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Guest Commander Klasee Gar

Star Trek: Time and Again "Z"

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Guest Commander Klasee Gar

This is the first book in a series I've written (and I'm still editing it and on the fifth draft) for a whole new Star Trek universe based in the 30th century and the heating-up of the Temporal Cold War.

I'd appreciate any and all critiques and suggestions because I want this to be the greatest Star Trek adventure of all time for the 50th anniversary of the premiere of TOS and your suggestions and opinions are important to me.

The following story is the first few chapters of Time and Again, the book is called "Z" and concerns the inaugural launch of the USS Spock, NTX-100, the first ship in the line of new temporal starships. There is a lot of new technology in the 30th century and the Spock is a huge, self-sustaining ship that can not only travel through time, but traverse intergalactic space to the known universe. It has a lot of new weapons and defense technologies and while it's written within the Star Trek universe and follows the exact canon of Star Trek science-fiction, it's a lot more different than most fans are used to. The USS Spock won't always be traveling in time, but will defend the Federation and Starfleet against a growing number of Temporal Factions as the cold war goes hot.

Here is the first few chapters.

 

STAR TREK: TIME AND AGAIN

 

“Z”

 

By Stephanie Donald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© All rights reserved—no portion of this book may be reprinted without express permission of the author. Star Trek™ is a trade mark of CBS/Paramount Pictures.

 

Prologue: 500 Years of Starfleet History—Condensed

 

Since the Battle of Bassen Rift involving the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E and Shinzon, Captain Picard’s clone, Romulus made peace with the Federation and eventually—in the latter half of 2402—became a member of the Federation.

 

Early in the 25th century, Geordi LaForge—after spending 18 years commanding the Galaxy-class USS Challenger NCC-71099—was promoted and assigned as the Admiral in charge of the Engineering and Computer division of the Daystrom Institute.

 

One of the first projects Admiral LaForge charged his division with developing was to recreate a positronic brain first designed and built by Dr. Noonian Soong with the androids Data, Lor, Juliana Tainer and B4. There was another prototype that never functioned that was also at the Daystrom Institute for study, but was mostly a museum exhibit to show a static example of the work of Dr. Soong.  For Admiral LaForge, It was a hands-on project.

 

LaForge and his team had the benefit of examining the Soong androids Lor, Lal, Juliana Tainer and B-4 to map their positronic pathways and develop an exact copy.

 

The going was slow because even in the inferior positronic brain of B-4; there were more than six trillion pathways in his neural net and one hundred trillion in Lor which matched Geordi’s records of Data. Lor had to be permanently deactivated because Dr. Soong built him with emotion sub-routines that became unstable and caused Lor to be an egomaniac and destructive, but that didn’t prevent LaForge from studying the neural net pathways and map them. Lor’s problem was with the software and not the hardware.

 

B-4’s inferior brain couldn’t be updated (although LaForge spent nearly 10 years trying to upgrade him with nothing but failure to show for it) and Lor’s neural nets could not be corrected without a DNA coded password Dr. Noonian Soong installed and it was too risky to reactive Lor so that an online pathway trace could be done. With Lor’s murderous and power-hungry record, Starfleet simply couldn’t take the risk of being able to contain him once he was activated.

 

After more than 10 years of research and development, LaForge and his team succeeded in making an exact duplicate of Data’s brain, however, any attempts to program the duplicate brain with new personality subroutines failed each and every time—much like Lal’s malfunction. Apparently, the subroutines had to match the development of the neural net naturally—like a child maturing into adulthood.

 

The brain they had built was an exact duplicate in every detail of Data’s. It seems that without the key to changing J and L processor encoding, the subroutines had to be duplicated or they simply wouldn’t work.

 

This was the problem that Data ran into when he made his daughter; Lal. As new neural pathways began to develop, her ad-hoc programming given to her by her father broke down until she finally ceased to function, but Data’s memories included Lal’s since he downloaded her mind into his own before her “death.”

 

Geordi was aided when, after 10 years of trying to recreate Soong’s work, Julianna Soong, an advanced android recreation of Soong’s ex-wife, passed away and her body was donated to the Daystrom Institute. This afforded LaForge the opportunity to actually examine in detail the most advanced Soong android ever made.

 

There were rumors that Dr. Noonian Soong, at the time he was dying, transferred his brain into an android reproduction of himself and was still alive, but if he was then he never surfaced again between the 24th century and the 30th centuries, or perhaps he was so similar to the Data reproductions that he simply blended in.

 

The truth was that LaForge purposely designed the new positronic brains to require the memories and personality of his dear friend Data that were stored in the Soong prototype android, B4, where it was downloaded just prior to Data’s. They served as the programming template for LaForge and his team’s reproductions. The rest was simply taught to the new brains the old fashioned way: They allowed them to experience life and mature on their own.

 

But B4 didn’t have a mind developed enough to process the complicated sub-routines and memories of Data, but that didn’t preclude his acting as a storage vessel for Data’s personality and knowledge.

 

Apparently, the secret to reproducing Soong’s work was to simply allow the brains to learn about their separate and distinct lives by living it. There simply is no substitute to learning the old fashioned way. In the case of making new androids, less is more. You program them with a minimum to be able to function and then teach them as you would any child. Even transferring Data’s memories don’t fill-in for plain, simple schooling. The brains are capable of processing book knowledge at an astonishing rate, but experience in positronic brains is the same way they truly learn, just like it has for humanoids for millions of years.

 

In 500 years the Daystrom Institute has been unable to produce a positronic brain without using the stored memories of Data. Each copy they tried to reprogram with specific character subroutines broke down just like Lal did. Doctor Soong was undeniably light years ahead of everyone else in the field of positronic technology.

 

Make no mistake; the copies of the Soong positronic brain had all the original memories of Data as a starting point, but each one developed individual characteristics over nearly five centuries of experience. Each mind encountered different things and as a result, each mind might sound like Data and the android copies (most) even looked like Data, but they were definitely not Data as someone from the 24th century would remember him. Each one was an independent personality using Data as a starting point.

 

One of Data’s quests in life was to find other positronic life forms like himself and now the universe is full of his progeny. Apparently Data’s wish; like those in fairy tales of old, could come true.

 

So, in 2524 the first successful Soong-type positronic brain was duplicated with the memories of Data and went online for the first time. LaForge’s first success was installed in an android body duplicate of Data.

 

He opened his eyes, looked around and then looked at LaForge and said, “Where am I and why do you look so much older, Geordi?” LaForge had a reaction that was a mixture of laughter and tears. It had been almost 50 years since Geordi had talked to his best friend.

 

That first android continued to work at the Daystrom Institute with LaForge until the Admiral’s retirement and was promoted to Admiral and replaced LaForge, however, in the interim 25 years since the first copy of Data was activated; Data Two (his full registered name) and LaForge manufactured more than 500 copies of the positronic brains, each with the duplicate programming and personality of the original Data.

 

As of the 30th century there are more than 100,000 Soong-LaForge positronic lives in the universe. Geordi also duplicated Data’s emotion chip so that each reproduction would be less distracted by Data’s pursuit of becoming more “human” like his father and mother.

 

By hooking up each individual brain to an interface, they asked each and every one of them whether they would like to be installed in an android body or installed in Starfleet vessels as the central core of the vessel, or as Starbase computer cores.

 

Many chose service as ship’s cores while others asked for an android body. For those minds who decided to stay in Starfleet service—including the ship’s cores—they were all awarded Data’s last rank of full Commander since they were manufactured with Data’s Starfleet Academy training and his experience over more than 30 years of Starfleet service.

 

Each copy was regarded, as Data was, to be a sentient lifeform and every one had the freedom to choose their paths and existences, so in a manner of speaking; Geordi LaForge and Data Two ran a birthing center for new lives.

 

When Starfleet vessels of that era went in for repairs or a refit, each was modified with a positronic core which had the ability to assume full control of the ship in the event of an emergency.

 

This was a novel and controversial concept. It took many years—even centuries—before humans and other species got over their prejudices and felt comfortable with the ship’s computer having its own set of command codes and actually serving as the Third Officer.

 

 Each positronic core served with distinction and honor worthy of the legacy Data left behind, so many open-minded Captains and Admirals adjusted to this concept more easily because of the original Data’s exemplary service record and the records the new minds had accrued.

 

As ships were decommissioned and new ones made; the positronic cores were transferred from one ship to another as new classes of ships were commissioned.

 

Each new assignment brought more experience and centuries of accrued knowledge in technology and knowledge from the voyages of each ship. When the brain was transferred it assumed the name of the ship it was installed in, so they sort of had flexible identities.

 

The brains showed no sign of limitations to learn, but in some deep space assignments to other galaxies it was necessary to add positronic storage capacity for new stellar surveys and information on millions of species.

 

By the beginning of the 26th century, temporal paradoxes began to crop up more and more frequently so an easier method of opening temporal rifts was developed. Much of the technology for time travel came from the experience that the USS Enterprise-E got from readings made by them as they travelled through a temporal rift to the 21st century while pursuing the Borg.

 

Several specially built ships were constructed just for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the timeline.

 

There were quite a few warp and temporal capable species that refused to sign the Federation Temporal Accords. They didn’t see anything wrong with modifying the timeline to improve circumstances for their own purposes. These outlaws became known as “Temporal Factions.”

 

Through the period of the early 26th century until the latter part of the 30th century the Temporal Factions continued to band together in opposition of Starfleet and the Federation.

 

The Temporal Factions believed that manipulating time for the betterment of their species is a proper method to gain power and advantage over their enemies and give their species a better a sociological present and future. Unfortunately, bettering their own timeline often involved changing everyone else’s for the worse.

 

If they determined that killing off one species would benefit their culture, they would do it without a second thought. This became a situation that endangered the millions of planets and species who belonged to the Federation and expected Starfleet to protect them.

 

The downside was that unforeseen situations, diseases, problems and temporal paradoxes that might wipe their own species out of existence can happen just as easily as benefitting their culture. Time is dangerous mistress to consort with.

 

The specialized temporal starships weren’t needed much of the time in the late 26th century, so they sat in berths at Utopia Planetia shipyards until they were needed. Should the need arise; they would be manned as needed, which meant that many Starfleet crews really didn’t know the full abilities of the ships they were using to travel through time. That resulted in many casualties as the Temporal Cold War was born.

 

Since the ships weren’t always manned or operating, the immense responsibility of maintaining this static fleet became too much for the Utopia Planetia Shipyards to handle and the Brown-class temporal ships were scrapped and used to build conventional starships.

 

As a matter of more practical logistics; Starfleet eventually made the determination that certain specially designated starships would be equipped with temporal abilities in case the need. These replaced the dedicated temporal ships for 250 years.

 

Just in case the need arose, however, two of the specialized temporal ships, USS William T. Ross NTX-01 and the USS Jonathan Archer NTX-02 were placed into an “active reserve” status and on display in the Starfleet Museum. The Ross was eventually decommissioned and dismantled to use the parts building new vessels at Utopia Planetia.

 

The problem they found with giving temporal abilities to regular starships was that someone might capture the ship and could learn from its technology. That actually happened several times from the latter 26th century until the 29th century and gave species that didn’t formerly have temporal technology acquire it from Starfleet and added to the amount of species that were members of the Temporal Factions.

 

It became like a baby finding their father’s phaser. They really didn’t understand the implications of tampering with time and as a result, by the 29th century, serious paradoxes and fractures in time were popping-up with ever-increasing frequency.

 

But by the middle of the 29th century, there became so many paradoxes in the timeline that two new commands were chartered by Starfleet: The Temporal Integrity Command (TIC) and the Temporal Operations Command (TOC) whose sole purpose was to determine priority paradoxes to be repaired.

 

Not by design, mind you, the acronyms for both commands are TIC and TOC which seemed appropriate to enforcement of the timeline.

 

However, through the centuries, it’s become a joke that has been used to death and Starfleet Command long ago lost its sense of humor about it. There was always the observance by more whimsical individuals that no one ever bothered change the name of the commands so there was no imbedded joke in them.

 

Since the inception of the sub-commands of TIC and TOC, many Starfleet officers believed that the Temporal Integrity Command was a shadow-puppet of Section 31; the subversive covert operations division of Starfleet that had its roots in the Starfleet Charter of 2115. Article 14, Section 31, which allowed bending, breaking, or ignoring of Starfleet regulations and Federation laws in times of imminent threat (exactly who gets to determine what constitutes “imminent threat” is still a mystery).

 

Section 31 is like the elephant in the room for Starfleet; everyone knows about it, but no one wants to talk about it.

 

As it turned out, after an extensive investigation in the early 29th century, spurred by an accident with a Cheyanne-class temporal starship, most believed the accident was the fault of Section 31. It was found that Section 31 had little to do with either TIC or TOC, but the Admirals in charge of those commands were very much aware that agents of Section 31 were placed on temporal operations starships as a normal operating procedure to observe and report on all temporal incursions back to whomever the mystery head of Section 31 was. Starfleet and the Federation had absolutely no control of Section 31, therefore, they answered to no one.

 

Exactly who authorized these rogues to pass as Starfleet officers was never determined It simply wasn’t discussed by anyone at Starfleet Command. Once again; that great elephant sat on the chests of Starfleet temporal Captains, but was ignored by everyone concerned as a necessary evil.

 

It was around this era that regular starships were upgraded from the tried and true anti-matter power conversion to that of a new type of power reactor that pulled an infinite amount of power directly from subspace.

 

The subspace power modules were invented by a Vulcan scientist named Skilek in 2778 who worked for the Daystrom Institute and was one of many scientists investigating the original holographic mobile emitter that the EMH of the USS Voyager brought back from the 29th century.

 

During its voyage back to the Alpha Quadrant, the USS Voyager encountered many strange and natural occurrences, such as an interfold layer between normal space and subspace. The sensor readings Voyager got from that experience made it possible to access these interfold eddies and tap into their immense power.

 

Again, Voyager’s time travel exposure was very high because of all the strange species and natural phenomena that occupy that dangerous region of space. The Emergency Medical Hologram managed to retain a piece of 29th century technology in the 20th century during one of the most bizarre adventures they encountered.

 

The portable holographic mobile emitter freed the EMH from the confines of sickbay and the holodecks, but no one could quite figure out how it worked—exactly. It had a seemingly unlimited power supply that turned out to be a tiny subspace power module.

 

This became the basis for the invention of larger subspace power modules by Doctor Skilek of the Vulcan Science Academy, who was reassigned to the Daystrom Institute to develop these power modules.

 

The presence of the 29th century technology in the 24th century was clearly predestination paradox—which the Temporal Enforcers hate to deal with. It’s like asking the question “Which came first; the chicken or the egg?”

 

When it was researched by Lt. B’lanna Torres, the 24th century Chief Engineer aboard the USS Voyager in the Delta Quadrant, she couldn’t even determine what powered the mobile emitter let alone quantify how long the power supply would last. It seemed to defy available analysis equipment of the day.

 

Torres never realized that she had begun the research which would later become the basis for all technologies in the 29th century—more than 300 years after her death.

