the bridge, John; you have been valuable to this crew, and everyone on the bridge asked me to wish you well as you return to your home ship. "On a personal note, I will miss you, Lieutenant John Randall," she continued, and her eyes got even brighter as she spoke. "I would like to stay in touch with you, and any time you or the Challenger needs help, don't hesitate to contact the Arizona or myself. I mean that, John. Any time means any time. I will miss you, John," and she stepped forward, holding her arms open. John walked into them and they shared a long hug, then Randall gently pulled away, and Russell let him go. "I will miss you as well, Captain Amanda Russell," he said. "I think we've gotten to know each other pretty well over the last few days, and, as I said on the bridge, the Arizona is a good ship with a fine captain on her bridge. I would like to reciprocate your offer; if ever you or the Arizona need any help, don't hesitate to call me, and that means any time as well. Safe travels to you and your ship, Amanda, and it has been my honor to know you." She hugged him briefly again, then walked around to the transporter console. John ascended the dais and turned to face her. Russell consulted the board for a few seconds, then nodded. "Goodbye, John," she said huskily, and Randall replied, "Goodbye, Amanda. Energize." She held his gaze for a long second, then her hand slid the switches on the console. John's body shimmered, then disappeared. Russell watched him dematerialize, then dropped her face into her hands, her shoulders shaking. A few moments later, she looked up, dried her eyes with her fingers, then left the transporter room, all business as she headed for the bridge. END LOG
  11. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11612.19) The Arizona chased the second UFP ship for a few minutes, both vessels looping and circling through space. Finally, the Constitution-class vessel drew near enough where the weapons officer of the Arizona could use the phasers, as Captain Russell wanted the ship disabled, not destroyed. The phasers lashed out through space, and the UFP freighter stopped dead in its tracks with a direct hit on the engineering section of the ship. Russell then ordered the Arizona to rejoin the Starfleet barricade that had been formed in front of the Challenger to protect it from the other UFP vessels. More Starfleet ships were surrounding the nebula to guard against any back-door attempt by the UFP to fire on the Challenger again. The Arizona arrived at the coordinates of the Starfleet barricade, and Russell ordered Mays, the communications officer, to get her the Challenger. Mays nodded and sent out the hail that was answered almost immediately by Captain Ja'Lale. "Challenger here," he/it said, and Mays nodded at Russell. "This is Captain Russell of the USS Arizona," she said. "I have a sitrep for you, captain. We have disabled the two UFP ships that were firing on you, and the Starfleet armada has formed a barricade between you and the other UFP vessels. Your 24 hour mandate from Admiral Sanchez is in effect as of now." "Thank you, Captain Russell, that's good to hear," answered Ja'Lale. "We are very close to solving our virus problem aboard the ship, and being fired upon wasn't helping matters any. Thank you for your help." Russell smiled. "Our pleasure, Captain," she replied. "Lieutenant Randall has a request for you. He would like to know the second you solve your virus problem so he can beam aboard and help out." "We will do that, Captain," said Ja'Lale. "We are quite eager to have him back aboard Challenger as well, he has been missed. I can see why Admiral Baldwin keeps choosing him for missions, he's proven to be quite resourceful." Russell laughed. "That he is, sir, I can vouch for that myself," she agreed. "He's very eager to rejoin you and your crew as well. I must say, I am quite envious. John is a very good engineer, and I can see why you say you've missed him." "We will let you know something very soon, Captain," replied Ja'Lale. "My officers tell me they believe they have found a solution to exterminate the virus aboard the ship. When that is accomplished, we look forward to having Lieutenant Randall come home." Russell looked over to John, who had a smile on his face. "He heard you, sir, and he is looking forward to it as well," said the Arizona's captain. "We'll leave you to it, and stand guard for you. Arizona out." "Thank you for your help, Captain Russell, Challenger out," answered Ja'Lale, and the communication was cut. Russell sat back in her chair and ordered the helm officer to plan a sentry orbit. She then contacted Admiral Sanchez and updated him on the situation. The admiral gave her permission to begin her guard patrol, and Russell signed off. The Arizona began to patrol the area, and John went to the communications station to talk to Mays for a moment, then went back to the engineering station on the bridge. He pulled his communicator from his belt, and contacted his friend, who was currently the acting chief engineer of the Challenger, Lieutenant Jeff Michaels. "Randall to Michaels," John said, and the answer came almost immediately with just a hint of static. Randall knew the static was from the nebula itself, and had set his gain on the communicator to compensate. "Michaels here, go ahead, ol' buddy," the voice said, and John grinned involuntarily. "What's the story on the phasers, Jeff?" he asked. Michaels replied, "We just got through converting the first batch, John, and we currently have the device connected to the port nacelle plasma manifold for recharging. We should be starting the second batch of phasers in about fifteen minutes." "That's good news, Jeff," said Randall. "How you holding up?" "Pretty good, actually," Michaels answered. "The docs came through with some shots awhile ago, said they had improved the strength of the formula, and they were right; I feel like my old self, got just a hint of a headache." "That's great, man, I'm happy to hear that," John replied. "Okay, my friend, I'll shut up and leave you alone, you got work to do. See you soon." "Those are words I've been waiting to hear, pal," Michaels said. "Can't wait 'til you are back with us. Michaels out." John flipped the communicator closed, and leaned back in his chair. He was closer and closer to going home. He thought of the Challenger as his home now, and had actually been a little surprised by how much he missed being aboard her. It had been a tumultuous few months for the chief engineer of the Challenger, and he was very anxious to be back aboard his ship, and to be with his friends. He got up from the engineering station and stepped down into the well where the captain's chair was located. Russell raised her eyebrows as Randall stood beside her. "I believe I'll step back down to engineering and see about the crew," he said, and the captain nodded. "We'll contact you when we hear something, John," Russell answered, and Randall nodded. He walked to the turbolift and stepped into the car. "Deck 12," he intoned, and the lift whisked him away. The lift deposited him on the deck, and Randall strode down the corridor to engineering. He walked in, and was greeted with glad cries by the crew. He acknowledged them, then told them to resume their duties. He got an update from his assistant, then began circling the department, helping out cadets as he came to them. A few days went by, and Russell kept Randall apprised of the progress that the Challenger was making. John knew it would take a while to completely eradicate the virus aboard the huge ship, and was doing his best to remain patient. It was now at the point where the question was when he would go home, not if. Michaels contacted him from time to time as well, reporting on the status of the eradication. Commander Erica Rinax, the first officer of the Challenger, learned that Randall was onboard the Arizona, and contacted him to inquire if he had any thoughts on how the Challenger could destroy the virus in space. She told him via a coded transmission that the Romulan vessel that had brought the virus into Federation space to start with had infected the space around it all the way back to Romulus. John said it was what they deserved, which earned him a rebuke from Rinax, then told the first officer he would see about a solution to the problem. She thanked him and also said it would be great to have him back aboard Challenger, then signed off. John went to his cabin aboard the Arizona and studied Scott's records again. About 36 hours later, he thought he had the solution to the problem. The Challenger would need to build a bigger version of the device that it had used to clear the space around the ship, and had been modified to convert the phasers. The device would be built, then a magnetic antimatter/matter bottle would be attached to the device. That apparatus would then be strapped to a photon torpedo with a computer controlled timer. The torpedo would explode, and the apparatus would be incinerated, throwing out baryons into the infected space. John estimated the blast would cover nearly 1 A.U. in diameter, and would tell the Challenger to be at least .3 lighthours away from the blast, and to have the shields raised at full power to protect the ship from the shock wave the blast would generate. If need be, the process could be repeated until everyone was satisfied the virus had been eradicated. He made a full report to Commander Rinax about his solution, and there was silence on the other end of the communication for a full five seconds. Then the first officer asked, "Lieutenant, are you sure about this?" John replied, "No, Commander, I am not, but I wasn't sure about the first device either, if you recall." Rinax agreed. "No, you weren't, and that turned out alright," she said. "Very well, Lieutenant, I'll get with the captain and see what he/it thinks. Thanks, John. Rinax out." John closed the communication and awaited word from the Challenger whether they would use his solution or not. He went to the bridge and informed Russell about what was going on. She shook her head at him when he finished. "What an engineering mind you have," she said, smiling at him. "No wonder Captain Ja'Lale wants you back. I'll tell you right now, Lieutenant, I'm very jealous of that ship." John grinned. "I'll take that as a compliment, Captain," he replied. "I will tell you something now. One of my assistants aboard this ship, Ensign Taylor, has a pretty good engineering instinct as well. I devised a small problem in engineering the other day, and assigned him to lead the team to solve it. It didn't take him long at all to see the solution, and I didn't make it easy on purpose just to test him. I think you've got a good prospect for chief engineer in that officer." Russell nodded. "I'll make a note of that, John, and will probably promote him on your recommendation alone. If you like him, I'm sure I will." John smiled and nodded. "Thank you, Captain," he said. "I think I'm gonna get some sleep, so I'll see you later." "Have a good rest, Lieutenant, you've earned it," said Russell. "We'll contact you if any word comes in." John thanked her, said good night, and went to his cabin. He changed into his pajamas and climbed into bed. He gave the computer a time to wake him up, and was almost instantly asleep. END LOG
  12. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11612.15) The short range sensors of the Arizona were tracking incoming fire heading directly for the Challenger. John sat in disbelief on the bridge, not believing what he had just heard; Captain Amanda Russell had just been given an order to fire her torpedoes at Randall's ship. Almost immediately thereafter, however, another voice came over the 'com. The commanding officer of the Starfleet armada said that negotiations had been performed between the Challenger and the fleet, and Challenger had been given 24 hours to try to help itself. Russell answered back wanting to know who had given the order to fire her torpedoes, and the CO of the armada told her that had been a UFP commander; the United Federation of Planets had sent their own ships, and the commander had flatly rejected the negotiations between Starfleet and the Challenger. Russell thanked the CO, and not three seconds later, Randall's communicator beeped. He pulled it out of its holster on his belt, flipped it open, and heard the voice of Anastasia come over the 'com. "John, can you hear me?" it said, and Randall replied, "Affirmative, Lieutenant, go ahead." Ana said, "John, I think I've come up with a way to sterilize the inside of the ship using your technique. Is there a way we can fill our hand phasers with the same baryonic energy as we did with the ship phasers?" Randall's eyes widened, and he and Russell traded glances. "That's a hell of an idea, Ana," he replied, "and I don't see why not. You'll have to hook up a special cable to the phaser from the device to put the baryons into the phaser. Lieutenant Michaels can take care of that for you. It should work, Ana, that's a great idea." "Thank you, John," came the reply from Challenger's chief science officer. "Maybe we'll have you back with us real soon." Randall smiled. "I look forward to it, Ana, and I've got quite a story to tell you when I come aboard. Randall out." He replaced his communicator, and looked over at Russell, shaking his head. "I would have never thought of that," he said admiringly. Russell smiled at him. "Sounds like you two are friends," she replied, and John smiled again. "Yes, I have a lot of respect for her," he said. Meanwhile, while all that had been going on, the Challenger was trying, quite sluggishly, to maneuver itself out of the line of fire it was under. Radiation filled the space around the Challenger, however, just seconds later, as a couple of torpedoes exploded against the ship's shielding. John winced at the impact, he knew the shields had been weakened by that blast, and knew more fire would be coming. He suddenly became very angry; just as the Challenger was about to extract itself from its plight, some gung-ho commander wanted his fifteen minutes of fame by trying to take down a Starfleet ship. He wheeled in his chair and pinned Russell with an ice-blue glare. "Captain, we can't just sit here!" he cried, and instantly every eye on the bridge, including Russell's, were trained on him. "We have to DO something! We have to HELP her! This is no time to wait for orders! That's my ship being fired upon! We HAVE to DO something!" Everyone on the bridge then looked at Russell, and the female captain was staring at Randall. After a few seconds, she slowly nodded, and told the communications officer, Lieutenant Alison Mays, to get her the CO of the Starfleet armada. Mays made contact, and Russell asked permission to go help the Challenger. Before the CO could answer, Challenger suddenly spun in space, then took off to the right. A few seconds later, however, two vessels suddenly came into view, and they were in hot pursuit of the Starfleet vessel, firing as they went. The CO answered that the Arizona could indeed help the Challenger as it was the closest vessel, and Russell signified thanks. She began barking orders to her crew, and a few seconds later, the Constellation-class ship took off in pursuit of the UFP ships. John sat at the engineer's station on the bridge, keeping an eye on the engine readouts. He would turn every few seconds to look at the viewscreen to see if they were gaining on the UFP ships. Russell had her crew at battle stations, and the Arizona streaked through space chasing the UFP ships. A few moments later, a good-sized nebula filled the screen, and John smiled to himself as he knew where the Challenger had gone. The nebula would interfere with ship's instruments, and the UFP ships would have trouble locating the Starfleet vessel as long as it remained within the nebula. John was willing to bet that Starfleet Marine Hunter Matheson was at the helm of the Challenger, and he knew firsthand of the Marine's piloting skills. The UFP ships ad slowed noticeably as they came upon the nebula, and that gave enough time for the Arizona to suddenly drop from warp behind them. Russell gave the order to target the nearest ship, and a few seconds later, the ship shuddered slightly as a bright red ball erupted from the Arizona, heading directly for the UFP ship. Seconds later, there was a fireball in space as the first ship was blown apart by the Arizona's torpedo. John gave a silent whoop, then relaxed as Russell ordered a second torpedo be readied for the second UFP ship. That ship, however, had seen the blast, and was performing complex maneuvers, trying to put some distance between itself and the much larger Starfleet vessel. Then the officer watching the sensor array of the Arizona suddenly spun in his chair. "Captain, the entire Starfleet armada has joined us, ma'am," he reported breathlessly, and suddenly the immediate space surrounding the Arizona was crammed with Starfleet vessels. The ships then cut away from each other, and John realized they were forming a barricade in front of the Challenger (or at least where the sensors said the Challenger was resting). A voice came over the communications station a few seconds later. "Captain Russell, you have permission to engage the UFP ship," came the order of the Starfleet CO. "Good hunting." Russell glanced at Randall, who gave her a feral smile. "Thank you, Admiral," she replied. "Arizona out." She then looked around the bridge. "All right, let's do this," she gritted, and began giving orders. John again watched the readouts from the engines as the Arizona tumbled through space in pursuit of the second UFP ship. The chase lasted around five minutes, then the weapons officer announced they were in torpedo range, and Russell gave the order to fire immediately. The ship shuddered slightly again as the torpedo left the bay, and seconds later, there was another brief fireball in space as the UFP ship was destroyed. Russell sat back calmly in her captain's chair, and ordered the Arizona back to the barricade of Starfleet vessels. She glanced over to John, and he nodded respectfully at her. She gave him a brief smile, then returned her gaze to the viewscreen as they rejoined the barricade. END LOG
