Sabotage
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Table Of Contents


Mission 36: SABOTAGE

 

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

Captain TE Lawrence sipped her coffee and glanced at the chronometer. It was a routine mission, and her shift was nearly over. She was looking forward to a quiet evening with a good book.

It started as a slight vibration, barely noticeable. But Lawrence noticed. She was keenly aware of the sounds and vibrations made by the ship under normal conditions. And this wasn't normal. In fact, it was getting worse. Just as she was opening her mouth to inquire about it, a loud screeching sound filled her ears. In a nanosecond, it was as if the ship had stopped moving but TE did not. She was barely aware of the shouts and screams of the bridge crew as the forward bulkhead rushed up to meet her. Then everything went black.

Lawrence sat at the head of the briefing room table, rubbing her head. While the wounds had been repaired, it still itched where the artificial skin had been applied. And her headache wasn't quite gone just yet. Her mind was still swimming over the cataclysmic disaster that had befallen the ship only two hours ago.

She listened to the damage reports, taking it all in. Subspace communications were out. Life support operating on backup only. Null gravity pockets in seventeen different areas of the ship. Sixty-three dead or missing, eleven in critical condition, nearly every member of the crew had been injured. Three separate hull breaches, and one hundred micro fractures in the outer hull. Every major system had been affected. Propulsion, weapons, transporters. The list went on indefinitely. It was too much.

Lawrence interrupted Alice McConnell’s report. "Now that we know how badly we're hurt, can someone tell me what happened?"

"Warp sheer, Captain," answered QaS.

TE Lawrence's jaw dropped. "That's not possible."

"Not probable, but it is possible. I've checked every reading and there's no doubt---"

"Excuse me," interrupted Kora Natevera, "but for those of us who don't have engineering degrees, will someone explain just what the heckl a warp sheer is?"

Lawrence deferred to QaS. "There was an enormous power surge near the lead phase transition coil in the starboard nacelle. The surge quickly spread down the line and fused more than half of the coils before jumping into a plasma relay and surging through the primary power grid, where it did significant damage. When the coils fused, the warp field that they were generating collapsed. When that happened, half of the ship dropped out of warp, while the other half was still traveling at warp speed. This caused the sheering effect. But the Captain's right, it's not supposed to happen because the computer is supposed to instantly shut down the other nacelle in the event of a catastrophic failure like that."

"And it didn't, I take it?" asked Kora.

"It didn't. The secondary system didn't kick in, either, like it should have. Thankfully, the tertiary backup did, or we'd be scattered across half a light year right now. But the few nanoseconds it took for the computer to kick in and shut down the warp field completely were enough to cause significant damage."

"Then I take that this warp sheer isn't very common?"

"Not common? It's never happened outside of a computer simulation ever. It's always been nothing more than a theoretical possibility. "

"Until now," said TE. "May I remind everyone that the Excelsior class starship has proven itself over and over and is considered to be the most reliable starship design in the fleet?" She paused for a moment. "This wasn't a mere malfunction."

"I don't believe it was, Captain," said QaS.

"Too many things went wrong just at the right time and in the right order," added Wolphbayne Stryker. "It couldn't have been mere chance."

"Whoever did this really knew what they were doing. Since the tertiary backup system wasn't also disabled, they obviously only wanted to cripple the ship. Otherwise, we wouldn't be here. Which brings me to the question of where exactly are we?"

"Near as we can tell, Captain," said Lisa Boldian, "we're about two and a half parsecs from Orion space, nearest to the Romulan neutral zone."

"How soon can we get underway?"

"The sheering effect physically twisted the starboard nacelle support pylon out of position. Even if I could replace all of the damaged phase induction coils, which I can't, we create a stable warp field without the nacelles being in proper alignment. And we don't have the equipment to do that. We'll need to put in to a starbase or shipyard for that kind of work. The power surge did some heavy damage to all systems. It'll take at least two weeks to get the impulse engines online. But we have to get the inertial dampers fixed before we fire the impulse engines or everyone will find themselves pushed through a bulkhead when tried to accelerate. We also need the deflector screens working, or we'll be Swiss cheese before we got very far. Three weeks."

"Thrusters?"

"We should have them operational in a couple of days. It won't get us far, though."

"And without subspace communications, it will take years for a message to get to anywhere near a starbase or relay station." TE paused to consider the situation. They would not be able to outrun an enemy should one try to take advantage of their current situation. And she was sure that someone would. "Weapons? Or shouldn't I ask?'

"Same story, Captain." QaS replied. Until we can get the power problems under control, we can't use the phasers. We'll have to get the warp core on line at the very least. I might be able to get the photon launchers going in a couple of days, but I'm not sure about the targeting scanners. The whole computer core is going to have to be reinitialized after we get main power back."

"It's a domino effect," added Stryker. "We have to get certain systems all working in a certain order or else we can't use any of them."

Lawrence sighed. "Well, then, it looks like we have our work cut out for us. I assume sensors are tied to the same power problems as the rest. All right, until we get at least short range sensors back, I want all NUB's and non-critical personnel assigned to a porthole or window to visually monitor for anything unusual."

"Department heads are authorized to order double shifts," added Stryker. "If anyone in your department has any kind of engineering experience and you can spare them, I'm sure that QaS could use their help."

The comm. beeped. "Llire to Captain."

"Go ahead," said Lawrence.

"Sir, the shuttlecraft have all been deliberately sabotaged. Communications, propulsion, weapons, all inoperative."

"That shoots my next suggestion," said Stryker.

"And proves our theory," added Captain Lawence.

"Sir, we also found a transporter log. It looks like someone tried to erase it. There's not much left, just the timestamp and entry itself. But it looks like someone definitely beamed off the ship in the last few hours."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. Lawrence out."

"Looks like whoever it was got out while the getting was good," said Kora.

"It would appear that way," Lawrence agreed. "All right, we've got a lot of work to do. Let's get to it. I don't like the idea of being a sitting duck to the Orions or the Romulans. Let's get the hell out of here as soon as possible.

Everyone got up to leave. Lawrence motioned to Stryker to stay behind. After the last person left the room and the doors were closed, she said, "That transporter log is a fake."

"It does seem rather odd, Captain," said Stryker. "You would think that someone who could get on board this ship, evade security, and orchestrate a catastrophe of this magnitude without leaving any other trace, should be able to completely remove a transporter log."

"Exactly," responded TE. "It was planted deliberately for us to find."

"I'll start a full scale search of the ship."

"No. We don't want to scare whoever it is into hiding. I want to know why they did this. Why us? Why now? Why here? No, if we push whoever it is too soon, we could find ourselves in a fight that we'd most certainly lose. Everyone on board is suspect. Here's what I want you to do..."