Categories > TV > Babylon 5 > B5/ST: Cold dish, served.

Prologue

by notBald 0 Reviews

The Bellatrix crew sets out on a training mission, one they will not return from.

Category: Babylon 5 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure - Characters: Other - Warnings: [?] - Published: 2006/09/04 - Updated: 2006/09/04 - 6394 words

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Autor's notes: This is a rewrite of a story I've been posting to this site for the last month or so. With the rewrite my intention is to flesh out the Star Trek side of the story - and cover a plot hole here and there.

Prologue

Federation Miranda class Starship Bellatrix
60 years after ST Nemesis

"Nurses," the gruff voice of a Tellarite uttered. Like most Tellarites he was strongly built, with a tick beard and a pig like nose.

Alina Kuts straightened her back and puffed out her chest as the Tellarite passed her and the other nurses. She had recently arrived on the Bellatrix, hoping to gain enough experience here to gain a position on a 'real' Starship.

"With you being interns I suppose I can not expect much of you, especially in regards to Starship protocol." He gave them a pig like grin. "Miss Kuts, what is expected of a nurse while a starship is in spacedoc?"

Alina cursed inside her head, she was always the one that was singled out. She was one of the few 'gifted' with auburn-red hair, which made her stand out in any crowd, despite said crown featuring people with blue skin, tentacles and other oddities. "We have to," she cleared her throat, "look out for the crew?"

"That is a given," the doctor said in a snide manner, "can't you humans say /I don't know/? Try it?"

Alina gulped. "I don't know?"

"See how easy that was." Alina grimaced as the doctor picked his nose. "Now do any of you dunheads know the answer to my question?"

"Yes doctor Gav," a blond woman exclaimed.

"Yes doctor Gav," the doctor mimicked in a baby like tone. "Answer the darn question already!"

The woman gulped. "We have to familiarize ourselves with changes in the crew. New crewmembers might have special requirements we have to pay heed to."

Gav clapped. "A text book description, very good." He turned his back on them. "As you're no doubt unaware of we are taking on some new retarded crewmembers just now." He turned back to face them and with the flick of his wrist brought up a naked rotating humanoid figure. "Pathetic creatures really. Frail, stupid and can barley handle one G." He snorted. "Expect requests for reduced gravity in crew quarters."

Alina stared at the rotating figure. It was gender neutral, with no hair and closed eyelids - so not to show of any personalizing traits. The creature was proportioned slightly different than a human. It was shorter, had a larger head, pointed ears and larger eyes.

"Some of you might have noted that the ears and the eyes are unusually large." Gav made a half hearted gesture at the figure. "What does that mean to us?"

Alina kept silent, so did everyone else.

Gav raised his right nostril, "anyone?"

The blond woman that had talked earlier drew a careful breath. "They must have good hearing and sight, sir."

"HA!" Gav pointed straight at the woman. "Get this through your brain, and try to keep it there," he punctuated "never assume." He turned to the nude projection with a contemplating look. "In a job like ours it is critical that we look before we jump. Why is that blondie?"

"Um well." The blond woman blinked her eyes. "There are many superficially similar races in the Federation, and what is true for one of them might be the death of another, sir."

Gav smacked his hands together. "Exactly girl! Now the eyes and ears question again, what does it mean for us?"

"I do not know, sir."

Gav rubbed his temples. "Worthless, they're all worthless." He turned back to them. "It means exactly /that! They're eyes are larger than usual - and /that is /that/. For anything else, read the race NMR. Got that?"

"Yes sir," they chorused.

"Then get to it! Read the race NMRs for all of the newts. I'll be quizzing you later."

Alina, like everyone else, hurried away in search for the best terminals; where the best terminals were those located far away from the esteemed Doctor Gav.

-0-

Onboard Starbase 75
At the same time.

A man dressed in a Starfleet admiral's uniform sat comfortably behind his desk, staring hard at two well dressed civilian men. One of the men rubbed his right hand ever so slightly, while the other constantly changed his footing. The admiral had seen those signs in many a nervous recruit.

