City Under Glass
Up Phoenix Rising Pandemic Intruder Alert! Enya By Starlight Black Ice The HanIíRhy Mystery Passion Fruit The Object Tombstone Trek City Under Glass The Witch Hunt Spindizzy Turn Off the Lights Trekkin' Flying Cloud What The Hell's... Survival Of The Fittest On The Edge Candescium Blindsided Shore Leave Melissa Wells The Listening Post Nostalgia The Artifact The Darkness Within Let The Games Begin Enemy Action Here's Mud In Your Eye The Tungsten Factor Xanadu Sicilian Defense When Worlds Collide Color Of Justice The Gin Joint Sabotage It's About Time Papa The Willow Race

 

Table Of Contents

Mission 10: CITY UNDER GLASS

The contents of the Ship Logs are considered to be a "compilation" under the provisions of Title 17, U.S. Code (known as the Copyright Act): that is, "A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that is selected, coordinated or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." As such, it is the property of the shipís Captain; however, automatic transfer of ownership to STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET is effected upon publication of this mission by the shipís Captain ipso facto.

As outlined in Circular 1 (Copyrighted Basics, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USGPO 1989-262-309/12), "copyrighted in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from the copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution."

This mission may not be reproduced in any form without the express, written authorization of STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET.

Prologue

"Commander, get this garbage out of my sight!" ordered Steele.

"Yes, Sir," MoníTeith replied. She pulled the prisoner none to gently from the chair and proceeded to shove him out of the Captainís office.

Captain Steele took a few deep breaths to calm down before hitting the comm. button on her desk. "Lieutenant Travis, please come to my office ASAP."

Within a few minutes the small statured Diplomatic Relations Officer entered the Captainís office.

"You wanted to see me, Sir?"

"Have a seat, Kate." Unknowingly, Travis proceeded to take the chair the prisoner recently vacated. Before proceeding, Steele hit the comm. button once again.

"Commander TíPrel, I need the file on Thoragravis VI on my screen stat!"

"Doing it as we speak, Sir."

Steele leaned back in her chair. "Neither Spahn nor MoníTeith were able to get anything out of our trouble-maker, Kate. It looks like weíre going to have to go down to Thoragravis VI ourselves and make contact in person. Thereís still no communication coming from the city.

"When would you be liking to go, Sir?"

"Within the next hour if possible."

"Aye, Sir, Ďtis starting to look like another complicated one."

Steele rolled her eyes. "Are there any other kind?"

Five Days Earlier . . .

Captain Talon Steele smiled as Fleet Admiral Daniel Evanís face appeared on the screen in front of her.

"Good afternoon, Admiral," she said.

"Good to see you again, Talon, although you might not think so when I fill you in on our latest problem."

"Fire away, Admiral. After our last mission, weíre ready to take on anything."

"Be careful what you wish for," he laughed. "Weíve lost communications with Thoragravis VI. We first made contact with the planet in hopes they would become a member of UFP. As you know, itís the closest planet in the Third Quadrant where Outpost 3145 is located. Since youíre already on patrol in the area . . ."

"Youíd like us to take a run by and find out whatís going on?"

The Admiral laughed. "As usual, you read my mind, Talon."

Now, after orbiting the planet continuously for several days, there was still no communication from the domed city although they did pick up a space pod with one human male inside on the fifth day. Since he appeared to be wearing prisoner style clothing, he was immediately sent to Commander Spahn for interrogation. Although a lot of threats and cussing were exchanged, nothing of value came from the meeting. After both she and her new Chief Security Officer Lieutenant Commander Soen MoníTeith tried their hands, they still had no usable information.

Kate jumped as the computer beeped and Captain Steele leaned forward in her chair.

"Here we go," she said. "Hopefully this information will give us a starting point once we transport down."

Steele quickly explained that Thoragravis VI was a thriving planet some thirty years ago until the planetís sun turned sour, shifting from one spectrum to another. Due to the change in radiation, the only way to survive was to construct a domed city. Unfortunately, a meteorite shower - not an uncommon occurrence on their planet - destroyed the original dome. Many of the Thoragravians were killed but the survivors pulled together and built a second dome city, which still stands today.