  13. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11612.05) John sat in the captain's ready room aboard the Arizona awaiting word from the auxiliary bridge of the Challenger where Lieutenant Jeff Michaels and his engineering team were waiting for science officer Anastasia Poldara to finish inputting an equation into the device the engineering team had built to try to eradicate the virus infecting the space around the Challenger. Poldara had suggested to John that an additional element be added to the equation Randall had gleaned from Montgomery Scott's notes. She had a good idea that the element would add extra punch to the baryons stored in the device, and help create "hot spots" in the space surrounding the Challenger, essentially "burning" the virus in space. The science officer completed her data input a few moments later, and asked Michaels how the relay connections looked. Michaels replied that, since he had never seen this done before, was as sure as he would ever be, but what did he know? Poldara gave a wry smile and answered, "Absolutely nothing." She then contacted ensign Dvokr chim Hok, the communications officer, and told him to tell Captain Ja'Lale the device was ready. Hok complied with her request, then connected Michaels with Randall aboard the Arizona. Michaels told John they were ready, and Randall gave Jeff the instructions on the firing sequence they were to use. Michaels acknowledged the instructions, and contacted the captain for permission to begin firing the phasers. Ja'Lale gave his consent, and Michaels, after checking that Lieutenant Poldara was ready on the short-range scanner (as per Randall's instructions), programmed the sequence into the computer, and pressed the firing button. Beams of red penetrated the space around the Challenger. From a port in the ready room of the Arizona, John could faintly see the beams stabbing in all directions from the Challenger. Russell had joined him in the ready room by this time, and she smiled at John as the light show commenced. "My goodness, John," she said, shaking her head. "Talk about a radical solution to a problem. How in the name of space----?" Randall quickly shook his head. "It's not my solution, Amanda," he replied. "This one's all about Captain Scott. How he came up with this, I will never know. The man is a legend in the engineering community. I'm just borrowing an idea of his." "Yes, but you had to get the idea to 'borrow' his idea, John, and that is what is getting me," retorted the captain of the Arizona. "I wouldn't have thought of this in a million years." John shook his head again. "If you had become an engineer, Captain, I believe you would have." Amanda smiled. "Well, we'll never know the answer to that question, because I absolutely sucked at engineering, Lieutenant." They laughed as the light show from the Challenger ceased. "What now, John?" she asked. "Lieutenant Poldara should be doing her scans here in a few seconds, then she will tell Lieutenant Michaels if a second volley is needed," answered the Challenger's chief engineer. Aboard the Challenger, Lieutenant Poldara was doing just that. She frowned at the readings she was getting, and looked over to Michaels. "I don't like the radiation levels, Lieutenant," she reported. "I would recommend a second round." "Acknowledged, Lieutenant," replied Michaels, and pressed the firing button again. Again the beams stabbed into the space surrounding the Challenger, and the display outside the ship this time was even more vivid than the first one. Crew members aboard the ship were mistakenly heading for their assigned battle station as they thought the ship was under attack. The second volley came to an end, and Poldara once again scanned the area of space surrounding the Challenger. When she looked up this time, there was a smile on her face. "The space surrounding the ship is virtually virus-free, Lieutenant," she reported, and Michaels grinned back at her. "Acknowledged, Lieutenant," he replied excitedly, and punched the 'comm. "Michaels to Randall," he said, and John answered him. "Lieutenant, it worked!" he cried, and John slumped in relief as Russell cried out and grabbed his arm in glee. "I don't know where you got that idea from, old buddy, but it worked," Michaels continued. "We can thank a Starfleet legend for this one, Jeff," replied Randall. Poldara then made a motion at Michaels, and he told John to stand by. "Yes, Lieutenant?" he asked. Ana said, "Now all we have to do is figure out how to sterilize the inside of the ship, and the space beyond ours." Michaels' enthusiasm dimmed a bit at her words. "Yeah," he said. "All we have to do." They had no way of knowing, however, that that particular problem might be one they didn't have to worry about. At that precise moment, an officer manning the long-range sensors on the bridge of the Challenger reported to Ja'Lale that incoming fire had been detected by the sensors, and was on its way to the ship. Aboard the Arizona, John and Russell had just rejoined the crew on the bridge when an ashen-faced Mays, the communications officer, turned in her chair. "Captain, the UFP has ordered all ships to fire on the Challenger!" she reported, and John went completely rigid at the report. Mays continued in a suddenly subdued voice, "Captain, you have been ordered to launch all torpedoes at the Challenger." Russell stared at her for a few seconds, then looked at John, who had turned white with the news. He had just helped his ship, and now all his efforts seemed to be in vain. END LOG
  14. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11611.26) John had downloaded several files from the Starfleet Archives library, and had gotten Russell's help on two or three files that Montgomery Scott had stated were in his personal logs that were stored at Memory Alpha. The chief engineer of the Challenger read the logs intently for several hours, only taking breaks when his body forced him to. Russell had to come get him twice to almost forcibly take him to the officers' mess to eat a meal. After a six hour nap (which his body had demanded as well), John felt he had comprised enough information that he felt he knew a temporary solution to try to clear up the infected space surrounding the Challenger. He contacted the communications officer aboard the Challenger, ensign Dvokr chim Hok, and through the Tellarite outlined his plan to Ja'Lale. The captain questioned Randall about some of the specifics of the plan, which John admitted were kinda 'out there', as the vernacular went, but he assured Ja'Lale Scott had made it work in the Enterprise's situation, and the captain granted Randall permission to try his plan out. John had Hok connect him with Jeff Michaels in engineering, and told Hok to listen in and also download to a wafer the schematics of a device Randall was going to have Michaels and his engineering team build aboard the Challenger. Michaels greeted Randall enthusiastically upon hearing his friend's voice, and assured him he and his team had just received a new treatment that the science and medical teams had just came up with aboard the Challenger, and they were ready to build the device. John transmitted the schematics of the device to the Challenger, and work began on the device. On the bridge of the Challenger, ensign Hok took to what amounted to be a crash course in engineering with Randall's help so he could try to understand the basic principles of the device. The device took several hours to build, but the team finally accomplished the task, and Michaels told John they were ready to implement the device. Randall told Michaels he and his team would have to go EVA for the first part of the plan; the device would have to be hooked up to the plasma manifold exhaust ports on the port nacelle of the Challenger. The manifolds would then need to be purged, and the exhaust particles from the manifolds would be absorbed by the ports in the device. The plasma particles would be changed into baryon particles inside the device, and the baryons would be used to (hopefully) neutralize the virus surrounding the space of the Challenger. After the device had been fully charged with baryons, the next part of the plan was to take it to the auxiliary bridge of the Challenger, where Michaels and his team would hook it into the phaser relays. The phaser beams would be neutralized, and the relays would be reconfigured to blast out the baryon particles into the space surrounding the Challenger, hopefully neutralizing the virus within 48 to 72 hours. Randall told Michaels he should enlist the help of the Challenger's science officer, Lieutenant Anastasia Poldara, and give her the formula for neutralizing the phaser beams, then reconfiguring the relays for the baryon particles. Michaels agreed, and after the team charged the device, Poldara was contacted by Michaels, and she agreed to meet the team in the auxiliary bridge. Poldara, upon arriving, insisted on speaking with Randall herself. Hok set up the relay between them, and John told Ana the specifics of the plan. The science officer, after several seconds of intense thought, recommended an additional element be added to the particles; she theorized that the element should add some extra punch to the baryons, making them more effective, and hopefully reduce the amount of time it would take for the baryon particles to neutralize the virus. Randall agreed, and Poldara began programming the element into the equation for the baryon particles while Michaels and the engineering team hooked the device into the phaser relays. After a couple of hours, Michaels informed Randall the device was ready to go. Poldara said she needed a little more time to get the equation right, and John told her to take her time, and be sure she was satisfied before they attempted the maneuver. Ana agreed, and John waited for the signal from the Challenger to begin the shots into space. He was hoping beyond hope that the plan would work, and he would soon be able to rejoin his friends aboard his home ship. END LOG
  15. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11610.25) The Arizona continued on its training cruise in the sector of Federation space governed by Starbase 179. John remained on the bridge helping out some of the cadets with their tasks. He didn't know that much about the stations on the bridge (having not really gone through the command school at Starfleet Academy), but Russell assured him his role as a supervisor would be well received by herself and the first officer, Thomas. John admitted to himself his knowledge of the bridge stations was surprising even him, but he knew he had his experience on the Challenger to thank for that; he had picked up a few tricks from various bridge personnel who had served on the Challenger's bridge, and was amazed he could remember what he did to pass on to the cadets. He and Russell decided to grab some lunch in the officers' mess, and the captain left Thomas with the conn. They made their way down to the lunch room and ordered from the vast selection. They sat down at a nearby table which was well within reach of an intercom. They were almost finished with their meal when the intercom beeped. The voice of the communications officer, Lieutenant Alison Mays, said, "Bridge to the captain." Russell raised an eyebrow at John and reached over to push the "talk" button on the 'com. "Russell here," she said, and Mays replied, "Captain, there is a transmission coming in from Starfleet Command. It's 'Eyes Only' for you, ma'am." This time both Russell and Randall raised eyebrows at each other, and the captain answered, "On my way, Russell out." The officers dumped the remains of their meal into the recycling bin, and headed for the turbolift. As they rode upward to the bridge, Russell cocked her head at Randall. "Wonder what this is about?" she mused. John said, half-jokingly, "Maybe they're gonna mess with our cruise a little bit." Russell rolled her eyes as the lift came to a stop, and replied, "Lord, I hope not, I have enough on my plate as it is without Command throwing a monkey wrench into things." John smiled as they exited the lift onto the bridge, and said, "All part of being a captain, Captain; no mission ever goes like it's supposed to." Russell made a face at him and replied, "You didn't need to say that, Lieutenant," and Randall laughed as Russell went to her chair where a text message was being written on the small screen on the armrest of her chair. After a few moments, Russell looked up and said in a very serious voice, "Commander Thomas, Lieutenant Randall, come take a look at this." The two officers looked at each other, then went to the captain's chair. The men read for a few moments, then looked at each other. Russell looked at John and said, "Lieutenant, it appears your ship is in big trouble for Starfleet to order something like this." John was shaking his head still over what he had just read when a very faint transmission came into the communications station. ".....This is.....Captain Ja'Lale....of the.....Challenger calling....the USS Arizona......come in, please," it said, and John made a beeline for the communications station as Mays answered the hail. "This is the USS Arizona, go ahead," she replied, and she looked at John with wide eyes. The entire bridge crew was watching Randall as he waited for the reply from the Challenger. Russell then cleared her throat and said, "Helm, set course to join the Starfleet armada at these coordinates, maximum warp." Heads turned on the bridge at that order, and the captain snapped, "Eyes on your boards, people!" The crew hurriedly complied, and Randall and Russell's eyes met briefly. The helmsman reported the course was set, and Russell gave the order to move out. The Arizona went to warp 9.7, streaking for the Neutral Zone. Then another transmission came from the Challenger. "Our ship....has been....quarantined by....Starfleet Command....an unknown virus....of some kind....has infected....our ship and....the space....around it. You are required to...stay 2.6 hours outside...of our coordinates....for your own ....safety. Do not....approach the Challenger," came the voice of Ja'Lale. John looked at Mays, and the communications officer nodded to him. She handed him an earpiece, which he immediately put on, then she indicated which tab he should push to talk, and he nodded thanks. "Challenger, this is John Randall," he said. "I am aboard the Arizona. Captain, can you hear me?" Mays whispered, "The signal should improve as we get closer to them." Randall nodded as Ja'Lale's voice came back over the 'com. "John? Is that you?....What are you doing aboard....the Arizona?" the surprised voice said. Randall quickly said, "It's a long story, sir, but rest assured I am in good health and eager to be back with you and the crew. Can you give me a little more detail about your situation?" The transmission from the Challenger was improving noticeably as the captain replied, "An unknown Romulan vessel came...into contact with us, and....a virus of some kind made its...way aboard the ship. It infected almost everyone....immediately, save for a few of us, and then...we learned the virus had also infected the....space around the ship, effectively imprisoning us. We have made some progress...at a treatment for the virus, but at this time, we are under quarantine by order of...Command. It's good to hear...your voice, Lieutenant." John smiled briefly and said, "Thank you, sir. We should be arriving at the coordinates sent to us by Command very shortly. Can you send us your coordinates as well?" A few seconds went by, then the helmsman nodded to Randall as the captain's voice said, "Done. It will be good to see you again, Lieutenant. I regret we can't meet under better circumstances right now. I need to check on some things, John, so I will end the transmission for now. Ja'Lale out." Randall said, "Acknowledged, Captain. I look forward to talking with you again. Randall out." He straightened from his position at the communications station, and smiled at Mays. "Thank you for your help, Lieutenant," he said, and she smiled, nodding at him. John made his way back to the captain's chair and looked at Russell. "Captain, may I talk with you, please?" he said, and Russell nodded. She looked at Thomas and said, "Commander, you have the conn, steady as she goes." "Aye, Captain," said Thomas, sitting in the chair as Russell arose. She and John made their way to the ready room, and she joined him as they sat on the small sofa. "Are you all right, John?" she asked with concern in her voice, and he nodded. "A virus that can infect space," he said, shaking his head, and Russell watched him. The captain knew the wheels were turning in the engineer's head as he was already thinking about the problem with the Challenger. She thought to herself, 'That ship is lucky to have a man like this, his loyalty is nothing short of amazing.' John then turned to her and said, "Captain, may I have access to the computer? I need to look at some files, and I believe they are available in the officers' section of the Starfleet Archives. However, there may be a time when I might need to access some potentially sensitive data, and I may need your passwords to do so. Will you trust me when I say it is absolutely imperative that I get access to those files?" Russell cocked her head at him, then suddenly smiled. "You've already got something in mind, don't you? About how to help your ship?" John shook his head. "I'm not really sure, Amanda," he said, staring at her for permission to use her given name, and she nodded. "But I remember reading about something kind of like this, and I want to know if I remember right or not." "Only one thing I need to know, John," Russell replied. "You mentioned the Archives. How far back are you going?" Randall said, "In the vicinity of stardate 3214. The planet Holox, and a race of beings who were widely known as the 'Sackers'. Their real species name was the Vinithi, and the Enterprise 1701 had a run-in with them."** Russell's eyes widened. "You mean, Captain James Kirk's Enterprise?" she asked with awe, and John nodded. "His chief engineer is/was a legend, Commander Montgomery Scott. I think he came up with a solution to the trouble the Enterprise was in then, but I need to look it up." Russell nodded. "Go ahead then, John. Do what you need to do, and when, or if, you need my help, just call for me. I'll leave you to it." John smiled. "Thank you, Captain," he said, and Russell waved a hand as she left the ready room. Randall went to the desk and logged onto the computer that was there, and in a few moments, the screen was crowded with information. John read intently for the next several hours, taking as few breaks as possible. His ship was in trouble, and he was determined to find a way to help. END LOG ** - This refers to the TOS novel "The Three Minute Universe".