"Look, Admiral, all the tests have run clean - I've shove you the reports - all we're asking for is for a little good will."

If not for the nervous air surrounding the men he might just have thrown them out. While he himself exuded absolute confidence, that was not quite his inner feelings on the matter. "A Starship is more than good will," he kept his tone hard, but decided to come with a little admission, "and to be truthful I do not feel comfortable going behind the Federation's back, good cause or not."

The right man sighed with a hint of weariness. "We've tried to go through proper channels, but we were buried in red tape." He took a deep breath. "If we can provide hard evidence that our approach work and work well, the rest will fall in place by itself."

The other man stepped forwards, "we're talking about a technique that will revolutionize space travel! We already know it works, have people backing us and are now - here - with you." The man leaned over the desk. "We could go elsewhere."

The Admiral felt a spark of fury, 'they dared to threaten him!?', but the only sign of his inner turmoil was slightly narrowing eyes. "Do not be so sure about that." If anything was done behind the Federation's back, he would know about it, and if he didn't, he would find out. "Your founding did not materialize out of thin air, Project one one three mean anything to you?"

The Admiral was satisfied to see both men show a flicker of surprise. Sometimes he just loved his job.

Satisfied that he had put them in their place he continued on. "Be that as it may. I have something you need, and you have something I find intriguing." The Admiral pulled out a pad. "This technique, if it works, will be a great boon to the Federation. That alone is why it was worth exploring, and why people like me let you explore it."

Excitement lit up men's eyes, just like when he came baring gifts to his granddaughter.

"So you'll give us a ship?"

The Admiral threw them a pad. "Lend you a ship, yes." The Admiral liked to think himself as a good judge of character, and the men's enthusiasm seemed genuine. "It is a good ship; with a service record stretching back to before you were born." He said the last part with amusement, and held up a finger to quell any protests. "The important consideration for choosing that ship is that the ship is used for the training of aspiring engineers. No one will raise an eyebrow if that ship is suddenly refitted, and to cover your tracks further I've already gone ahead and arranged for a green engineering crew to retrofit some newfangled tech onto the old hull."

"Already?" One of the men exclaimed. "You knew we were coming?"

The Admiral felt a smug smirk tug at his lips. "Naturally." He folded his hands. "Was there anything else?"

"No, that was all. Thank you Admiral." The men turned to leave.

"One more thing." The Admiral's face hardened. "That ship is filled with youngster, the future of the Federation. If anything happens to the ship, be it a clocked Klingon attack, you'll find yourself in freefall over Mount Seleya!"

"Right," the men nervously quipped and staggered out with haste.

Alone in his office the Admiral sighed. With enemies on all sides the Federation needed any advantage they could get, but at the risk of young cadets? Even he, the head of Section 31, had to pause at that. He decided to ease his conscience by going over the Slipstream test reports again; every single one of them, even the first, had proven the phase shift technique.

-0-

S'anra stared at the majestic starship growing in the shuttle's windows. She thought back to the promise she made to her mother, the one where she promised not to serve on any starships. But she wouldn't really be serving on a Starship, she reasoned, the Bellatrix never left spacedoc - she wasn't even sure the old ship could leave spacedoc. From what little she knew it was already an old design a long time ago, and it had not gotten any younger since then.

According to a short brief the Bellatrix was Right now in deep space, simulated of course, awaiting a shuttle with new engineers to land. Which was the reason given for why they could not simply enter the ship through the airlock. S'anra thought the whole scheme idiotic, it was a ship used for engineering projects, not the training of Starfleet personnel.

She wasn't even trained for serving onboard Starships, having only bothered to take Starbase certification, nor was any of her fellow engineers. Not that it truly mattered with the ship never leaving spacedoc, but the boarding hoopla was an unnecessary annoyance.

On the bright side having 'served' on a Starship would be a nice addition to her CV, and she was fortunate enough to have several of her kin with her on the ship - a result of some kind of cultural exchange program. S'anra didn't really care for culture - although she was curious to see the humans' fabled homeworld - but honestly did not feel comfortable surrounded by only aliens. It was not that long ago Seré burnings were common on her planet; she recalled attending one herself as a little girl.

