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John Randall

Briefing In Hostile Conditions




(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.



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