  16. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11610.16) John continued to oversee the engineering department on the training vessel Arizona. He was the chief engineer of the ship, having been 'volunteered' by Admiral Jason Baldwin, and had been warmly welcomed by the Arizona's captain, Amanda Russell. The ship would be run mainly by recently graduated cadets from Starfleet Academy with a few seasoned officers acting as the command crew. John found himself to be the third-in-command aboard the Arizona as the chief engineer; only the first officer, Commander William Thomas, and the captain herself, Amanda Russell, outranked him, though Russell had told him in private that as far as combat/space experience went, Randall was second only to her; she had been in Starfleet for 7 years, and had risen rather quickly to the rank of captain that some were saying rivaled that of the rise of one Captain James Tiberius Kirk. The ship was cruising along at warp 4 on the training cruise. John had invented a few small problems in engineering that might take place during a mission (and actually frequently did), and the cadets, for the most part, had handled the situations well, much to John's approval (and sometimes small amazement). He kept the captain up to date on the crew's progress, and Russell informed him she was pleased, and was very glad to have him aboard. Suddenly, red lights began flashing, and the computer voice came over the intercom. "Red Alert, Red Alert," it intoned. John quickly ordered the suddenly frightened cadets to their posts as the captain's voice quickly followed the computer's over the intercom. "Battle stations!" said Russell. "This is NOT a drill! Lieutenant Randall, report to the bridge immediately! Russell out!" John quickly punched the 'comm. "On my way, Captain," he said, then looked around for his second in command, ensign Mac Taylor. "Ensign, you have engineering," he said as he went over to Taylor. "Keep your wits about you, you've been trained for this. Take a deep breath, and make sure everyone does their job. Tell them not to ask questions, that can come later. You can do this, ensign, and I'll be on the bridge if you need me, but don't contact me unless it is absolutely necessary, all right?" Taylor nodded. "I have command, sir," he said, and Randall smiled at him. He then turned and punched the department mic. "This is Randall," he said, and the department went silent. "Ensign Taylor will be in command while I'm gone. Obey his orders as you would mine, and he is here to help you. Do not badger him with questions about what is going on, he doesn't know any more than me at this juncture. Do your jobs, and we'll be fine. Randall out." He smiled at Taylor once more, then left engineering and ran to the turbolift. "Bridge," he said as he entered, and the lift whisked him away. He emerged onto the bridge a few moments later, and went directly to the captain's chair, stepping down into the well. "Lieutenant Randall reporting as ordered, Captain," he said crisply, and Russell turned sharply to face him, an expression of relief briefly crossing her face. "Lieutenant, glad you could join us," she said. "Hop over to the sensor array and tell me what you see." Randall nodded and went up the stairs to the station where a cadet showed him the image of a ship the sensors had recorded. John stared for a few seconds, then his face took on a grim expression, and he turned to face the captain. "Unless I'm very much mistaken, or they have a new class of ship I haven't heard about, that looks very much to me like a D-7 Scout class vessel, Captain," he reported, and every eye on the bridge was fastened on him. Russell's face adopted the same grim expression, then she said, "And who does that class of ship belong to, Lieutenant?" John's eyes went ice-blue as he answered, "That would be the Klingons, ma'am," and some faces paled on the bridge as absolute silence descended. Russell nodded, then slowly looked around the bridge. "Now you know why I ordered an immediate red alert," she said. She turned to face Thomas. "Commander, what I am about to do is in no way intended as a slap in the face to you, but under the circumstances, I am immediately temporarily promoting Lieutenant Randall to first officer," she said, and several eyes widened across the bridge. "It is for this reason only: he has more combat experience than you, and I want you to learn from him. I regret the circumstances, but no one could have foreseen this. Do you understand, Commander?" Thomas, who had known all this in advance as it related to his lack of combat experience, simply nodded. "Understood, Captain," he said, and turned to Randall. "I look forward to learning from you, Lieutenant, and while you are the acting first officer, I will call you 'sir'." John immediately held up a hand. "There's no need for that, Commander," he said. "Let's just say we are the same rank for now. I am John, what do you like to be called?" Thomas smiled and said, "Bill will do fine." "Very well, Bill, let's get this bridge combat ready," replied Randall. "You actually think it will come to blows, John?" asked Thomas as they got busy preparing the crew. "The Klingons take no prisoners, Bill," answered Randall. "They have a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later. If you ever come across them, you better have your ship ready for battle. They may talk to you, but they never will if you don't show a position of strength; otherwise they just start blasting." Thomas nodded. "I think I just got my first lesson," he smiled, and Randall grinned. "Whatever you were taught at the academy about the Klingons, it's all true and then some. They are all about conquest and the thrill of battle, it's just that simple," he said. Thomas nodded again. "I will keep that in mind from here on out, John," he said, and Randall nodded. The captain had already ordered the shields to full power, and John went to the sensor array, helping the cadet scan for the Klingon vessel. Thomas moved around the bridge, instructing the cadets on what to do and how to do it, and Russell was secretly pleased at the way the first officer was responding. Suddenly the alarms blared again as the Scout class vessel shimmered into existence on the viewscreen directly in front of them, and the communications officer turned in her chair. "Captain, we're being hailed," she said, and John immediately went to stand beside the captain's chair. Russell said, "On screen," then turned and smiled at Randall, and John knew she was very glad to have him there. The screen then showed a glowering Klingon face and some of the cadets involuntarily recoiled slightly. "This is the Klingon vessel Tak'rall," said the Klingon. "Who am I speaking with?" Russell sat up in her chair. "I am Captain Amanda Russell of the Federation starship Arizona," she replied in a firm voice. The Klingon's eyes narrowed. "A woman," he spat, and Russell's eyes narrowed as well. "And don't you forget it," she snapped, and the Klingon's eyes widened. "I will not speak to a woman," he snapped again. "I will address the human standing beside you." Russell looked up at John and nodded. Randall faced the screen. "This is Commander John Randall, chief engineer of the Arizona, and second in command," he said in an iron voice, and several of the cadets exchanged glances. The Klingon's eyes narrowed again. "Commander John Randall?" he said in a puzzled voice. "We were not aware you had been promoted." Randall gave a savage smile. "Perhaps you need to upgrade your information network," he said, and almost every person on the bridge immediately placed their hands over their mouths. The Klingon's face grew angry. "What do you know of our---?" he began, then thought better of it. "Ah, I see; well played, Commander," he said with an oily smile. "May I ask what business your ship has this close to the Neutral Zone?" John smiled again. "You may ask," he replied. "Who am I talking to?" "I am Captain Kruden," replied the Klingon. John quickly said, "Greetings, Captain; now I will ask you, why are you in Federation space?" The Klingon's eyes widened. "I was not aware that we were," he stated lamely, and Randall quickly replied, "Then I would discipline my helm and navigational officers, Captain; they have led you to commit an act of war by invading Federation territory." The Klingon's eyes bulged, and he immediately rapped out an order in Klingonaisse; a few moments later, he faced the screen again. "I have reprimanded my officers, Commander," he said. "If we agree to go back to our side of the Neutral Zone, will you agree to not fire on us?" Randall made a show of considering it, then looked down at Russell. "What do you think, Captain?" She looked up at him, then at the screen, and whispered something to John. He nodded and replied in a whisper to her. She shook her head and Randall sighed deeply, then looked at the screen. "My captain is not at all pleased that you have encroached upon Federation space, Captain Kruden," he said. "However, she feels that you may have some young officers on your bridge who simply made an error in their navigations. We have several young officers on our ship as well, and it is understandable that mistakes happen. She wants your word that you did not intentionally violate our space before she considers any action." Kruden's eyes narrowed as he stared at Randall and Russell, then he nodded. "Very well, Commander, you may inform your captain such was the case," he said. John looked at Amanda, who nodded. "Then, Captain, you are free to return to your side of the Zone," Randall said. "Bear in mind, however, this encounter has been recorded, and will be forwarded to Starfleet Headquarters. Your ship has now been registered, and you will be watched. Good day, Captain." Kruden stared at John for a few long moments, then the viewscreen went back to the view of space, which showed the Klingon vessel turning, then went into warp toward the Neutral Zone. There were audible sighs of relief on the bridge, and Russell stood up. "Stand down from red alert," she said, and the lighting returned to normal. She then turned to John. "Well done, Lieutenant," she said. John quickly smiled. "Captain, I did not mean----," he began, and Amanda quickly placed her hand on his shoulder. "I know you didn't, John," she smiled. "I knew the Klingon would never talk to a woman, and I'm glad you were here. I think my first officer got some good training there," and she turned to Thomas, who gave a sickly grin. "I'm glad Lieutenant Randall was here too, ma'am," he admitted, and the crew laughed gently with him. "And you're right, I got some valuable experience there. Not to mention I was scared to death the whole time," he said ruefully, and the crew laughed more loudly this time. "As I think we all were, Commander," said Russell, and there were many nods across the bridge. "Except maybe the lieutenant here," she continued, turning back to John. "You had no fear whatsoever, John. You must have nerves of steel." Randall gave a small smile. "I actually had a fight with a Klingon, ma'am." he said, and silence descended immediately on the bridge, many of the cadets now gaping openmouthed at the chief engineer. Russell's eyes had widened. "I'd love to hear about that, Lieutenant," she said. She turned to Thomas. "Commander, you have the bridge, and you are to resume your rank as first officer. Stay on the prearranged course. Lieutenant Randall and I will be in the ready room." "Aye, aye, ma'am," replied Thomas, and Russell and Randall walked to the left of the bridge through a door which slid open as they approached. They walked into the rather spacious cabin, and Russell motioned John to a chair in front of a desk. She walked behind the desk and sat down in the chair behind it. "So, Lieutenant, tell me about your fight," she said. John said, "May I access the computer, Captain?" She nodded consent and John quickly pulled up the file that was available to the general public detailing his fight with the Klingon Krenn. Russell began reading and her eyes widened as she read. END LOG
  17. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11610.07) John continued to improve day by day at the medical facility on Starbase 179. The day soon came when the CMO of the starbase hospital informed him that his injuries were healed and he was getting a clean bill of health. He was being released from the hospital, all he had to do was put his electronic signature on his release wafer, and he was a free man. John was gathering his belongings together when there was a knock on the open door of the medical room he was still in. Randall turned and his eyebrows went up as Admiral Jason Baldwin entered. "Hello, Lieutenant," said the Starfleet admiral. "They tell me you're being released today." "That's correct, sir," replied the chief engineer of the Challenger. "I bet you're chomping at the bit, eh?" smiled Baldwin, and Randall gave a small smile in return. "That would be an accurate statement, sir," he said. Baldwin nodded, then cocked his head at John. "I get the feeling you're not really happy to see me, Lieutenant," he said. "With all due respect, Admiral, the only time you come to see me is when you are trying to recruit me for something," John said, and Baldwin nodded again. "That does seem to be the case," he admitted. "And I think you're going to think that again, because I have a request for you. Maybe I should say, I've been asked to pass a request on to you." John raised his eyebrows. "John, there's a new starship sitting in the dock of this station," Baldwin continued. "She's the USS Arizona, and she's essentially a training vessel for now. There's a crew of cadets aboard her, save the captain. Her name is Amanda Russell, and she's a new captain, she was promoted just a month ago. She served as first officer of the USS Saratoga, and the Arizona is her first command. "She's been trying to get some seasoned officers to serve as her command crew onboard the Arizona," Baldwin went on. "She's basically got a skeleton command crew, most of them are fulfilling two jobs. She came to Starbase 179 looking for some more command personnel, and when she came to me about it, I instantly thought of you, mentioned your name and your specialty, and she instantly said she needed a good chief engineer. "While you're waiting around on the Challenger, which seems to be in a sticky situation at the present time, I thought you might get back into the swing of things by serving as chief engineer of the Arizona. You'll be supervising the cadets as they do their jobs, and you will be in full command of engineering. And, most likely, you'll be the third-in-command aboard her. Russell is trying out a commander at the first officer position, but she says he has a lot to learn. Don't be surprised if you see a lot of Captain Russell aboard that ship. That is, if you're interested in the position." John had been mulling the idea over in his mind as he got the general idea of what Baldwin was saying to him. It seemed like the perfect set of circumstances for him to get his spacelegs back before he rejoined the Challenger. He nodded at Baldwin. "Sounds like the perfect setup for me, sir," he said. "I take it the Arizona hasn't done her shakedown cruise yet." Baldwin nodded. "That's essentially correct, John," he agreed. "It won't be a long one, and it won't take you too far away from Starbase 179. A couple of A.U.s or so is all, I told Russell that's probably all you'd have time for, and she said that would be fine. So you'll take the job?" John nodded. "So when do I board?" he asked, and Baldwin replied, "She said as soon as you became available." Randall blinked at him, a little taken aback. "Is she that desperate?" he said half-jokingly, and Baldwin never cracked a smile. "She is, Lieutenant," he replied. "I think you're going to be welcomed with open arms. You've been in Starfleet for five and a half years now, correct?" Randall nodded. "John, Russell has been in for seven years, and her first officer trainee has only been in for three," the admiral continued. "Tenure wise, you will be the second longest serving officer onboard the Arizona." John stared at Baldwin, stunned. He was going to serve on a vessel that basically was going to be crewed by green-as-grass cadets. He thought to himself, 'Well, you wanted a challenge, you got one here, Randall.' He nodded to the admiral. "Then I guess I better report for duty, sir," he said, and Baldwin