“Captain’s Log, Stardate 6121.4. The uneventful calm of our current star mapping mission stands in stark contrast to the anxiety and saber-rattling of our recent past. Today is the third anniversary of Pax Organia – the peace between the Federation and Klingons, enforced by the near-omniscient Organians. The terms of that treaty, stipulating the non-aggressive development of worlds in the disputed area between the two parties, has so far favored the peaceful nature of the Federation.
Dr. McCoy and First Officer Spock plan on meeting in my quarters to mark the day and toast to Starfleet’s continued shift in focus from defense and security back towards more exploration and development.”
As Kirk, McCoy, and Spock meet to mark occasion, they are interrupted by a call from M’Ress on the bridge. She reports that sensors have picked up an unusual source of gamma rays from a moving source travelling just below light speed. Kirk and Spock cut their celebration short and go to the bridge where Kirk orders the ship diverted for closer investigation. The radiation pulses are increasing in frequency as the source plows into a cold nebula. Spock tries to get a visual on the source, but it appears appears distorted by relativistic effects. When Spock corrects the image, the command pod and boom of a Klingon D-7 cruiser comes into focus. It is badly damaged, raked with scars, and has undergone an emergency separation from the cruiser’s warp drive hull. It has obviously been involved in a severe battle.
Spock believes that the gamma ray bursts are coming from molecules of the nebula hitting the Klingon craft’s still-active forward shields. He detects indeterminate life signs on board the crippled ship. The mere existence of a Klingon ship this deep inside Federation space warrants a thorough inspection. Kirk decides to try a risky rendezvous with the craft, accelerating to 95.62 % of the speed of light in order to catch up to the wreck. While starship’s routinely travel much faster and much slower, this is a real space velocity seldom demanded by Starfleet ships. Navigation, inertial dampeners, impulse engines, and helm control are stretched to the limits during this tense chase and rendezvous.
The Enterprise, with its shields up to avoid incoming dust and nebular gas, approaches the D-7 boom. Sensors can discern much more detail at this range and relative velocity. They read strangely human life signs, mixed with Klingon and Tellerite signatures. Because both ship’s have active shields, transporting is impossible. Kirk leads a boarding party to go across by Shuttlecraft.
The boarding crew must defeat the automated defense systems inside the Klingon ship which kill a security specialist and injure Lt. Riley. Riley manages to disable the automatic system before he must be med-evaced back to the Enterprise. The departing shuttlecraft is struck by a powerful ionic discharge upon exiting the Klingon’s shields. The disabled shuttle, with the wounded Riley aboard, tumbles out of control. Quick thinking and deft tractor beam manipulation by Sulu averts catastrophe and brings the shuttle safely into the Enterprise’s hangar.
Uhura calls the boarding party and reports rapidly building local radio interference. She speculates that the passage of the two ships through the nebula at relativistic speed is causing a massive ionization effect, creating effects like violent ion storm. Spock confirms her theory, adding that, unless the boarding party leaves soon, the transfer back to the Enterprise may well be deadly. Meanwhile the ionization effects begin to effect subspace communication between ships.
McCoy discovers the survivors in the vessel’s sick bay, in medical stasis. All are suffering from exposure to hard radiation. Among them are a human who Kirk recognizes-Commodore Geoffrey West, the most outspoken critic of the Organian Treaty in Starfleet, and a Tellerite that Spock immediately knows as well- Dr.Gkea, the director of Memory Alpha’s research into Preserver artifacts. Two other Tellerites and three additional humans are also aboard. In the Klingon ship’s bridge, Kirk and Spock are able to access the ship’s log recordings, while McCoy tries to determine if he can help the survivors. Logs indicate that this ship is the lone survivor of a massive fleet action against a single foe of unimaginable power. Ships are crushed as if by giant, invisible hands, or succumb to massive barrages of photon torpedoes.
The logs soon shows a sky littered with fragments of the armada. This ship, the IKV Fencer, swings in close to a planetoid and beams a landing party aboard. After a unrelenting pounding, its antimatter containment is breached, and the captain orders a hull separation. Suddenly, the attacker breaks off. The sensors finally get a good scan of it - a single ship, miles across, bearing the unmistakable glyphs of the Preserver civilization on its flank. It turns and flashes into warp speed.
The log ends. Kirk and Spock look at each other. Spock’s left brow raises.
[To Be Continued]
Part of the Star Trek Season Four project. Klingon ship by Prologic, converted by mattymax. Enterprise by Greywolf Starkiller. Rendered in Poser Pro 2012, with additional work in Photoshop. Thanks for taking a look!