Traffic Control, Newport News
Shipbuilding and Conversion Facility
Lieutenant Ian Tennille leaned back in
his chair and stretched. He kept one eye on his readouts as he tried
to work out the kinks in his back. After almost eight hours of
watching ships in the arrival and departure lanes of Newport News,
he was tired. He glanced at the time. Only five minutes left,
he sighed. Then it's time for a beer!
Out of the corner of his eye, an
abnormal movement on one of the screens caught his attention.
"Damned merchant ships!" he exclaimed, leaning forward to focus more
closely. The SS Stolthaven Hathaway was off course, sliding
to the side of the arrival lane.
He keyed his microphone. "SS
Stolthaven Hathaway, Stolthaven Hathaway, this is Newport
News Traffic Control. You are veering off your assigned course and
endangering other inbound traffic. Correct your course to 123 Mark
There was no answer.
Tennille watched as the ship continued
to drift to the outside of the inbound lane. "SS Stolthaven
Hathaway, Stolthaven Hathaway, this is Newport News
Traffic Control. I say again, you are veering off your assigned
course. Correct your course to 123 Mark 55 immediately!"
Still no response.
Suddenly the vessel made a course
correction--directly toward the giant drydock orbiting above the
coastline of Virginia which held two of Starfleet's almost completed
heavy cruisers and several other smaller warships. Tennille gasped
as the ship increased speed. Without thinking, for the first time in
his life, he slammed his hand down on the console right on top of
the red button some wag had hand lettered "Panic Button." Throughout
Traffic Control, the drydock and in every compartment of the
sprawling Albedaran III Starfleet facility, the strident sounds of
the collision alarm echoed.
He could do nothing but watch.
USS PHOENIX (NCC-2315)
Commander, Third Fleet, Fleet Admiral
Evans, sat at a table near one of the plastisteel windows of the
lounge. On his left sat Captain T. E. Lawrence; on his right
Commander Wolfbayne Stryker. Across the table was Commander
Seabrook. Evans was drinking a gin and tonic; Lawrence held a glass
of Tanstaafl brandy, while Seabrook stared thoughtfully at his glass
of Benden wine. Stryker, of course, was drinking Cutty Sark.
Lawrence raised her glass. "Here's to
the closing ceremony of the 103rd Olympiad. May we never see the
"Here! Here!" Evans agreed.
Stryker was humming a song softly
beneath his breath as he joined the toast.
"Fanfare for the Common Man," Seabrook
"What?" Stryker asked.
"The song. The theme song for the 103rd
Olympiad. Fanfare for the Common Man written by Aaron Copland. Quite
appropriate, I think."
"I wish I could get the damned song out
of my mind. It keeps playing over and over again."
Evans laughed. "Me too. But I like it.
Bold and brassy. Uplifting."
"Not after this long," Stryker frowned.
"It's starting to get old."
The table fell silent, each lost in
their own thoughts.
Evans cleared his throat after a few
minutes and turned to T. E. "How far are we from Aldebaran, T. E.?
Lawrence glanced at Stryker, who
answered the Admiral's question.
"About two days at our current speed."
"Why?" T.E. asked.
"I'd like to stop by and see Dennis
Franchone. We've got nothing critical scheduled for the PHOENIX, and
I haven't talked to him face to face in a long time. Any problem,
Lawrence laughed. "Your every wish is
my command, Admiral. Besides," she smiled, "I work for you."
"Well," Evans returned the smile. "If
you're sure it's no problem?"
"I'll call the Bridge and have them
change course," Stryker offered.
Evans nodded. "If you would."
Stryker never got the chance to make
his call. The lights in The Nest turned red and began to
flash. Over the 1MC came the voice of LCDR Alice McConnell.
"Red Alert! Red Alert! All hands man
your battle stations. All hands man your battle stations. Captain to
the Bridge. Captain to the Bridge."
Seabrook's glass of wine fell on its
side, covering the table with its pale-golden contents. Lawrence's
chair hit the floor as did Commander Stryker's as they ran toward
the turbolift. Fleet Admiral Evans was close on their heels.
USS PHOENIX (NCC-2315)
"Status report!" Lawrence barked as the
turbolift doors opened and she, Commander Stryker and Fleet Admiral
Evans burst onto the Bridge.
LCDR McConnell rose from the Captain's
"Flash Override message from Starfleet
Command, Captain. DEFCON 1 set for all Starfleet units. Rules of
Engagement Eight in effect throughout the fleet. Execute Plan
"DEFCON 1?" Evans was almost
speechless. Defense Condition 1 was the highest level of readiness
possible in Starfleet. Rules of Engagement Eight gave every ship in
the fleet authority to shoot first and ask questions later.
"War?" Lawrence gasped. "War with who?"
McConnell shook her head. "That's all
the message said. DEFCON1, ROE Eight and execute Plan Snowfall." She
frowned. "What is Plan Snowfall?"
"All vessels proceed to closest
Starbase at maximum speed." Stryker's voice held no emotion.
Lawrence sat on the edge of her command
chair and shook her head. She punched the comm button for SMIDGEN.
"Commander Seabrook? What the hell is going on?"
USS PHOENIX (NCC23-15)
Commander Seabrook was watching the
holographic display of the events at Newport News again. The SS
Stolthaven Hathaway, for the second time, plowed into the huge
drydock and struck the side of the heavy cruiser GRAF SPEE, still
under construction. The freighter plowed into the side of the heavy
cruiser, then exploded with the actinic light typical of a
matter-antimatter explosion. The drydock crumpled in upon itself and
spiraled out of orbit. He stared as the twisted mass of metal and
ruined ships hit the atmosphere of Earth and began their inexorable
trip to the surface of the planet.
"Commander!" LT Stev's voice was
unbelieving. "Aldebaran II!" He flipped a switch and the scene in
the holographic display changed. It was almost identical to the
Newport News, except that the freighter didn't destroy the drydock
nor did it explode, but crashed into the surface of Aldebaran III.
"Captain," Seabrook's voice was calm
but had an underlying tremor Lawrence had never heard, "there have
been two attacks. One on the Newport News drydock and the second on
"Attacks?" Lawrence repeated.
"Standby, Captain." Seabrook turned to
LT Stev, who was motioning emphatically to the Chief Intelligence
"Damn!" Seabrook shook his head.
"Captain, we have another incident. This one at New Paris."
"Helmsman, set course for Aldebaran
III, maximum warp." Lawrence ordered. "McConnell, get down to the
FACC and light it off. We may need it."
Evans nodded agreement. "I'll go with
her. We'll get augmented to fully man the Fleet Action Coordination
Center as soon as we arrive at Aldebaran III." He looked at T.E. "As
soon as I can get some word from Starfleet Command, I'll let you
Into the deathly silence which
enveloped the Main Bridge after McConnell and Evans left, Stryker's
quietly quoted Auric Goldfinger, an old James Bond character.
"Once is happenstance, twice is
coincidence--three times is enemy action."