Such festivities was now outlawed by the Federation, like so many other things, and the Avanié - as they proudly called themselves - was not a race that took a liking to change.

Onboard the Bellatrix another person also pondered why engineers he considered unfit for assignment on a Starbase engineers to his Starship. True, the ship hardly ever left doc for prolonged periods, but it was still a Star/ship/ - and a darn good Starship if he had any say in the matter. It had served with honor in the Dominion war, and was only 'retired' due newfangled ships that blew up if you as much as sneezed at them! Pah!

He had been offered to switch out his ship with one of the 'newfangled' designs as they were retired, but that was to him a laughable proposition. The Bellatrix had been extensively modified to allow engineers to mess up without frying the entire ship. The minor systems, like computers and terminals, had been upgraded anyway and the major systems were still similar enough to be relevant to today's engineers.

Allan chuckled at the thought of having Starbase engineers working in a fickle Intrepid's systems. Ships that required at least one triple A engineer just gave him the creeps, and demonstrated perfectly that new wasn't always better. He was just glad he managed to row himself into the position he was in now, a safe quiet desk job with him playing captain to aspiring engineers, instead of worrying over the next core breach.

He gazed with pride around his comfortably furnished office. He had once been an aspiring engineer himself, setting out to prove himself. That was a hundred years past now, but he had once stood in this very office, with his captain sitting where he sat now. He had served on many other Starships since then, but the Bellatrix held a special place in his heart.

Many thought engineering ships like the Bellatrix could be replaced by holodecks. That was bullocks. Holodecks were amazing for entertainment but did not conform to the same laws of physics engineers had to contend with. The holodecks were still useful in the training of engineers, but only mechanical or light based machinery truly worked in a holoenvironment, as soon as one started manipulating atoms in extreme ways clever programming was needed to approximate the effect.

No, nothing would replace the Bellatrix anytime soon. In fact, it was not unlikely that he sat on the most secure position in all of Starfleet, and thanks to modern medicine he had a long life ahead of him to take advantage of that - given that he avoided further 'promotions'.



Allan snapped out of his reverie. It was time to meet the new arrivals.

-0-

After a short trip through the turbo lift Allan stepped out in the shuttle bay. The bay was filling up with chatting engineers milling out of a transport. Allan stared at the creatures with curiosity. The short brief stated that they were mostly made up of a newly joined species from the far reaches of the Federation. The species was therefore an unknown to him, but at a glance they seemed human like, young and eager.

"Welcome to the Bellatrix," he called out. Several of the engineers jumped at his announcement, and they all whirled around to face him. "I'm Captain Allan." He let his gaze travel over the various faces. They large sparkling eyes made them seem innocent and childlike, and it honestly made him a little uneasy. "I'm unsure how much you all know about Starship procedures, but make no mistake - this is a starship with all the caveats that comes with that."

The new engineers hurriedly formed up in a line, which indicated they at least had some useful training.

"Engineers working on a Starship must constantly be aware of a ship's current activity. You can, for instance, not take the warp drive down for its scheduled maintenance in the middle of a battle." He chuckled. "And yes, we've had that happen."

There were a few nervous chuckles among the engineers.

"This ship," he called out, "is right now near the Klingon boarder." He smiled at the confused faces. "Yes, we're actually in spacedock, but the moment you stepped on this deck, the outsides are whatever we tell you it to be. Understand?"

"Yes sir," they chorused.

"This also means that you can not come and go as you please. We're on a ship in deep space, and when in deep space you can not leave the ship until we have returned from deep space."

"But sir!" Someone called out, "We were promised we could go and see Earth."

"I'm not sure what you where promised." Allen said calmly, "but you will get shore leave when the opportunities arrive. I say again, this is a Starship not a Starbase, and you will have to order yourself after that." He picked out several disgruntled faces among the crowd, and he didn't blame them. "Now, who here can tell me why Starbase engineers have been assigned to my ship? I understand you are here to retrofit something you have been working on?"