grinned. "I told Russell she was getting a first-rate officer," he said. "Just do your thing, Lieutenant, and it should more than suffice. Let's get you checked out of here." "Aye, sir," replied Randall, and the two men left the room, striding down the corridor to the turbolift. They rode it down to the lobby, and John signed his departure wafer. Baldwin then walked him to the transporter room, and John beamed aboard the Arizona. *************************************************************************************************************************** Randall materialized aboard the Arizona, and he was staring at two Starfleet officers as he shimmered into existence atop the dais. He stepped down and was met by an extended hand from a brunette with a smile on her face. "You must be Lieutenant Randall," she said in a contralto voice, and John nodded as he shook hands with her. "I'm Captain Amanda Russell," the brunette continued. "I'm very glad to meet you, Lieutenant. I understand you're the chief engineer of the Challenger. How come you were here in the hospital at SB 179?" "It's a long story, Captain, and somewhat classified, I'm afraid," replied Randall. "I was on a mission with Starfleet Intelligence that didn't go exactly as planned, shall we say." Russell made a grimace, and made a sweeping motion with her hand. "Say no more, Mr. Randall," she said. "Anything having to do with SI, I stay away from." They both grinned, then the captain turned to the man standing beside her. "This is Commander William Thomas," she said, and the two men nodded to each other. "He's risen through the ranks fairly rapidly, but that's due to him being a hard worker, and he's good with people. Commander, as you have no doubt overheard, this is Lieutenant John Randall, the chief engineer of the USS Challenger." Thomas nodded again at John. "A pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant," he said. "The Challenger has quite a reputation going for itself. I would venture a guess you've had some, er, interesting missions since you've been aboard her." Randall smiled. "That would be one way of putting it, sir," he agreed, and they all laughed. "Well, this will probably seem like a milk run for you, Lieutenant," Thomas continued. John quickly held up a hand. "Call me superstitious, sir, but I believe there's no such thing as a 'milk run'. Anything can happen any time when you're in space." Russell nodded. "I couldn't agree more, Mr. Randall. Don't ever take anything for granted, Mr. Thomas. Maybe that's something you need to work on." Thomas looked at both of them, then nodded. "Yes, ma'am," he said, and the captain waved a hand. "Let's get the lieutenant here down to engineering so we can get this show on the road. You have the bridge, Mr. Thomas, I will contact you when we are ready to go." "Aye, Captain," replied the first officer as he nodded to John. "Mr. Randall, look forward to working with you," he said as he turned to leave. "Likewise, Commander," John said, and Thomas exited the room. Russell and Randall rode the turbolift to engineering, and John entered the room where the crew was standing in formation to greet them. The captain introduced him to the crew, then told them she wanted to be ready to ship out in 30 minutes. She then left, and John told the crew to relax and do their jobs, he would be around if they needed him. He then ordered them to their stations, and the crew got to work. John went into the CE's office to log in as the chief engineer of the Arizona, then went back out into the room where he was immediately hailed by four cadets. The chief engineer helped each one of them out, and the half hour passed rather quickly. The captain's voice then came over the intercom. "Russell to Randall," it said, and John punched the 'comm button at the main console. "Randall here," he answered. "Are we ready to go, Lieutenant?" asked the captain, and John replied, "Engineering is ready, ma'am." "Acknowledged, Russell out," said the captain, and Randall grinned at the nervous cadets surrounding the console. "All right, here we go," he said, and they all smiled nervously back at him. John watched his panel, and a few moments later, the indicators lit up that signified the ship had left the dock. Then the whine increased slightly from the warp engines, and John knew they had gone to warp. He looked at the speed indicator, and noted they were traveling at warp 4. He studied the readouts from the engines, and nodded, satisfied with what he saw. The intercom crackled again. "Bridge to engineering," came the voice of the captain. "Randall here," answered John. "How we doing, Chief?" asked the captain. "Smooth sailing so far, Captain," said Randall. "Engines are performing nominally." "Acknowledged, Chief," answered the captain. "Bridge out." John sat back and smiled at the cadets. "Just relax and do your jobs," he said. "Try to enjoy it as much as you can. We're in space." The cadets nodded nervously at him, and John thought to himself, 'It wasn't that long ago I was one of them. Take it easy on them, Randall, they're still pretty scared right now.' He wondered what was going on aboard the Challenger; obviously the mission had gone awry, whatever it was. He hoped he would his shipmates soon. END LOG
  18. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11609.08) John and T'Mira continued to recover from their wounds at the medical facility on Starbase 179. The chief engineer of the Challenger was the more seriously injured of the two; he had taken two disruptor bolts as they escaped from Romulus. One he had sustained on his left side just above his hip, the other came as he and Aiel ra'Hajruillu, the Romulan female subcommander who had abducted him, had a shootout at the Romulan spaceport. Aiel's disruptor bolt hit John in his left shoulder, but the Starfleet officer had been dead-on with his phaser bolt; then he got some unlikely assistance from T'Mira, who had also been shot by the Romulan subcommander, and was presumed dead. T'Mira added her phaser shot to Randall's, and the combined bolts consumed ra'Hajruillu's body. T'Mira had gotten both of them aboard a Romulan spacepod, and had made it back to Federation space, eventually arriving at Starbase 179. Emergency surgery had been administered to both of them, and now both Starfleet officers were in the process of recovery and rehabilitation. John was being walked every day by the nurses at the medical facility. He also underwent two rounds of physical therapy a day. The medical staff was keeping a close eye on him as Admiral Jason Baldwin, the head of Starfleet Intelligence, had temporarily taken over an office on Starbase 179, and was keeping tabs on both Randall and T'Mira's recovery and rehab. Baldwin was an everyday visitor to the two officers, and told John repeatedly the Challenger should be arriving soon. Randall would just nod and go along with the admiral, but he had a feeling that the mission the Challenger was currently on had hit a snag, and there was actually no telling when the ship would arrive at the starbase. On the sixth day that they were there, John was startled to see T'Mira limp into his room that evening (starbase time). She smiled at him and came over to hug him gently, being careful of his left shoulder, then kissed him. She turned, dragged a nearby chair over to the side of the bed, and sat down. "Hi, John," she said breezily, and Randall grinned at her. "Hi, T'Mira," he replied. "How are you?" She made a throwaway gesture with her left arm. "I'm coming along very nicely, thank you, Lieutenant," she said. John's eyes narrowed. "Then why are you limping?" he shot back. "Oh, it's not as bad as it was last week," she hastened to reassure him. "I'm getting therapy on it every day, and I also use the healing trance every day as well. I'll be good as new before you know it." John nodded, even though he still wasn't convinced she was telling him the truth. "The nurses tell me I'm ahead of schedule on my healing process," he said. T'Mira cocked her head at him. "You don't sound too sure of that, John," she replied, and Randall shrugged. "I do feel better than last week," he said, "so I guess they know what they're talking about." "Well, I'm glad to hear it," T'Mira said, smiling at him. "I would like to have a bite with you in the cafeteria before too much longer, and your ship arrives. After that, I'll probably never see you again," and the last line was delivered with a definite wistful tone to it. John raised his eyebrows. "Is that emotion I hear in your voice, Lieutenant?" he asked, and she made a face at him. "Don't make fun of me, John," she said. "You know I'm not a full-blooded Vulcan. I have emotions, and I keep them hidden from most people. But I don't mind telling you, Lieutenant John Randall: I have feelings for you, and I think you know it. So don't make fun of me." John stared at her a moment, then reached out and took one of her hands in his left hand. "I'm sorry," he said gently. "I'm actually a little surprised by your statement that you have feelings for me. You are a very beautiful lady, and I think you could have your pick of whoever you wanted for yourself." T'Mira rose from the chair and sat on the edge of the bed, pushing her face very close to his. "I have made my choice," she said softly, and leaned forward, kissing him softly but firmly on the lips. John smiled at her when the kiss ended. "Then I'm a very lucky man," he said, and T'Mira beamed at him. "I would like to have a bite with you as well as soon as I'm able. I'm walking a little farther each day, and I can feel my strength returning. I think it won't be too much longer before I can get around on my own again." T'Mira smiled. "I look forward to that very much, John," she whispered. "I think I better go now, the nurses will start their rounds shortly, and I'll get yelled at if they find me out of my bed." She kissed him again for a few seconds, then arose. "Get well quickly, Lieutenant," she said huskily, and John nodded. "Aye, sir," he replied, and they both laughed. She looked at him warmly for a few seconds, then turned and limped out of the room. John watched her go, then reclined back against his bed. He searched his feelings, trying to confirm if he actually did have feelings for the Vulcan-Romulan female. He was a little surprised at himself when the answer came back a definite yes. He laid back against the pillow, staring at the ceiling, trying to sort his thoughts and his feelings. ************************************************************************************************************************** The next seven days went by with both Starfleet officers continuing to heal their bodies. T'Mira became a frequent visitor to John's room, and the relationship deepened between the two. Then one morning T'Mira came into his room, and John could tell instantly something was wrong. T'Mira's eyes were red and puffy, and John would swear she had been crying. She sat down in the chair beside his bed, and took his hands in hers. She bowed her head for a few seconds, then looked up and met his eyes squarely. "John, this is the last time we'll be together," she said, and her lower lip was quivering. Randall stared at her, not believing his ears. "Admiral Baldwin has informed me the USS Saratoga is on its way to pick me up. They are taking me to Earth to deliver my report to Starfleet Command in person. The Saratoga will be arriving in just over 4 hours." John stared at her, then nodded resignedly. "Of course, you have to do your job," he said. "I appreciate all the help you gave me, T'Mira, and I vow I'll never forget it. Because of you, I'm back in Federation space, and I owe you my life. Thank you." She pulled her hands from his, and buried her face in them for a few seconds. When she looked back up, her eyes were wet with tears. "I don't want to leave you," she whispered. "I wish you could come with me." John smiled gently. "I wish I could, too," he replied. "But I am the chief engineer of the Challenger, and they'll be here any day to get me, or so I was told by Admiral Baldwin. He's going to contact them when they come within communication range, and tell them that I'm here. I guess this is a case where we have different jobs in different settings, and our worlds are there." She nodded, then arose from the chair and hugged him tightly. The embrace lasted a few moments, then T'Mira kissed him as she pulled away. "I will never forget you, John Randall," she said. "Know that from this day forward, you are not alone. You have someone who loves you, and I hope with all my heart that one day we can be together again. Until then, I will keep you in my heart. I love you, John Randall." With that, she whirled and ran from the room. John stared after her as the door slid shut. He lay back on the bed, his mind trying to assimilate the events of the last few moments. He then sighed heavily. 'So I lose another female companion,' he thought to himself. 'It seems I'm destined to be alone. So be it.' He lay looking at the ceiling until the nurses arrived to administer the evening therapy, and he threw himself into the routine, trying desperately to keep the thoughts of T'Mira out of his mind. It would take time, but he knew he would recover, and life would go on. He was really looking forward to getting back onboard the Challenger, and resuming his duties as chief engineer of the best ship in Starfleet. END LOG
  19. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11608.22) The next morning, Aiel and two Romulan guards entered the room where John was being held. "Now, Lieutenant Randall, it is time for you to meet our Praetor," she said. "He is not in the best of health, and has a very short temper as a result. If I were you, I would be very careful in answering if he should deign to actually talk to you." John scowled at her. "I'm not afraid of your Praetor, or any being on this planet," he snapped at her. "I will say what I damned well please, and I don't give a rip who does or doesn't like it." Aiel narrowed her eyes at him, then shook her head. "Still you are defiant," she said, wonder in her voice. "You realize that, with one gesture, he could have you killed for saying the wrong thing, or showing disrespect." John smiled then, and it was not in amusement or humor, and Aiel actually took a step back from him as she saw it. "Then, as I told you earlier, I will take as many as I can of you with me," he gritted, and his eyes were pieces of ice as he glared at her. Aiel looked back at him for a moment, then dropped her eyes. She rapped out a command in Romulan, and the guards took John by each arm. As the Romulan subcommander turned to exit the room, the guard on the right of John nudged him, and Randall turned to see the Romulan staring intently at him. The guard then gave a slight nod, and John realized this man was one of the people T'Mira had been telling him about. He held the Romulan's eyes for a long moment, then looked straight ahead as they left the room. The foursome walked down the corridor, turning left twice, then made a right turn a few seconds later. They came to a pair of immense double doors, and Aiel approached the guard standing there. They had a brief conversation in Romulan, then the guard nodded and swung open the doors. The four walked into a giant antechamber filled with Romulans, and John recognized the room from the image he had seen on his computer monitor yesterday. He was marched up to stand before two long tables where a total of twelve Romulans were seated, six to each table. The man occupying a seat on a raised dais in the center of the two tables looked down on the four with slight disdain, and John knew instinctively he was gazing at a rare sight; the Praetor of the Romulan Empire. The Romulan was old and not in the best of health, as John had been told. His eyes were old and faded, and his left arm continually trembled. His head was adorned with a shock of pure white hair, and his face was deeply lined with wrinkles. The face was trying its best to register haughtiness, but it was a struggle to do so, and it was obvious to anyone looking at him. Aiel stepped forward, and bowed to the old Romulan. "Your Majesty, I have brought to you an operative of Starfleet Intelligence, working as the chief engineer of the Federation battlecruiser Challenger, Lieutenant John Randall." The Praetor stared at John for a few moments, and Randall stared right back at him. Aiel turned to John and hissed, "You will bow before