The USS Farraday, en route to Earth for refit or decommission, investigated odd message fragments and micro-singularities in the Mutara nebula. The phenomena, apparently created by protomatter, nearly destroyed the ship, but quick thinking by the crew prevented a total disaster. However, subspace distortions have carried the Farraday to an unknown corner of space, and among the casualties of the incident was the Farraday‘s captain, Emmanuel Parkhurst.
Ship’s Log, Stardate 2258.151, First Officer Anthony Lennox reporting. The ship appears to have sustained only minor damage to various decks during our unexpected journey caused by the detonation of antimatter in the middle of a cluster of singularities. Science Officer Skirov is attempting to determine exactly what caused this incident. Meanwhile, I have completed the list of casualties aboard the ship. It might seem miraculous from a statistical standpoint that we had only three fatalities during this incident, but losing Captain Parkhurst was the exact opposite of a miracle.
Commander Lennox looked over the damage reports again. Forrester had his engineering crews all over the ship, repairing ruptured circuit conduits and banging out dents in the hull, but no major ship’s systems had been compromised. Out on the bridge, a few of the enlisted engineers were repairing the damage to consoles and structure. Captain Parkhurst’s body had been moved down to sickbay along with the body of Ensign Chambers. The tactical officer had been pitched over his console before he’d been able to secure himself, and had broken his neck. Lennox shook his head. Accidents happened in deep space missions, but this one left him feeling numb. He’d only known both men for a short time, and now he’d never truly know them any better.
The door to the captain’s ready room chimed. Lennox looked up, trying to shake the feeling of discomfort. He wasn’t used to sitting on the inner side of the captain’s desk.
Ducking slightly to walk in, M’Rann studied Lennox unblinkingly. The Caitian sat before speaking.
“You wanted to see me, Captain?”
Lennox blinked. A moment passed before he set down the report he’d been reading and rubbed his forehead.
“I’m sorry, M’Rann… I’m not used to being called that.”
“You have no reason to be nervous, sir. I have every confidence in your ability.”
“Thank you. And yes, I did want to see you. Before we arrived at Regula, a message came in from Starfleet Academy to the attention of the ship’s captain. I’m happy to tell you, M’Rann, that your instructors are pleased with your work as a cadet afloat, and at your earliest possible availability you are to take the final officer’s exam to become an Ensign in Starfleet.”
M’Rann’s ears twitched slightly as his eyes widened. Given that this wasn’t accompanied with a hiss or a raising of hackles, Lennox read it as surprise or even delight.
“I am very pleased by this, Captain. Thank you for sharing the news.” His ears drooped a bit. “However, it is unlikely that I will be able to take the examination any time soon. Lieutenant Skirov has determined our position, and it is far outside the mapped territory of the Beta Quadrant. We may even have been propelled outside the borders of our galaxy.”
Lennox nodded. “I’ll be talking with the Lieutenant very soon. But for now, I wanted to tell you that, as the ship’s acting captain, I do have a certain degree of flexibility in matters pertaining to assignments and even promotions. Given that your marks are well above average and your work aboard starships is exemplary so early in your career, I see no reason why you cannot assume the responsibilities and privileges as an ensign in the tactical division aboard the Farraday. It would be unofficial, of course, pending your examination at Starfleet Academy…”
M’Rann held up a hand. “I do not wish you to go out of your way to do favors for me, Anthony. You and I have become friends and I do not desire a friendly gesture to be misinterpreted in the future.”
“It’s got nothing to do with our friendship,” Lennox replied, “though I do admit I’m very pleased to see you doing well. The fact of the matter is, as this is a science vessel, most of the tactical staff are enlisted men and women, and none have the extensive background in ship-to-ship combat tactics and away team security protocols that you do. You are, quite frankly, the best and only option aboard to take the place of the late Ensign Chambers.”
M’Rann looked thoughtful for a moment, then stood. “I shall do my utmost to justify your faith in me, Captain. Thank you.”
Lennox stood and shook M’Rann’s hand. “Congratulations, Ensign.”
“Stone to Lennox.”
Lennox touched the control on his desk. “Go ahead, Chief.”
“I think you better come up to Engineering, sir.”
