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    Tuesday, December 7, 2010

    “The Emerson”

    The U.S.S. Integrity fairly limped back to Deep Space 9 in need of extensive repairs. The Dominion war had taken its toll on both the ship and her crew. The final push into the Cardassian system had all but ended her but the Cardassians had switched sides at the last moment and then, the Dominion had surrendered. 

                Captain Logan sat in his ready room and tried to get used to the idea that the war was finally over. It had taken so much from all of them, but now finally it was over. Many of his crew had died in the war and other officers had been given field promotions to keep the ship functioning. Ordinarily if a ship suffered such losses, officers would be replaced when the ship next made port but, Logan knew all too well, that all of Starfleet had taken such losses that he would be lucky to even get a full compliment.
                It was during this time, while Logan looked grimly over the logs and damage reports, that a high priority coded message came in from Admiral Ross.
    Logan entered his clearance code and tried not to show the tension that he felt at getting such a message while his ship was in such a state.
                “Good Morning Captain,” Ross said evenly.
                “Admiral,” Logan replied, “what can I do for you, Sir?” 
                “I’ve got a covert mission and I need a top pilot to pull it off,” Ross Said.
                “I see,” Logan said. He knew better than to ask for details that Starfleet Command were not inclined to provide but he still needed to know as much as he could if he was going to be sending one of his people into harms way. “What can you tell me, Sir?”
                “We need a lone officer to take a runabout into the badlands. The mission itself will be fairly straight forward but we need them to leave right away and they need to get where they’re going quickly,” Ross continued “Have the officer reach back to me once they’re on the way and I’ll brief them then.”
                “I understand,” Logan said, checking his data pad and looking over his available officers and still functioning shuttlecraft and runabouts “I can send Commander Tia in the
    Emerson. She will be underway within a few minutes.”
                Ross seemed to think that this was acceptable, “Very Good, Captain” he replied. “Ross Out.”
                Logan summoned Tia to his ready room and told her what he knew.
                “You’re my top pilot, just get whatever it is done and get back as soon as you can,” Logan told her.
                “What about you?” She asked baiting him slightly. They had often sparred over who had the better flight skills.
                Logan would not let her off that easily. “If the Admiral had wanted me to go he would have simply ordered me to do it,” he said smiling. Tia smirked at that and Logan relented a little. “Besides you’ve logged more impulse flight hours in the past few months than I have in the past year. I’m sure you’re up to it,” he told her.
                “Aye, Sir,” She replied smiling openly now.
                “On your way commander,” Logan told her and off she went...

                Hours later after docking at one of the upper pylons at
    Deep Space 9 Logan was sleeping fitfully after going through the repair list when another emergency, coded message came in. Logan snapped awake.
                “Logan here,” he said. The connection was audio only and full of static.
                “Captain,” he heard Tia’s voice, “I’m not sure what happened, Sir, I’m stranded in the badlands. I think an energy discharge hit the
    Emerson. The engines, life support, and the airlock have all been damaged. I can’t even get the hatch open from the inside.”
                “We can send a rescue team out,” Logan began.
                “No sir,” Tia replied sternly. “My mission must remain covert and now I . . . I’m really pressed for time, Sir.”
                “I read you Commander.” Logan took a moment to weight his options. “I’m on my way,” he said finally.
                “Thank you, Sir,” he could hear the relief in her voice and the channel closed.
                As Logan closed on the
    Emerson, he saw right away the damage to the front port nacelle. An energy stream from one of the intense ion storms had ripped through the Emerson’s shields and raked the entire port side of the craft. Tia had managed, using her thrusters, to get the craft into a relatively calm area between the endless storm fronts and slipstreams that raged through out this area of the badlands. Logan got into his EVA suit and exited the Thoreau. He could clearly see Commander Tia also wearing her EVA suit inside the Emerson.
                He examined damaged nacelle and hailed her, “We’ll need to replace this forward warp coil,” he said without preamble.
    Shuttles and runabouts carried accessible spare units but usually these kinds of procedures engineers performed in the shuttle bay. There was a procedure for doing it as an EVA but doing it here, in the middle of the badlands, was something no engineer had probably ever conceived.
                Logan worked carefully and quickly to remove the clamps that held the forward most warp coil in place. Once he had done the unit would slide free and he would mount the replacement and secure it. That is what the procedure said anyway. However, the blast that had destroyed the unit had also fused the unit in place. Logan worked at the unit, trying to find some leverage and pry it free but there was no hope and the clock was running.

