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John Randall

An End In Sight





(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.



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