Captain Douglas switched on his desktop viewer and called up the manifest of the suspect cargo container. He didn't like mysteries, and this was a mystery. The cargo container was brought in by a small tug with tractor beams only because the cargo container is too old to mate to modern tugs. Now that the container was finally mated to his space station's extended airlock, they still couldn't board it because the inner hatch would not open. The manifest had listed its contents as agricultural equipment, several levels of grain, tanks of potable water, the kind of habitats that can be quickly erected on colony worlds, all to go to the planet Lanroche III, and three biological specimens for the university on Wall. It was the biological specimens that bothered him. The manifest had said that the specimens were in stasis containers, but he knew that the law prohibited the transportation of lifeforms deemed harmful to others. Secretly he also had a historical curiosity to see the inside of an eighty two year old transport container. According to the report that the U.S.S. Lankford, the tug that brought the container, had given him, an equally old transport was on its way to take the container to its destinations. It had taken two days just to mate the containers' airlock to the stations' airlock because of differences, and now three hours to just get inside of the container. Just then a communications bleep interrupted his thoughts. “Sir, the inner hatch is open and we are moving inside the container with security.” He tapped his combage, “Report what you find inside, find out about those specimens.” It had been a year since he had been put in command of the aging space station “Challenger”, and he began to wonder if Starfleet had forgotten what he was capable of. His dream was to command a starship, not a small, out of the way space station with a crew of only forty three. This transport container was the most interesting thing that had happened here in several months. At the same time Captain Douglas pondered what went wrong with his career, a team of three security officers, two cargo handlers, and his second in command began to restore power to the aged container. As the lights came on, they began moving into the elevator to descend into the lower levels of the container.
“Captains' log stardate 4165.2 chief engineer Kez continues to make repairs around the ship as we make our way to Space Station Challenger to pick up a cargo container that we are contracted to take to the triangle worlds of Wall and Lanroche III. Making repairs on this ship is a full time job, and I think Kez is going to need a vacation after this contract is fulfilled, maybe we all do. We were about to go somewhere pleasant when we were contacted about this contract. Truth be told, we need the credits that this contract will bring. We lack the replicators to make many repairs that the ship really needs, so we have to buy replicator time and materials where we can. I am concerned about the container latches. We haven't had to dock with a container of this configuration since even before I had completed my Captains' requirements.” Captain Winston switched off the log and opened a communications channel. “Winston to Davis, please meet me in the briefing room in ten minutes.” He called up the specifications of the container. Moments later he walked out of his office and toward the briefing room . As he walked, he saw Surok walking toward him. “Is it true that this cargo container we are picking up is a type MK-V?” Suroks' face showed no emotion as usual for a Vulcan. “Yes, it is, and I am worried about the container latches.”, Surok walked with him as he talked, “Either the latches will work, or they will not. Worry will not change the situation.” The captain smiled, “Maybe worry was a poor choice of words, I am concerned.” The Vulcan shook his head, “I fail to see the difference, as always.” The captain motioned him forward, “I'm on my way to the briefing room, I would like you there too.” The two men continued walking toward the briefing room and talking. As they walked into the room, they saw the first officer was already there. He looked at the captain,”Whats the problem, Don?” The captain sat at the control console and flipped a switch. The triangular shaped viewer came on. “This is the specifications of the cargo container that we will pick up at space station Challenger. The first officer whistled as he turned his chair to face the captain. “That thing is as old as this ship.” “Thats why we were called to transport this one, there not many other ships left that can do it. And probably none of those are in this sector.” The first officer quipped back, “This ship hasn't had to latch onto one of these containers in a very, very long time. How do we know that the latches will even work?” The Vulcan cocked his head to one side and said, “There is also a seventy nine point three percent chance that the containers' systems will not function. There may be no life support inside the container, or the power systems may be completely drained.” The captain shook his head,”We have to prepare for these difficulties, and the stations' engineering personnel may already be working on some of these problems.” The first officer asked,”What is Kez working on right now?” The captain worked the computer controls set into the briefing table until the repair schedule was displayed on the table's screens.”Right now he is working on the transporter unit. Looks like routine maintenance checks. He also has to repair the shuttle bay cargo door.” Surok folded his hands into a triangle as he often did when he was thinking. “We have eight days before we arrive at the station. We can have Kez and crewman Fischer begin working on all cargo systems a couple of days before we arrive.” The captain began to notice his grumbling stomach, “Done, briefing adjourned, I'm hungry!”