 

  Going from a quantifiable and limited power source like anti-matter, which was an extremely hazardous material to store and use, to a virtually unlimited and safe power source meant many technological breakthroughs in the next few decades after the technology was perfected.

 

Many things changed in physics and technology based upon being able to draw unlimited subspace energy and tap it as needed. Temporal technology in particular benefitted and was made possible, safer, faster and effective way to form and enter a temporal rift.

 

Another breakthrough related to B’lanna Torres was also perfected as a result of subspace power modules: Quantum-slipstream drive, which brought about not only faster travel within the Milky Way, but intergalactic travel that took only weeks to arrive. When it was first tried by the USS Voyager, the 24th century Intrepid-class starship lacked sufficient power to maintain the slipstream for more than a few hours. It also tended to compromise the structural integrity of the vessel. New alloys had to be invented in order to make sure there was no stress damage to the ships equipped with quantum-slipstream drives.

 

Starfleet and the Federation were now pushing the limits of what they knew about existing galaxies that once could only be viewed by powerful telescopes and millions of years after light travelled from that galaxy to the Milky Way. It was now possible to explore those strange and mysterious galaxies billions of light years away from the Milky Way.

 

As history has always shown, when the need for something arises, someone will indeed invent the better mousetrap. Since normal subspace communications would take hundreds of years to travel from another galaxy back to the Milky Way, hyper-subspace compression communicating technology was developed that made not only conversations real-time between vessels in distant galaxies and Starfleet Command, but also allowed communications to be established from one temporal era to another. This new technology seemed to have no boundaries to make communication possible.

 

Some at the Daystrom Institute believed that such communications could be dangerous if the technology fell into the wrong hands. Should someone manage to tap into communications that came from the future, or the past, it would be possible to use that information to manipulate circumstances against Starfleet and the Federation.

 

But as the need was viable, an encryption technology was invented to go along with temporal hyper-subspace communication that prevented any communications from the future to be monitored—not even by Starfleet. However, this didn’t prevent others, who lacked the ability to physically time travel from communicating with the past.

 

By the middle of the 29th century, Starfleet had first-hand information on more than 30 galaxies and were expanding into others after establishing bases in friendly regions of space, including Starbases there and in the intergalactic voids.

 

By the 30th century there was a renaissance of exploration and the limits of our technologies were being tested on every mission.

 

In the mid-24th century, an accident occurred when the USS Enterprise-D travelled to the edge of the universe where thought and reality became blurred. A being from the remote planet of Tau Alpha-C, referred to in historical files simply as “The Traveler,” was responsible for the accident that sent the Enterprise-D to the very edge of existence itself. So far, Starfleet has been unable to reach the edge of the universe, but quantum-slipstream drive is steadily being improved as data collected from thousands of vessels is analyzed and perfected.

 

In comparison: When the USS Voyager traversed the Delta Quadrant alone they mapped and investigated only 1.7% of that quadrant in 7 years. By the end of the 29th century, there was no place within the Milky Way that hadn’t been mapped and explored fully.

 

Unfortunately, that didn’t necessarily mean that Starfleet knew about all of the species who lived within our galaxy, however. Some species might be advanced even beyond 30th century technologies and mask their existence from Starfleet and the Federation.

 

Many encounters happened with species mentioned in the missions of Captain James T. Kirk and even back to Captain Jonathan Archer and the original Enterprise.

 

Species such as the ones, who sent human agent Gary Seven to Earth in 1967, are still cloaked and hidden from Starfleet and other species’ exploration. Even after diligent searches to specifically find the species according to the energy signatures of the technology recorded when Gary Seven accidently materialized on the original Constitution-class, USS Enterprise, Starfleet was unable to locate this mysterious species.

 

Starfleet approached the Metrons in the early 30th century because of advances of humans and their allies both sociologically and technology wise. Captain Kirk encountered the Metrons briefly when the Constitution-class Enterprise and a Gorn ship battled over the destruction of an Earth colony at Cestus III. So far, the Metrons have refused to acknowledge any communications from Starfleet and the Federation, but they keep trying. The Metrons would make an outstanding addition to the Federation.

 

When Starfleet first braved intergalactic space in the 29th century, Andromeda was the first target, because in the 23rd century a special inter-generational ship was built with the assistance of the Kelvins to send the human-form Kelvins of Andromeda back in order to present the offer the Federation made for a settlement of Kelvins on a few adjacent solar systems on the outside edge of the Alpha Quadrant.

 

That ship was never heard from again, so the Federation and Starfleet decided to make Andromeda their first intergalactic target with the newly launched USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-P; the ancestor of Captain James T. Kirk’s original Enterprise that made first contact with the Kelvins in the 23rd century.

 

Captain Bajil, an Andorian Captain of 35 years’ experience and exceptional service, commanded that first intergalactic mission, but found no trace of the Kelvins by the time they located the Kelvin home world.

 

The planet had extensive ruins that had deteriorated over 300 years after they disappeared. After performing a comprehensive archeological survey of the Kelvin home world, they determined that the Federation ship carrying the human form Kelvins did arrive back at Kelvina III, their home world, after being intercepted in the inter-galactic void and transported by a newer Kelvin advanced technology similar to quantum-slipstream drive.

 

Computer records found in the ruins determined that once they got back home, the human form Kelvins convinced their ruling council that there was in fact an advantage to having a human form and the entire race transformed into humans, but the one thing the Kelvins had little experience with were human fallacies including personal avarice, greed and power. There was also a rebel group of Kelvins who refused to transform into humans. They began warring with themselves until all Kelvins everywhere were destroyed.

 

From Andromeda, Starfleet and the Federation began exploring galaxies in the known universe and recruiting new members to the Federation sometimes by the thousands of species every year.

 

The influx of new species to the Federation often caused the process of vetting those species to become lax and there were problems with spies and infiltration. With the advent of temporal sensors the Federation could peek into the future—another sore spot with contemporary Temporal Factions—to see how a particular species would behave after being admitted or see their immediate past to see how they acted throughout history. Timelines are never set, however, and there was still no sure ways to predict a species’ behavior once admitted to the Federation.

 

As a result, there was a period in the late 29th century where several fringe species began trying to take over the Federation. Starfleet sent a Wells-class temporal starship back to just before those renegade species were admitted to the Federation and stopped them from being assimilated.

 

This, too, caused a major rift with the Temporal Factions. It seemed that the Federation was more than willing to use time travel to help their own interests, but outlawed it for any other species. The Temporal Accords specifically stated that time travel was outlawed for everyone except Starfleet.

 

Some felt that if they could change specific events in their past then they would be on the high-ground instead of Earth. The avarice of the Temporal Factions caused quite a few species to withdraw from the Federation and align themselves with those few species who could also time travel out of fear that if they didn’t, one of the factions would wipe them from existence.

 

Other species that were rejected for Federation membership felt that they would easily be accepted for Federation membership if they could fix the problems of their past. It was a very old story with very new technologies to drive a wedge between those in power and those who wished to attain equal power. Federation historians drew a parallel with Earth’s “Cold War” period in the 20th century. Back then some had nuclear fission bombs and those who didn’t wanted to attain them to balance the power.

 

Balance was finally attained, but the casual possession of such powerful weapons was beyond resistance to use them so eventually, the war between the United States and ECON (the Eastern Coalition of Nations) seemed inevitable and once one nation used nuclear weapons, they all used them and not at the same targets. The leaders of all nation states on Earth felt that this war between the U.S. and ECON might be their only chance to wipe out their own enemies while the other two groups were trying to wipe each other out.

 

The present situation was no different. It seemed that while the Federation and Starfleet was definitely the most powerful in regards to time travel, those who sought power and to unseat the Federation or even destroy it, sprang-up from the beginning and have now had almost 150 years to explore strategies to defeat Starfleet once and for all.

 

This issue drove the opposition of some against the Temporal Accords, because many species believed Starfleet and the Federation were opposed to the betterment of other races and cultures other than those who have held power for eight centuries.

 

The Temporal Factions were not only opposed to the Federation’s Temporal Accords and opposed to Starfleet’s attempts to put things back they were originally, they also became embroiled with in-fighting amongst themselves and that distracted quite a few species from targeting the Federation and Starfleet directly. Some factions were stronger than others and this drove competition among them to change events of the past to place them on top of the power chain.

 

The reasons for these wars have been going on for centuries, but five years before, when the Wells-class temporal starships were decommissioned, the degree of temporal incursions seemed to have dropped off significantly because of this in-fighting, giving Starfleet time to correct the Wells-class deficiencies with a new design.

 

The Wells-class temporal starships were, at the time the USS Wells was first commissioned, technological marvels. Their problem was that they were heavy on defense technology and temporal technology, but lacked the ability to repel an enemy without help from another species.

 

There were now more than 16 million member planets in the Federation. A single meeting of the Federation council or ambassadors was conducted through the use of holography from the individual offices of the ambassadors as they spoke to the ruling council. The sheer size of the Federation, coupled with the feeling of disconnection caused by a ruling council that was forced to prioritize its resources.

 

Not all of the minor species liked being virtually ignored on their own issues. Humanoids and many other species always want action on situations immediately and it just wasn’t possible for Federation negotiators and Starfleet to be everywhere at one time. As a result, a few species were allowed to go extinct because their issue, while important, ranked very low on the list of Federation priorities.

 

The sheer number of species that were members of the Federation caused a more elitist council that rode shotgun over the interests of millions throughout the universe. When power centralizes like that then conflicts are more likely and that time was rapidly coming when an intergalactic civil war became increasingly likely and that scared the bejesus out of the Federation Council and Starfleet Command.

 

A new Federation Headquarters was built on the site of the old United Nations complex in New York City. It seemed like an appropriate place for it considering the centuries of work the U.N. did to help unite the people of Earth—particularly following the Third World War. The new facility looked almost identical to the original United Nations building but in a much larger scale 400 stories tall and support buildings scattered all over the world, even spilling over to worlds like Vulcan, Betazed and Andoria.

 

The Federation had become a huge, top-heavy beast, which was in danger of toppling without temporal influence. When you threw time travel into the mix, the results might be disastrous for the old and venerable Federation.

 

The Federation was teetering on the brink of destruction itself because more and more species were realigning themselves with other Temporal Factions and plotting against Starfleet to remove the threat against them.

 

The number of temporal paradoxes being detected had multiplied by a factor of 100,000% over the past two years and there were no functional temporal enforcement ships.

 

There was another terrifying factor to the temporal paradoxes; they were becoming more focused against the Federation and the intelligence on the factions showed that the infighting had virtually disappeared. There were rumors of a single species that had temporal technology far superior to any seen before and that they were uniting all the Temporal Factions into their own intergalactic empire bent on the destruction of the Federation.

 

The President of the Federation and the Starfleet Command-in-Chief both agreed that they must develop a technologically advanced temporal enforcement starship with far more defense and offense technologies than was ever seen in the known universe.

 

The USS Spock, registry number NTX-100, is the first ship of his class and was designed specifically as a Temporal Operations Command vessel—the first in five years—since the Wells class temporal starships were retired from service. The USS Relativity, under command of Captain Theodore Braxton, was a member of the Wells-class.

 

The Spock was named in honor of the Starfleet Captain, Vulcan Ambassador, and man responsible for peace with the Klingon Empire and the reunification of Vulcan, Romulus and Remus. Spock served with Captain James T. Kirk on the 23rd century Constitution-class USS Enterprise and his life and achievements as a half-human, half-Vulcan who spent his life balancing the impetuous nature of his human side against the logical and unemotional Vulcan side, were forever entwined in the legend that Kirk left behind when he died—although there’s some mystery involving exactly when and where he died.

 

Some say Kirk died helping to save hundreds of El-Aurians aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701-B, who were being given asylum in the Federation because their home world and system had been conquered by the Borg. The ships carrying the El-Aurian refugees were caught in a temporal energy ribbon called “The Nexus.” Apparently, the energy ribbon, if one could safely survive entering it, gave a person an environment where a person could have whatever their imagination could picture and once a person had arrived in the ribbon, a tangible and real remnant remained in the ribbon forever.

 

Captain Jean-Luc Picard claims Kirk died on Veridian III battling an El-Aurian renegade, Dr. Soren, who sought to get back to the Nexus. He was willing to destroy the Veridian star and wipe out a civilization on Veridian IV of 10 million humanoids in a preindustrial society. Picard and Kirk chose to leave the Nexus and stop Soren. Kirk was killed when the bridge he was on collapsed and fell almost 80 meters into a rocky ravine, but after Picard buried his body under rocks on Veridian IV, a mysterious starship swooped-in and transported Kirk’s body and then left under high warp. The transport occurred when Picard, his senior staff and Ambassador Spock were conducting a memorial service at Kirk’s grave.

 

Ambassador Spock, however, had two fates known to the Temporal Operations Command. One was that he lived to be 234 years-old and died of natural causes on Vulcan, and the other was that he accidently travelled back in time after trying to keep the Hobus system’s sun from exploding in the strongest supernova ever to be recorded. Spock was unsuccessful in keeping Romulus safe and accidently created a black hole that transported him back to when he was young and in his first decade of service with Starfleet. The young Spock was unaware of his older counterpart at first, but circumstances made it expedient that the older Spock stay in the past and help to rebuild the Vulcan race after Nemo, a Romulan mining Captain, used his proton mineral drill to explode Vulcan from inside the planetary core.

 

The instant Nemo’s ship appeared in the 23rd century, the timeline skewed to a whole new set of circumstances. James T. Kirk’s father, who in the original timeline was a farmer in Iowa, was suddenly changed into a Starfleet officer who found his ship right in front of the 150 year advanced technology ship that Nero was in. Kirk’s ship was destroyed with him remaining aboard while his wife gave birth to a Starfleet legend in a shuttlecraft that was leaving the crippled Starfleet vessel.

 

Nero waited 25 years for Ambassador Spock’s ship to arrive in the past and then forced Spock to watch the destruction of Vulcan from a neighboring moon and then eventually reunited with the Vulcan survivors to help them rebuild the Vulcan race on another world after a young Ensign Kirk took command of the new Constitution-class USS Enterprise and defeated Nero.

 

That timeline has been scheduled to be corrected by the Temporal Operations Command in one of the first ten missions for the USS Spock—but not this first mission. That mission would be better served by more than one temporal ship and the second ship of that line, the USS Jean-Luc Picard, isn’t scheduled to be completed for another year after the Spock is christened.

 

The USS Spock is the most advanced starship ever built. It can not only traverse time as easily as a regular starship can travel at warp speeds, but it has enough armament and shielding to take on a fleet of most average ships.

 

For that reason; time travel is not necessarily the only type of mission the Spock may be called upon to perform. The USS Spock has the most advanced weapons, cloaking and other defense technology ever designed in the history of Starfleet and was designed by Commander Lorenz Wendt, a man who’s family history has been involved with the exploration of space since the United States and NASA launched the first Mercury sub-orbital mission with Astronaut Alan Shepard in 1961.