“I’m on my way.” He straightened his uniform. “Tell Lieutenant Skirov I want whatever navigational data she can put together available for my review as soon as possible, Ensign. If we’re going to find a way home, we need to start looking right away.”
“Consider it done, Captain,” M’Rann told him, following him out of the ready room.
Doctor Ilal was annoyed. While some would consider that her typical state of being, the fact that so many injured people were in her sickbay compounded her annoyance. Her nurses helped take care of the minor injuries, but hearing snatches of conversations around her just fueled her anger.
“Ouch!” cried Lieutenant D’Sarl, whose broken arm was in the doctor’s hand as it tightened in response to her emotions.
“Sorry,” Ilal muttered, working her diagnostic tool over the arm. “You’re lucky. From what I understand the bridge turned into a meat grinder during our little jaunt.”
“It was awful,” D’Sarl replied, watching the doctor tend to her. “I was keeping my hand on the warp controls to try and get us out of it but when we started pitching…”
“…You kept your hand there and snapped a bone in your arm.” Ilal put down the scanner and picked up a regenerative device. “From what I understand it took the Chief Engineer to shut the engines down. Couldn’t you have kept both hands on the helm to try and maintain some kind of course?”
“Navigational sensors were down,” D’Sarl said, wincing a bit. “I had no idea which way we should have been pointed.”
Ilal grunted noncommittally, not saying another word until the regenerative tool had done its work. She wrapped the Orion’s arm in a protective sheath. “If you take it easy over the next 48 hours, I shouldn’t have to immobilize the arm. No martial arts, though, or any other crazy behavior.”
“I’ll be careful. Thank you.”
D’Sarl didn’t move from the diagnostic bed. Ilal was preparing for her next patient, and her antennae twitched as if she just noticed the junior officer hadn’t moved.
“Something else on your mind, Lieutenant?”
“I know there’s a limited amount of pharmaceuticals aboard,” D’Sarl ventured, “but I wanted to know how we’re fixed for pheromone suppressants.”
Ilal turned and looked at the green-skinned young woman. “You afraid of jumping someone, Lieutenant?”
D’Sarl blushed. “I just don’t want anything like that to get in the way of my duties, Doctor. Everybody needs to be on top of their game. That’s what Commander Lennox told us before I got sent to sickbay and the crewmen came for the bodies…”
Ilal grunted again, this time derisively. “I see. Well, we had enough to last us until Earth. At this point we might have a week’s worth aboard. I’ll look into synthesizing more when I get time. Or rather if I get time. In the meantime, you’d better figure out a contingency plan and fast.”
D’Sarl nodded. “Thank you again, Doctor. Sorry to bother you.”
Ilal shrugged as she gestured for the door. “Don’t be sorry. Just stop bothering me.”
“I told him this was a stupid idea! I told him!”
Chief Engineer Forrester tossed a tool across the engineering deck in frustration. Chief Stone leaned against a nearby bulkhead with his arms crossed. Most of the other enlisted crew, at the Chief of the Boat’s behest, were giving Forrester a wide berth. Commander Lennox arrived and stood beside Stone.
“How long has he been like this?” Lennox asked.
“Since we heard about the captain,” Stone replied. “Word is Forrester keeps a stock of authentic Earth spirits in his quarters. Looks like he hit it as hard as the news hit him.”
“And how the hell are we gonna get home since that moron had us dump anti-matter?” Forrester ranted, stumbling around a bit. His bleary eyes focused on Lennox, then narrowed in inconsolable rage. “You…”
Lennox stepped out away from the COB and made sure nobody else was near him, nor were any essential engineering systems.
“You did this! You stuck us out here!” Forrester cried, running at Lennox. Stone moved to intervene but Lennox held out a hand to him. Forrester collided with him, knocking both men to the ground. He raised his fist to strike the Commander, catching him across the jaw. When he reared back to hit him again, however, Lennox shot up with a punch of his own, knocking the engineer off-balance. Lennox got this feet, grabbed Forrester by the shoulders and hauled him up against the wall.
