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Table Of Contents


Mission 18: ON THE EDGE

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

USS PHOENIX NCC-2315

Captains’ Log, Stardate I.IX.2319

Our resupply mission of installing a new plasma generator accomplished, PHOENIX has left Dhal Theta II in the capable hands of the crew of the science ship USS PERGOLESI. They will oversee repairs to the science station after the damage caused by the arboreal entity and the ion storm. We are now awaiting new orders.

"Hello, Tanya." Admiral Evans smiled warmly as his face appeared on her desk monitor.

"Admiral." T.E. Lawrence sat in her chair in her ready room and made herself comfortable.

"What do you know about the Demara system?"

"It’s on the edge of Federation space in the Third Quadrant within the Neutral Zone. It has a class B star. I’m afraid I don’t know much else about it, sir."

"You are right. We don’t know much about it. Funny that it is so close to Federation space and yet we’ve never explored it. Well, we are going to change that right now. I want you to set a course for the Demara system as soon as possible. One of our deep space buoys has picked up a disturbing image around the fourth planet in the Demara system."

The screen went from Admiral Evans to a fuzzy image deep in space.

"I’ll clarify it for you." The image focused and sharpened into a Romulan warbird. Lawrence leaned closer to the screen.

"Hello!" She whispered softly.

"As you can see we are very concerned about their appearance in the Demara system. And we want you to investigate this. From what little information we have, the fourth planet is a frozen world, with temperatures below freezing even at the equator. We nicknamed the planet Glace (pronounced gloss). I can’t impress on you how important it is that you find out what they are doing so far away from their own empire. Are they doing scientific research or are they on some covert operation against the Federation. Keep an eye out, Tanya, they don’t belong there and neither do we. Keep me informed on whatever you find. Good luck."

With that the screen went blank. Lawrence leaned back in her chair and whistled softly. She pressed the comm. button. "Captain to all department heads, to my ready room on the double." Things are never easy are they?

Stunned faces surrounded her as she finished her briefing.

"Any questions?"

"Just one, sir," LCDR QaS offered.

"Yes, Commander?"

"If there are Romulans in the Demara system, I would expect that PHOENIX should anticipate battle," he said stonily.

CAPT Lawrence understood all too well the enmity between Romulans and Klingons. She was not about to let this mission devolve into some sort of war game. "At this point, Mister QaS, this mission is reconnaissance only. As far as Starfleet knows, this is only one solitary Romulan ship."

LCDR Soen Mon’Teith echoed the Chief Engineer’s concern. "But a Romulan warbird that close to Federation space, Captain. That puts me on yellow alert."

Lawrence smiled. "We’ll have back up should we need it, Commander. The EURIPIDES, the STARK and the T’POK are all within five days of the Demara system. But let’s find out what that warbird is doing there before we hit the panic button."

"Maybe they are merely ‘lost’," CDR Seabrook said a bit darkly.

Captain’s Log

Stardate 4.IX.2319, 0912 Zulu

PHOENIX has come out of warp near the fourth planet in the Demara system. Long range sensors have indicated no activity with the Romulan ship.

CAPT Lawrence exited her ready room onto the bridge. She glanced at the main operations station, port side aft on the bridge. "Report, Commander McConnell!"

LCDR Alice McConnell was regarding long-range sensor data in front of her on the station monitor. "Sensors indicate minimal power signature emanating from the Romulan ship, Captain." She looked up. "She seems to be powered down."

"Anything from Demara IV?"

McConnell shook her head. "We’ll know better when we are closer to the planet."

Two hours later, within seven million kilometers of Demara IV, CAPT Lawrence cautiously ordered PHOENIX slowed to one half impulse.

"Open a channel, Lieutenant," T.E. directed LT Gabrielle Leroux at the communications station.

"Channel open, sir," Leroux responded as the chirping of her console indicated the open channel.

CAPT Lawrence stood and took a couple of steps forward, all the while her eyes on the image of the Romulan warbird on the main view screen. "This is Captain T.E. Lawrence of the Federation starship PHOENIX. Do you require assistance?"

A palpable silence greeted her inquiry.

"No response from the warbird, Captain," Leroux confirmed. She started, holding her hand up. "Wait a minute; I’m getting something from the planet."

Lawrence looked at McConnell who immediately began sensor sweeps of Demara IV.

Leroux punched the controls and a faint yet steady voice filled the PHOENIX’s Bridge. "Starfleet ship, medical attention is required."

CDR Stryker looked askance at CAPT Lawrence. "I thought Third Fleet said this planet, in fact this system, was uninhabited."

Lawrence held up her hand as her eyes swiveled to LCDR McConnell. "Commander?"

McConnell examined the results of her sensor sweep. "Sensors are picking up some sort of complex beneath the surface of the planet, sir. Not extremely extensive, but there is technology, Romulan in origin. I’m detecting seven…no, eight life forms within the complex."

"A secret complex this close to Federation borders," mused Lawrence. "These Romulans have been busy. Open the channel again, Lieutenant." The captain waited a moment, and then spoke up, "What is your situation on the planet?"

"We’re all sick," the voice continued. "We haven’t seen any supplies in two weeks. We need food and medicine…" the voice trailed off.

Lawrence made a gesture for Leroux to mute the channel. "Opinion, Commander?" she inquired of CDR Stryker.

"We know nothing about what the Romulans are doing with this installation," Stryker said, "but, I think we can assume, since Starfleet knew nothing about it, that they’re up to no good. I don’t know what they think they are doing, but it’s probably safe to assume a trap is possible."

"Captain… Commander?" McConnell interrupted. "My readings indicate that only two of these life form readings are Romulan, and their readings are weak at best. One is Vulcan…and the other five are Rigelian."

"What? Orions?!" Lawrence said incredulously. "On a secret Romulan base?"

"They could be captives," Stryker suggested.

"If this is indeed a medical emergency, we don’t have the right to refuse them aid, even if there are Romulans," Lawrence said. "But that doesn’t mean we go in there with our eyes closed.

"Another thing, Captain," McConnell said a bit more urgently, "one of the plasma generators in the complex seems to be on the verge of breeching. I’m reading heightened levels of hydrazine gas."

"That could be what’s making them sick," Stryker said.

Lawrence turned to her First Officer. "Commander, assemble medical and engineering landing parties. I want a heavily armed security escort with them. I’ll have Colonel Horn put the marines on yellow alert. Then we’ll assemble a security detail. As soon as we know what’s what on the planet, I want a security team to beam over to the Romulan ship and see what they can find out."

"Yes, Captain."

Within 30 minutes the medical, engineering and science landing parties were organized. CAPT Lawrence communicated with the anonymous male voice on the planet.

"We are about to beam a medical team to your coordinates. We note that your plasma generator is on the verge of losing containment."

"Yes…." came the weaker-sounding voice over the comm., interrupted now and then by static. "It has been go…..ffline for days now, and that is cau……o lose containment integrity."

"Are there any engineers among your group?"

"No….and we ar…..t familiar with Romulan technology. Please hurry." A beeping indicated that the comm. was terminated.

Lawrence looked at her First Officer. "Better get those teams down there fast, Commander. And, Commander, I want to keep in constant contact with your teams, understood?"

"Yes, sir," Stryker nodded, and proceeded off the bridge.

"Mister Pyrebon," Lawrence said as she approached the helm, "as soon as the landing parties have beamed to the planet, move PHOENIX closer to the warbird. I want to know just what the devil is going on here."