 

The Spock received the old positronic brain from the recently retired USS Enterprise NCC-1701-T, which the new Captain of the Spock, Joaquin Sorrillo Murrieta, served aboard as First Officer

 

The ship was built for battle in a war that has not yet happened but looms on the horizon. While Starfleet has always lived on the edge with new conflicts rising up every generation, this rising conflict might well signal the end of not only the Federation, but the end of the universe as we know it.

 

When you’re dealing with temporal sabotage, the outcomes might be the destruction of every sub-atomic particle in the universe.

 

The Temporal Cold War is heating up and Starfleet has become the target of someone who has uniting the former feudal factions into a singularly powerful fighting force bent on destroying the Federation. New treaties are being pursued by a powerful, and as yet unseen enemy.

 

Commander Lorenz Wendt—the Chief Engineer and designer of the USS Spock—a 26 year Starfleet veteran, and Lt. Commander Klasee Gar; a joined Trill with 25 years’ Starfleet service as a Chief Science Officer, designed the USS Spock to not only be a temporal starship but with each and every system and subsystem powered by individual small or large subspace power modules; down to the replicators in each quarters, cafeteria and tools used by engineering to repair and maintain the ship.

 

The project of the Spock-class vessels was held at the highest-most level of security. The ships were designed to be practically impregnable and invincible and the hope was that they were the answer to meeting the challenges of the Temporal Cold War, which was now more than 300 years-old.

 

If one power module fails there are secondary modules and back-ups for the secondary modules and back-ups for the back-ups. If all those modules were offline or destroyed the ship or any minor system could still draw power directly from the large subspace modules that power the engines and life support and still never run low on power because their capacity to draw energy out of subspace is theoretically infinite—no matter what size the modules are. Some are no bigger than the head of a pin.

 

The Spock is a massive ship that has 16 quantum-phasic torpedo tubes, 28 quantum phaser banks and regenerative ablative armor that was similar to what the USS Voyager equipped with on its final effort to reach home, but much more advanced, in addition to the strongest defense force fields ever designed.

 

It also is equipped with a phasic cloak that not only gives them the “duck blind” ability when operating on temporal missions, but also gives them total matter transparency. If another ship tried to ram the Spock while they were cloaked—in theory—the attacking ship would simply pass through the space occupied by the Spock without contacting a single molecule of the ship.

 

The fact that the ship is large gives it the built-in facilities to be almost 100% self-sufficient when removed from the 30th century.

 

With 82 decks and sub-decks there are departments for every conceivable thing the ship or crew could use or need. The Spock can be compared in size to the 24th century USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-D but infinitely more powerful and self-sustainable.

 

In comparison, the Wells-class ships were smaller than the 24th century Intrepid-class vessels and should they have become stranded in another era from damage, they had virtually no onboard facilities to manufacture new components to repair it.

 

The Spock has everything onboard to accommodate making anything on their ship, in addition to repairing any ship in Starfleet history that became stranded in the wrong era.

 

The outside skin of the ship is a new alloy invented by Commander Wendt called quadtranium-osmium-carbonite and is not only the strongest alloy in the known universe, it can take an unshielded hit from just about every weapon ever known without causing a hull-breach and it’s also transparent to all known sensors, radar, LIDAR or other forms of similar detection technologies.

 

In addition to the entire ship travelling in time, during the 29th century, temporal transporters were invented to send matter from one time to another independently of the ship.

 

The problem with this is a side-effect called “temporal psychosis,” which occurs when a person uses the temporal transporters more than four times in their lifetime.

 

The original temporal transporters were clunky and only had one transporter pad. They were a separate transporter system from the main one and could only transport someone through time and space and not be used for transport in the present.

 

The transporters for the USS Spock are combined with the normal transporter systems and can do either thanks to Command Gar’s work on the ship, but temporal psychosis is still a problem

 

Temporal Psychosis is defined as a lack of ability to determine which time   someone actually is in when in their present, past, or future travels. It results in temporal aphasia and symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia along with a manifested egomania.

 

Captain Braxton, the first Captain of the USS Relativity (a Wells-class vessel) suffered from this disease and it still exists in the 30th century and there is still no cure for it, however, Starfleet Medical, commanded by Admiral Joseph Zimmerman (the former EMH of the 24th century USS Voyager), has been working on a cure since the 27th century. So far; in two centuries of research, no cure yet exists.

 

Lt. Commander Gar also co-designed many new technologies just for the Spock-class vessels. Among the new wonders is the holo-avatar system which allows someone from the crew to control a hologram of either themselves or any figure in history that they need to change a decision that the person they’re impersonated has made that will change the original timeline.

 

As an example; say Captain so-in-so in the past finds himself/herself unknowingly participating in causing a temporal paradox that was instigated by a Temporal Faction.

 

The Spock can covertly target, stun and erase that Captain’s memory of ever being removed from the circumstance and then an assigned crewman can control an exact holographic replica of that person to avoid the paradox. The ship’s doctor can then implant the new memory of the actions that were taken to correct the situation and remember it as being their own actions. They can then be returned after the danger is over and not suspect anything.

 

The avatars can also be used to place individuals from the ship, security, or strike teams into dangerous situations with no possibility of being harmed. The holographic representations of the personnel can act and perform with real weapons in the same way they could if they were actually there on the scene. The locations of the avatars is represented in the Holo-Avatar lab so they see exactly what the avatar sees and the avatar reacts exactly to the motions and actions of the person controlling it.

 

Much confusion had preceded the new Starfleet Commander in Chief of 2975 regarding the Temporal Prime Directive. The Temporal Prime Directive was something that was continually being reinterpreted as time travel became more commonplace.

 

As a result the present day Commander in Chief, Fleet Admiral Willard Teague, redrafted the Temporal Prime Directive and is set forth as follows:

 

Under no circumstances are the Captain and crew to interfere with the normal course of history—only incursions by someone with intent to change the past may be corrected.

 

Leaving past persons with a complete knowledge of future events in their own lifetime is strictly forbidden unless authorized by Starfleet Command.

 

It is preferred that crew from the future have no contact with individuals within the era they’ve entered, but at the discretion of the Captain, if contact is deemed necessary then it should be minimized.

 

In instances where interaction is deemed necessary by Starfleet Command; people in the past will not be told about future events.

 

When it becomes necessary to interact with and tell future events to past targets then it is recommended that their memory of the encounter be erased prior to sending them back to their time and environment. Only Starfleet Command may make the determination regarding them keeping their memories.

 

Assigned missions to the past should always seek to gather sensor readings within that time frame to transmit back to the Temporal Integrity Command for possible intelligence gathering.

 

It is not recommended that the commander of a temporal mission take their ship or crew into the future. Should it be deemed necessary to do so then sensor information gathered must be erased and the crew sworn to uphold the environment of security and never speak to anyone—even each other—about what they saw, heard, or learned while they were there.

 

It is the primary mission of each temporal incursion to find out whom or what had changed the normal flow of history.

 

Every mission should therefore be ordered to investigate and attempt to neutralize the threat and all other considerations shall be suspended for the duration of the mission.

 

The ship and crew shall therefore be considered expendable.

 

The temporal vessel that goes to the past must be kept cloaked or hidden by obvious places to hide at all times to maintain a “duck-blind” status to minimize the impact on the timeline.

 

 

 

“The USS Spock NCV-100; Time is the true final frontier. Space, for all its vastness, is quantifiable and even predictable. Time is the devil in the dark—the stranger lurking around the next corner or following behind you. Make time a friend but never trust it because you must always shake hands with the devil if you wish to dance in the pale moonlight.—Captain Jean-Luc Picard, 2397 during a commencement ceremony at Starfleet Academy”—The USS Spock’s registry plaque on the bridge.   

 

  The journey continues…

 

Chapter One: New Captain—New Ship

 

Captain Joaquin Murrieta had been promoted to Captain after his 16 month assignment to retire and restore the city sized galactic exploration vessel, USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-T, a Titan Class intergalactic vessel, for the Starfleet Museum where he had served for eight years as Executive Officer under then Captain John James Royce; one of the most decorated Starfleet officers of the 30th century.

 

Murrieta was a normally modest, handsome man who stood just less than two meters tall, was quite muscular and athletic and had a reputation as a ladies man. He was of medium complexion and his deep-brown eyes could give a potential enemy cause to fear him.

 

In fact, Murrieta had once fought a Klingon because of a misunderstanding concerning his daughter. He won the personal battle-to-the-death with the Klingon. When Murrieta spared him, he inflicted the worse punishment a Klingon can receive; he left him alive and in shame.

 

The man’s name was Ja’tral and he was the head of the House of Duras and was seated in the Klingon High Council. He lost his seat on the Council and was stripped of his title and land. Since he had no other children other than his daughter, he was forced to beg for his family’s existence with other families.

 

Murrieta was a Mexican descendent of the famous Joaquin Murrieta, the famous Bandit of California who was most likely the inspiration for the story of Don Diego de la Vega, better known as Zorro. The Captain was named by his mother and father after the famous El Bandito de California, much to his maternal grandfather’s delight. Murrieta and his grandfather were very close until his death five years ago. Murrieta always kept a picture of him—and a painting done by his mother—in his quarters since he joined Starfleet 28 years-ago.

 

He was once married, but it didn’t last because it turned into a subspace relationship from the Andromeda galaxy to the Milky Way. He and his ex-wife, Lorena is still friends, though and holds no bad feelings about their relationship.

 

When they were together it was magic, but the problem got to be that they were never together except when he was on leave and managed to catch a ride back to Earth.

 

Royce and Murrieta were personally responsible for recruiting more than 2,000,000 new members to the Federation from four different galaxies in the Pegasus cluster after first exploring the Andromeda galaxy as her namesake, the Enterprise-P, had done three centuries before.

 

The size of the Enterprise-T would be almost unfathomable to previous century’s denizens—with a crew of 50,000 and a total compliment of just over 100,000 people including the families of the crew members. A shuttlecraft from Enterprise was just about the same size as the 24th century vessel USS Voyager and held up to 250 people in an emergency.

 

Each shuttle had quantum-slipstream drive so they could return to the Milky Way in the event that the Enterprise was disabled or destroyed. Those shuttles (42 in all) were also assigned to Federation negotiators and planetary survey teams so the Enterprise could continue their explorations uninterrupted while negotiations with other species took place or new discoveries required more detailed research. The shuttles had the capability to catch up with the Enterprise later after they had completed their individual missions.

 

By the time the Enterprise was ordered to be retired to the Starfleet Museum the amount of data on new solar systems, species and planets would keep a team of 100,000 analysts busy for more than a century to catalog.

 

Every ship named Enterprise was committed to display in the Starfleet Museum if it wasn’t destroyed prior to decommissioning. In all, there were 20 ships named Enterprise on display since the NX-01 and Captain Kirk’s Enterprise-A. The original Constitution-class Enterprise was lost when Captain Kirk activated the self-destruct to destroy a Klingon boarding party at the Genesis planet.

 

About 25 years before the Spock was built, a new class of ship bearing the name USS James T. Kirk was built and was also committed to the Starfleet Museum due to an illustrious career during the Turongan War in the Beta Quadrant of our galaxy.

 

Captain Murrieta served aboard the Kirk with Commander Wendt, Lt. Commander Gar and his Ship’s Counselor; Lt. Commander Tram Gosse, a Betazoid telepath.

 

Commander Gosse was personally requested to be assigned to the Spock by Captain Murrieta even though Starfleet classified her as a risk for starship service.

 

She had selflessly counseled hundreds of people during the Turongan War and by connecting telepathically with every person that was affected by trauma from the war, so because of melding their experiences into her own she had her own version of a telepathic nervous breakdown and had to be given two years medical leave to get herself back together.

 

After a counselor falls apart like that no Captain wants them for his ship because they feel it could happen again at any time—especially when the pressure mounts—and leave them with more troubles than if they had no counselor at all.

 

Murrieta owed it to Gosse because she helped him through a difficult time during the Turongan War and his memories vastly contributed to her own breakdown because of the extreme traumas he personally had from being captured and tortured by the Turongans.  

 

It was a just a few months ago that Murrieta was informed that he would command the first in a new line of temporal starships. His former Captain, Royce had been promoted to the admiralty and given command of the Temporal Operations Command. Royce had promised Murrieta that his first order of business in his new position at Starfleet Command would be to get his former First Officer his own command. Murrieta didn’t expect to be assigned to the newest class of temporal starship. Such an assignment was very prestigious and is the envy of every other Captain in Starfleet due the importance of the mission the USS Spock, NTX-100 has.

 

You see, the Temporal Cold War is becoming heated and at no time in the past has the need for temporal monitoring and repairing been this important. The Temporal Factions are somehow being united into a single organization and all of them are bent on the destruction of Starfleet, the Federation and in particular; Earth.

 

No species has presented more of peaceful and uniting capability than humans have. Now humans are uniting the universe into one mighty Federation that has the talent, the technology and Starfleet to enforce the peace and temporal unity under the Temporal Accords.      

 

Federation planets and facilities along with all Starfleet vessels were equipped with temporal shielding originally designed by Commander Anika Hansen in the early 25th century. These shields protect the integrity of the timeline for Starfleet and the Federation, but this has taken the Federation to living within a “bubble” when the rest of the universe that isn’t protected by temporal shields has experienced a very different view of humans and Starfleet. It’s like two separate timelines existing in one single reality.

 

 There was a five year pause between the retirement of the last Wells-class vessel and the completion of the USS Spock. The launch of this new class of temporal starship comes at a time when temporal paradoxes are worsening over the past year and something had to be done. The Spock-class temporal starship was originally supposed to be completed in nine months, but Starfleet accelerated the timetable so that important issues could be resolved as soon as possible and they chose Murrieta to be the tip of the arrow.

 

In addition to the promotion of Admiral Royce, another unknown factor was added to the mix when Starfleet Command promoted Commander Jessup P. Lynch to the Admiralty and the highest authority of the Temporal Integrity Command, from his post as Starbase Commander for the Caterigadon Sector Starbase 12 in the Andromeda galaxy. Starbase 12 was a god forsaken outpost with minimal traffic and few assigned starships. In other words; Lynch served as a do-nothing commander of a do-nothing Starbase.

 

Lynch was the son of the Starfleet Deputy Commander in Chief; Fleet Admiral Harold J. Lynch the highly decorated Captain of the USS Bellerophon during the Turongan War, was given command of the newly reorganized Temporal Integrity Command (TIC).

 

Neither Lynch nor Royce was superior to the other. They both had individual commands that worked in tandem and were equal—Lynch in gathering intelligence and evaluating temporal paradoxes and Royce in carrying out the temporal missions, while both reported to the Deputy and Commander in Chief of Starfleet Command.

 

Apparently, nepotism is the only reason Lynch got the promotion and job. It was hardly a reasonable decision to place a member of Starfleet who had—at best—an average career when far more people deserved his post.

 

Jessup Lynch also has problems dealing with his father who, despite the other recommendations made to him by the Command in Chief of Starfleet, appointed his own son. The gossip at the water coolers about him at Starfleet Command is known very well by Jess Lynch and he feels he’s living in his great father’s shadow. That is never a good situation for someone holding such an important position.