One of the engineers, dressed in what he vaguely recalled as a senior engineering uniform - for ground installations, stepped forward.

"Good, come with me. Everyone else, an officer will be down here any minute now to show you where you will bunk.

-0-

Alina Kuts, like several others, was going over Normalized Medical Reports. Every now and then Doctor Gav would stop by with spiteful comments - but he was a Tellarite and that was in their nature. She only had herself to blame, anyway. Before coming here she, and all the others, had to take mental tests to determine if they had what it took to work for a Tellarite, in other words she knew what she was heading for.

She would of course have preferred to take her six month internship on an actual starship, but her grades had never been the best so unless she wanted to end up on a starbase she had to take what she could get.

"Nurse, is there any traits about the newcomers you should be aware of?"

Alina cleared her throat. "Yes, spicy food can be poisonous to them."

"So can rotten meat," Gav grouched, "but we don't worry about that - why?"

Alina felt herself getting hot, "no one would eat rotten meat."

Gav gave a displeased huff. "Think before you blabber woman." He puffed his chest. "I myself enjoy a maggot ridden pouch every now and then." Alina could not help but grimace at the mental image that brought up. "But we don't serve that to patients, nor are humans generally stupid enough to swallow it down if they were to stumble upon it." He put his fat hands on his hips and bent slightly forward. "I could ask you what forms of edibles that you have to worry about, but I would just be wasting breath on a mental deficient." His voice sunk to a whisper. "It would be best if you got off that puffed up bum of yours and got yourself the hell out of here."

'He's a Tellarite' Alina chanted over and over in her head. She recalled someone at the academy claiming the best way to handle a Tellarite is to never give him an inch, and insult him back. "Rather a mental deficient then a repulsive pig snout!"

"That's not the answer to my question pale skinned little girl!" He turned around, "can anyone else answerer this momentous question? Surprise me now."

A few shuffled their feet.

"My all," Gav said exasperated, "I expect you to have an answer to me tomorrow." He gave a blond woman a condescending look, "and no, you will not find the answer in any of your /textbooks/."

-0-

Allan sat behind his desk in his well furnished office. It did break the illusion of this being a 'real' Starship somewhat, but with a job like his he deserved some perquisites. Not many captains had to deal with a new crew every six months.

He gazed sternly at the fuming child like being on the other side of his desk. "I already have a holodeck, and I can't just set aside space for you to make new ones. Every room on this ship is being used for some inane engineering project, even the empty rooms are used for recladding walls and such. What am I suppose to do? Alter my colloquium?"

"But that's what we are - holodeck engineers. We didn't come all the way here to learn how plasma manifolds are adjusted, for what we came here for we need transporter, airlock access and at least five usable rooms."

Allan's annoyance came out as a low grumble, but before he could formulate his response his brooding was interrupted by his terminal chirping. He glanced on the screen and read the message displayed there. "This can't be," he slammed his fist down; "I apologize but I have to handle this." He rose from his chair "we'll have to discuss matters later. Just find your way to a tubolift and go to deck four, crew quarters."

"Yes sir."

With his gaze firmly on the door Allan strode out and into the nearest tubolift. After a short trip he stepped out near the Starbase airlock, and found his security men was retaining a man; a man he felt an instant dislike for. "What's the deal of these warp drive enchantments you want to buckle on me?! This ship's not in spacedock, we can't have a major refit in the middle of a cruise!"

The man was a civilian dressed in an old style black dress and tie. With confidence the man stepped past the security, and extended his hand with a sleazy grin. "Captain, or is it Admiral? Your crew will be able to function as normal, continue the illusion that their on some tour of duty. All refitting will be handled by me and my people."

Allan ignored the man's extended hand. "I didn't catch your name mister...."

"Welles," the man replied a little put out as he lowered his hand, "Erick Welles."

"Mister Welles." Allan turned away from him and towards the turbolift. "Are you telling me you can fiddle with the warp drive without stepping on any of my engineers' toes?"

Welles's came up besides him. "Captain, it is critical for my engineers to go through with this retrofit. They need the experience of working on an actual starship."