                Logan thought the problem through and then hailed her again. “I’m going to force the hatch. I’m coming in.”
                “I’m ready,” Tia replied.
    As Logan forced the hatch opened, the compartment inside the
    Emerson vented completely and Logan slid easily into the craft.
                “Looks like you cut it a little too close that time Commander,” he said.
                “You’re not funny,” she replied tersely.
                “Alright,” he went on more seriously, “You will take the
    Thoreau and go complete your mission. Once you’re away I will send out a general distress hail and get myself out of here.”
                Tia knew what he was offering but once she was away, Logan might well be stranded out here for some time if help was not readily available and the shuttle drifted back into the storms or the storms suddenly intensified.
                Logan saw the concern on her face but cut her off, “That’s an order Commander,” he said. “Take the
    Thoreau and go.”
                This time it was Tia’s tern to weigh her options. She nodded finally and said “Aye, Sir.” She went out the open hatch and made her way to the
    Thoreau. A few minutes passed after she was away and she hailed back that she had made contact with whomever she was meeting and that she should still be able to complete her mission. Logan wished her luck and then turned back to his own problems. He checked the air supply and power levels on his suit, it read four hours remaining, and he set his suits internal alarm countdown.
    He sent out a general distress message, sat back, and waited. It wasn’t long before he got an answer but it was from an unlikely source. A Ferengi ship was in the area and offered to tow him out of the badlands. The Ferengi Captain told him he could get him out of the area but that was all as he had a perishable cargo and needed to keep to his schedule. Logan gratefully accepted but . . .
                “I, ah, I don’t have any gold pressed latinum with me,” he explained feeling somewhat awkward.
                The Ferengi Captain seemed mildly amused at this.
                “That’s not a problem,” he said, “Grand Nagus Rom has made it clear in his new edicts that rescue missions like this are to be strictly non-profit.”
                Logan had heard about some of the recent changes that had been happening throughout the Ferengi alliance but was still surprised.
                “Well, that will be grand,” he said.

                The Ferengi ship slid in place in front of the disabled Starfleet craft and towed the Emerson to a nearby cluster just outside the badlands. They were on their way again in less than an hour. Logan turned down the power setting on his suit, which made it colder for him but would give him a little more power in the long run and sent out another general distress signal. Then he settled in to wait for a response. This time the response was somewhat longer in coming but eventually a Benzite Freighter answered and offered to take him back to Farmingdale Station. That was risky but it was better than staying where he was, he checked his chronometer, 2 hours left, he took them up on the offer. Logan also hailed the Benzite craft and asked if they had any spare air but they only carried their own variety, which would be toxic to Logan.
                Logan tried to relax as much as could. In due course Logan found himself at
    Farmingdale Station but as he half expected the station was unmanned and running in automated mode. The Benzites efficiently docked the Emerson in an empty repair bay and departed. The shuttle was now safe but looking at his chronometer, Logan saw that he only had about twenty minutes of air and power left.
                He needed to get from the repair station to the empty habitat section of the small Starbase itself. The problem was that it was a long way from one to the other - if he went through the station itself. His only option was to risk a final EVA from one side of the station to the other. It would be risky in his nearly spent EVA suit but there was nothing for it. He would jump from the ledge of the open to space repair bay, run along the side of the station until he got to the habitat ring where he could let himself in through the airlock and then finally take off his helmet. After that, he could send one last call for help but he would finally have air, replicators, and time on his side.

                Logan estimated his trajectory, checked his chronometer one last time, and leapt. He drifted along the station for a short distance and then activated his mag-boots. He misjudged his distance to the surface and struck the side of the station slightly harder that he had intended but he was still on track. He began a light jog towards the habitat ring. After a few minutes the warning tone of his suit began letting him know he was running out of power and air. The cold was really beginning to seep in now and he pushed himself into a full run trying to shorten the time this trip would take and keep himself warm. The problem, of course was that it meant using up the last of his air. He tried to manage his breathing in spite of his exertion but he wasn’t sure it was helping. Finally, he reached the habitat’s air lock. He had the strange thought that if this airlock were not functioning for any reason someone would probably find his body out there next time anyone came back to the station. Fortunately, the air lock worked perfectly and within a few minutes, he was inside the station with his helmet off.

                After getting out of EVA suit Logan visited the replicators and order up a nice warm meal. Then he used the stations communications system to send out his final call for assistance. The person he heard back from came as a pleasant surprise. It was Captain Germann of the
    Legacy. Logan had thought the Legacy was in a distant sector but it turned out that Starfleet Command had reassigned them to a nearby system towards the end of the war. Captain Germann was only to happy give Captain Logan transportation all the way back to the Integrity at Deep Space 9.


                Commander Tia arrived back aboard only a couple of hours after Captain Logan. She found him on the bridge. It was almost disserted with only a pair of technicians making repairs to the Helm station and the Captain supervising efforts in Engineering and throughout the secondary hull from the Mission Ops station.
                “I see you made it back in one piece,” she said.
                “Well, you didn’t think I’d let you beat me back here did you,” Logan joked. “Welcome back, was your mission successful?”
                “I made it on time, thanks to you as for the rest, well, we’ll see.”
                “I understand,” Logan said.
                “I’m sorry about everything,” Tia said suddenly more serious.
                Logan smiled at that, “You’ll be happy to hear that I heard from the repair center and they’ll have the Emerson back to us in about two weeks, but” Logan turned to face her full on “after all we’ve lost recently, even if it was a total loss, as long as you’re alright, we always get another runabout.”

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