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John Randall

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About John Randall

  • Birthday 09/04/1963

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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".
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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