 

Prior to Lynch’s appointment, the previous Admiral in charge of the Temporal Integrity Command had determined that a build-up of new paradoxes in Earth’s and the Federation’s timeline represents an indication that the Temporal Factions are being united under one banner. The question was: Under who’s banner are they uniting?

 

In the past they didn’t have to worry that much because the factions mostly fought among themselves, but lately there was more activity and it the temporal paradoxes seem to well-coordinated toward a single goal: The erasure of Earth from the timeline . Just who and why these paradoxes are appearing is still a mystery—but one Royce and Murrieta are determined to unravel.

 

Murrieta just received orders to report to a pre-launch briefing at Starfleet Command on stardate 652173.962 and since he concluded his duties in restoring the Enterprise, he headed from Jupiter Station via transporter to Utopia Planetia Shipyards to inspect the Spock and assure its readiness to launch following the briefing.

 

He also wanted to have an opportunity to unpack his belongings and set up the artwork of his mother and sister, who were renowned artists. His mother was an inter-galactically well-known painter and his sister a very famous sculptress. He needed to not only arrange his quarters but decorate his ready room as well. The crew should see what kind of person their Captain is by the motif and organization of his ready room.

 

Among the displayed items was a sword that was carried by his ancestor and namesake during the 19th century. The 19th century personage of Joaquin Murrieta was believed to have been the inspiration for early 20th century pulp writer, Johnston McCulley’s character Don Diego de la Vega—or better known as Zorro.

 

Murrieta had already decided that a collection of Zorro books he had would adorn his ready room and he would also hang his family crest on the wall directly behind his desk. Murrieta’s regard for displaying these things represents his family’s feelings of conducting oneself with honor and justice as every Murrieta had since the 19th century. It also represents his strong belief that family is the most important thing in a person’s life and that now the crew represented his family by honor instead of blood. He sincerely hoped that their blood would not have to be shed in order to preserve the Federation, which he loved and served for the majority of his life.

 

Murrieta took a worker “Bee” space pod from Dry-dock Control to rendezvous and inspect his ship, which he had spent months studying the design and systems. He could have used the transporters at Orbital Control but preferred to view the outside of the ship close-up via one of the starship repair and refit modules used by workers called simply a “Bee” (as in Worker Bee) that conjures up images of a swarm of insects. That vision was reinforced because there were certainly many of them zooming around in the shipyard at the time Murrieta decided to take his grand tour.

 

More than 600 vessels were berthed at Utopia Planetia Shipyards at that moment. They were being constructed, repaired or refitted. The Spock would launch tomorrow and open the berth, but the adjacent berth was constructing the Spock’s sister-ship, the USS Jean-Luc Picard, NTX-101. Several more Spock-class vessels were either on the waiting list to be constructed or were under construction already. The Spock-class ships were Starfleet Command’s highest priority and therefore the highest priority of Utopia Planetia Shipyards.

 

As Murrieta dodged and weaved through the various ship-berths, his Personal Function Chip (or PFC for short) imbedded in his cerebral cortex guided the path of his pod between Orbital Control and the USS Spock.

 

He used his PFC to activate the PADD he was holding in his left hand while piloting the Bee with the neural interface provided by with help from the onboard computer. The human brain is the finest computer ever designed so multitasking with the PFC is very easy. If he wanted; he could dictate log entries without speaking and the PADD would record every thought in his own voice.

 

“Captain’s Personal Log; Stardate 652173.962: I just came from the Starfleet orbital museum at Jupiter Station where I oversaw the decommissioning and restoration of my former posting, the USS Enterprise. The project took nearly 18 months to complete and utilized 10,000 workers and engineers to restore her but the Enterprise’s legacy should be preserved and I was proud to serve in a supervisory status of the restoration. I’m on my way to Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco via my new command, the USS Spock, for our first mission briefing at 0700 tomorrow. I could have gone directly to Earth from the Enterprise-T, but I wanted to devote this day to making sure that my first command launches on time and settling into my new quarters and ready room.

 

My whole view of the universe has to change because while I know Admiral Royce very well,  I have never met Admiral Jessup P. Lynch. I hope to establish a good relationship with him and all the Starfleet brass. I’ve spent a good deal of time studying the technical specifications for the USS Spock—which is the first of its line—and it possesses new technologies that make it the most advanced starship ever built. For now, I look forward to meeting the crew and getting down to work.”

 

Murrieta mentally commanded the PADD to end the log as he soared over one of the Andromeda-class city-sized starships, the USS Essex. The Enterprise-T was a member of that class of ship before it was retired.

 

As the pod pulled up and over the immense ship he caught sight of his new command, which is no small sized ship either.

 

He slowed the pod as he approached the front of the ship where the bridge, Captain’s Ready Room and Briefing Room are located.

 

Most Starfleet vessels have located the bridges at the top-center of the main hull. The Spock incorporates a new design where the bridge is located on the bottom of the forward hull at the bow.

 

That design makes it harder for a potential enemy to locate the bridge and knock-out the command center of the ship. To an uninformed observer; the bridge looks like just another viewport on the bow of the ship and unless they have detailed plans of the ship, they have no idea where the bridge is located. The centuries have now included the wisdom of not giving the enemy a clear idea as to how to take out the entire senior staff in one shot. That was a lesson hard-won during the Turongan War when they immediately targeted the main bridge of Starfleet vessels.

 

Murrieta instructed the pod to sweep down the starboard side of the vessel with the pod viewing window turned toward the Spock so he can appreciate the design of the ship and inspect it for potential problems. Essentially, the Bee pod was tacking sideways to the observer, but the reaction thrusters have no problem accomplishing the task.

 

Since the first Wells-class vessels were built, temporal starships have been equipped with a phasic cloaking technology so they can maintain a “duck-blind” mode when operating in another time to avoid detection and temporal paradoxes.

 

The ship not only visually cloaks but when the cloak is engaged it is phased slightly out of time with the normal universe which causes unphased matter to pass right through the ship in case they wished to operate close to ships or ships that are their temporal target without detection.

 

The technology was originally developed in the 24th century but the Federation was unable to use it because of the Treaty of Algeron of 2311, which prohibited Starfleet from developing or using cloaking technology, although renegade Starfleet Captain Erik Pressman of the USS Pegasus, under direction from Section 31, developed the phasic cloaking technology, but when the crew found out about the illegal experiments, they mutinied against Pressman.

 

The ship and cloaking device were lost for 12 years and rediscovered by the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who was forced to use the device to escape the same fate as the Pegasus—trapped inside an asteroid—after the Romulans sealed the ship inside in an attempt to gain control of not only the device but of the other technology aboard the USS Enterprise.

 

By that time Pressman was an Admiral, but he was court martialed following the testimony of Captain Picard and Pressman’s former crew member, Commander William T. Riker, then the First Officer of the Enterprise. That didn’t mean that Starfleet didn’t embrace the technology for a point in the future when they might need it.

 

When the Romulans were inducted into the Federation that invalidated the Treaty of Algeron, so the technology was then perfected quietly and eventually used in the temporal ships between 2641-2975. The Spock was equipped with one that was upgraded by the work of Commander Gar. Now it was considered foolproof.

 

As Murrieta inspected the ship he was remembering the history of the Federation and Starfleet that made the Spock possible. His concentration on the ship’s exterior was interrupted by his new Chief Engineer and the designer of the Spock-class vessels, Commander Lorenz Wendt.

 

“Wendt to Captain Murrieta,” Murrieta’s PFC communicator chimed.

 

“Go ahead Commander,” Murrieta responded.

 

Wendt was born on Earth in a small Bavarian village called Oberammergau and had a rich and robust German accent. Wendt was the direct descendent of a longline of space pioneers who contributed to exploration beginning with the first sub-orbital Mercury Program flight of Alan Shepard.

 

Gunter Wendt, Lorenz’s ancestor, was the “Pad Leader” (or “Pad Führer” depending on whether the astronauts were joking around or not) from Project Mercury through the Apollo Moon Missions and well into the shuttle program before he retired.

 

Other ancestors of Guenter participated as engineers, scientists, ship designers, Starfleet Captains and officers through the past 900 years. One might say that space exploration is in the veins of the Wendt family like sea water was in the veins of ancient sailors. No family was more qualified to explore space and time than the Wendt’s.

 

“The transporters are now online. Do you wish to transport aboard or dock the Bee in the starboard cargo bay, sir?”

 

Murrieta paused for a moment to consider his reply, “I’ll instruct the Bee to auto-dock back at Orbital Control and you can beam me aboard, Commander.”

 

“Very well, sir. Please give us a few minutes and we will contact you for transport; Wendt out.”

 

Murrieta smiled knowing full well that the senior staff planned an official change of command ceremony. It was a Starfleet and Naval tradition spanning more than 1,200 years. These affairs usually lasted only a few minutes but gave the crew the opportunity to get to know their new Captain and begin to form opinions about his style of command. Murrieta didn’t plan to disappoint them.

 

Murrieta hovered in the Bee above the point where the forward hull and ventral body joined. He was actually startled to see just how tremendous the size of the ship was and what a different configuration of the ship was from previous Starfleet vessels that made it appear more formidable just through its appearance. The Wells-class ships were only the size of one of the shuttles he had used on the Enterprise-T. This ship had a compliment of more than 1,500 personnel and was totally self-sustaining in any time period it went to.

 

The central-ventral hull, toward the rear of the ship, had a drastic delta wing configuration with the warp and quantum-slipstream nacelle boxes located just short of the tip of the wings. The warp and quantum-slipstream nacelles was of a variable geometry principle where the nacelles and wingtips raised up or down, depending upon using the warp or quantum-slipstream speed drive, the nacelle boxes could split into two separate segments like an X or L or even an upside-down L configuration on the end of the wings. When at impulse or stationary, as the ship was now in the space berth, the wings spread horizontally from the central hull mass. The engine design was completely Commander Wendt’s concepts and had proven more efficient in simulations. Now they would get the chance to try them out in real-time.

 

Murrieta’s PFC communicator Beeped and Wendt was back. “Wendt to Captain Murrieta; we’re ready to beam you aboard, sir.”

 

Murrieta engaged the auto-docking sequence for the pod’s return to Orbital Control. “Go ahead, Commander Wendt. Auto-pilot is engaged for pod return.” The pod began to respond to the central computer at Orbital Control and turned back along the same route Murrieta had brought it through the shipyards.

 

Murrieta felt the faint tickle of the transporter beam before his consciousness winked into sudden blackness and he became aware that he was being put back together on the transporter pad.

 

A Boson’s whistle sounded as soon as the materialization process was completed. He saw the entire senior staff standing in transporter room #1—along with two members of security and the Transporter Chief.

 

“Captain on-board,” Commander R’wikia Kerlfan, Murrieta’s First Officer, said in a booming voice. Everyone present snapped to attention at Kerlfan’s command.

 

Kerlfan was one of the first new species contacted by Starfleet upon exploring the Andromeda galaxy several centuries ago. His species is called the Que’losians.

 

Their race was unprecedented in Starfleet records. Sporting a dark complexion and an enormous skull—along with a stature close to 2.5 meters—the Que’losians had the strongest telepathic abilities ever measured.

 

Not only could they read the thoughts of other species; they could connect to other Que’losians within the spatial circumference of a given galaxy. This gave them the ability to solve complicated equations, tactical dilemmas, or any problem that presented itself within the shared experience of other Que’losians. When one Que’losian learns something new they pass it along to the others within their range of telepathic contact. It sometimes causes issues with overwhelming other telepathic species because it takes a conscious effort on the part of a Que’losian not to broadcast their shared knowledge.

 

The Que’losians also have superior mental prowess because of their enormous brains that use 100% of their available faculties. This would even give a Vulcan pause to consider their inferiority to the Que’losians.

 

The downside of the Que’losian personality is that their mental and telepathic prowess meant they could often act superior to everyone around them. While this is normal behavior for their race it doesn’t settle well with most humanoid species. It even annoyed Vulcans and they had previously been accused of acting the same way, but they were definitely bested by the Que’losian’s snobbery.

 

The Que’losians was originally a war-like species with a history of violence against one another. That violence had finally been settled in their culture 50 years prior to first contact in the 27th century. Since then, they have proven themselves as a good edition to both the Federation and Starfleet.

 

They had worked long and hard to hammer out a lasting peace, however, the majority of Que’losians still embraced a quasi-military bearing that was almost genetic. They were natural picks for Starfleet service for that reason; they knew how to take and give orders as an almost genetic trait.

 

Being telepathic a Que’losian despises dishonesty because how can one deceive a true telepath? Lying or deceiving is the worst slight someone can do to a Que’losian and you never want to anger them. They have more than 20 times the strength of a human and could deck a Klingon with one blow if provoked.

 

As the order came from Kerlfan to snap to attention, Murrieta heard the ship’s public address system echoing in the background and knew that all members of the crew were seeing and hearing the proceedings. The security officer used a traditional boson’s whistle to hail the new Captain aboard. Murrieta read the Starfleet orders from the PADD he held in his hand.

 

“By order of the Commander in Chief of Starfleet command, Captain Joaquin Sorillo Murrieta, is hereby instructed to assume command of the USS Spock; this day, stardate 652173.962. Commander Spock: please initiate voice print and DNA identification scan and enter my authorization code when completed.” As soon as Murrieta requested an identity scan a bright blue horizontal scan light swept Murrieta from head to foot and then turned off.

 

The Spock’s positronic brain was Murrieta’s Third Office. This particular brain installed in the Spock was from Murrieta’s last posting aboard the Enterprise-T. He had developed a repot with that positronic brain and specifically requested to have it transferred to the Spock.

 

They had become friends through the years and in comparison from regulating a ship of more than 100,000 people; the USS Spock with its crew of 420 was light-duty for this particular officer after 20 years of exploration aboard the Enterprise. The Spock was a trusted advisor and the official Second Officer of the ship.

 

 “I have verified the voiceprint and DNA of Captain Joaquin Sorillo Murrieta. I have noted the orders and change of command on stardate 652173.962. All command codes have been entered and transferred. Welcome aboard, sir and it is a pleasure to serve with you again.” the Spock responded.

 

Murrieta then relaxed and smiled at everyone. “Thank you Commander Spock. At-ease everyone!” The crew relaxed and smiled back at Murrieta. He felt it necessary to remain slightly formal until everyone got to know him—at least those who had never served with him before.

 

“Thank all of you for welcoming me to my new home away from home. In the coming years we will no doubt regard each other as family and that’s important to me because we will find ourselves in situations where we need to depend on each and every member of this crew and no one protects a person better or that you can depend on as much as family.

 

No one messes with my family and when times get rough a family bonds together tighter rather than coming apart. We have a wonderful new ship that we have Commander Wendt and Lt. Commander Gar to thank for. The dust hasn’t even settled yet and we’re being assigned a difficult mission from Starfleet Command.”

 

Murrieta wanted everyone to swell with pride and realize that this one seminal moment would bring together, in his opinion, the greatest crew of any starship since Captain James T. Kirk, Captain Jean-Luc Picard or Captain Kathryn Janeway when they were in-charge of their respective ships. It would definitely happen if he had anything to say about it. Crews are shaped and molded by each Captain and Murrieta wanted each member of the Spock crew to view him as if he were the patriarch of a large clan.

