June 2007

Star Fleet Fiction Continued

Rescue On Roon

"Lost souls clinging together," Christopher replied, taking the refilled glasses from the waitress. His father's credit chit would stand a few more rounds, and for dragging Christopher to this backwater planet that wasn't even a member of the Federation yet, Father owed more than just drinks. Christopher had been bored, lonely, and angry for the three months he had been here, but since meeting Kaelyn two nights ago, things had definitely improved. Not that his father had noticed.

His conversation with Kaelyn wandered from light to deep, from which restaurant they might try tomorrow to what they really wanted to do with their lives. Christopher mentioned that he would be going to a university in another year, and Kaelyn mentioned that she had applied for the off-world exchange student program that was part of the Federation's provisional trade mission. Maybe there was hope that something serious could come of their chance meeting?

"Have you seen the winter lights yet?" Kaelyn asked.

"No, what are they?" Christopher replied, intrigued.

"I can't believe you don't know!" Kaelyn exclaimed. "They're like fire in the sky, like shimmers of color. It's got something to do with electrons and high altitude water vapor and . . . well, it doesn't matter. They're . . . just pretty, and I want to show them to you."

"So . . . do we find a monitor? . . . or go outside?"

"No, silly, you cannot see them in the city. All of the lights here make them too hard to see. We'd have to drive a few kilometers out into the country. I know a place with trees and grass, quiet and romantic. . ." she let her voice trail off.

"OK, how do we get there? Is there a local shuttle?"

"No, silly. . ." Kaelyn laughed, throwing back her hair in a way that mesmerized him. "I have a ground car. Let's go."

"Now?" Christopher sputtered as he took another drink.

"Now is always the best time!" Kaelyn said. "I don't have to work tomorrow, and you said your father would still be tied up in the trade talks. We can watch the winter lights, and then later, watch the dawn." Her sparkling eyes promised more than just a view of the night sky, and Christopher scrambled to grab his jacket and catch up to her.

1400 hrs, Captain's Office, Light Cruiser USS Tasmania, en route to Roon

"Come in, Grissom, and sit down."

"Yes, sir," Lieutenant Commander Grissom replied, taking the chair the Captain had indicated.

"You know that we have just changed course?" the Captain asked.

"I noticed," Grissom replied, waiting for the Captain to explain the rest. It did not pay to hurry one's commanding officer.

"You've read the file on Roon, I trust," the Captain asked.

"Class-M planet inside Fed space. We've been watching it for some time. Their technology reached warp capability last year, so the Federation sent an envoy to welcome them to the galactic community. By all accounts, the population took it rather well. Some indication that Orion traders have been doing clandestine business there for a decade or more. I do believe there is a Federation trade delegation on the planet right now and that we are scheduled to 'stop by' sometime next month and give the local big shots a joyride around their solar system. That Roon?"

"The very one," the Captain replied. "Seems that someone kidnapped the son of the delegation leader, and is pressuring him to walk out of the talks."

"I smell Orions," Grissom responded. The Captain frowned at the interruption and resumed his briefing.

"Rather than following instructions and keeping it quiet, Envoy Plemmons told the Federation Ambassador and together they called me. The ambassador called the local government and asked them to send their special police unit to get the kid back."

"Sensible enough," Grissom replied. "Any civilized planet has a hostage rescue capability of some kind. What's in this for us?"

"Apparently, a hostage rescue job," the Captain replied. "The local police don't want to go in there and take a chance on getting the hostage killed. Seems that in some recent matter, one with no interplanetary implications, the Roon hostage rescue team blew it and some hostages were executed. All the police will do is negotiate, and the Envoy told them he would do that himself."

"Please let me know how the negotiations turn out," Grissom replied as the sinking feeling settled into the pit of his stomach.

"Not an option, apparently," the Captain sighed. "The kidnappers set a deadline, and the ambassador has asked us to do the rescue, tonight."

"The Roon government isn't going to like that," Grissom said. "I can see the local trivideo coverage of the 'Federation Invasion' of their sacred soil. The opposition party will have a field day."

"You only hope," the Captain responded. "No, the Roon government is more than willing for us to intervene. They actually want us to go in and rescue the kid. They just don't want to get blamed if the rescue goes wrong, or if no rescue is tried at all."

"As Hindenburg said, 'send the police to arrest them'. Come on, Captain, we're military. This is a police matter. Nobody on this ship is trained for a hostage rescue job. The Federation has police for this. They have their own patrol ships, and they are trained for jobs like this one. Hell, the local police flagship probably has a Prime Team on board just for things like this."

"Strangely enough," the Captain explained "the two Federation police ships in this sector have both been called away due to increased Orion pirate activity in the Delaram system. Convenient, isn't it?"

"OK, we all swore the oath to defend the Federation Charter," Grissom sighed. "I presume that you'll send Lieutenant Yahnke and his Marines? What support can my weapons department provide for them?"

"Actually, Commander, you will be leading the mission. You can pick your team, and you probably want Lieutenant Yahnke and one or two of his troops. Talk to him about who else you want to take, but keep the team small, no more than five or six in total. If things go wrong, I will want to get you out of there in a single transporter lift."

