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John Randall

Crisis On The 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.




** - This refers to the TOS novel "The Three Minute Universe".

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