 

As his words echoed through the ship, every person stopped what they were doing to listen to Murrieta’s words on this historic day. Their faces shined with hope and the search for confidence in their new Captain and he did not fail to deliver.

 

“The USS Spock is the most advanced starship to ever be designed and built. I’m already honored to serve this ship and crew as Captain because of the distinguished resumes of the people who have come together as a crew and a family and I’m looking forward to talking personally with each and every one of you when time permits, but the senior staff and I have a briefing at 0700 tomorrow morning at Starfleet Headquarters regarding our first mission, so we should spend the time between now and then making sure that we’re in ship-shape condition and ready for launch following that briefing. I understand our first mission has something to do with the latter half of Earth’s 21st century. This will give us an opportunity to prove ourselves to the newly reorganized Temporal Operations Command of Starfleet. I have 100% confidence in every member of this crew to do their jobs to the best of their ability; however, we should be ready for anything. Again, I thank you all for welcoming me and taking the time out of your busy schedules to listen. Dismissed,” Murrieta ended.

 

His speech was short and sweet. Murrieta preferred less winded or protracted change of command ceremonies. Being brief, concise and to the point at all times inspired loyalty and made the crew realize he would listen instead of just talk and when the time came he would carefully consider their recommendations during a stressful situation. Being apothegmatic also tells the crew that when a pivotal moment arrives, he doesn’t want anyone to hesitate in doing their jobs at the precise moment he needs them to.

 

He stepped down from the transporter pad and began shaking hands and meeting those members of the senior staff he had not yet met. The atmosphere was warm and casual. He preferred to keep the attitudes of the senior staff less structured so they felt free to speak their minds, but at the same time, he wanted them to understand that no matter what, he was their leader and needed to be obeyed.

 

Murrieta remembered all the lectures at the Academy about a Captain’s need to distance themselves from the crew, but he didn’t believe that for a minute. The best Captains in Starfleet history all had casual relationships with their senior staffs. Captains like James T. Kirk, Benjamin Sisko, Kathryn Janeway, Jean-Luc Picard, Jonathan Archer, Garth of Izar and Politus Brunwah. Giving his senior staff the ability to be dégagé in doing their duties promotes their desire to give you all they can possibly be capable of.

 

Being too casual can also promote insubordination, however. There are certain lines that can’t be crossed and a good Captain learns where that line is with each person under his command.

 

This policy had earned Admiral Royce’s admiration and that of more than 100,000 crew and families that lived and worked on the Enterprise-T. He had been known as the best First Officer in the 50,000 vessel Starfleet family of ships and he intended to be the best Captain in the fleet as well.

 

He made his way toward the holographic door to the transporter room; pumping hands and thanking each person warmly. As he got near the door it dissolved and the senior staff followed him into the corridor. The door reappeared after the last person went through.

 

The doors were keyed to the crew’s PFC and without their personal coded chip; the doors were stronger than any alloy because they were reinforced by high-powered force fields. Should an enemy invade the Spock they would find that they couldn’t open any doors on the ship. They would be stuck in the room they were in or a corridor and trapped behind the holographic doors and containment force fields at the direction of Spock.

 

There were no turbo-lifts aboard the Spock. If you wished to leave a deck; all you had to do is concentrate through your PFC to initiate an internal site-to-site transport.

 

These site-to-site transporters were first developed for the city-sized Andromeda-class starships, like the USS Enterprise-T. It made perfect sense because in case of an emergency it would take nearly 10 minutes for a turbolift to get you from one end of the ship to another. With the small, powerful subspace power modules and each system on the ship having its own separate power source, an internal transporter proved quicker and more efficient for use in the modern Starfleet vessels. Turbolifts were now a very passé bit of engineering and only a few ships left in the fleet had them at all and that would change when they eventually came in for major refits, or were replaced by newer ships.

 

For the time being; Murrieta preferred to walk around each deck and inspect the progress of each department so that he could get everyone moving toward a little quicker toward launching on-time. The other members of the senior staff transported to their various stations, leaving Murrieta to walk through each deck. He was pleased at the progress everyone was making and felt assured they would launch on time.

 

On deck 28 he went to the holodeck suites and saw that Holodeck 6 was in use. He entered the door and saw Lt. B’tal, his head of security, training the new team of covert operatives that she had proposed to Starfleet.

 

The holodeck scenario had the team infiltrating a 25th century starship to recover future technology before it skewed the timeline. Murrieta switched to objective mode through his PFC so he could watch the team work.

 

30th century hand and rifles phasers not only stunned someone, but also wiped their memory of what happened up to weeks before, depending on the weapons setting. The phasers were also controlled by a PFC and “locked” into the PFC of the person’s issued phaser. Should an enemy pick up a phaser, it would not function at all. Unless a technician, who worked on the weapons, or any other portable technology for that matter, used their PFC before opening the maintenance access ports, the technology would self-destruct. It wouldn’t be a violent explosion; it would just disintegrate. This prevented the technology from falling into an enemy’s hands or someone from the past that might change the timeline by learning its secrets.

 

The assault team led by Lt. B’tal stunned and wiped the memory of the event from five members of the 25th starship security officers and advanced six decks to the science lab where the technology was being examined and analyzed.

 

Murrieta followed the team through the 25th century Congo-class vessel until they got to the science lab. The team paused for a moment to readjust their quantum phaser rifles for wide-beam stun so they could take out anyone inside in a single shot.

 

The team burst through the door and found two science officers examining the technology. Two team members stunned them while another grabbed the technology. A third member accessed the computer system and used a dodecacorder—the 30th century improvement on a tricorder—to plant a virus which would eradicate all information from their records.

 

By the time everyone realized the technology was gone no one who examined it would remember it even being onboard, nor would those who encountered the team remember them being there. It would be like it never existed. This kind of sortie would be beneficial if that particular mission precluded resetting the paradoxical timeline completely.

 

Once B’tal called for beam-out the simulation ended leaving the team and Murrieta standing in a crystal-lined room with several control boxes at various points. The holodeck technology had been vastly improved since it was first developed in the 23rd century and utilized, as most of the power conduits and control systems, tuned crystals to transmit the power and photonic holography to the system. While the 24th century holodecks were pretty good, the new ones in the 30th century were so exacting in the simulations that one could literally spend their entire lives in one and never know or even get the suspicion that their environment was artificial.

 

Murrieta applauded B’tal and her team. It truly was an awesome spectacle to watch. “Outstanding everyone!” Murrieta was honestly impressed and applauded the team’s precision. “I can see I made the correct choice in approving your plan for this team Lt. B’tal.”

 

“Thank you, sir, but I feel we need more practice. Some of the team was lagging behind our set sequence of events by a few seconds. I want this team to be exact in every detail and will work them until they drop, sir!” B’tal was a Klingon and perfection was her hallmark. Murrieta was reminded of a recreational holographic program he had once seen of 20th century United States Marine Corps basic training—except B’tal was much more of a task-master than any Drill Instructor. Heaven help the enemy when a Klingon was in charge of security and tactical aboard a starship!

 

“Any more practice and you’ll be able to take Starfleet Headquarters in any era, Lt.!” Murrieta admired her strive for perfection but not every species took to being worked until they drop. Murrieta smiled and headed for the exit.

 

Before going to the bridge, the last department he wanted to visit was main engineering; located in the center of the forward hull.

 

In starships prior to the invention of subspace power modules, the engineering section was located somewhere in the bottom-rear ventral section directly adjacent to a hull because in case of an anti-matter core breach they could eject the core.

 

This was no longer necessary because the subspace power modules were designed to automatically switch-off in the event of any discrepancy or overload—although they were practically impossible to overload.

 

By locating the engineering section where there were many decks above and below and bulkheads from portside to starboard of the primary hull, it reduced the chances of damaging engineering from an attacking vessel. The Spock was not only built for temporal uses but as a ship of exploration and a warship if need be.

 

Murrieta had just left the stellar and temporal cartography department when he finally reached the engineering section; the thought that Starfleet Command was expecting the Temporal Cold War to go hot at any moment came into his mind.

 

Two more Spock-class vessels were already under construction; the USS Jean-Luc Picard, NTX-101 and the USS Intrepid, NTX-102.  The construction of the USS Zefram Cochrane, NTX-103 would most likely take the berth opened by the launching of the Spock at the shipyards.

 

Murrieta had heard the rumor that there 200 Spock-class vessels that would eventually join the fleet within the next two years.

 

Murrieta has a good sense of humor and once expressed the suggestion that they name a temporal ship “The Time Bandit.” He did it with such a deadpan expression on his face that Admiral Royce didn’t immediately realize that Murrieta was chiding him.

 

Murrieta kept defending his suggestion while Royce got angrier with each passing moment before he finally let the Admiral in on the fact he was having fun with him. Later he found out that Royce had signed an order, right after Murrieta had his joke, that the fifth temporal starship built would actually be called the USS Time Bandit, NTX-104.

 

“I guess the joke was on me!” Murrieta thought whimsically.

 

Murrieta stepped through the holographic door for engineering and found the department a bustle of frantic activity that usually accompanies the launch of a new ship.  After all; the real pressure in launching on-time was squarely in Chief Engineer Commander Wendt’s lap.

 

Although Commander Lorenz Wendt was frantically giving orders and fixing problems he couldn’t have been happier about the impending launch. The Spock was his brainchild and he had never felt more in his element or proud of his duties than he did right now.

 

He was beyond a doubt from Bavaria and had the tall, blonde, blue-eyed, middle-aged, raving, Aryan visage of a type-cast German to prove-it. But there was also something in his voice that was easily identifiable as genius. Wendt had a mind like no other human Murrieta had ever seen. At one moment he’s the jolly German and the next; he can do multiple quantum calculus equations and have them all answered within seconds—in the way the USS Spock could do the same equations.

 

Wendt was so brilliant that he compartmentalized every aspect of his life—each with precisely separate personalities and equal passion for their purpose. While Starfleet Psychologists might classify Wendt as “unstable” within a few minutes of meeting him and making the ad hoc diagnoses that he suffered from schizophrenia, however, Wendt had an actual I.Q. that exceeded Albert Einstein and was perfectly normal when tested scientifically for mental illness. When they tested his mental stress level, he performed perfectly in every situation he was subjected to.

 

Murrieta often pondered that Wendt was as perfect, because he was the next evolution of humanity. He was a genius in all aspects—including recreation time.

 

He could drink with the best of them and wind up face-down in the dirt, then show-up the next morning for duty with a broad grin, clear-headed and ready for a level one diagnostic of the quantum-slipstream drive system and never behaved hung-over, or that the previous evening’s drinking session ever occurred. Wendt rarely drank for that reason, but when he did, clear the decks! It was probably because he was lonely, angry, or homesick. He was definitely a high-maintenance friend and Murrieta had been his friend for close to 20 years now.

 

He was buck-toothed engineering Ensign serving aboard the USS James T. Kirk during the Turongan War when his Chief Engineer was killed during a battle and a clean-faced Lt. Lorenz Wendt stepped-up to the plate and took command of the worst place in Starfleet history during a war could be; in engineering.

 

Wendt managed to stabilize both the weapons systems and main power within seconds of taking command. He could dictate instructions faster than a jack-rabbit and was doing all the adjustment calculations for the warp drive in his head, no less. The Captain was so pleased that he awarded Wendt the position of Chief Engineer on a field commission.

 

The next night, Wendt celebrated on the holodeck with the young Ensign Murrieta.

 

Murrieta knew that as soon as they had a few hours slack-time Wendt would be activating his holographic Oktoberfest program and want Murrieta to don his lederhosen and take a simulated trip to Wendt’s home; Oberammergau,  Germany in the Bavarian Alps.

 

Murrieta wouldn’t admit it out loud, but he found the scenery breathtaking and the atmosphere of several hundred jolly, tipsy Germans made him enjoy the program almost as much as Wendt did, however, every time Murrieta went along he griped about the leather shorts itching and binding him in the… well; where you don’t talk about it in polite company.

 

For now; Wendt’s mind was focused on launching the Spock on-time and was frantically issuing orders and looking at the holographic control display to check each system and subsystem.

 

He wanted all the “T’s” crossed and all the “I’s” dotted to meet the deadline. Under his guidance the Spock was right on schedule throughout the entire construction phase and he meant to keep things that way. Even in the 30th century, one could not fault the engineering standards of the Germans and Wendt was the toughest and biggest genius Chief Engineer in the fleet.

 

Based on what the engineering and construction crews at Utopia Planetia learned from Wendt and Gar, it should be unnecessary for him to supervise the construction of the rest of the new Spock-class vessels. Should he be called back to Utopia Planetia to take care of problems; there would be hell to pay.

 

Wendt had a normally pleasant demeanor, but if he got angry—and it took a lot—his eruptions matched the volcanoes on Terradon Prime. Wendt was a perfectionist and he expected no less from his hand-picked engineering staff than he demanded from himself. He had done the basic design of the Spock over 10 years of off-duty time while he was on other deep-space missions.

 

Starfleet Command was enticed and overwhelmed by his design and since it was the best possible plan for a new type of temporal starship to replace the Wells-class temporal ships they embraced Wendt’s progressive design. They were vastly lacking in judgement when they retired the Wells-class vessels, however.

 

It was quite apparent that with the amount of temporal paradoxes mounting, Starfleet would need as many new Spock-class vessels as they could build in the shortest period of time. After the first few it should become old-hat to the engineering crews at Utopia Planetia, but it was one-down and one hundred ninety-nine to go and that’s a lot of ships to build within five years. Starfleet was putting off every major refit or unnecessary repairs on the regular fleet to shove the Spock-class to the front of the assembly line.

 

All of the upper-brass was expecting a full-scale temporal war to break-out at any moment and indications and intelligence showed that tensions were building.

 

Starfleet had to catch-up five years’ worth of having no temporal starships and they fully acknowledged that they made the wrong choice by waiting as long as they did, but it was paying off with Wendt and Gar’s advanced design.

 

Murrieta strolled up to Wendt’s back unnoticed and cleared his throat to get his attention. Wendt spun around quickly with a big smile on his face.

 

“Captain; it’s good to see you!” Wendt greeted him with friendship gained over the years of their serving together on the same ship; the USS James T. Kirk, during the Turongan War. Murrieta was Chief Operations Officer and Wendt was all that he ever wanted to be: A Chief Engineer. His welcome was a bit over-played because they had seen each other two nights before, but that was Larry (Lorenz translated means “Larry or Lawrence” in German) all over; every day he breathed the life of challenge, in the highest tradition of Starfleet.

 

“Likewise, Commander Wendt,” Murrieta replied then switched into a more official mode. “What’s the status of ship’s systems?”

 

“We’re still on schedule, danke!” Commander Wendt was frequently prone to mix English and German together and “danke” means “thanks or thank you” in German. Murrieta smiled at Wendt’s melting pot of intermixed words. Wendt could change languages faster than a PFC could switch to translate them.