"Then find another Starhip," Allan barked. "There are plenty of other, better, options out there. This ship is dedicated to giving engineers a taste on the idiosyncrasies of serving on a real Starship, not for major warp drive refits!"

Allan began a slow walk towards the turbolift, with Welles in step next to him.

"I know there are other options," Welles said in what Allan thought was a whiney voice, "but none of those other options include a fully functional ship of this size."

Allan gritted his teeth as they waited for the turbo lift door to open. "Why do you want a fully functional ship? You are not actually intending to test the drive system - are you?"

"Of course not," Welles chipped - perhaps a little too quickly, "we would not use a school ship for an experiment of this magnitude."

Allan humped with satisfaction as he stepped into the turbolift.

Welles hurried after him. "Don't misunderstand me here, but we need a functional and large ship to give my engineers the experience they require. We have looked into other options, believe me, and this is the only one that meets all of our needs."

Allan snorted again. "Deck one."

"To your benefit we will be installing an industrial replicator in one of this ship's storage bays."

Allan's eyes lit a little up. Industrial replicator? On his ship? The Protomatter would probably require quite a bit of room, but oh the possibilities! His ship did, of course, have stand alone bio-replicators, but industrial replicators! Now that was something else.

Welles smiled like a shark. "Just imagine, need anything for a lesson - just replicate it. I'm sure your engineers will manage to install replicator terminals all over the ship, and with that your ship will a replicator system that only a Galaxy can measure up to."

Allan felt a giddily feeling spread over his being. He grabbed Welles's arm as he lead him out of the turbolift, "well, there is still the matter of crew arrangements to sort out."

-0-

Three months later.

Alina pounded at the terminal in frustration - curse her red hair, why was she always singled out?! "And why isn't this bloody thing working?!"

"What are you trying to do?" A voice asked right behind her, causing her to jump in fright.

"I need to use the coms," she hastily explained with frustration to her voice as she turned around. "The Grinch is having me catalog all the dead, oh hi Andrew, and I have to ask some friends for help."

Andrew grinned. "Well the Romulans did not only kill half our crew, they also shot up our coms."

Alina smacked her forehead, "Great. Now if only those Romulans could 'kill' of our esteemed Doctor, I'd be happy."

"You're complaining! You don't have to walk around being 'dead'," a voice squeaked behind them.

Andrew turned around to see a young alien boy dressed in engineering garbs - which was not an unfamiliar sight around the Bellatrix. "And you are."

"Coitús." The boy immediately pointed at them with accusing narrowing eyes. "Don't snicker!"

It was already too late as Alina was fighting to hold back a full blown laugh.

"It's bad enough that the doctor was a complete ass, I don't need you laughing in my face on top of it."

Alina did her best to clear her throat, "sorry, it just caught me by surprise." She smiled. "I'm sure Alina have a similar meaning in some other tongue."

Coitús shrugged. "I'm starting to get used to it. Anyway, how did someone like that," he thumbed at the medbay doors, "become a doctor? I think he was actually trying to piss me off."

Andrew queered an eyebrow as he fought down a smile on his lips. "Oh, he was. Very grouchy fellow that."

"He is very skilled thou," Alina said with a hint of respect, "really knows his stuff."

"Well," Coitús drawled, "I can see myself asking. How bad is it? Only third degree burns? Do I really have to see the doctor?"

"There is that," Alina agreed with a smile.

There was a clanking sound, as if something hit metal, and they turned to the source. Seeing only a gray wall they turned back to face each other.

"So Cotius," Andrew had trouble keeping his lips straight, "What exactly are you guys doing with this ship? I've seen you messing a lot with the engine."

Coitús gawked at Andrew for a second. "We don't work with the engine guys - only Eliza knows what their doing."

"Eliza?"

Coitús just grinned. "Anyway, we're just working on a chameleon grid and a few holodecks." The other two stared strangely at him and he shrugged sheepishly, "Don't look at me that way, the whole holo thing is the fritz back home; I'll be basking in work offers when I get my ass back there."