"Why me?" Grissom asked.

The Captain steepled his fingers. "Mister Grissom, this mission needs a senior officer who can think on his feet and improvise when things go wrong, who can deal with things I cannot anticipate in my orders. While Lieutenant Yahnke is quite capable, he'll expect, and we'll supply, direction for him. You're a command-qualified officer of the unrestricted line. Star Fleet doesn't hand out gold tunics for nothing. And of my command grade officers, you're in the best physical condition and you shot Expert with a phaser pistol two months ago." The Captain managed a faint smile. "No good deed goes unpunished, Commander."

The intercom chimed.

"Captain, sorry to intrude," came a voice over the comm, "but you asked to be told when Lieutenant Yahnke got to the bridge."

"Excellent," the Captain replied. "Send him in." The door whooshed open, and the burly Marine lieutenant stepped into the room and snapped to attention.

"First Lieutenant Yahnke reporting as ordered, sir!"

"Belay that, Lieutenant, and sit down." The Captain quickly briefed the Marine on the situation.

"Need intel," Yahnke frowned. "Where is the hostage? What kind of guards are holding him? How many?"

"Everything is in this file," the Captain explained, handing both officers datapads. "The younger Mr. Plemmons was seen leaving a nightclub with a young lady he had met recently. Police found out that the waitress had helped set up the kidnapping. She gave them a lead on a local businessman; police confirmed it. The young lady's car was found parked near one of his warehouses."

"And what a warehouse it is," Grissom whistled. "None of the locals noticed that it's sitting on an outcropping of trithallium ore?" That material would block transporters and most sensors, making any underground facilities impossible to probe from outside.

"Warehouse wasn't built until . . . hmm, two local years ago, three standard," Yahnke jotted down a note. "Roon doesn't have our advanced sensors, the ones that cannot probe through trithallium, not that theirs can either, so the locals don't realize the significance. The company paid through the nose for the property, and relocated the former tenants into new houses 20 kilometers away."

"I smell Orions," Grissom said. The others nodded.

"They've probably got him underground," Yahnke sent data to the other pads. "I've annotated the blueprints they filed with the planning office; probably been changes since the walls went up. Excavation permit says warehouse number eight is . . . here." He paused to think it through.

"Here's what we do. Transport to the basement of this warehouse, stun a few guards, crack the locks into that elevator, search the underground complex, deal with more guards, find the hostage, pick up any evidence, and get back up the elevator shaft to a point that transporters can pick us up . . . Sounds doable."

"Sounds sneaky," Grissom said. "I would have expected blazing phasers and the red glare of rockets."

"A main force rescue would be too noisy," Yahnke explained. "They'll kill the kid if they hear us coming. This takes stealth. We have to sneak in, not blast our way in."

"Then I want Daneric-Tren," Grissom said. "He's an engineering technician who spent two years working on a self-contained colony world. He can figure out their elevators and ventilation shafts. And I want Stulak."

"He's the junior science officer . . . and a botanist!" the Captain objected.

"He's Vulcan, which will make interrogations a lot faster if we need the passcodes for a locked door or have to find out anything else is a hurry."

"And Corporal Kilrathie," Yahnke said. "Nobody is better at silent take-downs, if we have to go that route. And I want Private Dellik out of the brig immediately."

"No chance!" the Captain snapped. "She's a thief, and I won't have her running loose on my ship. I'm holding her until we can investigate who accepted her enlistment. She can sweet talk any man out of his money while stealing his phaser at the same time."

"You said it, Captain," the Marine replied, "I rest my case. I'll need your authorization to get her out of the brig. If she helps us and gives a full statement, we ought to consider a general discharge and leave her on some planet. Call it an incentive."

"And, Captain," Grissom reminded, "she did put back everything she stole before we caught her. It's just a game to her. We can't have that on a starship, of course, but she's not a criminal, just a really good thief."

"Preposterous!" he spluttered. "Ok, but I'm holding you two personally responsible for her conduct."

"Deal," Yahnke responded. "I need some flashbangs."

"We don't have any on board," Grissom advised.

"Make them," Yahnke ordered, ". . .sir."

"Not time, they're too complex," the Captain advised.

Yahnke growled. "I'll need cargo bay three until planetfall with no interruptions. Commander, if you'll gather up the Navy half of our team, and ask engineering to send a crew of repair technicians to the cargo bay with damage control kits, I will get my people and see you there."

"What?" Grissom asked. "Why?"

"Simulations. The engineers will bash together a mock-up of the target, and we'll run rehearsals all the way to planetfall."

"That's six hours," Grissom objected. "Everybody picked for the mission is on the day shift. We need to feed them and bed them down."

"Nice theory," the Marine explained, "Don't have time. If we hit the ground after local dark, we'll be back in an hour, and that won't be too much past everybody's bed time. Buck up, Mister Grissom, you're going to get tired. Did you think that every mission was going to be scheduled for just after breakfast? You're in the Marines now."