 

When Wendt got angry it was often helpful that a universal translator was part of the PFC implant because your own butt-chewing would most likely be in German and he could light-up engineering with the German curse words.

 

“That’s good to hear. My next stop is the bridge to check their progress and then I’ll be decorating my ready room and quarters next,” Murrieta winked at Wendt.

 

One portrait was done by Murrieta’s mother when his mother, father, sister and he were invited to the real Oberammergau for Oktoberfest one year as Wendt guests.

 

It is doubtful Wendt remembered it because he was quite drunk at the time, but Commander (at the time) Murrieta attempted to do a Bavarian Schuhplattler folk dance on the stage with him.

 

The portrait was a joyful scene of the two of them dancing with big smiles on their faces and a panoramic view of the 16th century Bavarian buildings and Alps in the background.  The portrait hung in the living room of Wendt’s quarters, which had already been his home for many months during construction.

 

“I guarantee that all systems will be optimal for launch tomorrow morning. Commander Gar and I have been working non-stop for two days to ensure it,” Wendt smiled.

 

Lt. Commander Klasee Gar, Murrieta’s Science Officer, was a joined Trill who also enjoyed Oberammergau and Wendt’s holodeck program of it. She had a joie de vivre that naturally hungered for new experiences in life. Once a joined Trill received a symbiont with three lifetimes or more of experience, “normal” just isn’t exciting enough for most of them. They seek high adventure and danger to add spice and lasting memories for the symbiont, which of course are passed onto the next host.

 

Murrieta had never seen any species meet a new culture and relax into their customs as quickly as Trill did. He figured that after a few lifetime’s worth of memories one had to develop a sense of humor for the mundane aspects of life.

 

The Spock was as much Gar’s baby as it was Wendt’s and she was on the bridge right now; Murrieta’s next stop.

 

“Carry on, Commander,” he said and then activated the internal site-to-site transporter and materialized on the bridge.

 

Like engineering; the bridge looked like everyone was working as fast as they could on the various systems to get them operational for launch. The din of cross-conversations in the smaller quarters of the bridge between the shipyard personnel and the senior staff sounded like a night at an Irish Pub or a Mexican wedding. People were trying to shout over each other to be heard which just raised the decibel level to an almost unbearable level.

 

“Captain on the bridge,” Kerlfan called-out at Murrieta’s entrance and always the proper military man; he called for everyone to snap to attention. It succeeded in ceasing the unbearable noise level on the bridge momentarily.

 

“At ease,” Murrieta commanded. “I know we’ve got a lot to accomplish prior to launch, but can we do it in a more orderly fashion? Surely everyone knows how to use the PFC mental link to exchange information?”

 

It really wasn’t necessary to shout like that because if they wished to talk to one another they could always use their PFCs to link and communicate using their minds. The concept of the PFC was relatively new and through the last few decades, it had been improved and served many more functions than the original model afforded.

 

Kerlfan, however, didn’t need a PFC to communicate telepathically if he chose to. Unless he consciously squelched the power of his mind, everyone could hear every thought of his crystal clear, but he was far too busy to concentrate on quelling the power of his mind, so above the din of frantic people you could also hear every stray thought and command he was giving like being permanently mind-melded to a Vulcan.

 

Que’losians not only read thoughts but obviously can project their own thoughts powerfully and sometimes painfully if they concentrate on overwhelming someone. Those mental powers had given Starfleet and the Federation an edge lacking in those species that opposed them. A powerful telepath is more useful that a phaser or quantum torpedo. It was a way to avoid unnecessary blood-shed and misunderstanding that can sometimes happen in deep space missions and Que’losians were more valuable than Vulcan’s and Betazoid counselors.

 

Vulcan had to be very close to you before their powers could be felt and Betazoids couldn’t hear the thoughts of certain species like Ferengi and Breen, but Kerlfan could read any creature’s mind—including non-sentient lifeforms. Murrieta had read Kerlfan’s service record a number of times and had no doubt that Royce made the right choice for him to be under the Temporal Operations Command.

 

Murrieta’s request for a more orderly procession of duties caused Kerlfan to squelch his telepathic projections and everyone began having person-to-person communications without words through the marvel of the PFC. It was almost like Starfleet personnel were technological telepaths since the invention of the PFC.

 

The first model of a PFC was at the end of the 29th century, but the prototype models proved too accessible to outside interference and were put aside for a 80 years until a foolproof model could be perfected.

 

Once they were approved for use, the sub-molecular sized chips were implanted through a hypo to the carotid artery and made their way into the pre-frontal lobe.

 

It afforded Starfleet and Federation dignitaries hands-free piloting of a ship, person-to-person and away team-to-ship communications, access to the internal communications system, automatic login to a work terminal, a universal translator, site-to-site transporter, a locating signal that could be tracked across three quadrants or from any era back to the 30th century, a “footprint” that could be traced if someone illegally accessed a system they weren’t cleared for and the ability to transmit their life signs readings and physical and mental status so it could be monitored by the ship’s doctor when a crewman was on an away mission or even having an on-board medical emergency.

 

Even if Doctor Zimmerman didn’t actively monitor life signs, the chip would cause an alarm to go off in sickbay at the slightest sign of physical or mental distress on the ship or even quadrants away.

 

The chip could also access hyper-subspace and temporal communications without a ship in case a member of crew was stranded in some past era and the ship was crippled or destroyed. Sending out a temporal hyper-subspace emergency beacon meant you would be locked onto by a temporal transporter and beamed back to the 30th century, but with the danger of temporal psychosis one might simply consider activating point-to-point temporal or normal hyperspace communications and wait for rescue.

 

The molecular sized chips couldn’t be counterfeited, so infiltration by an enemy was highly unlikely. If someone without a chip tried to activate any terminal in the ship, it would set off an alarm that Spock reacted to without hesitation. The perpetrator would either be beamed into a holding cell, or in the case of mass boarding parties; Spock would transport all of them back to their ships—assuming their ships were still there. If their ships were no longer in transporter range or there wasn’t a suitable planet to put them on, Spock was under orders to beam the enemy into open space. It was as practically foolproof as any security measures could be.

 

Murrieta had never worked with a Que’losian before, but he had met plenty who were attached to the Federation Ambassadorial staffs and a few who were going through Starfleet Academy.

 

His past posting in restoring the Enterprise-T afforded him the luxury of being close to his family in San Jose, California; just down the San Francisco bay from Starfleet Academy and Headquarters.

 

Starfleet Academy had requested him from time-to-time, during his restoration supervisor post, to guest lecture cadets on temporal mechanics and intergalactic exploration in addition to being invited to exclusive events at the various embassies in the greater San Francisco area.

 

It afforded him the opportunity to keep up on all the new members the Federation had recruited and also a chance to get reacquainted with ambassadors he had dealt with in negotiations during the Enterprise mission and had become friends with them.

 

After decades of deep space duty, Murrieta enjoyed almost two years of being with family again and he found the view from Horseshoe Bay (where Starfleet Headquarters is located) to be a more breathtaking sight than he had seen on any alien world.

 

The Golden Gate bridge, with the exception of when the Breen attacked Earth during the Dominion War and damaged the center section, had stood continuously as a monument to man’s ingenuity for more than 1,000 years. With worldwide weather control in place, the foggy nights in San Francisco were rare, but Murrieta enjoyed the feeling of closeness afforded by the fog when they did occur. Occasionally, the weather engineers would treat the Bay area residents to authentic weather patterns to preserve the charm and mystery of San Francisco.

 

Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco Bay, stood as a monument to a more primitive period of inhumane treatment of criminals. Now, a criminal mind can be treated like any disease or birth defect, by repairing the pineal gland (or an equivalent in almost all humanoid species) and restoring a sense of right and wrong, or what one might call a “conscience.”

 

Only those species that were devoid of a pineal gland equivalent were kept in secured locations, but their internment is hardly as crude as those who experienced being sentenced on Alcatraz Island during the 20th century.

 

The procedure to repair defects in the pineal gland was first developed by Admiral Joseph Zimmerman when he was the Emergency Medical Hologram for the USS Voyager during their voyage to get home after being stranded in the dangerous Delta Quadrant.

 

It was discovered when he harvested Seven of Nine’s Borg nanoprobes to repair brain tissue damage in an alien prisoner of a species that was brutally injured by one of that species’ prison guards that included a severe injury to his brain.

 

Murrieta strolled across the bridge and entered his ready room through the holographic door.

 

He spent the rest of the day unpacking and decorating his ready room and quarters. Murrieta was digging in for the long haul.

 

He finally got to bed about 2300 hours and found his new quarters to be more than adequate and afforded him a sound night’s sleep.

 

The next day would be the most important in his entire Starfleet career. He was the Captain of a new class of temporal starship and all eyes at Starfleet were upon him to catch-up on the backlog of temporal paradoxes.

 

But for now Murrieta had a sound, dreamless sleep and wasn’t disturbed.

 

It would be the last night he could sleep soundly onboard the Spock for quite a while.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Two: The First Mission Briefing

 

Murrieta slept well in his plush new quarters. They nearly matched the comfort afforded from the split-level, three bedroom quarters given to him on the Enterprise-T. Although the quarters were only one level, they were very large and even included a real kitchen if he desired to hand-make a particular food instead of using the replicator. The kitchen in his quarters was a last-minute addition due to Wendt understanding the Captain’s love of traditional cooking. It was something the two of them shared in common.

 

Murrieta loved to cook and used family recipes handed down for generations for all sorts of different dishes. It relaxed him and each culinary dish was a trip home with warm thoughts of family gatherings and holidays.

 

It’s funny how food can spur a stray memory from childhood like Christmas or major family events. Sometimes, while eating dishes his mother and grandmother cooked through the years, he could feel their presence, as well as the rest of the family, sitting right at the table with him.

 

He awoke refreshed and rested when Spock chimed in at 0530 hours, the time he had asked for a wake-up call.

 

“Good morning Captain,” Spock announced softly through the communications interface. “It is oh-530 hours; as you requested.”

 

“Thank you Commander,” Murrieta replied after his eyes fluttered open. “What is the ship’s status?”

 

“Everything is on schedule Captain. There is less than five hours of final adjustments and double-checking installations remaining in the launch schedule. I get updates from all department heads and shipyard technicians every 30 minutes. We will be ready for launch following the briefing this morning.”

 

“Very good, Mister Spock; please make sure the rest of the senior staff is awake and getting ready for the briefing,” Murrieta requested politely.

 

“Very well, Captain; I shall see to it personally,” Spock replied, “Spock out.”

 

Murrieta proceeded to the bathroom to take care of morning essentials and use the hypersonic shower/massager prior to shaving. As he was using the hypersonic shaving razor, he had the thought that the 30th century shower system was probably the most luxurious achievement of humanity. It uses hyper-high frequency hot water from thousands of outlets in the shower walls and sound waves so high that no species—with the exception of the Ferengi and a few other hyperacousis species—could possibly hear.

 

The system cleaned away every loose skin and hair follicle on your body while gently but firmly massaging your entire body at the same time—even down to facial hair and scalp-hair roots. He had often wondered if he hadn’t fallen asleep standing up in the shower while experiencing the benefits of that technology after a long day. The only downside to the shower was if, in the most remote of chances, the tuning crystals were somehow altered in frequency it was possible that it could kill you. “Death by shower” wasn’t something Murrieta wanted in his obituary.

 

After taking care of his normal morning regimen, he emerged from the bedroom in full-dress uniform and looking very sharp in the tuxedo-like garment.

 

He had seen pictures of various uniforms throughout Starfleet and Earth history and had to laugh to himself every time he saw the long tunic formal uniforms of the late 24th century. It made everyone look like traders from East India in the 18th & 19th century.

 

It was legendary that Admiral William T. Riker, when he served as First Officer for the Enterprise-D in the 24th century, had once had a discussion with his Klingon Tactical Officer, Lt. Worf, when the Klingon had complained that the dress uniform looked more like a dress than a uniform.

 

Riker, with a poker face, said; “I’m surprised at you Lt.! That’s a very outmoded and sexist remark! Besides; you look good in a dress.” If that discussion really happened then Riker had the ultimate sense of good humor. Only Riker would have the courage to joke with a Klingon like that. Then again; Worf might have just respected Riker enough that he made the effort to understand the fundamentals of human jocularity.

 

All the 30th century Starfleet uniforms had both function and style mixed evenly between formal and everyday work uniforms. Each garment was removed by the clothing replicator directly from your body along with your underwear, so there were no closures anywhere on the garments, and the replicator replaced them with fresh clothes of your choice in less than a second. It only required 15 minutes to shower, shave and get dressed if time was short in the 30th century.

 

Murrieta planned on making one last status check with engineering, Orbital Control and the bridge prior to transporting to Starfleet Headquarters on Earth. He ordered a cup of raktajino from the replicator and activated the site-to-site transporter to take him to engineering.

 

Beaming technology in the 30th century had advanced so that it covered nearly 10 parsecs distance in a single transport, plus the ability of temporal transporters to go to any time period and coordinates within those same 10 parsecs. Getting to Earth from Mars was now done in the blink of an eye and to avoid orbital crowding, a ship bound for a meeting at Starfleet Headquarters would be instructed to orbit Utopia Planetia, Jupiter Station or Saturn’s Titan moon and then transport in.

 

He had used that technology to transport between the Enterprise-T, at the Jupiter Station Starfleet Museum, and Earth almost every day during the restoration.

 

He could have stayed in his assigned quarters aboard the ship during the restoration, however, it had been a long time since he had spent evenings and weekends with family and to Murrieta; family was the cornerstone of one’s life. Besides; he had almost 8 years living in those quarters and while they were luxurious it was still good to be home.

 

Murrieta checked his appearance and uniform briefly in the mirror and then engaged the site-to-site transporter to take him to the bridge. He melted into blackness and suddenly appeared on the bridge.

 

The ruckus of the last day was calmer because people were using their PFCs to communicate with each other, but they were still sprinting from one system to another to insure they would function and launch on time. Every system on the bridge had at least five back-ups, so the job of making sure they would all function prior to launch was a complicated one.

 

“Captain on the bridge,” Commander Gar exclaimed, being the first senior officer to see him materialize.

 

“As you were, people,” Murrieta motioned Gar and Kerlfan closer and leaned on the handrail. “I know some Captains require the formality of announcing a senior officer on the bridge, but my personal preference is that we need to stop announcing the presence of every senior officer on the bridge unless we have an Admiral onboard. It’s far too distracting and detracts from optimal efficiency.” Murrieta smiled at Kerlfan and Gar. “The stricter the dynamics of the crew’s environment means they will feel less likely to express ideas and opinions and I prefer a closer feeling of family on this ship. Don’t worry; I can make sure everyone knows who’s in charge if things get too lax and I trust you to do the same.”

 

Gar and Kerlfan nodded their agreement of the Captain’s order.

 

Murrieta continued. “From this point forward we need a completely open-door policy for the senior staff, ranking officers and the rest of the crew. I wish to promote that attitude so that when we get our butts in a jam—and we most definitely will—we can solve the problem by free exchange of thoughts and ideas.”