His Majesty." John turned and looked at her. "I bow to no one, lady," he answered angrily, and the subcommander's face lit up with rage. She gave a hand signal to the guard on John's left, who immediately struck Randall behind his knees with the ceremonial spear he was carrying. John's knees buckled, but he did not go down. The guard was about to deliver another blow when the voice from the old Romulan rang out. "Hold!" it commanded, and the guard stopped immediately. Aiel looked up in shock at the Praetor, who had a slight smile on his face. "Unhand the Starfleet man," he commanded, and the guards immediately stepped away. The old Romulan stared at Randall. "It has been a while since I have encountered defiance such as you show, Starfleet man," he said. "I could have you punished for such insolence, but something tells me you would resist even more strongly. "I will tolerate this behavior from you for the time being," the Praetor continued. "In time, you will learn to show respect." John's eyes went ice-blue as he glared at the old man. "Then you'll be waiting a long time, old man," he rasped, and gasps filled the antechamber. A look of pure rage came over the Praetor's face for a few seconds, but, much to John's astonishment, it was replaced by a smile, then actual laughter from the old man. He shook a trembling finger at the chief engineer of the Challenger. "That was well played, young man," he said. "You are deliberately trying to antagonize me, but I have seen through your game, and I will not succumb. "I see by the reaction of the subcommander there, however, that she is furious with you, so I shall leave it to her to teach you some respect. When next you come before me, I think your behavior will have been sufficiently modified." John glared at him. "If it makes you feel better, old man, you keep on thinking that," he growled, and again there were gasps of astonishment. "I will never bow before you, and I will defy you and your people to my last breath!" The Praetor chuckled. "That may come sooner than you think, Starfleet man. Take him away." The guards took John by each arm and turned him to leave the antechamber. "We will speak again, Starfleet man," came the voice of the old man, and John smiled savagely. A few of the Romulans in attendance saw the smile, and looked at each other in disbelief. Aiel caught up to the trio as they left the antechamber, and moved in front of John, speaking over her shoulder. "You will pay dearly for your actions, Lieutenant, I promise you," she hissed, and Randall replied, "Your threats do not scare me, lady," he growled right back. Aiel spun suddenly and backhanded him across the right cheek, her face flushed with anger. John ignored the pain of the blow and glared at her, then slowly smiled savagely. "You'll have to do better than that," he gritted, and Aiel turned away from him. She still could not believe the resilience the Starfleet Intelligence operative was showing. She admitted to herself she was beginning to feel the first pangs of desperation; what was it going to take to break this man? They arrived back at the room where John was being held, and took him inside. Aiel snapped out a command in Romulan, and the guards left the room. The Romulan who had previously nodded to Randall, however, managed to slip him a small nod undetected as he left, and John responded in kind. He walked over to the chair in the room and sat down, wondering when the movement was going to make their move. ************************************************************************************************************************* Around three hours later, John was still sitting in the chair, his head bowed. In reality, he was almost asleep. Then, suddenly, there was a loud explosion which sounded like it was just outside his door. Plaster fell from the ceiling and there was dust in the room. John had been thrown to the floor by the concussion of the explosion, and a huge piece of plaster narrowly missed him as he laid there. The door slid open, and a female form came into the room. John rolled over and got to his feet swiftly, crouching to do battle when he suddenly recognized the female. It was T'Mira, and she froze as he crouched, then grinned at him as recognition blossomed in his eyes. She tossed him a pistol, and he was startled to see it was a Starfleet phaser pistol. "Set it to kill, John," she said. "We have to get you out of here. The attack has begun, and a lot of blood will be shed today. Stay with me closely." She then rushed over to him and kissed him soundly on the lips for a full five seconds. "Stay with me, Lieutenant," she said huskily, and smiled at him. John nodded. "Lead the way, lady," he said, and T'Mira spun, heading for the open door. The couple ran out of the room and into a scene of utter chaos. Disruptor bolts filled the air as a terrific battle was taking place. T'Mira and John dodged bolts as they wound their way through the chaos. Both of them dropped several Romulans who fired on them, and John kept his hand on T'Mira's back as they ran. But then the inevitable happened: a disruptor bolt struck John in his left side just above the hip, and the Starfleet officer went down with a yell. T'Mira spun and blasted the Romulan who had hit Randall, and she quickly ran to him, tears in her eyes. "How bad is it, John?" she panted fearfully, and John, pain etched on his face, nodded to her. "It's-It's not that bad," he said through clenched teeth. T'Mira heard the pain in his voice, however, and pulled a rag from her pocket. She wound it around John's waist, covering the wound. "Can you run?" she asked, and John nodded, anger showing in his eyes now. "Let's go," he gritted, and T'Mira pulled him to his feet. Randall immediately shot a Romulan who was aiming for her back, and she smiled at him, kissing him on the cheek. "Thanks," she breathed, and kissed him quickly on the lips. John smiled. "Thanks for staying with me," he breathed, and she smiled even wider. "Wait until we're on the ship I have secured," she said. "Then I'll give you a proper thank you." She stared directly into his eyes, and they both knew what she meant. They began their wild dash again, a little more slowly this time because of John's wound. What seemed like hours later, but in reality was only a few minutes, the pair burst out of the building. They stared in amazement for a few seconds at the scene before them; disruptor bolts were everywhere as Romulan was fighting Romulan. Bodies lay everywhere, and the stench of copper-based blood filled the air. T'Mira nudged him, and they struck off to the left, twisting their way through the carnage and disruptor bolts. After a few moments, they came to a high fenced-in area, the fence stretching over their heads. "This is the main shipyard," T'Mira whispered into his left ear. "The vessel secured by myself and Ambassador Spock is here. It's a two person pod capable of doing warp 8. All we have to do is get to it." John smiled at her. " 'All we have to do'," he parroted, and T'Mira smiled back at him. "I never said it would be easy, John," she replied, and Randall laughed. "No, you didn't," he agreed. "So what's the plan?" "We need to work our way around to the right," she answered. "The pod is about a kilometer from here, on the outer edge of the yard. Are you up to it?" John grinned savagely. "I've never been more ready in my life," he growled, and T'Mira kissed him. "Stay with me, Lieutenant," she said, and he nodded. The couple began their trek, shooting Romulans who fired at them, and dodging explosions and disruptor bolts along the way. Around an hour later, they stopped behind a corner of a building, and T'Mira pointed out a small pod around thirty yards away. "That's our ride, Lieutenant," she whispered, and John nodded. "Let's go," he replied, and she kissed him. They ran from building to building, using the natural cover. Finally, they were only a few feet from the pod. T'Mira cautiously peeked around the corner of the building they were hidden behind, then nodded. She had taken only a few steps when a disruptor bolt struck her from the left side. John watched in horror as T'Mira's body hit the ground. She rolled over and lay as if dead. Then a triumphant laugh filled the air, and Randall stepped out from behind the building to see Aiel with a disruptor trained on him. "Well, there you are, Lieutenant," she said mockingly. "I wondered where you had gotten off to. Sorry about your little friend there," and she smiled wickedly. "That bolt was meant for you; it's a pity she stepped out first. But, none's the harm, this next one will rid me of you forever." John scowled and pointed his phaser at her. "I've already taken some of your countrymen down," he growled. "Now I have you, and I intend to keep my promise." Aiel grinned. "I wouldn't have it any other way, Lieutenant John Randall," she replied. "As you humans would say, 'May you burn in hell!' " and she raised her disruptor. John never hesitated, he pulled the trigger of the phaser, and then was shocked as a second phaser bolt filled the air next to his. He felt a violent blow to his left shoulder, then a scream filled the air as Aiel's body suddenly glowed brightly, then winked out. The blow knocked Randall to the ground, and he rolled over to see T'Mira grinning at him. "My body armor absorbed much of that," she whispered. Then her eyes widened as blood began to pour from John's left shoulder. She moaned and got to her knees, then ripped what was left of John's tunic from his body. She wrapped his shoulder with the rag, and the blood slowed to a trickle, but not before turning the tunic bright red. "John, stay with me," she said as Randall's eyes began to droop. "Stay with me," she pleaded as she struggled to get him to his feet. John let out a loud moan, then put his good arm around her shoulders. "Lead on, lady," he whispered, and then dropped his head. T'Mira's eyes began to water, and she shook him. "Stay with me, Lieutenant," she said in an authoritative voice, and John's head came back up. "Yes, ma'am," he whispered, and she smiled in relief, tears running down her cheeks. The couple staggered their way to the pod, and T'Mira manhandled John into the passenger seat after she opened the hatch. She then popped into the pilot's seat, and prepared the pod for liftoff. A few moments later, the pod rose into the air, and banked sharply to the left. The pod rose above the atmosphere of ch'Havran, and T'Mira instantly engaged the warp drive. The pod rocketed into hyperspace. John sat unconscious in the passenger seat, and T'Mira worried constantly about him as the pod made its way toward the Neutral Zone. Around twelve hours later, the computer told her that they were in Federation space, and T'Mira typed in the coordinates of Starbase 179 into the helm. The pod made a right turn, and hurtled toward its destination. Six hours later, T'Mira sent a communication to the starbase, alerting them that there was a Romulan shuttlepod approaching the station, and to hold their fire, there were Starfleet officers onboard. The communications officer asked her for her code, and T'Mira rattled it off. She was then asked who her companion was, and T'Mira replied it was the chief engineer of the Challenger, Lieutenant John Randall. Then a different voice came over the 'comm. "Commander T'Mira, this is Admiral Jason Baldwin," said the voice, and the Vulcan/Romulan officer closed her eyes. "Aye, sir," she replied tiredly, and the voice softened. "Are you all right?" it asked, and she said, "I've been better, sir. Ready the medical facilities for Lieutenant Randall, he's badly hurt." The voice sharpened. "What is the nature of his injuries, Commander?" it asked, and T'Mira filled him in. The voice of the communications officer then came back over the 'comm, directing her to the dock where she would park the pod. T'Mira acknowledged, and a few minutes later, eased the pod into the bay. A medical team was there to lift John's body out of the pod. They placed him onto an anti-grav cart, and took him away. T'Mira climbed out of the pod and staggered as her feet touched the floor of the bay. She was immediately grabbed by a man in a Starfleet uniform, and she looked up into the eyes of Admiral Jason Baldwin. "Thank the stars you're safe, Commander," he said, and T'Mira managed a small smile. "Thank you, sir," she whispered, then collapsed in his arms. Baldwin picked her up and placed her onto the second anti-grav cart, and the orderlies of the starbase hospital carried her into the station. The medical personnel got the two officers into their respective rooms, and went to work on both of them. Randall was scheduled for emergency surgery to repair the wounds in his side and shoulder. T'Mira was medicated and placed under observation. The operation on John's body lasted three hours, then he was taken into recovery. Twelve hours later, he was taken back to his room and placed under observation. Admiral Baldwin sent a subspace message to Starfleet Command informing them of the rescue of Lieutenant Randall, and requested the status of the Challenger. The reply came after a six hour wait, and Baldwin learned the ship was due to report in to Starbase 179 very shortly. He settled back into his chair in his office aboard the base, and waited for the Challenger to come into communications range. END LOG
  20. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11608.16) The Romulans and Randall materialized in a chamber similar in appearance to the one aboard the Romulan ship Talon they had just left. Aiel snapped out a command in Romulan, and she nudged John forward. The chief engineer of the Challenger followed the group as they marched down a corridor, making two right-hand turns before they arrived at a door. Aiel walked over to a numerical pad on the right side of the door and tapped in a code. The door slid open and the group walked inside. John looked around the room, which contained only a small sofa and a table, plus a computer terminal on the east wall. The layout was similar to the cabin he had been housed in while aboard the ship. Aiel then turned to Randall. "You will be kept here until the guards come for you," she said. "I warn you again, you will show proper respect to our Praetor, or you will suffer the repercussions." John glared at her. "I'm tired of your threats, lady," he snapped right back at her. "If you have nothing to say beyond that, I'd just as soon you left my sight." His eyes were ice-blue as he stared at her. The Romulan subcommander shook her head. "Still you are defiant," she said. "Do you value your life so little that you would continue to antagonize those who control you?" John actually grinned at her as she finished, and she was so surprised she actually backed away from him. "Lady," he growled, "if I am to die inside your wretched empire, I'm going to take as many as I can of you green-skinned bastards with me. That's a promise." Aiel gaped at him in disbelief. She was beginning to realize she had vastly underestimated this human. She was seeing for herself just how much John Randall actually hated her people, and it was far beyond anything she had imagined. She had expected resistance from him, but nothing had prepared her for this. She gave a hand signal to the guards, and they walked out of the room, Aiel looking back at Randall quickly over her shoulder just before the door slid shut, and the angry expression was still on his face as he watched them leave. John walked over to the small sofa and sat down, bowing his head and running his fingers through his hair. He then gave a mighty sigh and sat back against the sofa. He was wondering what sort of plan T'Mira had in mind, and smiled to himself as he remembered the quick planning session in the cabin aboard the ship with her. He remembered most of all the quick kiss she had given him before they had left the bedroom, and the thrill it had given him as he realized he was not alone. 'And', he thought to himself, 'it was a kiss from a very pretty woman.' That in itself had re-invigorated him. He arose and walked over to the computer terminal which, much to his surprise, was actually functional. He played with the keyboard and the controls for a while before finally happening to get a series of Romulan hieroglyphs in the right order, and the viewscreen lit up with an image of an antechamber filled with Romulans. 