Alina shook her head, letting her hair fall down on her back. "Then what are you doing here, on a Starship I mean?"

Coitús frowned. "Don't ask me, I got Starbase certification, so... well it's not like this is a real Starship."

"It's real enough for me," Alina protested with a pout, "We can't just up and leave the ship."

"I heard there is a shore leave coming up," Coitús said with wonder in his voice. He gazed out in the air "I've never been to Earth; what's it like?"



The three looked around themselves.

"Post?" Coitús asked with a confused expression.

"Power on self test," Andrew elaborated, "you've never heard of it?"

Coitús shrugged, "I might have."

"Well, its part of Starship protocol these days." Andrew changed his footing. "When there's major modifications done to the power grid they have to flip the on off switch. It's one of those worst case scenarios; all systems powering up at once."

"Oh? I suppose that make sense," Coitús mussed.

The lights began flicking out one by one.

"Even auxiliary systems are shut down," Andrew explained seeing Coitús's puzzled expression. "I think only the medbay is spared. Reckless perhaps, but we can always walk to the Starbase if anything were to happen." He smirked. "Allan would just love that."

The last light flickered out. The constant hum from machines died down. Leaving them standing in absolute darkness and silence.

"This is creepy," Alina voiced.

"Lucky me, I got infra vision and can see perfectly," Coitús claimed with absolute conviction.

"Really," Alina said knowingly, "How many fingers are I'm holding up then?"

"Wow," Coitús exclaimed with a genially surprised tone, "first time for everything, I guess."

Andrew snorted with mirth.

"Hey! It really is," Coitús said indignant, "I'm stronger, faster, smarter - doesn't matter, you people usually swallows it up."

Another metallic clank reverted through the corridor.

"What is that?" Alina asked.

"It was me!" Coitús said in a deep, for him, tone. "I used my super human speed to run across the corridor and kick a pipe."

"Or it's the power coming back on," Andrew drawled.

"Or the power coming back on," Coitús agreed as the lights faded on and machinery began humming again.

-0-

Bellatrix Bridge

"Everything seems to be in order, captain."

"Good," Allan grouched. "If all stations report a.ok, tell the holo engineers that they can run their little test."

"Yes sir."

"Now," Allan waited to he had everyone's attention, "we'll be setting out on a tour of duty. I know it is a breach of procedure to reset the simulation out of the blue like this, but the test have to be coordinated with the Starbase."

"What about the dead?"

Allan tilted his head in thought. "Unless the engineers can't otherwise pull it off, I say let the dead remain dead." Even if they only were Starbase engineers, working under difficult conditions was still a valuable lesson. "With that in mind keep the battle damage, unless it becomes a problem." Allan slowly rose up. "I'll be in the ready room; number one you have the bridge."

Down in engineering S'anra was fuming ever so little. With almost the entire engineering team 'dead' their Chameleon test had become oh so much more difficult.

"How are we suppose to coordinate this with the Starbase when we're not allowed to use the coms?"

S'anra rubbed her temples as another good point was brought up. Why were they on a Starship anyway? Granted, Chameleon systems were not a new idea, but their approach had a worthwhile twist to it. She had a feeling the Federation didn't want them to succeed.

"We'll just have to ask the Starbase how it went afterwards. Now, S'anra," S'anra snapped out of her fuming, "Coitús is 'dead' and we need someone up in the transporter room. I can't control the transporters from here."

S'anra sprung up to her feet. "Right." She hurried to the nearest turbolift, a little worried since she had never operated transporters before - but they were all preprogrammed so it was hopefully simple enough.

Back on the bridge the now active captain seated himself down. "As the captain said, reset the simulation."

In response to a simulated attack the day before, the computer had been set to deactivate a number of systems. These now came online.

"We'll need the coms," the acting Captain mussed, "but deactivate whatever other systems damaged in the attack."

"Yes sir."

Uncertainty flashed over the Captain's face. He picked up a pad next his chair, "our orders are simple. Set out, activate the chameleon grid and go from there, the tricky thing here is that we'll actually be moving out of spacedock - making the first part of the simulation as real as it gets."