“Listen to me like you’ve never listened to anybody else in your whole life,” Lennox roared, “because we’re all we have out here! We encountered something unknown out in the cold blackness of space, and guess what? Captain Parkhurst explored it. That’s what we do! That’s what Starfleet is all about! If you think running back home to Momma is a more noble pursuit than investigating the unknown, you are not fit to wear that uniform!”
Forrester stared at Lennox, as if trying to comprehend what he was saying. Lennox let him go, watching him slump down to the deck. Lennox sat, still facing the engineer.
“I told him it was a bad idea, too. I didn’t want us getting as close as we did. But he needed to know what it was. He was a scientist and he needed to have his curiosity satisfied. We all supported his decision, despite not agreeing with it.” Lennox paused. “In a way, we all killed him.”
Forrester’s eyes welled up with tears. He clenched his jaw, looking away from Lennox to wipe his eyes. “He was my friend, y’know? We practically built this ship together. He knew that any other cap’n in Starfleet would’ve drummed me out b’fore now. But he kept me ’round, kept me busy, gave me the ship to maintain and a way to make m’self better.” The engineer sighed. “Now, lookit me. A miserable drunk stuck in the middle o’ nowhere.”
“We’re all stuck out here, Bobby. We’re all miserable. The question is what we’re going to do about it. I need to know that the chief engineer of my ship is going to help us get home.”
Forrester blinked away the last of his tears and narrowed his eyes at Lennox. “‘My’ ship?” He got to his feet, as did Lennox. “Let’s get somethin’ straight here, Commander. This ain’t your ship. You only ended up here because O’Neill got sick. As far as I’m concerned, you shouldn’t’ve been First Officer and you sure as hell ain’t my captain. But if getting us home gets you off of my ship any faster, then you bet your ass I’m gonna get us home.” He paused. “And, for the record, don’t call me Bobby.”
Lennox nodded. “Fair enough. Carry on, Lieutenant Commander.”
Forrester set his jaw again, then turned and walked away. Stone approached the captain.
“You all right, sir?”
“I’ve taken harder hits in my life. I’ll be fine.” He looked over his shoulder at Forrester.
“I wouldn’t worry about him, sir,” Stone observed. “He’s always been a little high-strung when it comes to the Farraday. Been his home longer than any place he’s lived all his life.”
“I just don’t want him accidentally cross-wiring systems that’ll blow us all to bits.”
“Trust me, sir, Forrester’s one of the best, sauced or not.”
The two had been walking out of engineering and entered a turbolift. Stone touched the controls to take them to sickbay.
“Probably a good idea to get your chin looked at just in case, sir,” Stone explained.
“Right.” Lennox rubbed the sore spot. “By the way, Chief, I was going through some of the captain’s-eyes-only messages we got during our observations of Regula and the nebula.”
“Your perogative, sir, you’re captain now.”
“I know,” Lennox sighed, not really wanting to be reminded. “Anyway, word from Starfleet is you’ve been on active duty for 25 years. They recommended your record be sent for review pending a possible promotion to Master Chief.”
“I’ve had some good fortune, sir.”
“You’ve also taken no more than a couple day’s leave every year. You like driving ships?”
“It’s all I’ve really known, sir. Enlisted as soon as I was able. Most of that’s ancient history, though.”
The turbolift doors opened. “I bring it up,” Lennox said as they walked, “because I find myself in need of a first officer, someone who knows this ship and her crew better than I do. Because, let’s face it, Robert’s right.”
“I know this crew well enough to tell you that he won’t like it if he’s not made first officer,” Stone pointed out, “and also that the crew don’t really trust him in a command capacity. But he is the most senior officer on board after yourself, sir.”
Lennox stopped and faced the COB. “Speak your mind, Chief.”
Stone looked at Lennox evenly for a moment. “I know how the chain of command works, and as much as I like Bobby, I don’t think he’s cut out for first officer. I don’t see what other option we have, though, so you do what you feel is right for us. You’re captain, now, and for what it’s worth, I trust you.”
Lennox nodded. “I trust you, too, which is why you’re going to be first officer.”
Stone blinked. “Come again?”
“I know it’s not exactly protocol for the COB to also be first officer, but in light of your recommended promotion, you’re mistaken in saying Robert’s the most senior officer after me. You might not be a commissioned officer, but you have a ton of experience, the respect of the crew and the trust of your captain. If that doesn’t qualify you for first officer, I don’t know what does.”