“Security to Captain Douglas”, the head of security said as he tapped his combadge. “Douglas here, whats the problem now?” The security chief shifted his stance inside the elevator, “The elevators are not going down to the lowermost levels, sir!” The captain let out a sigh, “I'll get a repair crew to work on that right away!” Captain Douglas knew from looking over the specifications of the container that the elevators were the only way to get to the lower levels. And since both were not going all the way down, this must be a result of programming on someone's part. Someone didn't want anyone on the lower levels. Another mystery is a long line of mysteries as far as this cargo container is concerned. This was going to be another long day, after many carefree easy days as the station commanding officer. He snapped on the viewscreen on the briefing table and called up the status on the tug ship's arrival. He had another two days now before the tug would take the container away. He would be happy to be rid of it and get back to the simpler life, but not before he figured out all of the mysteries. Security was now standing by and waiting for the, by now overworked, repair crew to track down the problem and repair it. The preliminary report from the repair crew came a short time later, it would take at least another day to fix the problem with the elevators.
Captain Winston shifted his position in his captain's chair, “Chezi, what's our ETA?” The tall female Trill punched a button on her helm and navigation console, “ETA eight hours now sir”. “I'll be in my office, Steve, you have the conn.”. As the captain rose out of his chair and started for the door, the first officer sat down in the captain's chair. He hoped that someday this chair would be his. Or maybe a similar chair on a larger ship. Chief engineer Kez was hard at work checking the docking latches. The first test showed that eight of the twenty four docking latches failed to close. Eight failures were unacceptable. He ran test on the docking latch servomechanisms and that showed that five of the failed latches needed their servomechanisms replaced. A quick computer check showed that there were only two replacements on-board. Even those were questionable because of their age. He put in a call to Space Station Challenger to fabricate new servomechanisms so that they would be ready by the time they got there. He wanted to be done with this contract as soon as possible so that they could go on down time and get the vacation they were promised before this contract came up. Kez was on his fourth trip with the White Rose. He would have preferred to serve on a Feringi ship, but his family was blackballed by the Ferengi Commerce Authority because his mother earned a profit and always wore clothes. He worked hard so that he could keep his mind on his work and wouldn't have to think about his situation. It was hard enough to have this permanent mark on his record, but then to have to work with hew-mans and an Andorian security officer, it was more than he could bear sometimes. It was why he almost never had any interaction with the crew, except for Chezi, the Trill helm and navigation officer. He smiled every time he thought about her. But she had eyes only for crewman Branix, the only other Trill onboard.
After Kez and crewman Fischer had replaced two of the servomechanisms, he tested the latches again. The two with the replacements were sluggish to respond, but they did work. He hit the call button on the intercom, “Kez here, Captain, we now have eighteen good latches.”. “Good, because we're arriving at the station, continue with the other repairs.”, the Captain replied. Continue with the repairs, Kez thought to himself, don't these hew-mans ever do anything but work? Since it was time for lunch, Kez with crewman Fischer in tow, went off to the mess room. It was bad enough that he had to live and work with hew-mans, but because the replicator was old, and had served only hew-mans, it had only hew-man food. He had been on the ship long enough to sample the entire menu, which wasn't that many items, and discovered that the closest thing to Ferengi food on this ship was something called escargot. But this old replicator didn't make anything that was very tasty to the Ferengi or the hew-mans. Kez looked over at crewman Fischer. He was eating something called a pizza, which seemed to be his favorite food. But even he had said in the past that the replicator didn't do it justice. After Kez and crewman Fischer finished eating, they went back to work fixing and maintaining the old tug. But before he got very far, he was called to the bridge to watch over the docking procedure. Kez handed crewman Fischer the Padd with the list of items that needed maintance and repair. As crewman Fischer turned to leave, Kez said, “I'll join you as soon as I can, but start without me!”. Kez knew that crewman Fischer was pretty good as hew-mans go, but sometimes needed supervision to make sure he completed his repairs in a timely manner. As Kez climbed up the ladder to the bridge, he noticed everyone on the bridge was working to bring the ship into position to dock with the container. The Captain was talking to the Commander of the space station and Surok was calling out information to Chezi as she was using thrusters to put the ship into position. Once the ship was directly over the docking latches, Surok checked his scanners again to make sure that the docking latches were directly in line with those on the container. Being the perfectionist that Vulcans are, the procedure took longer than Kez thought it should. Once Captain Winston gave the order, Chezi thrusted down onto the container's docking plate. Kez touched the “dock” button on his engineering console, and there was the sound of docking latches coming together. But there was a problem, Kez's display showed that eight of the latches had failed again. Kez uttered a Ferengi curse word and said, “I can't believe those latches failed again!” Kez unlocked all the latches and locked them again, hoping that the movement would free the stuck latches. “Scanners show that five of the ship's and three of the container's latches are not moving.”, Surok reported. The captain looked concerned, “What can we do about it?”. “Maybe we can free them with heat.”, Surok replied. The captain, first officer, and cargo specialist talked with Kez to hash out a plan.
