Intruder Alert!
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Table Of Contents

Mission #3: INTRUDER ALERT

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 ship’s Captain; however, automatic transfer of ownership to STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET is effected upon publication of this mission by the ship’s 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

 

             Starbase Flying Cloud

            A weary PHOENIX crew brought their Heavy Cruiser back to Starbase Flying Cloud, back to their berth at J-Dock.  Relieved by USS COMFORT, a Medical ship; USS VELIKOSKVY, a Heavy Frigate; USS SAN FRANCISCO, a Heavy Cruiser; and USS TAL TAN, a Troop Transport, the planet Webster was in good hands and beginning a slow but sure recovery.  After a couple of well-earned days off, the now seasoned and cohesive crew had begun the task of on-loading weapons, supplies, and last-minute equipment in preparation for their first scheduled deployment in two weeks.
             Every member of the crew had been to the Starbase’s Sickbay to suffer through a most thorough physical examination.  Even Commander Stryker, still weak from his ordeal on Webster’s surface, was given a clean bill of health.  The good news had lightened the somber mood of the crew, and they took full advantage of the extensive recreational facilities aboard the hugh, Type-79 starbase.
             But tonight was a special occasion.  Starbase personnel had decorated the station’s immense assembly hall for the evening’s festivities. Streamers and banners lined the walls and hundreds of balloons were suspended from the cathedral ceiling. There were six ships currently at Starbase Flying Cloud, not including the PHOENIX, and many members of each ship were mingling, drinking, laughing, and, in general, enjoying themselves.  It was getting late, as evidenced by the level of intoxication, but the guest of honor, Admiral Daniel Evans, had not yet arrived.  Many began to wonder where the “birthday boy” was hiding.
             “Having a good time Captain?” LCDR Sterling asked as she reached Talon Steele’s side.
             Steele gave a glance of disgust at a Starbase officer who wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve, as he demanded another drink. “Not really,” she replied in a sotto voice meant for Sterling’s ears only.
             Talon didn’t care much for a large crowd, especially when drinking was involved. Too many times it seemed to end up in harsh words between ship’s crews’ that invariable led to fights. Besides, she only joined the festivities to be with Daniel. I wonder where the hell he is? She thought. Maybe I better check and see if he got tried up with business again. That man never knows when to quit.

            Enya Star system, 100,000 miles from Starbase Flying Cloud

            The 3rd SOG team had been out in space engaged in last-minute maneuvers before their scheduled embarkation aboard the PHOENIX the next morning.  They had been out for over four hours when COL Horn decided that it was enough.
             “All Cobras, this is King Cobra. Let’s wrap this up for the day and head back to the Starbase.  Standard dispersal, landing formation Alpha.”
             The fighters moved into a vee formation, made a gentle turn to port, and headed back toward Starbase Flying Cloud.

            Enya Star system, 500,000 miles from Starbase Flying Cloud

            Seven black ships moved slowly and carefully into the Enya star system from the ecliptic, hiding in the clutter from the star’s corona. They were in a vee-formation, the apex pointed away from the star.  The ship at the apex was larger than the other six.  Aboard the Battlecruiser Sword of Death, Subadar Lertac seethed as he sat in his command chair.
             “Engine status,” Lertac barked.
             “Impulse standing by at 98 percent, Subadar,” his engineering officer reported. “Warp drive is repaired. I say we are ready, Subadar Lertac.”
             Lertac leaned forward and, in a soft voice dripping with sarcasm, asked, “Do you presume to tell me what to do, engineer?”
             Engineer Joach stood at rigid attention before the angry Swarm Commander.  “No, Sir, of course not, Sir.  I was only attempting to agree with your assessment of the situation.”
             Subadar Lertac leaned back, still staring at the junior officer.  “When I want your opinion, I will tell you what it is.  Return to your station.”
             Lertac watched the chastised officer move toward the engineering station.  This plan must work!  I cannot live through another disaster like the attack on Starbase 43.  Another failure and I will be dead, he mused.  Probably replaced by an idiot like that engineering officer.  Three days ago, Jirzzaque infiltrators had arrived aboard the SS Narwhal as members of the civilian crew and were even now spread out through the Starbase, getting ready to activate his plan to capture Admiral Evans.  Once he received the codeword for success, Lertac and his Swarm would move in, secure the Starbase, and be able to report his victory to the Emperor. Ah, Lertac smiled to himself, that will be a great victory!  One that will have everyone talking about me just like they talk about Kralik and Hesisn. 
              