"All right!"

The Captain folded his hands and took two deep breaths. "Request permission for departure, and remind the Starbase to monitor our run."

Minutes passed.

"We have permission to depart."

The Captain grinned. "Helm, take us out."

-0-

In the ready room Captain Allan followed procedures with one eye, mentally noting every command decision made. He was confident that his crew could get the ship out of spacedock, even with it 'damaged', but experience had thought him that a crew that did well in simulation could panic if a similar situation arose in real life.

This was especially true if he wasn't on the bridge to silently approve of every command decision.

He grinned at the thought of what the simulation had in store for them. He had of course run through the simulation himself, and knew that they should be able to handle it, but also that it would be difficult.

He grabbed his recently replicated cup of hot coffee and sat back to enjoy the show. They would soon activate the simulation, and he was especially looking forwards to see their reaction to having to use the new drive system.

In another part of the ship another man also kept close watch to the bridge crews' actions. Eric Welles felt a little nervous, but did not show any of that outwardly.

"You sure we can pull this off? This is our last chance to back down."

Welles made a show of pushing his fingers up against each other, "it's our people monitoring events on the Starbase, and while Allan might give a bit of trouble he is now as deep in it as us."

"Is he?"

"Yes," Welles replied, "he accepted our bribes even if he didn't realize it at the time. I want you to go up there and remind him of that - so that he doesn't try anything foolish. The rest of the crew will live in the belief that this is all simulated."

"Well, I'll head up now."

"Good," Welles uttered. He was not so sure about Allan's and the crews' reaction as he looked, but having news of a successful 'transwarp' test published over all of the Federation might be just as well. The important point was that it all worked.

-0-

With the bridge crew now discussing the ramification of using the Slipstream based transwarp system, S'anra hunched over the transporter controls. Their little school project involved using transporters to transport self contained holographic projectors to the hull of a craft or Starbase; giving the ship or station the ability to mask its visual appearance.

Any sensor system worth its salt would tear through their little deception, but it was still a novel idea with many potential applications. It might even earn them a top grading if it all worked. She frowned at that thought. Grading was more about good documentation than success, but success was definitely a must.

The ship suddenly jerked ever so slightly, not enough for S'anra to notice but she did notice the coordinate data change. During development the coordinate and temperature math had been the most difficult problems to solve. Temperature and movement could warp the outer hull up to a meter, and they actually had to go through the trouble and paperwork of connecting the transport computer up to the main computer, so that they got the sensor readings they needed to pay heed to that.

Starship protocol prohibited any connection between the transporters and the main computer. There had to be a 'human' in the link somehow. It was understandable, one did not want a rough AI being the crew into space, but it made their projected a good deed more difficult to get through the red tape. It was fortunate that this ship was dedicated to engineering projects, and allowed some lenience during prototyping, or they might have met the wall there.

S'anra's eyes widened a bit when the power readings began to fluctuate. It was odd because that only happened when the ship's power grid was put to good use, like if during a battle or running at high warp. Perhaps it was part of the simulation? In that case she had failed to notice such fluctuations before. Power readings were another issue they had to pay heed to. The holographic projectors were powered by transporting plasma matter from a convenient plasma conduit to the projector's plasma tank, and they had to do that without stepping on any other system's toes.

It was amazing how many little things they had to contend with; S'anra would be surprised if they hadn't overlooked something.

She blinked as the readings not only continued to change but got weirder and weirder. Darn! Something wasn't right here. Her hands ran over the controls. As far as she could tell the erroneous data came from the downlink. Was the main computer acting up? She wanted to look over the programming, but she could not do it from here.

Sighting she slapped the communicator on her chest. "Feriz, S'anra in the transporter room here, log on the mains and see if everything is as is should - I'm getting odd readings here."



'So much for top marks.' S'anra closed her eyes and drew her breath.

She did not get to open them for quite a while.

In another part of the ship Erik Welles had also been puzzled by erroneous readings. "What's going on with the main computer?!"

>>
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