“Well… thank you, sir.”
“Don’t mention it. We’ll deal with the formalities later. For now, head to the bridge and see what Lieutenant Skirov has for us. I’ll see the doctor then tend to some of the details for the memorial service.”
“I’ll see you on the bridge, sir,” Stone said, turning down one corridor as Lennox kept walking towards sickbay. He barely took a half dozen more steps, however, before the curvaceous form of Sonora Fairchild appeared beside him.
“Commander, may I have a moment of your time?” she asked.
“I’m just on my way to sickbay,” he replied. “What’s on your mind?”
Her eyes moved to his chin and she reached up to touch it. “What happened?”
Lennox winced. “Minor disagreement in Engineering. How can I help you, Doctor?”
“I’m aware of our situation, sir. I know we’re far from home. The crew is on edge and I suspect many of them will feel a need to express their feelings. I wanted to offer my services to you. I think I could help.”
Lennox arrived in sickbay. Most of the wounded had been cared for or at least sent back to their quarters or duties, and the three bodies lay in a small alcove covered in blankets. Doctor Ilal was tending to one of the remaining wounded when she saw Lennox enter with Fairchild.
“I hope you’re not expecting me to drop everything for you, Commander,” Ilal said icily.
“Certainly not, Doctor,” Lennox admitted, “please take your time.”
Ilal grunted softly, resuming her use of the dermal regenerator on the injured science officer on the table. Lennox turned to Fairchild.
“I appreciate the offer, Doctor Fairchild. I’ll see to it that anybody with concerns of a personal nature come to you. We can set up an office space for you if you don’t mind moving from your current accommodations.”
“There aren’t many senior officer quarters to be had, Commander,” Sonora pointed out. “Are you sure this isn’t going to cause friction?”
“I’m moving to the captain’s cabin, so you can use the cabin I’d been using,” Lennox replied. “Make it as comfortable as you can so people relax.”
“I think that’s the first time I’ve been invited to a man’s room when he no longer occupies it,” Sonora observed with a coy smile. Lennox raised an eyebrow.
“Come on over, Commander, let’s see what you’ve done to yourself,” Ilal called in her usual semi-irritated tone of voice. Lennox walked over to her while Fairchild left sickbay.
“She’s trouble, if you ask me,” Ilal said as she looked at the slight bruise on Lennox’s chin.
“At least she’s volunteering to help in a way she knows she can, rather than getting in our way or just taking up space.”
“Hmm. Sounds like you’re justifying her presence because you like looking at her.”
“She’s very pretty,” Lennox admitted, “but she really isn’t my type.”
“I think she’d be most men’s type,” Ilal sniffed. “This isn’t bad. If it’s bothering you I can prescribe some painkillers, but other than being noticeable there’s no major damage.”
“I’ll manage without the painkillers. Others need them more than I do.”
“Well, look who’s being macho as he assumes command,” Ilal quipped, busying herself with her equipment. “To be honest, Commander, there’ll never be another Emmanuel Parkhurst. You being new to the ship doesn’t help foster confidence in you, but you didn’t panic in the middle of a crisis and so far most of what I’m hearing is cautious optimism.”
“Chief Stone said something similar,” Lennox replied, getting to his feet. “I’ll be doing my best not to let everybody down.”
“Oh, you’re going to let someone down,” Ilal pointed out. “Sooner or later, you’re going to fail. Just don’t kill us all when you do. You can’t be afraid to make mistakes. Make your decisions and stick by them, be they right or wrong. As long as you do more things right than wrong, we’ll be here for you.”
Lennox nodded, taking in the advice. That was actually why he had been reluctant to take on a command of his own. He wasn’t sure all of his decisions would be right. But if what Ilal was saying turned out to be true, they didn’t have to all be right. The Andorian studied him for a moment, then extended her hand.
“Good luck, Captain. I think we’re in good hands with you.”
Lennox, smiling, shook her hand earnestly.
“Only one way to find out, Doctor. Thanks for the cautious vote of confidence.”
“No problem. Now go take over the ship before Forrester beats you to it.”