             Commander, Third Fleet’s Office, Starbase Flying Cloud

            “You’ll never get off this base,” Evans warned the tall man holding a phaser to his head.
             The man shoved him down in a chair. “We can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way.  The easy way, you live.  The hard way, you die―now.  Your choice.”  Almost as an afterthought, the Jirzzaque stuck the Admiral with the phaser.  “Subadar Lertac has a great surprise for your birthday party, Admiral. Big fireworks just for you and your guests. Too bad you won’t be here for your next birthday party.”
             Daniel tried to rise, but the man hit him across the mouth with his phaser again, sending Evans reeling back into the chair.
             Thorrk leaned in close to Evans’ bleeding mouth and snared, “Stay put!”
             Talon stepped outside the noisy assembly room and pressed the comm. button on the corridor wall, which connected her to Admiral Evans’ office.
             “Daniel, are you there?  Are you coming down here, or do I have to come get you?  It’s really uncouth to be late to your own party.”
             There were some strange noises from the Admiral’s office, then silence.
             The Jirzzaque pressed his phaser into Daniel’s stomach, motioning him to be quiet.
             Evans whispered, “If I don’t answer that, you idiot, every Security Officer on this base will be here in less than five minutes.”
             After a moment of thought, the Jirzzaque nodded, leaned close to Daniel’s ear, and cautioned him.  “If I don’t like what I hear, you’re dead meat.”
             Admiral Evans thought quickly.  How can I warn her?  He took a deep breath.  Here goes nothing.
             “Eva!  I’m so glad you’re here!  I thought you were still out in that firefight.  Give me three minutes and I’ll be at the party.  Don’t start without me.”
             “O.K., but only three. . .”  The import of Daniel’s words suddenly struck her.  Firefight, the codeword for a hostage situation!  There must be three people involved!  She swallowed hard and remembered to finish her sentence.  “. . . minutes.  I’ll tell everyone who needs to know that you’ll be a little late.  Goodbye.”  It was hard for Talon to talk naturally, but she knew somehow that Daniel’s life depended on it.  She closed the connection.
             Behind her, LCDR Sterling saw Captain Steele stiffen.  “Captain, what’s wrong?”
             Before she could answer, a hail from COL Horn came through.
             “Captain, this is Horn.  I have seven unidentified vessels on an intercept course.  They do not respond to IFF hails.  I evaluate them as probable hostiles.”
             Talon turned to Sterling.  “Get to the PHOENIX!  Get it out of here!  Don’t wait for me, don’t wait for anything!  Get my ship to safety!”  She gave LCDR Sterling a shove and, without a moment’s hesitation, Sterling began to sprint down the corridor, reaching for her communication device as she went.
             Talon savagely punched a red button next to the speaker on the comm. panel.  The strident, attention-getting sounds of a klaxon began to echo through the Starbase.
             Captain Steele tried to keep her voice calm and professional, but it wasn’t easy.  “Intruder Alert!  Intruder Alert!  Intruders on Deck 98, Ring C.  Unknown hostile craft inbound!  All hands man your General Quarters stations.  This is not a drill; I say again, this is not a drill.  General Quarters!”
             What she had done was not the way “The Book” said it was to be done, but Talon could care less about “The Book.”  Damn The Book!  Talon Steele began to run toward the nearest turbolift.  Please be safe, Daniel, please!

The Jirzzaque - A White Paper