"The inhabitants are a proud people," Steele continued. "According to our First Contact observers, theyíre friendly and well educated. They are short according to human standards, with a full-grown adult standing only four foot tall on average. This makes them appear quite childlike. Their skin is reddish in coloring and they appear to constantly be squinting, perhaps a leftover from their sun being too bright outside the dome. Each Thoragravian has a circular shaped disk implanted in their forehead. This small disk seems to serve as a warning system. It turns a dark green color if radiation is present.

Kate spoke up. "Will we need to use our EV suits, Sir?" She hated those damn suits!

"No, although we will carry the necessary equipment in case there should be a radiation breakthrough. Now, to continue, the planet is rich in minerals and those wearing EV suits could mine areas outside the dome. There havenít been any off-worlders whoíve visited Thoragravis VI to our knowledge, but once news of the planets riches gets out, I imagine there are many who will be very interested in the small planet.

"Even though itís this unstable?"

"The Federation realized that the inhabitants will have to be moved eventually but there are still many years before the sun will go nova. Because of this, those in charge feel that investing in the planet now is worthwhile. Thus, our need to find out what the devil is going on down there now with our First Contact observers."

"ĎOur needí?" Commander Strykerís voice sounded none to pleased as he entered Captain Steeleís office. "Am I correct in assuming you plan to accompany Travis down to Thoragravis VI?"

"Yes, you are Commander," Steele said. Kate had to hide a grin when she saw both the captain and her First Officerís bodies stiffen. Here we go again!

"Will it do any good for me to point out that itís completely unnecessary such an undertaking by the Captain of this vessel?"

Steele stood and met him eye to eye. "Iím going down there, Commander."

Stryker let out a frustrated breath. "Why the hell do I even try talking to you? You realize, of course, that youíre once again putting yourself into a situation where we have no way of knowing what the devil youíre walking into?"

"If I may interrupt, Sir?"

Kate moved back in her seat just a bit as the commander turned his fury in her direction.

"Only if you plan on backing me up on this, Travis," he spit out. "Otherwise, Iíd rather you stay out of it."

"That being said, Sir, Iím very much in this situation and I have to say that I agree with Captain Steele. No, wait," she said when he appeared about to burst a blood vessel. "We only lessen our ability to convince the Thoragravians of our intense interest in their situation if we, excuse me, but send in the second string."

Kate thought she heard a muffled laugh coming from Steeleís directions but she didnít dare let her eyes stray away from Strykerís since he appeared ready to strangle her at any moment.

"Second string?" he roared. "Lieutenant, you are skating on very thin ice at the moment. In fact, Iíd say you were about to sink beneath the surface if you say one more word on this subject."

"Then itís a good thing Iím quite good at getting meself in and out of troublesome situations. Iíll stand by me words. Captain Steele needs to go on this mission, with or without your blessing. Sir," she added when she noticed his hands clenching and unclenching into fists at his sides.

"If I may interrupt?" Captain Steeleís humor-filled voice thankfully broke the tension that flared in the room. "I understand your concern, Commander. As always, I know that your fears are well placed but, in this case, I have to agree with Travis. I need to make the Thoragravians understand our concern and our willingness to help them out of whatever situation they find themselves in."

Stryker stood down. He visibly relaxed. "You know I have to try," he said, his voice sounding amused now. "And I like the fact that our DO here is so quick to jump to your defense. I just hope you plan on doing the same down on the planet, Travis."

"ĎTis a most important part of me job, Sir," Kate said.

"And using that silver tongue of yours to get our point across as quickly and concisely as possible," Steele added.

"To be sure, Sir. Now, if I can be excused, Iíd like to head back to my office to get prepared for our departure."

"Dismissed," Steele said and Kate quickly left the room.

Of course, no amount of preparation can prepare one for everything. Although each Department Head had their staff at full readiness, the first part of this particular mission was in the hands of Captain Steele and Lieutenant Kate Travis. It was their job to transport down to the city under glass on Thoragravis VI and find out exactly what was going on.

No one could have been prepared for the greeting party that met them there. No one could have foreseen the fact that a shipload of Orions would have to savvy to hide behind the unstable sun and then swoop down at the exact moment Steele and Travis arrived at their landing site. No one could ever have imagined their captain and her young crewmember would end up in the hands of a band of Orion slave traders set on taking their own shot at convincing the inhabitants of Thoragravis VI that it would be in their best interest to side with the Orion nation. No one, except for the man sitting in the Brig. Had anyone seen his smirk when the voice of Ensign Taryn Reede announced their people on the planet were missing, they would have immediately re-interrogated him. As it was, he enjoyed his minor triumph alone.