“I’m not sure I understand, Lieutenant,” Stone said. Skirov took off her glasses and gestured with them at the star chart on her display.
“As I said, Chief, according to astrogational charting, we’re in the Beta Quadrant, but just barely. We’re within range of some of the outlying star systems that have been observed by deep space telescopes but nothing that’s habitable for certain. On the other side of us is intergalactic space – no planets, no stars, nothing.”
“What I don’t understand is how we were propelled so far when we were only at warp for a total of 55 seconds,” Stone clarified.
“Did we fall into one of the black holes?” D’Sarl asked.
“I don’t think so,” Ecaterina replied, “but they did play havoc with our warp field dynamics. From what I’ve been able to extrapolate about the incident, the nature of the protomatter that created the micro-singularities interacted with our warp field in such a way that warped space beyond reasonable limits of the warp drive itself. It basically grabbed a hold of the field, stretched it as far as possible and distorted space along with it.”
“So it’s like the warp field became the elastic of a slingshot,” D’Sarl ventured,”and the Farraday was the stone?”
“That’s one way of looking at it,” Skirov agreed. “Bottom line, Chief, is that if we want to get home, we need to look at these star systems and try to find resources. Food & fresh water will do a lot for morale, and we’ll eventually need to find some anti-matter to keep the engines running.”
The turbolift doors parted, and Lennox stepped onto the bridge. The room got quiet. M’Rann looked up from his tactical station, forgetting for the moment that he’d been reviewing Chamber’s logs and procedures. Skirov and D’Sarl watched every move the acting captain made as he walked over to the center seat, where Stone intercepted him.
“I think your slingshot analogy helped,” Ecaterina told her friend.
D’Sarl nodded, murmuring something in agreement.
“D? Are you okay?”
“Hm?” D’Sarl looked at her friend, then shook her head. “I’m sorry, E, it’s just with everything that’s happened I’ve been struggling to stay entirely focused.”
“We can talk more about it when we’re off-duty,” Ecaterina offered, “but for now I think you should go take the helm. I think he’s going to make some sort of announcement.”
D’Sarl nodded and headed to her station. The situation required her to act like a professional, after all. Stone finished bringing Lennox up to speed. The captain nodded and, after a moment, sat in the central chair, keying the ship-wide announcement system.
“This is Commander Lennox,” he began. “I know a lot of you are wondering how we got out here, what Captain Parkhurst might be doing and the next step we’re going to take. All I can say about the first two questions is, to be honest, I don’t know. I know that it was Captain Parkhurst’s wish for the Farraday to end her career doing what she was built to do: explore new territory, meet new beings, discover new adventures. I think that, if he had survived, he would be relishing the opportunity our situation presents. ‘This is what Starfleet was meant to do,’ he’d say, ‘be out here on the edge.'”
Lennox looked around the bridge for a moment. “Make no mistake. We are on the edge. We left Deep Space Alpha with supplies to reach Earth, not survive beyond explored space. We’re going to have to work together to ensure we survive this and make it safely home. I’m making you a promise, right now, as your captain: we will make it home. If we should explore new territory, or meet new beings, or even discover new adventures along the way, so be it. But this ship and her crew are going home. I promise you that. Lennox out.”
He turned to see the faces of his bridge crew. The fear he’d had, that he was in completely over his head and he wasn’t worth following from one deck to another let alone on a cross-galactic journey, felt diminished when he saw their confidence, and the hope in their eyes. He focused on the view screen, on the path ahead of them.
“Lieutenant D’Sarl, set a course for the nearest star system,” he ordered. “Lieutenant Skirov, scan the system as we approach for resources and habitation. Ensign M’Rann, keep your eyes open for incoming vessels. No way to tell what’s out here already.”
The chorus of “Aye, sir,” was raised around him. Chief Stone walked up beside the captain and laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Emmanuel picked a winner,” he said quietly, and Lennox smiled.
“I sure hope so, Chief,” he replied, and turned to D’Sarl. “Helm… engage.”
STAR TREK and all associated technology and concepts are copyright Paramount Studios. No intention of credit or profit is intended. The USS Farraday and her crew are original creations of Joshua E Loomis and are protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Some rights reserved.