 

Gar smiled and nodded because she was already aware of the Captain’s style of leadership due having served with him before, but Kerlfan had a look of confusion on his face.

 

This was Kerlfan’s first posting as Executive Officer. He was rather unseasoned to perform that function, but he was Royce’s first pick to assist Murrieta with his first command. They would eventually get used to each other. Still, since Kerlfan can read minds so he should have understood. The only explanation was that he really couldn’t understand the concept of a relaxed environment.

 

“Is there a problem, Mister Kerlfan?” Murrieta inquired.

 

“I understand your order, but it may take me some time to become accustomed to doing things your way. I was accustomed to having strict discipline at all times and my former Captains were a bit more formal than you appear to be,” Kerlfan remarked. “Besides; informality seems redundant to me. I would speak my mind no matter whether everyone was comfortable or not!”

 

Murrieta smiled at the Que’losian’s “I have a better argument” attitude of superiority. “That might be true, but you should consider the attitudes of other species at all times when in command. I realize that Que’losian’s feel the need to be formal, but that formality sometimes makes other species feel on-edge and hesitant to offer their views or ideas with their chain of command.” Murrieta said with a smile. “As my Executive Officer you need to understand this process of assimilating into new cultures and ways. It just takes time, Commander. We will all learn from each other and function as a team regardless of the level of formality.”

 

Gar had already returned to her diagnostics at the science station. Almost all the control panels on the bridge were active with holographic diagnostics running, from tactical simulations to simulated helm scenarios. All the while the shipyard personnel were checking the various systems to guarantee that all the new technology would run without conflict or even a hiccup when they were needed.

 

“Yes sir; I will endeavor to get used to you and your style of command and the feelings of the crew,” Kerlfan remarked almost sheepishly—if that was possible for a humanoid race who considered themselves superior to other species.

 

A Vulcan might agree with that assessment out of logic, but Murrieta was a “by the gut” officer and had never lost by simply being himself. Murrieta fully understood the need for a sense of calm and cool in tight situations. Someone yelling for people to stand at attention every time he entered the bridge upset the smooth working conditions necessary for precision work such as was required for temporal operations starships.

 

Kerlfan was raised in a society where, at one time, they were great warriors, so a military bearing and readiness to fight was part of every male and female Que’losians’ upbringing as much as it is with the Klingons, however, Que’losians are less prone to random violence and the tempers Klingons have.

 

If a Que’losian gets angry at you then you better call the doctor first. It takes a lot to anger them, but they also have the strength of 10 Klingons. That one fact alone made Murrieta feel a little better if they got into hand-to-hand combat conditions. He would just have to dodge bodies being flung through the air rather than phaser fire, but at least he knew he had several worthy warriors

 

He had been there before and it was the worst period of his life.

 

Murrieta held his hand up so everyone would listen. “I know everyone is working as quickly as they can, but my crew and the construction and diagnostics engineers from the shipyard must understand that this ship will be ready to launch when our briefing at Starfleet Headquarters is over in a little under five hours. Your efforts must ensure that this happens—on schedule. Is that understood?” Everyone who was listening gave an “Aye sir” response. The senior staff had no such obligation because they knew the importance of clearing the berth at Utopia Planetia on-time.

 

The full-court press was on and time to finish was short, but they all knew their jobs and would perform them as quickly and efficiently as possible.

 

“Mr. Kerlfan; please assemble the senior staff for transport at 0630 hours in transporter room one,” Murrieta ordered.

 

“Yes sir. All personnel will be assembled in transporter room one at 0630 hours. I will take care of it myself.” Kerlfan responded.

 

Murrieta briefly sat on the edge of the command chair and activated his ship’s status display to make absolutely sure things were approaching readiness for their departure.

 

The holographic display was projected just in front of his chair and revealed the ship’s status with green areas for everything that was done and red for everything that had not yet been completed. Most of the ship showed green but a few minor systems were still being tuned for their departure later this morning. Simply doing a diagnostic to most systems would make them appear as offline during the diagnostic, so this wasn’t 100% accurate information regarding their overall readiness, but he had confidence in the work crews.

 

Satisfied that the ship was on time for launch he turned the display off and stood. He activated the site-to-site transporter and disappeared from the bridge.

 

Moments later he rematerialized in transporter room one. The senior staff was still arriving. Checking the ship’s chronometer which read 0625, Murrieta smiled. He realized that no one on the ship would ever be late to a shift or a briefing with Commander Kerlfan giving commands!

 

Murrieta motioned to the staff to step toward the transporters and after the last of them got on a round, gold, pulsating pad, he stepped-up himself and took the front pad.

 

“Energize Chief,” he commanded.

 

The Transporter Chief manipulated a few holographic controls in front of him and the senior staff disassembled in the transporter beam—reappearing in a large transporter room deep in the bowels of Starfleet Headquarters on Earth.

 

Long range transports took a second longer to travel and always left one feeling like the world was unsteadily rotating on its axis. Several of the younger members of his staff, such as Ensign Trelor Gombia, Murrieta’s helm control officer, weren’t used to the disorientation of long range transport yet. It was particularly worse this time of year between Utopia Planetia Shipyards and Earth because the two planets were on almost opposite sides of the sun right now and that doubled the distance of the transport.

 

Murrieta was concerned with Ensign Gombia his Chief Helmsman, who was just to his right, and glanced over and caught her as she wavered a bit after rematerialization.

 

Gombia was one of the members of a species that Murrieta and Royce had made first contact with during the last mission the Enterprise-T had in the Tadpole galaxy.

 

They were called Galipedians and their unique physiology made them perfect matches for a temporal starship because they could actually see into the future from between 30 seconds to 10 days. Federation and Murrieta, along with the Federation Ambassadors the Enterprise carried learned that this gift of precognition was caused by the Galipedian star system’s extremely high saturation of chronoton radiation. The gift of seeing what might be in the future was no more astonishing to Galipedians than another humanoid species regards sight, sound, smell or taste. It was just another sense that most humanoid species lacked and they actually felt sorry for showing that they knew everything that would happen in the negotiations for their admittance to the Federation. They quickly realized that humans found it rather disturbing to have a Galipedian finish a sentence for them because they already knew what that person would say.

 

These flashes of incite seem to be somewhat random when a Galipedian is outside their own system, however and how far they can look into the future is sometimes limited by the ebb and tide of the timeline, but any glimpse of what’s coming might give Murrieta and the crew a better chance of success and survival on any given mission.

 

Galipedia had its own version of Starfleet and was on a level of technology and exploration that was equal to Starfleet’s 23rd-24th centuries. They were efficient, dedicated and very much like humans in their desire to know all that is capable of being known. They show no indications in their history of a concept like war or conflict and at first this made their starships vulnerable to attack. They learned quickly that sometimes they must defend themselves, but took no joy in killing or death of an enemy. To them; interfering with the “Great Continuum,” as they called it, caused people who would have affected the future to not be where they should when they were to make their biggest contributions to their existences.

 

The Galipedians didn’t have a concept of a supreme being, but their lives and culture were very god-like. They were the one species that Murrieta wanted to strive to be more like than any other. Their world was peaceful, beautiful, unusual and a place where a human Starfleet officer might one day wish to retire to.

 

Galipedia had massive crystal formations jutting up through the ground and each one was a different color or shade of a color. The oceans and bodies of water were likewise breathtaking with shimmering multitudes of color. They looked like paint mixed together and nature only used the pretty colors just for Galipedia. 

 

The other fact about Galipedians was that they were very tall and extremely slender. Galipedia was about 2/3 the size of Earth and that fact had a profound effect on their overall appearance. Gombia was about 2.0066 meters tall and weighed a mere 47 kilos. She reminded Murrieta of a stick bug or a Praying Mantis, except she had skin that was a light gold pallor; deep socketed eyes that projected a feeling of love and peace and the species all had what humanoids would regard as a smile on their faces due to the structure of their facial muscles.

 

The Galipedians, when they really smiled, the corners of their mouth went all the way up to their eyes. It was fairly spooky, but to a Starfleet officer, it was not unlike how Denobulans smile. It had a certain cartoonish quality to it, however, and many humanoids, upon seeing a Galipedian or a Denobulan really smile, break into laughter at the oddity of the face they make.   

 

This smile the Galipedians normally had on their faces sometimes contradicted the emotions they were trying to express, but Murrieta had become accustomed to dealing with them during the negotiations for their entrance into the Federation. They were unlike any other race he had ever dealt with, but he was proud that he helped bring them into the Federation and now; into Starfleet.

 

Gombia was the first of her species to apply to Starfleet Academy after their induction into the Federation. She was young, bright-faced and slightly innocent, but that would change as she seasoned through the years.

 

“Easy Ensign,” Murrieta said as he caught her. “Don’t worry; you get used to it after a while.” Gombia recovered and righted herself with a bit of help from both the Captain and Doctor Zimmerman.

 

“Thank you both,” she smiled slightly. “It just made me a bit dizzy.”

 

“It takes a year or so to get your space legs, Ensign.” Murrieta tried to stay lighthearted. “It’s something we’ve all had to adjust to. You’ll be fine.”

 

“Well actually, Captain,” Zimmerman began, “my program is perfectly calibrated for both space and time travel so I never…”

 

“Doctor?” Murrieta interrupted.

 

“Yes Captain?”

 

“Shut-up; that’s an order!” That brought a chuckle to the senior staff, but apparently the remark upset the hologram. “It was intended to be funny, not serious, Doctor.” Murrieta added.

 

“Of course, sir,” Zimmerman still seemed a bit trite even though the Captain had given him a left-handed apology.

 

“Are you okay now, Ensign?” Murrieta inquired.

 

“Yes sir. I’m fine, thank you.” She responded with a genuinely brighter smile than usual that told the Captain that she was indeed alright.

 

The one thing that Starfleet Medical noted about the Galipedians was that their abilities have never been proven under the conditions of travelling back in time. It was impossible to predict their reaction to time travel. Since chronoton radiation was used to time travel, their exposure to it wasn’t at risk, but their ability to see into the future might be rendered dormant for the duration, or they might not see the “here and now” future events. It was theorized that they might see the results of a temporal incursion only from the standpoint of living in the 30th century.

 

Either way it was worth the risk because on the one hand, if their abilities worked perfectly when they went back in time it would be invaluable, but even if they could see the end result of the mission following their return to their own time period then that would work, too.

 

Galipedians seemed to have this ability because their planet and star system accumulates and store chronoton radiation. The planet’s atmosphere is saturated with it so each member of the species also has a good deal of chronoton radiation making up their physiology—right down to being a vital part of the chemical electricity that conducts through the neurons of their brains.

 

Their bodies can also be quite deceiving. They look frail and a bit uncoordinated in higher gravity, so it comes as a surprise to an enemy that their ability to defend themselves in hand-to-hand circumstances is quite surprising. They’re capable of using their long limbs and body entirely to their advantage and they adapt quickly to higher gravity.

 

The other thing about Galipedia was that the chronoton radiation also acted as natural temporal shielding from outside influence. It was regarded to be practically impossible to destroy the Galipedians through the use of temporal physics.

 

While Murrieta and Royce were there they saw the shadows of past and future events appear like apparitions around them. This echo effect was pretty much normal for the Galipedians, but quite disconcerting to a normal humanoid. When a Galipedian ventured away from the effects of their solar system, they took this ability with them because that was normal for the chronoton radiation that ruled the inner workings of their brains.

 

Murrieta stepped off the transporter pad and was followed by the senior staff. They made their way to the shared briefing room of the Temporal Integrity Command (TIC) and the Temporal Operations Command (TOC) that was on the same level as the transporter room.

 

The acronyms “TIC” and “TOC” were actually not done on purpose and the person (presumably some C-n-C of Starfleet Command 200 years before when the commands were first defined) who designated the names of the twin commands didn’t see it until someone else pointed it out to him/her. By the 30th century, however, Starfleet Command felt that the time jokes had been done to death. When Starfleet met knew species that found out about the temporal divisions’ names, the jokes would begin at an all new level again until the novelty wore off, which it always eventually did.

 

Murrieta once said to Royce; “TIC-TOC? Well, at least you’ll always be ‘on-time’!” At the time Royce was the Captain of the Enterprise-T and smiled at Murrieta’s comment but rumor has it that now that Royce commands TOC, he lost his flavor for temporal puns. It seems to come along with the job; like a desk one inherits when taking a flag officer promotion and replacing the previous Admiral. You open the desk drawer and a complete lack of tolerance for temporal jokes washes over you, left over from all the former flag officers who served in that position.

 

Admiral Jessup P. Lynch, on the other hand, was a complete unknown component of Murrieta’s job. His service record seems to indicate he had a very undistinguished record as an assistant engineer on a starship in the Delta Quadrant and was then promoted to Captain in charge of the Andromeda Starbase 2069—a remote and god-forsaken frontier outpost on the edge of what used to be Kelvin Empire space.

 

His ascension to Rear Admiral seems to be entirely motivated by nepotism. Lynch’s father, Admiral Harold Lynch, is the present Deputy Commander in Chief of Starfleet. The elder Lynch’s career was forged in the fires of the Turongan War where he served with singular distinction and legendary battle tactics that turned the tide of that war.

 

His last field command was as Captain of the USS Bellerophon, a fast attack cruiser constructed to deter and defend Starfleet and the Federation ships and facilities in the Beta Quadrant of the Milky Way. The Bellerophon sits in a semi-permanent berth at Utopia Planetia and although the ship is not used, it remains in an “active reserve” status if circumstances demand it to be used in time of war. The early military navies on Earth once used the status of “active reserve” for their high specialized warships and that tradition seemed to have been incorporated by Starfleet through the centuries.

 

The Romulans, the Klingons, the Borg, the Dominion and their Jem’Hadar soldiers they genetically made from scratch, the Turongans and various savage species that Starfleet occasionally encounters sometimes required a specialized ship to fight them. During the 23rd century there were the Dreadnought-class starships that were kept in the background but always on notice to reactivate at any time. After that it was the Constitution-class that became the tip of Starfleet’s spear with the Klingons. In the latter-half of the 24th century there were the Defiant, Intrepid and Sovereign-class starships that were developed for defense against the Borg. The Enterprise-E was the longest serving Sovereign-class starship to bear the name, having served nearly 50 years before being replaced by the Enterprise-F through J models within the span of 50 years after the E was retired.

 

As of now, the main concern of Starfleet is the increasing number of temporal paradoxes that have increased over the past year. That’s the reason why the construction schedule of the Spock was accelerated by almost 18 months and they had put all the resources of Utopia Planetia Shipyards behind the manufacture of this new class of ship.

 

All refits and repairs were put on an “indefinite” suspension while work on the Spock-class was being accelerated. This took more than 150 non-temporal starships out of the active status for the last year and all this was done without explanation and had the highest security. There were a lot of upset Captains and crews who were placed on indefinite leave for a year.