Fifteen minutes later they were with Kez, who was suited along with crewman Fischer and Surok, in the ship's older versions of the standard extra-vehicular work garment, or sewg. Kez hated zero G, but he would be walking along the ships hull this time. The three of them entered the airlock closest to the docking plate. After depressurizing and the outer doors opened, the group switched on their magboots. They began to walk along the hull towards the cargo module. When they reached the docking latches, they took out their phasers and began warming up the stuck latches. As they were doing this, the captain and first officer were looking over the manifest of the container. Nothing there was very interesting except the biological speciments mentioned. The one thing the reports from the station didn't mention was what kind of speciments these might be, and whether or not there was still power running throughout the container. “Has the captain of the station given us any information about the container's systems?”, the first officer asked. The captain shook his head no, and moved over to the triangular shaped viewscreen. The captain pressed a button on the base of the viewscreen, “This is the White Rose calling space station Challenger”. The appearance of a human male came on the viewscreen, “ This is Captain Douglas, we are still having problems with one of the container's elevators. We repaired one and sent a team in, but they haven't reported in yet.”
As the two captains talked and wondered about the speciments, Kez and crewman Fischer were able to free three of the stuck latches. Surok reported the progress to the captain. As the first officer made his way to the bridge, Captain Douglas decided to recall his repair teams and let Captain Winston deal with the problems. His men reported that three of his four man security crew that he sent to the lower levels, had been found unconscious. He also had a report that there were people missing from the station. He began a station-wide search and put the station on yellow alert. Commander Davis sat at Kez's engineering station and hit the dock button again. This time two more of the eight stuck latches toggled to the locked position. He placed the comm reciever in his ear as he hit the comm button, “Captain, we now have twenty two good latches. The captain looked across the briefing room table and smiled at Branix, “Good, the faster we get out of here, the faster we can get this thing delivered and go on vacation.” Captain Winston checked with Captain Douglas one more time to make sure all his people were off of the cargo container. Captain Douglas reported that his one missing security man had been found dead on the station. He told Captain Winston that he would like to hold the ship pending an investigation, but due to other pressing security matters on the station, he did not have the extra personnel to search the module. Captain Winston was anxious to get underway. He called all personnel to the bridge and ordered the ship and module to be undocked from the station. The ship pulled away from the station on thrusters and moved away on thrusters as Chezi monitored the distance from the station. She could not activate the impulse engines too close to the station, because the exhaust could damage the station. When the big ship and module got to the safe distance, Chezi activated the impulse drive to full. “Course set for Wall, warp three entered on the board”. Chezi was always formal when she was working, the Captain thought. He looked at the viewscreen and gave the command, “Engage”.
Your Place to Show Your Storytelling Writer Chops!
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"It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, 'Our Father who art in heaven." Douglas MacArthur <><
WOW, Ron....this is great stuff! I love fan-fiction. It is obvious you know your Star Trek canon. Can't wait to see more.
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