'This must be the senate the subcommander was talking about,' he mused to himself, and studied the picture for quite a while, trying to memorize the layout in his mind. *************************************************************************************************************************** Around four hours later, John was sitting on the sofa when the door of the room slid open. A Romulan female entered, and to Randall's delight, he saw that it was T'Mira. He was careful to give no outward sign of recognition, however, as per her instructions. He arose from the sofa as she walked over to him. "There is someone here to see you," she said into the device hanging from her neck, which was ostensibly a translator, but John knew it was actually a dummy. He nodded and looked toward the door as a tall man entered. He was wearing a black outfit and a long black cape flowed from his shoulders. The man turned toward him, and John had to call on every bit of his resolve not to react to the figure now standing before him. Spock. The former first officer of the Enterprise, now the official Federation ambassador to Romulus, looked a little older than his most recent holos, and there were lines of weariness around his eyes as well. But the eyes were alert and watchful, and they now regarded the engineer with no hint of recognition or friendliness, as T'Mira had warned him. "Ambassador Spock, this is the chief engineer of the Federation battlecruiser Challenger, Lieutenant John Randall," said T'Mira. "Lieutenant Randall, Ambassador Spock." John inclined his head to the Vulcan, who regarded him for a few seconds, then turned to T'Mira. "I would speak with the prisoner," he said in a deep bass voice, and the female nodded. She rapped out a command in Romulan to the accompanying guard, who stared at her for a moment, then looked at Spock, who merely raised an eyebrow. The guard hastily dropped his gaze, and followed T'Mira out into the corridor, the door sliding shut behind them. Spock turned back to Randall, and raised an eyebrow. He held up a hand as he saw John preparing to make a remark, and walked over to the computer terminal. His hands flew over the keyboard for a few seconds, then he straightened and turned back to Randall. "I have overridden the hidden visual sensors and listening devices in this room," he said. "We may now converse freely." "Ambassador, it is a great honor to meet you, sir," said John, and again Spock raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps we should save the 'small talk' for later, Lieutenant," he said, and John's eyebrows went up. If he didn't know better, he would have sworn Spock, a Vulcan, was trying to make a joke. "I see by your reaction I may have surprised you, Mr. Randall," Spock continued. "I served with humans long enough in Starfleet to pick up several of the nuances of human speech. Especially aboard the Enterprise." John nodded, knowing the stories that still abounded about the Vulcan standing before him and a certain ship's surgeon aboard the Enterprise. Randall had actually met Dr. Leonard McCoy while he was recuperating at the hospital on his home planet of Centaurus following an incident aboard his home ship, the Challenger. The stories about Spock, McCoy, and Captain James T. Kirk were legendary. "Lieutenant, T'Mira tells me that she was able to meet with you briefly aboard the Talon," the Vulcan went on. "She tried to convey to you the danger you are now in. I must add my confirmation to that; you are in grave danger, Mr. Randall, and I fear I can be of little or no help to you in this circumstance. You will have to rely on your wits, and any help T'Mira might be able to give you. "I am told by her, however, that you are very resourceful for a human; her words, not mine," he continued, and John grinned slightly. "I can tell you this, though; there is a secret underground movement afoot here on ch'Havran, or as you know it, Romulus. Some of the Romulan population are very unhappy with their current Praetor, and are planning to overthrow him. There are a few members of the Senate who are 'in on it' as well, as you humans say, and they plan to make a move soon. "They have learned of your arrival, and have consequently changed their timetable; they have asked me to inquire of you if you would be willing to assist their cause," the ambassador finished. John smiled slowly. "Tell them I will be happy to do anything to get me out of this wretched empire and back to the Federation," he said, and Spock nodded. "I had anticipated your response, and have already informed the movement as such," said the Vulcan, and John raised his eyebrows again, smiling this time. "I apologize if I overstepped my bounds," Spock continued, and Randall shook his head. "As you say, you have gotten to know my race, Mr. Ambassador," he said, "and I have heard stories about you and Captain Kirk in similar situations." Spock sighed softly. "Ah, yes, the stories," he said disapprovingly, and John smothered a smile. "The captain and I did have some....interesting.....situations aboard the Enterprise," he continued, and John simply nodded. "Be ready at all times, Lieutenant," Spock said. "The circumstances will warrant the time of the action or actions to take place. You may rest easy today, however; the Praetor has been taken ill, and the Senate is adjourning as we speak. You may get a visit from one or more of the participating senators this evening or tonight, they will make themselves known to you. "I must go now as I am set to speak before the Council before they adjourn for the evening," Spock finished. "We will probably not meet again, Mr. Randall, so I will leave you with the Vulcan farewell." He lifted his right hand and made the Vulcan peace sign. "Live long and prosper, John Randall," he intoned, and John lifted his hand, returning the sign. "Peace and long life to you, Ambassador Spock," he said. There was a glint of approval in the Vulcan's eyes as he lowered his hand. He stared at Randall for an additional moment, then turned and walked toward the door, which slid open at his approach. He walked out into the corridor, and T'Mira came into the cabin. She came very close to him and whispered, "Be ready, John, it could happen any time. The ambassador will help as much as he can. A large part of this, however, will hinge on you. Be alert and careful, my friend," she finished, and gave him another kiss on the cheek. She then put a hand to his face and looked deep into his eyes. She smiled, touched her forehead to his, then turned and left, the door sliding shut behind her. John went over to the sofa and sat down, his mind whirling with the last few minutes. He had actually met the legendary Spock, and now knew he had even more help on the Romulans' home planet. For the first time since he had been abducted, he was now very sure that he would be back in Federation space before too long. He also made a vow to himself; he would kill the Romulan female known to him as T'Shea before he left this accursed planet. She was just like her father, and that made them mortal enemies in John's eyes. END LOG
  21. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11607.31) John sat on the sofa in his cabin aboard the Romulan ship Talon. He was waiting for the guards to come get him; T'Shea had told him the Romulan Praetor wanted to see him, and Randall was marshaling his wits for the meeting. The door chime sounded, and the door slid aside to reveal a Romulan female, but this one was different than the one that had brought John his tray of food. She came into the room and nodded to him; Randall then saw she was wearing a veil across the lower part of her face. "I am here to get you presentable for our Praetor," she said into the device hanging around her neck. "Please do not resist, or I shall have to summon the guards. I am here to bathe you and dress you properly. Will you allow this?" John regarded her for a few seconds, then nodded resignedly. She went over to the terminal and pushed a button. "The prisoner is cooperating," she said, and an acknowledgement came. She came back to him and said, "Please follow me." She led him to the small bathroom in the cabin and told him to take off his uniform, stressing that this was no time for modesty. John started to do what she had told him, but the female suddenly put a restraining hand on his arm. Randall looked at her as the female put a hand to her face, and she slowly removed her veil. John's eyes narrowed; he knew this female, but where----Then it hit him, she was the female that had spoken to him at the Romulan base where Martha Braxton had fled after being found out by Admiral Chuck Hastings of Starfleet Intelligence as the traitor who had been supplying top secret information to the Romulans. He racked his brain for her name, and came up with it. "T'Mira?" he asked in disbelief. "Ssh," cautioned the very pretty Romulan female. "Not so loud, this cabin contains concealed listening devices," she whispered. She then turned on the faucet and water came spewing out. She leaned close to John and whispered into his ear. "I am here to help you, Lieutenant Randall," she said. "I am actually a deep undercover agent of the Vulcan High Command. I was trying to make contact with you that day at the Romulan base before Lieutenant Richards broke up our meeting. The female who has kidnapped you is named Aiel ra'Hajruillu. She is a subcommander and the science officer of this vessel. "She somehow convinced the commander of this vessel to aid her in her abduction of you. She has 'something on him,' as I believe humans would put it. I have been trying to gather information about a supposed Romulan attack against the Federation for 1.4 years, and I suspect the Praetor wants to use you as a pawn against the Federation. "The subcommander is highly upset that she has not been able to elicit any information from you thus far," she continued. "Be on your guard at all times, Lieutenant, this is a very dangerous situation." John smiled. "I had that figured out for myself," he said dryly, and T'Mira actually smiled at him. "It is fortunate that I am on this ship with you," she said. "I need your help, Lieutenant. Are you willing to work with me?" John looked at her. "How do I know that you're not just a Romulan female who's trying to trick me?" he said. T'Mira nodded. "An apt question," she said. "You are actually partially correct; I am not a full-blooded Vulcan. I am half Romulan." John stared at her. She turned the water off and whispered, "Let's continue this conversation in the bedroom." She led him out of the head and across the cabin to the small bedroom. She took a device from her pocket that resembled a tricorder and switched it on. She then spoke in a normal tone of voice. "This is actually a jamming device," the female said. "I will pretend to be scanning you while you are changing into the clothing on the bed. Please do so now." John began to change as T'Mira kept talking. "I was selected for this mission because my blood is predominantly Romulan, and would stand up to a test by any authority. I have to find a way to escape Romulan space and make my way back to Vulcan with the information I have been able to obtain. "When I learned of your abduction, I made it a point to try to get myself assigned as your, valet, for want of a better term. I feel my chances of success are greater with your help, if you are willing to assist me." John stared at her as he tugged the shirt over his head. "You still haven't told me why I should trust you," he said. T'Mira looked at him. "Maybe the name of my contact here on Romulus will convince you." She looked around, then put her head next to his and whispered into his ear. "My contact is Ambassador Spock," she revealed, and John's eyes widened. The legendary first officer of the Enterprise under Captain James T. Kirk had indeed assumed ambassadorial duties when he retired from Starfleet after the incident involving Kirk and the Enterprise-B. "Spock is currently on Romulus as we speak," continued T'Mira. "I would not be surprised if he is in attendance when you are presented to the Praetor. The Praetor will want to gauge Spock's reaction when you are introduced. Don't be surprised if the ambassador takes little or no interest in you. I will make a report to him later, and I am sure he will find a way to assist us. So, as I said, be on your guard at all times, Lieutenant, and know that you are not alone." John didn't show it outwardly, but he was very relieved that he apparently had help, and from a most unexpected source. He had been fully prepared to go it alone, and now knew he didn't have to. He finished dressing, and they arose from the bed. T'Mira smiled at him. "Just be patient, Lieutenant, our time will come," she said. "Thank you for your help," answered the chief engineer of the Challenger. T'Mira smiled again, then reached up and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Let us now play our roles," she said, and Randall nodded. They went back out into the living area, T'Mira having drawn the veil back over her face and had replaced the tricorder\jamming device in her pocket. "The guards will come for you shortly," she said into the tube around her neck, and John glared at her, then had to suppress a smile as T'Mira winked at him. She strode to the door of the cabin, which swooshed open at her approach, and she nodded to the guard. The door closed behind her, and John closed his eyes, heaving a mighty mental sigh of relief. For the first time since the ordeal had started, he was actually optimistic about his chances of survival. It warmed him inside to think that help had come from a very unexpected source, and he thanked his lucky stars that T'Mira had actually been present aboard this vessel. A few moments later, the door slid open again, and two guards armed with disruptors came in. They motioned toward the door, and John nodded, walking with them to the door and through it into the corridor beyond. The trio took a left-hand turn and marched down a corridor to a room whose door opened at their approach. It was a transporter room, and the trio climbed up onto the dais. A few moments later, the door slid open again, and in walked T'Shea, whom John now knew was Subcommander Aiel ra'Hajruillu. She walked toward them, ascended the dais, and came to stand by him. "Well, Lieutenant Randall, you are about to make history," she said. "I believe you will be the first ever human to stand before the Romulan Senate. You should feel proud." John turned and locked eyes with her, his own turning ice-blue. " 'Proud' is not the word I had in mind, lady," he growled, and she shook her head. "Still defiant," she said. "I've come to expect no less from you, Lieutenant John Randall of Starfleet Intelligence. I must warn you, however: you need to show the proper respect for our Praetor when we are standing before him, or it will not go well for you." John snorted. "Like it was going to go well for me anyway," he retorted, and was gratified as an expression of anger crossed the Romulan female's face. "I can make things very unpleasant for you, Lieutenant," she gritted, and Randall actually laughed, which drew stares from every Romulan present, including the subcommander. "Spare me your threats, lady," he said. "I'm getting really tired of them." Aiel looked at him sharply, and noticed the human was looking right back at her with those vivid blue eyes of his. She could not hold his gaze and dropped her eyes after only a few seconds. She was seething as the transporter officer announced they were ready for beamout, and she made a vow to herself that the human would pay for his rash insolence. Then the transporter beam claimed them, and they were gone. END LOG