 

Starfleet has been aware of the Temporal Cold war for 800 years, having listened to Starfleet reports from field personnel since Captain Jonathan Archer of the USS Enterprise NX-01 in the 22nd century, but until the last year, the events and paradoxes were few in number and deemed of minimal concern since the Federation’s ships, planets and facilities were protected by temporal shielding.

 

As long as the shielding was in place any changes to the timeline would not be affected. But in five years since the last of the Wells-class temporal starships were decommissioned, things have been steadily building to a crescendo.

 

Despite the temporal shielding, the rest of the universe that isn’t protected by temporal shielding was changed so Earth and the Federation were very different than the normal timeline. It makes new first contacts difficult when the culture looks for any information about Starfleet and the Federation—insofar as the limits of their knowledge and technology is concerned—and finds absolutely nothing in historical records. The Temporal Factions were using all non-allied species as fodder against the might and scope of the Federation.

 

The first archived reports of anything concerning a Temporal Cold War were from Captain Jonathan Archer, who filed reports of a Starfleet temporal agent named “Daniels” who had visited and asked for their help with a “Temporal Cold War.” Captain Archer even travelled to the 20th and 21st centuries two times and once to the 31st century all due to a Starfleet Temporal Agent known only as “Daniels.”

 

Daniels made countless trips to the 22nd century Enterprise, since Archer was a focal point for all of early Starfleet history. Archer also spoke of a mysterious person or persons who were giving aid to the Suliban species from the 26th century via temporal communications. In 800 years, no one had yet to figure out who that was and why they did it, however, in the 30th century; the Suliban are now part of the Federation and the Spock even had a few crew men and women who were Suliban—all thanks to some temporal repair done by a Wells-class vessel, the USS Albert Einstein that corrected the situation with the Suliban and reset the timeline so none of it ever happened.

 

Captain Archer’s original logs were protected by temporal shielding for centuries, so Starfleet knew what happened in the original timeline, but that paradox was erased from Archer’s life when they recovered the timeline.

 

For the past 5 years; Section 31 had been rumored to be dealing with temporal threats with some unknown resource, but that organization was limited due to the technology being outdated in the interim period. Many suspected that Section 31 had resurrected the Aeon-class one-man time ships from the 29th century, but no upper brass in Starfleet would either confirm or deny that they had. It wasn’t so much what Starfleet had to say about Section 31, but rather what they don’t say that’s truly important. Refusing to confirm Section 31’s involvement in anything was the same as admitting it, but many felt that rumors often worked better than any covert action Section 31 or Starfleet could actually pull-off.

 

No one liked working with Section 31, but they had been there since the original Starfleet Charter and while many considered them one of the greatest threats to the Federation; Admirals, at one time or another, had to utilize their services and methods when ordinary channels failed to deal with certain security issues. That was basically why Section 31 existed.

 

Section 31s alleged motto is; “Inter arma enim silent leges,” which is Latin for; "In times of war the law falls silent." Every government and military agency since the dawn of recorded history has had covert agents or intelligence-gathering soldiers of one kind or another that could be called on in times or circumstances when normal policy or law fails and you want someone to do the dirty work you don’t want to do yourself. Section 31 was like the literal elephant in the room; everyone knew it was there but no one wanted to talk about it.

 

History has spoken of leaders of the former nation states sending undercover operatives to assassinate, arrest, or cut-off a key person or persons suspected of subversive motivations to their nation or the general population of the world.

 

The terrorist attacks beginning in 2001 until the Third World War were all the proof one needed to historically review in order to establish a building general mistrust of the former United States. Agents of that nation’s military and covert agents grabbed people out of their beds in the middle of the night and held them for several decades without formal charges or a trial. They tortured prisoners and killed and maimed U.S. soldiers then gave them next to no help upon their return from countless brush wars that sprang-up all over the globe.

 

That’s nothing more than a story of moral decay and a failing nation since the beginning of recorded history. It can be summed up in one word: Hubris.

 

The events of the 20th and 21st century tell the tale of a declining society that fell from world leadership all by their own greed and sedition. That fall from grace was the primary catalyst for the Third World War and the deaths of billions and a total collapse of world economics that took 100 years to recover fully from.

 

When the smoke finally cleared, Earth was under a United World Government and money, the root of all greed and crime, was quickly done away with.

 

It’s the story of mankind becoming a united effort for everyone in the world to put aside class inequities, greed, religious bigotry, and racial bigotry. It had to happen before the birth of Starfleet and the Federation. The Vulcans helped Earth transition into a peaceful society, ready for galactic exploration and peace-makers between species in the Milky Way.

 

A 27th century Earth historian, Doctor Clyde Vandergergen, wrote that Starfleet’s original mission in the 22nd century was to educate and assist those cultures that hadn’t yet reached the pinnacle moment where they either nearly or completely destroyed themselves over planetary war. He called it “human guilt” as a philosophy that led humans to the stars.

 

But in the grand scheme of things, had Earth and the Federation fallen to another kind of hubris that reached a new peak? Had we become so engulfed in imposing our way of life on other cultures that refuse to change? That same kind of thinking made the United States into a world terror—imposing their will, politics and judgements about which deity a culture did or didn’t worship.

 

It was the same tune with slightly different lyrics. Humanity didn’t always have the right answers, but had become so strong that many feared them and wanted the Federation’s control of their worlds.

 

Now, in the 30th century, Starfleet had created the most powerful temporal enforcement ship and most technologically advanced piece of equipment ever conceived; all for the purposes of basically being a time cop for the universe. It was the exact same issues that plagued Earth many centuries before. It was the basis of the theorem that the might of any confederation stood in it’s military—except this was a whole new concept to control ours and other species’ timeline against an outcome that didn’t suit our standards.

 

A lot of species who don’t agree have become a sour note against the standards of the Federation and Starfleet and now the Federation has charged Murrieta with wrangling paradoxes, wrestling them to the ground and branding them with the seal of the Federation as their own.

 

It would be a miracle if Section 31 weren’t somehow involved in the Spock’s mission in some subtle way. It was doubtless that some of Murrieta’s new crew wasn’t placed there by Section 31 and the Starfleet Commander in Chief as brutal enforcers of the Federation’s will to win.

 

Murrieta and Royce had discussed the possibility that certain new crew members who’s orders came from “where the air is thin” in Starfleet and assigned to the Spock, yet had no prior records from Starfleet Academy or service records and were most probably Section 31 agents who were sent to serve aboard the new ship weeks ago.

 

Since the origin of those orders came from the office of the Starfleet CNC, there was little they could do to challenge these assignments, but that didn’t mean that Murrieta or Royce should simply shrug-off their possible threat to security and the assigned missions.

 

Murrieta had already briefed Commander Kerlfan and Lt. B’tal to keep a careful eye on those people suspected of being from Section 31 and get constant performance reports from their immediate superiors. If they were actually agents of Section 31 then perhaps a poor job performance might be cause for them to be rotated off the ship, but no doubt Starfleet would simply assign new agents to replace them, so it was a losing battle in the end.

 

As Murrieta and his senior staff entered the briefing room at Starfleet Headquarters, Murrieta thought about his role as the new enforcer of temporal parody. How many decisions in his future would challenge his basic sense of honor and service to Starfleet, whom he had sworn unquestioning loyalty to? The thought that he might reach a divergence of basic philosophies with Starfleet made him shudder slightly.

 

The staff sat down and was chatting with each other—mostly speculating about what their mission might be and who they might meet. Murrieta sat silent with his back straight and acting like the experienced and tempered Captain that he should be. He might never before been a Captain, but he was groomed for the position he now held for many years. Now Starfleet was due some payback for all they had given and done for him.

 

As soon as he heard the holographic door of the briefing room open, he glanced that way and saw that it was Admiral’s Royce and Lynch entering.

 

“Admirals on deck,” he commanded in a bold voice and stood at attention. The rest of his senior staff stood about a half-second behind him.

 

As Royce and Lynch strolled purposely toward the briefing table, Royce took the initiative and said; “As you were. Please take your seats, ladies and gentlemen.”

 

Royce and Lynch sat on either side of Captain Murrieta at the head of the table, framed by the flags of both the Federation and Starfleet that hung on flagstaffs and a large crest of Starfleet command—which was the eternal “flying wing” first used by Captain Kirk, only turned sideways with a “shadow” mirror flying wing on the opposite end of it to signify a swift increase of authority over the centuries, but that tradition still held through all those centuries. The crest hung on the wall behind the head of the table.

 

On the right side of the Starfleet insignia were the crests of the Temporal Integrity Command, which looked like a distorted field of stars on the background of a single humanoid shadow looking at the heavens with an antique magnifying glass in a semi-Sherlock Holmes style. To the left of the Starfleet insignia was the newly designed crest of the Temporal Operations Command that showed a silhouette of a Spock-class ship on the left side and a temporal rift on the right where the ship is heading. The center of the conference table had a small, smooth, black, transparent aluminum panel set into it which contained the holographic projectors underneath the surface.

 

Royce got straight to the point of the briefing which was no surprise to Murrieta. After all, he had been his First Officer for nearly a decade and knew Royce’s no-B.S. style of command.

 

“This should be a stimulating shake-down cruise, Captain Murrieta. Are you patched into the briefing, Commander Spock?” Royce seemed to be talking to the ceiling. Royce liked having eye contact with the person he’s talking to so a disembodied voice irritated him a bit but you couldn’t exactly fit a starship in the conference room.

 

“I am, Admiral and good morning,” Spock answered through the com-link.

 

Lynch took the acknowledgement by Spock as an opportunity to interrupt Royce. Royce was a bit peeved since he had allowed Lynch to sit-in on the meeting even though it was a strictly TOC briefing, because it was the first mission.

 

“This impact on the timeline…” he began.

 

“As I was about to say; your first mission should be a worthy first assignment so the USS Spock can have a proper shake-down cruise…” Royce interrupted.

 

“I assure you, Admiral that I’m in perfect working order and all systems are ready to come online so that…” Spock interrupted Royce again.

 

By this point, Royce was just about a second away from having his own personal subspace inversion.

 

I am giving the briefing, ladies and gentlemen! Is that something we can all agree on?” Royce sounded a bit angrier than normal. He believed in contributions by people under his command, but at least let him get the details of the briefing out before jumping into the middle of his mud puddle.

 

There was a momentary twitter of laughter from the senior staff but one look from Royce quieted them instantly.

 

“As I was about to say;” Royce’s eyes looked defiantly around the table to see if anyone else was going to interrupt before continuing. “Your target is stardate 117869; or May 27, 2064 in the old Earth calendar. That was just over one year following First Contact with the Vulcans and the involvement of the Borg and the Enterprise-E with the first warp flight of the Phoenix. You won’t have to spatially jump far because the event is right here in the neighborhood. Your target contact is Doctor Zefram Cochrane.”

 

The actions of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s ship, the Enterprise-E, in saving the timeline from an attempt by the Borg to destroy Earth’s history on the day of First Contact was legendary and mandatory reading at Starfleet Academy. The opportunity to actually meet Doctor Zefram Cochrane was amazing and almost unthinkable to most Starfleet personnel.

 

Without altering the timeline in the slightest, Picard, Riker and LaForge—along with an engineering team from the Enterprise-E—saved Earth from being assimilated in the past by destroying a Borg sphere and then repairing Zefram Cochrane’s ship the Phoenix and since Cochrane’s flight crew was wounded or killed, Riker and LaForge were his assistants on the flight. Prior to the 24th century it was a good thing no one ever analyzed the components inside the Phoenix or they would have discovered that many parts were replicated using 24th century technology, but that couldn’t be helped at the time if the normal timeline was to be saved.

 

Also, they couldn’t wipe Cochrane’s memory because he wouldn’t have remembered making the flight or what happened as a result of his first warp travel and that might have damaged the timeline.

 

The actions that day by the Enterprise-E were listed as Starfleet’s first real attempt to police the timeline and became the early model for temporal enforcement. Picard had many “firsts” but that single act served as the finest example of using your brain and common sense in enforcing the timeline. It became a model for Starfleet for many centuries until it was refined in the 28th century.

 

The holographic display in the center of the table activated and a rotating graph with a blue line running horizontal represented the normal timeline. There was a tangle of infinite lines in a lighter blue representing small changes in the timeline which didn’t have a high impact branching off from the blue center line, but there were also multiple red lines that skewed down noticeably from the blue one, indicating various temporal paradoxes that were not as serious—but still important—as the one Royce was assigning to them.

 

One red line blinked several times to indicate their mission and a holographic photo of Doctor Zefram Cochrane floated next to the graph along with his bio. The display rotated 360˚ slowly so that the senior staff could see it as the information turned toward them.

 

Once again, Lynch interrupted Royce. “I do not usually consider any incursion of the timeline to be easy or minor, ladies and gentlemen, but this one seems to be fairly routine; Cochrane was a drunk and always tended to babel too much—telling many tall tales to anyone who would listen, so many considered his stories to be the ramblings of a career alcoholic.

 

We’ve been very lucky with Cochrane in the normal timeline up to now because he is the hinge pin of our entire culture and our technology. It was only a matter of time before he was targeted in an attempt to unravel Earth’s history. The Borg knew that in the 24th century and that’s why they tried to kill him. The intelligence we have indicates that someone must have done something to effect the timeline—most probably one of the Temporal Factions.  You must take care of this situation with a relatively minor impact on the original timeline and since Cochrane was already visited by Captain Picard, Commander Riker and other crew of the Enterprise-E from the 24th century, Admiral Royce and I feel it’s appropriate and authorized to deal directly with Cochrane since he already has experienced time travelers from the future and knows about the existence of temporal travel from his dealings with Picard and Riker because…”

 

Royce went ballistic over being interrupted at his own briefing so many times. After all: Rank Has Its Privileges (RHIP for short) and Lynch had no say in the Temporal Operations Command. That was solely Royce’s domain.

 

Royce broke in with a very angry tone.

 

“Nonetheless, your spatial coordinates are right here on Earth, so you can go back to that date or a few days before, cloak, and then deal with this issue in whatever means is necessary to restore the timeline to integrity. All protocols regarding no contact with other people or detection by the Vulcans or any other alien race in that era are in effect, however, since Doctor Cochrane’s knowledge of time travel was never erased, you’re hereby authorized to make direct contact with him in order to accomplish your mission; Dismissed!”

 

Royce and Lynch stood followed by Murrieta and his staff. As the two Admirals exited the holographic door you could hear Royce chewing out Lynch for hijacking his briefing in no uncertain terms. There was little doubt that putting the two of them together was nearly enough cause for a sun to go nova.

 

Murrieta learned all he needed to know about Lynch this day. Lynch had a thirst for power and that makes him potentially dangerous. Since his immediate superior was his father, Admiral Harold Lynch, Murrieta vowed to himself to steer a wide berth around Lynch whenever possible in the future.

 

Murrieta spoke to Spock through the com-link. “Mister Spock?”

 

“Yes sir?” Spock said respectfully.

 

“Nine to beam back to the ship please,” Murrieta was ready to go on his first mission and wanted to begin as soon as possible.

 

“Aye Captain,” Spock replied.

 

The senior staff dissolved in the transporter beam.

 

 

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