  22. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11607.11) John awoke in his cabin on the small sofa in the living area. He sat up slowly, moaning all the way. His head felt like someone had turned it inside out; it hurt terribly. He remembered the device being put on his head by T'Shea, then nothing but pain. He reasoned to himself that the Romulan female had her own version of the Klingon mind-sifter; he had heard horror stories about that particular device both at the Academy and aboard the Challenger. He could now attest to the validity of those stories personally. He got up from the sofa, and nearly fell back onto it; he was very dizzy and closed his eyes for a few seconds, trying to stop the room from spinning. He opened them again, and the dizziness was decreased to a point where he felt he could walk. He made his way toward the head and just did reach the commode in time as he suddenly became violently sick to his stomach, regurgitating what would come up. It lasted for a few moments, and when he was finished, his body sagged weakly against the side of the commode. He felt drained, and simply sat there for a few minutes. He then got slowly to his feet, and looked at himself in the small mirror over top of a sink. He looked like death warmed over, and grinned slightly as a little voice in his mind said, Well, how did you expect to look? He turned a knob on the faucet, and water came spewing out. He cupped his hands, and splashed the cold water on his face several times. It invigorated him slightly, and he turned the water off. He wiped his face with his shirt sleeves, and went back to the sofa, sitting down heavily onto it. He looked at the chronometer on the small table against the wall to his left, and was startled by the reading he saw displayed. He had been unconscious for two days, according to it. He shook his head, which he instantly regretted doing as a new wave of pain hit him. He leaned his head back against the back of the sofa, and groaned. His door chime sounded suddenly, and the door opened. John took his hands away from his eyes, which he had put there when he had moaned, and stared as a Romulan female, carrying a tray of what looked to be food, came into the cabin. She set the tray on the small table against the wall, and turned to regard him. Speaking into a small tube hanging from her neck, she said, "This has been brought to you by order of Subcommander Aiel ra'Hajruillu. It has been checked for compatibility with your human physiology, and is safe for you to eat. When you are finished, simply leave the tray on the table, and someone will come to retrieve it." She took a tricorder from her pocket and approached him. "I have also been instructed to scan you for a reading of your vital signs. I was told you might offer resistance. I would like to reassure you that this is simply a medical device, it will not harm you in any way. If you do offer resistance, I have been instructed to call a guard into the room, and you will be restrained." John stared at her a moment, and the female looked steadily back at him. He thought she was truthful in what she had said, so he nodded at her. She activated the device, and passed it over the length of his body twice. When she was finished, she replaced the device in her pocket, and said, "Thank you." She then marched to the door of the cabin, which swooshed open, and she left. John watched her go, then looked toward the table where the tray of food sat. He got up and walked to the table. He inspected the contents of the tray, and shrugged his shoulders. He thought to himself, 'It's probably drugged anyway, so I might as well eat to strengthen myself, then take another nap.' He then suited action to words, eating everything from the tray, and drinking the entire content of a large mug, which tasted like orange juice. He finished eating, and as per instructions, left the tray on the table. He walked back to the sofa and lay down. After about five minutes, he was asleep. A little while later, the door of the cabin opened again, and the same Romulan female entered the cabin. She took out her medical device as she strode to the sofa where Randall lay sleeping. She passed the device over his body twice, then replaced it in her pocket. She walked to the table, collected the tray, and paused by the sofa momentarily, regarding the human. She took a hypospray from her pocket, and jammed it swiftly against John's arm. She hurriedly replaced it in her pocket, looked him over from head to foot, then exited the cabin. ************************************************************************************************************************** John awoke again around twelve hours later, according to the chronometer, and sat up, rubbing sleep from his eyes. 'I knew the food was drugged,' he told himself, but he actually felt pretty good. The pain in his head had actually subsided to a dull roar, and he was no longer dizzy. The door to the cabin opened, and in walked T'Shea. She strode over to the sofa, and paused in front of him. "Well, Lieutenant Randall, good to have you back with us," she purred. "Did you enjoy your sleep?" John glowered up at her. "It was very restful, thank you," he said sarcastically, and the Romulan female's eyes widened. "Still you have the attitude, as you humans say," she said, shaking her head. Randall's eyes began to turn to ice as he stared at her. "Lady, you haven't seen attitude yet," he growled, and Aiel widened her eyes again. "I must say, you are every bit the adversary I thought you would be," she answered, and John thought he actually detected a little respect in her voice. "Usually after the first session with my little invention, the subject is more in distress, both bodily and mentally. I can see you are indeed going to be my most resilient one yet. I relish the challenge, Lieutenant Randall. I urge you to fight me with everything you have." John stared up at her, and his eyes were the most ice-blue Aiel had seen yet. "That's a promise, lady," he growled. "You will never get anything from me except my cold, dead body." She smiled at him. "I have heard those sentiments before, John, and every time I have emerged victorious." Randall then stood up, and glared down at her. "Maybe, but you haven't heard them from me," he gritted, and her eyes widened again as she involuntarily took a step back from him. "You will kill me before you get anything from me," he repeated, and Aiel knew he meant every word of it. She then said, "I came to tell you that we are approaching ch'Havran, and the Praetor wants to see you. That is the only reason you are not back in my lab. So enjoy this brief respite, Lieutenant Randall. You have another date with my little invention, and I look forward to it." John glared at her. "I will take full advantage, lady, and I promise you, I will resist even more strongly on our next 'date'." Aiel regarded him a moment longer, then turned and exited the cabin. She was shaking her head as she walked down the corridor. This human would defy her to his last breath, she knew that now, and she did not like it. For the first time, she began to doubt whether she could actually get any information from Lieutenant John Randall. He was the most resilient being she had ever met, and she was admitting to herself; her resolve was beginning to weaken. She could never forget that he had killed her father, but now she knew firsthand what her father had written in his personal logs; the Starfleet officer was a dangerous man, and she now knew what her father knew; if she didn't kill him, he would kill her. John sat down on the sofa after T'Shea left, and blew out his breath with a mighty wheeze. He had talked tough to the Romulan female, but he didn't know if he could survive another round with her mind-sifter. He was positive the next bout would involve increased strength with the device, and he wasn't sure he could handle it. But, at this point, all he had was bluster and his own courage and resolve. He would have to find a way to get through it. There was no cavalry coming over the hill for him, he was alone as he never had been before, and he knew it. END LOG
  23. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11605.11) Around a half hour later, the door to John's cabin opened, and the guard assigned to his room stepped in, motioning for Randall to accompany him. John was dressed in the civilian clothes given to him by T'Shea, and he walked in front of the guard down the corridor. After a few moments, the guard told him to halt, and enter the room on the right. John walked in as the door slid aside for him, then stopped and stared. A chair was sitting in the middle of the room. There was a strange looking assembly on the top of the chair. Randall also noticed there were metal shackles on the armrests, and as his gaze traveled downward, he spotted more shackles on the legs of the chair. There was a portable tray setup in close proximity to the chair, and John's blood ran cold when he saw that there were instruments arranged on top of the tray. He doubted that any of the instruments displayed would be beneficial to his health. He heard a chuckle behind him then, and knew T'Shea had entered the room. She walked up to stand beside him, and gestured with her arm. "This is my domain, John," she said. "Here is where I ply all the tricks of my trade. And believe me, Lieutenant, I know quite a few; I've been doing this for a while now." "I'm sure you have had plenty of....test subjects.... to practice your trade on," replied Randall, and T'Shea turned to look at him. John saw that she had changed into the uniform of a Romulan subcommander, and had redone her hair in the traditional flattop style of the inhabitants of ch'Havran. She smiled cruelly at him. "Defiant to the last," she said, nodding. "I would expect no less from a loyal member of Starfleet Intelligence. Well, Mr. Randall, I think you are going to be my most enjoyable 'test subject', to use your term, that I have ever had." John locked eyes with her then, and T'Shea actually recoiled a little as she saw the ice-blue orbs trained on her, and one of the most angry faces she had ever seen regarding her. "I can also promise you I will be your most troublesome and defiant subject you have ever had, lady," he growled at her, and the last word he spoke was dripping with angry sarcasm. T'Shea narrowed her eyes as he finished, then gave him a backhand slap across his right cheek. John continued to stare coldly at her, ignoring the brief pain of the slap. The Romulan female stared back at him for a few seconds, then turned and walked to the chair. As she walked toward it, she admitted to herself that the cold stare from the human had actually unnerved her slightly. He would be her most difficult subject to date. She now knew what she had overheard others on the Challenger talk about to be true; John Randall hated Romulans. And, from what she had just seen, he not only hated them, he loathed them. She told herself she would use that hate to strengthen her resolve. She reached the chair and turned to face him. The guard had moved up beside John, and she nodded to the guard. The Romulan took John by the arm and led him to the chair. He made Randall sit down, then clipped both sets of shackles to him. T'Shea then turned on a console, and entered a series of commands on a keyboard. The assembly on top of the chair began to lower itself over John's head. It would reach from the bottom of his neck to the top of his head. The assembly stopped when it was fully deployed, then adjusted itself to John's cranium and neck areas. The device was very snug against Randall, and the chief engineer knew he would not be able to shake it off or squirm out of it. T'Shea then applied several pads to John's neck and head, then entered more commands into the keyboard. When she was finished, she turned to him and smiled. "Now, Lieutenant Randall, I am going to let you get to know the device I have placed you in," she said. "It's a very specialized type of cortical stimulator, invented by me. That's all you need to know for now, you'll discover the rest shortly. Just make yourself comfortable, John, and I'll be back to check on you in a little bit." She smiled prettily at him, but her eyes were cold. She tapped a key on the console, and John felt the device tighten ever so slightly against him. T'Shea then left the room, snapping an order to the guard as she did, and the guard stepped outside as well. John was alone in the room shackled to the chair. He couldn't go anywhere, and he knew it. The chair also seemed to be very sturdy, and the thought of maybe rocking it back and forth until it turned over seemed less likely the longer he sat there. He tried to prepare himself mentally against the device. The screams began around ten minutes later. ************************************************************************************************************************** Around a half hour later, T'Shea entered the cabin. John was unconscious in the chair, and his clothing was wet. The Romulan female smiled widely as she knew Randall had suffered great torment at the hands of her toy. She called the guard in, and they unhooked the unconscious Starfleet officer from the device, then released the shackles holding him. The guard slung Randall's body over his shoulder, and, following T'Shea's orders, took John back to his cabin. The Romulan deposited Randall unceremoniously on the small sofa, and left the cabin, the door sliding shut behind him. Back in the lab, T'Shea was studying the results of the device that had been recorded by the computer. She sifted through the data, but didn't really find anything of use. She nodded to herself, thinking this was about what she had expected from the first session. Randall would be a tough nut to crack, she told herself, but eventually he would crack. She would not rest until he did. She then left the lab and took the turbolift to the bridge of the Warbird she was science officer of. The commander looked up as she emerged from the lift, and cocked his head at her. "Anything interesting?" he asked, and T'Shea shook her head. "It's much too early for that, Commander," she said. "He's a very good operative for Starfleet Intelligence. They are conditioned to withstand torture and interrogations. All you will get in the preliminary stages is loads of rubbish. It will take time, sir." Again the commander cocked his head at her. "Time is not a luxury you have, Subcommander," he said. "The Praetor will not wait long for results. He did not take too kindly to this operation to begin with, so I would move a little faster if I were you about getting something from the Starfleet officer we can use." T'Shea nodded. "I will try to speed the process as much as I can, Commander, but I have to be careful. If I press too hard too fast, it can actually undermine our efforts. The human will become a vegetable, and we will have accomplished nothing." The commander nodded. "You have some time, Aiel," he said. "Do not waste it." Subcommander Aiel ra'Hajruillu, science officer of the ch'Havran Warbird Talon, nodded and gave the Romulan salute. "Permission to take my station, sir," she said. "What of the Starfleet officer?" asked the commander. "He is currently unconscious from the first session with the cortical stimulator, Commander," answered the science officer. "He will remain that way for at least the better part of three turns." "Very well, permission granted," sighed the commander, and Aiel again gave the salute, which he returned. He watched her walk to her post, and involuntarily gave a slight shudder. He had heard tales about the science officer's invention, and was heartily glad he was not in the Starfleet officer's shoes. The ship continued to run silent and cloaked toward the Romulan homeworld. END LOG
  24. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11605.04) John materialized on a transporter dais, but he knew instantly something was wrong; this transporter room was decidedly not Federation standard. As a matter of fact, it looked suspiciously like---- Then, with dawning horror, he knew where he was. He was aboard a Romulan ship, and just as the realization hit home, a door opened in front of him, and three Romulans, all armed with disruptors, rushed into the room and came straight at him. He knew better than to try to put up any resistance, they would just simply fire a disruptor bolt into him, and he had just gotten released from the hospital. So he merely stood there while the Romulans surrounded the dais, and he waited to see what would happen. They made no move to remove him from the dais, however, they simply kept their disruptors trained on him. A few moments later, a female in a Starfleet uniform walked into the room, and John stared in disbelief. He was even more mystified when the female sharply issued a command in Romulan language, and the men lowered their disruptors. The female regarded John for a few seconds, then slowly smiled. "Well," she said in Federation Standard. "Here is the chief engineer of the Challenger, and Starfleet Intelligence operative, Lieutenant John Randall. Like father, like son, eh?" John's eyes widened at that remark, and the female smiled again. "Yes, Lieutenant," she continued. "Your father was Marcus Randall of Starfleet Intelligence. It took us a while to finally 'put it all together', as you humans say, but once we did, we figured out who you were. For my part, I know who you are." She walked slowly toward the dais, and stared at him as an expression of hatred crept over her face. "You are the person responsible for the execution of my father," she said in a low, angry voice. "You might remember him. He was posing as an aide to ambassador Shrvan of the accursed planet of Vulcan," and John stared at her in horror. She saw the realization come into his eyes, and grinned evilly at him. "That's right, Lieutenant," she went on. "He was Shrak, as you knew him. I knew him as my father, Tel ra'Hajruillu. I intend to avenge my father much the way you avenged yours. You might recall one of the aides survived that final battle in the ambassador's home?" John nodded, trying to appear calm while inside his stomach was churning. "He was part of my father's entourage, and he made it back to ch'Havran with the entire scene caught on a tricorder. "I have waited this long to make my move, Lieutenant, because I wanted to savor the moment when I had been informed that you were killed in the explosion aboard the Challenger," she continued, and John's eyebrows went straight up. She noticed and smiled coldly at him again. "Yes, I was responsible for the cloaking device explosion," she said. "It was a simple matter to set it up. After all, who knows better to 'booby-trap', as you humans say, a Romulan cloaking device better than a Romulan?" John finally found his voice. "It was not a Romulan cloaking device," he gritted, and the female waved his remark aside. "At its very heart, it is, Lieutenant, and you know it," she growled. "That device was stolen by your Captain James T. Kirk and his henchman, the Vulcan Spock. That Starfleet was attempting to use it onboard a starship like the Challenger is a clear violation of the Treaty of Algeron, and one I fully intend to report to the Romulan High Command the first chance I get. "Meanwhile, I shall have the luxury of doing with you what I will," she continued coldly, and her gaze intensified upon the Challenger's chief engineer. "You will pay, and pay dearly, Lieutenant, for your treachery, and I shall make sure your punishment is very hard and very slow. I intend to savor each moment to its fullest." John glared back at her. "Then get on with it, lady, and I use that term very loosely," he snapped, and an expression of rage came over the female's face. "That's just one more thing you'll pay for, Mr. Randall," she said menacingly. Then she suddenly smiled. "Haven't you recognized me yet, Lieutenant? My disguise was actually better than I thought, then. No one aboard your mighty battlecruiser had a clue that I was actually a Romulan." John studied her, but recognition eluded him. "Where did you come aboard?" he asked her, and she smiled. "Do you remember the outpost at Tyreilla?" she asked him, and he nodded. "I was secretly flown there in a cloaked shuttlepod," she said. "I had already undergone my Federation disguise surgery, and I waited until your away team was ready to return to Challenger. Then I joined your team in the disguise of a yeoman, and returned with you to the ship. When I saw you board the shuttlecraft, it was all I could do not to blow my cover; I wanted to kill you right then and there," she gritted. John nodded. "You were the shadow I saw, and could never catch up to," he replied. "No wonder I couldn't get your life-signs on my tricorder, I wasn't scanning for Romulans." She grinned widely and nodded. "I blame myself for getting too close to you for you to somehow sense me," she said, and shook her head. "You nearly caught me that night, Lieutenant, and I give you full credit for that. You were as good as I believed you were. Now, however, I have you, and you are going to get to know me very well. Painfully, of course, but nonetheless, very well." She laughed coldly, and John's stomach crawled. "You have a lot to answer for, Lieutenant John Randall, and I intend to get every last bit of it," she went on. John had been listening to her voice as she had been speaking, and it suddenly dawned on him who she was. "You're Lieutenant T'Shea," he said with shock in his voice, and she smiled, nodding at him. "I knew you'd figure it out, John," she said. "You're every bit the consummate professional I thought you to be." John raised his eyebrows at her. "You think I'm a Starfleet Intelligence operative," he said, and she smiled. "Don't tell me you're going to deny it," she said sarcastically, and he nodded. "I truly am not one," he replied. "I only worked with SI to find the people responsible for my father's death." "Oh, Lieutenant, you truly are a marvel," T'Shea said happily. "I fully expected that you would deny who you are. It's only the first of many things I intend to discover about you. Now, we need to get you off that dais and into your quarters." She nodded to the men, and they took John from the room. He was marched down a corridor and into a turbolift. The lift carried the party down (at least it felt to John that they were moving that way) and came to a stop a few moments later. They exited the car and marched down another corridor, stopping in front of a door. The door opened after one of his guards entered a code into a panel on the left side of the door, and John was led inside. All the men except one then left the cabin, and T'Shea smiled at him. "Get to know this cabin well, Lieutenant," she said. "It is your new home. I will return shortly with some clothing for you so we can get you out of that hideous Starfleet uniform. Then, you and I will begin to get better acquainted." John said, "You really don't believe that you're going to get away with this, do you? Starfleet will be searching for me, along with the Challenger." T'Shea smiled at him. "Oh, I'm not too worried about that, Lieutenant," she replied. "No one knows where you are. That ship you arrived on at the shipyards left right after we intercepted your beamout. And, I happen to know that the Challenger, according to your executive officer, was going to leave the shipyards with or without you. "I also took the liberty of placing a notice in the Starfleet computer at the shipyard that your arrival would be delayed because of your recent hospitalization. As far as the Challenger is concerned, Lieutenant, you're still at the university hospital on, Centaurus, I believe the planet is called. So you see, no one knows where you are. You are mine, and you will be here until I tire of you. Then, I will kill you myself." She glared at him for a few seconds after she finished, then whirled and left the room. The guard followed her, but John knew he would take up a station outside the door. He walked over to the only chair in the room and sat down, burying his face in his hands. He was a prisoner, of that there was no doubt. He wondered if he would ever see his family again, and tears came to his eyes at the thought of his sister Victoria, whom he had just spent time with at the New Athens hospital. He feared he might never see his family again, and knew he was in for the battle of his life. He berated himself mentally for the situation he was in. He should have seen this coming, he told himself. He should have known the Romulans wouldn't have just taken everything he had done to them over the years, and not have some retribution planned for him. He could only hope that T'Shea, or whoever she was, had made an error somewhere that she wasn't aware of, or that someone on the Challenger would wonder where he was, and contact the hospital to ask about him. He thought briefly of Anastasia, but she hadn't said a word to him since he had gotten back from his last covert mission. For all he knew, she had moved on from their talk that day in the officers' mess, and his departure from Starbase 179 the day he had left to find the person responsible for blowing his father's cover. She had told him that he was making a mistake, and he was beginning to think she had been right. He supposed she was angry with him for going on the mission, and had told herself to stay away from him. It didn't look good for the chief engineer of the Challenger, and John set about preparing himself mentally for the battle he knew was coming. END LOG
  25. OFFICIAL LOG LIEUTENANT JOHN RANDALL USS CHALLENGER (Personal Log Stardate 11604.28) Admiral Leonard McCoy's personal space yacht sped toward Earth and the Utopia Planetia shipyards, where John's ship, the USS Challenger, was being repaired after a prototypical cloaking device exploded aboard her. The ship had been badly damaged, and had required massive repairs inside and outside the vessel. But the repairs were nearing completion, and Starfleet wanted the Challenger back on active duty. The first officer of the Challenger, Commander Erica Rinax, had already sent out a communication to all ship personnel to board the Challenger for its next mission. John had been caught in the outskirts of the explosion, and had suffered burns mainly on the left side of his body, as well as a hairline fracture of his skull when he was thrown against a corridor wall. Randall had been transported to Starbase 179 for treatment, but then, at the insistence of his family, had been sent to the university hospital of New Athens on his homeworld Centaurus. He recovered rapidly with the advanced tools of the hospital under the care of Dr. Joanna McCoy, who was Admiral McCoy's daughter. Leonard McCoy and admiral Jason Baldwin had traveled to Centaurus to speak to John about the incident, but due to constricting time schedules for the Challenger, the admirals told Randall they would talk with him en route to Earth. The three men sat in the passenger area of the yacht, McCoy's personal pilot at the controls. After some initial small talk, the admirals got down to business with the chief engineer of the Challenger. McCoy wanted to hear John's personal account of the story, but Randall was reluctant, citing Starfleet classification issues of ship missions. McCoy waved that aside and told John he had talked to the chief operating officer of Starfleet, Fleet Admiral Heihachiro Nogura himself, and had received clearance from the Oriental admiral for John to tell his story. Randall's eyes widened at that information, then he told his story to McCoy. Baldwin also listened raptly, having been chosen by McCoy to accompany him as Baldwin was the acting chief of Starfleet Intelligence. When John finished, McCoy sat staring off into the distance as his mind assimilated what the chief engineer had told him. Baldwin, on the other hand, jumped right in with a question. "John, you stated that you heard a strange noise come from the cloaking device just before it exploded," he said, and Randall nodded. "Can you describe it in more detail?" The chief engineer thought for a few seconds, then slowly shook his head. "I'm not sure, sir," he replied. "It was running fairly smoothly, then there was this..sort of...growl," he finished helplessly, and shrugged. "That's not really it, but I don't know how else to say it, sir." "But it definitely made a sound before it exploded," said Baldwin, and John nodded. "After I heard the first sound, I immediately ordered the area cleared. My crew all made it out of the generator room, where the device was, and I was the last one out. Just before it exploded, there was a shrill, whistle-like noise, then I don't remember anything after that, when was which I assume I was blown into the corridor and bounced off the wall." Baldwin nodded and glanced at McCoy, who had been listening to the exchange. "John, I have to ask this in my capacity as head of SI, so don't get angry with me," he said, and Randall nodded. "Is there any possibility at all that someone could have tampered with the cloaking device, and you wouldn't have had any knowledge of it?" John started to retort angrily, but remembered what the admiral had said, and gave the question a few seconds of thought. He then reluctantly answered, "As much as I hate to admit it, sir, yes, there is a possibility that what you asked could have happened. But I also think it is an extremely small one. I know most of the crew aboard the ship, and I know every member of the engineering crew. I assure you it couldn't have been any of them, unless someone is a damn good actor or actress. "So I guess what I'm saying is, if you go by the old saying that anything is possible, no matter how improbable it might be, I have to answer your question in the affirmative. Otherwise, no, sir." Baldwin nodded. "I thought that was how you would answer, Lieutenant, but I had to ask." John nodded. "I know, sir," he smiled. "It's not like I'm a stranger to your methods." Baldwin grinned. "That's for sure," he agreed, then he turned to McCoy. "What is your impression, sir?" he asked, and the grizzled Starfleet veteran stared at both of them. "Frankly, I haven't the foggiest," he replied curtly. "From what all I've read and been hearing, it seems to be shaping up as a bona fide accident, and I think that bothers me more than if it had been an attempt at terrorism aboard a Starfleet vessel. Lieutenant, you're sure you and your department examined every nook and cranny about that infernal device?" John nodded. "I didn't actually see it installed, sir, but we checked everything there was to check. That I am sure of," he finished, and McCoy nodded. "Then it sounds to me like there was a logistical error made somewhere," he stated, "and that could have only come from the bridge. Lieutenant, now that you've had time to think about it, what could have made the device explode like that?" John had given that very thing serious consideration while he had been in the hospital, and was ready with an answer. "As you know, Admiral, the cloaking device projects a field outside the ship's hull to conceal it from the naked eye or any ship's sensors," he said. "The warp engines also project a field outside the ship to make it possible for a vessel to travel faster than light. It is entirely possible that those fields converged for a brief instant, and sent a sort of transtator feedback through the field generated by the cloaking device. That would have run all the way into the device itself, and very likely could have caused it to explode. The warp engines were damaged as well, and that's why I think the fields converged." McCoy was staring at John, and the chief engineer was sure the former doctor's eyes were glistening somewhat. "Are you all right, sir?" Randall asked gently, and the admiral shook his head, then nodded. "When you gave that explanation, it brought back memories, my boy," he said. "I used to have to listen to that all the time from someone I pretended I never got along with, but in reality, was one of my closest friends," he finished, and both Baldwin and Randall knew who McCoy was talking about. The legends were still around about the good-natured, but sometimes all too real, arguments between ship's surgeon Leonard McCoy and the first officer of the Enterprise, the Vulcan Spock, now an ambassador to the Romulan Empire. McCoy grinned. "Thank you for your insight, Lieutenant. I now have some material to work with when I report to Nogura. I think this cloaking device nonsense is gonna be put on the back burner for a while, but I'm not sure about that. Anyhow, thank you, Lieutenant, it's been a pleasure to meet you, and I see we're coming near Earth. There it is, actually," and all three men looked out the port side window at the blue-green planet. McCoy ordered the pilot to take the ship to the shipyard, and a few moments later, the admiral's yacht eased into a dock. John looked out the window, and saw the Challenger in a nearby dock. The ship looked brand new again, and he silently commended the shipyard crew on the apparently fine job they had done on the Starfleet vessel. McCoy told John to go aft and get on the transporter dais, and he would be beamed to the Challenger. The admiral also informed him they were actually fifteen minutes ahead of Rinax's deadline, and grinned as John rolled his eyes. John ascended the dais and awaited the beamover to Challenger. He was having mixed feelings about reboarding her, somewhat to his surprise. Then he shrugged and told himself he had a job to do. Baldwin was at the transporter console, and after communicating with the Challenger, nodded at John, and the chief engineer braced himself for the beamover. Seconds later, he shimmered out of existence. END LOG