"Heart of a Klingon"
Duncan Swan was on a secret mission within Klingon space. The captain was undercover with such skill that he would be arrested for treason. His first officer observed him drinking alcohol he could not handle.
"Okay," Duncan said raising his glass, "now I'm drunk."
Letting out a great laugh, K'nor said, "I like listening to your stories, human."
There was a brief silence. Duncan was chosen for the assignment for his ability to hold liquor.
"I wish revenge on the Federation, too," K'nor confessed.
Duncan began to deceive, "I do have a plan."
"Impossible," the Klingon stated.
He continued, "The shuttle that I use to transport contraband might be outfitted with a makeshift holodeck emitter. It could carry troops. You said you had connections with some – how should I say – soldiers of fortune?"
Drunk, the Klingon decided to ask, "How could hundreds of Klingon soldiers fit on your tiny ship?"
Duncan returned, "You don't know what a holodeck is, do you?"
"No," K'nor asserted drink in hand.
Duncan smiled to say, "It can turn matter into energy."
The Klingon's eyes lit up, "Turn them into energy patterns?"
"It's a good idea," the Klingon said, "but people don't work for free. We have no money to pay these soldiers with."
"Yes, we do," the Starfleet officer explained. "My shuttle has, what we call, food replicators and material fabricators. Together, we could go into Klingon space and provide goods at a reasonable price."
"That's how we get the money?" K'nor asked in astonishment – it was so simple after it was explained to him.
"That's how we get the money," the Starfleet officer concluded.
"What would we do with this army?" K'nor asked loudly.
Duncan said the first thing that came to his mind, "Steal a starship."
His Klingon companion cried out, "A Federation starship! Then we can go to Earth and dominate the world!"
K'nor held his liquor better. Duncan was not aware that he was under surveillance. Lori Gates, the first officer of the Reliant, was watching him. It was the chance she needed to cheat the captain out of his chair.
"Captain Red Shirt"
The Ambassador-class Cleopatra had Captain John Rogers in command. For an entire afternoon, a Federation starship was shadowing them from afar. In this mystery, the starship they were tracking did not respond to any hails. In the brig, Duncan Swan awaited a court martial.
"Report!" John demanded arriving on the bridge.
The ship was being fired at from an extreme range. The first officer, Elvin Swan, responded sitting at the helm, "Sir! That's no ordinary weapon!"
"What kind of weapon is it?!" the captain shouted at him.
"It's a shuttlecraft!" Elvin cried as the ship was hit. The ship was hit with immense force. Elvin brushed sweat from his brow.
"Captain! Shields are up!" the chief engineer informed the bridge.
"Red alert!" the captain responded.
There had never been a battle like this before. They had taken a very large hit on their hull with a shuttlecraft. It was imperative that they survive this battle. It was important for them to warn others.
Meanwhile, on the attacking ship, a Ferengi, Hugo, was dominating the Excelsior-class Holt Jerome. He had many races with him – all pirates. It was a stolen ship that was very damaged.
"Have you launched another shuttle yet?!" he inquired of his first officer.
"Yes! Launching!" the first officer shouted.
A human female was on the bridge of the Excelsior-class vessel. The Ferengi did not allow women to wear clothes in their presence. She chose to contribute words to the battle, "They raised their shields! Hit 'em again!"
The Ferengi commander slowly swiveled his chair towards her, "You, treasonous woman, get out of my sight."
Knowing him to be serious, she ran off the bridge. She just happened to be the former first officer of the Constellation-class Vanguard sobbing at her mistake.
The shuttle they launched had only one pilot. It went into high warp on a collision course for the Cleopatra. Just before it hit, the Klingon pilot cried out, "Death before dishonor!"
"Sir! Our shields have fallen!" an officer yelled. The blow left Captain Rogers unconscious on the deck. Doctor Selak helped the captain.
First Officer Elvin Swan gave the last order, "All hands! Abandon ship!"
"Why can't we just fire back at them?!" cried the weapons' chief.
"Because they're too far away!"
Duncan Swan was running to an escape pod in his old uniform. He ran towards the escape pods closest to the brig. Everyone had the same idea – distance between them and the ship. They couldn't have run any faster.
Drunk minds think alike – Hugo chose to assault the Cleopatra because Duncan was on board. The pirates earned the title, 'mercenaries from hell.' There was nothing the starship could do. It was dead in space.
"They are abandoning ship, Captain," someone told Hugo.
Standing up, Hugo said, "We will salvage what we can to meet our own diabolical ends. Prepare the secret weapon."
"The transporter, sir?" the alien at ops asserted.
"Yes," he stated, "we will take that ship the same way we took this one. It will be the second ship in our armada."
A very large Gorn stood behind him. Hugo explained, "This nameless Gorn warrior will be cloned with my adjustments to the transporter. Then we will beam wave after wave at them until the Cleopatra is ours."
He had an evil smile.
Meanwhile, on the distant Ambassador-class starship, few people had access to an escape pod. Those that didn't have access were floating around with the artificial gravity damaged in the attack.
"How could this happen?" Duncan asked as the escape pod launched.
Sara Baker chose the same escape pod he did, "Well, where do I begin? Your terrorist plot was put on the news. You're responsible for this."
"Before my court martial?" he asked her.
He hoped it was just a bad dream. Sara was only there as a witness for the defense. She could have died. There was no way he could win his case. Then she told him, "Your brother was also on board. He was the first officer."
They looked out of the escape pod window to see the massive damage inflicted upon the Cleopatra. It did not fire one shot in this battle. Many people were murdered without mercy. Duncan felt responsible.
The escape pods were collected by a nearby old freighter. The survivors were rescued by the J-class freighter Mustang. The freighter reminded Duncan of his time on the Vanguard. Then things went from bad to worse.
"He's dead," a nurse told him.
"What?" he cried. Sara knew to stand back. He was going to lose it. He lost his best friend. He didn't even know Selak was on board.
"We've counted everybody," the nurse explained. "Selak did not make it to an escape pod in time."
Duncan began to pace.
"He was my best friend," he said. "I'm not going to stand for this."
He interrupted the freighter captain as he made his report to Starfleet. The captain was overweight. The Starfleet officer could deal with him easily. He inquired, "Do you have a shuttle capable of any warp speeds?"
"Yes," said the captain.
"I am going to have to requisition it," he said.
"Are you even in Starfleet?!" the captain asked. "That's my only shuttle! You can't do this to me! Stop! You don't have the authority!"
Duncan ran out of the cargo hold towards his destiny. Sara knew it was impossible to stop him. She held the nurse back, "He'll be alright."
The shuttle was small. It felt more like an escape pod than anything else. It was cramped. He readied for launch and contacted the bridge of the Mustang, "Please open the shuttlebay doors."
It took a while for the bridge to respond. Then it replied, "You have permission to leave. We are opening the doors."
The doors opened.
The shuttle was so small that it crept up on the Holt Jerome quickly. Duncan had them right in his sights. He activated its warp engine. His intention was to ram the Holt Jerome, "For my father, my father's father and—"
The direct hit obliterated the stolen pirate vessel. Hugo's reign of terror was over. They then rescued the Cleopatra from its captors. Duncan had made the ultimate sacrifice. Selak survived to mourn the fallen officers.
"Survival of the Fittest"
Sara Baker had become an alcoholic. Her friend was murdered. Elvin Swan visited her at Spacedock while Cleopatra was undergoing repairs. She had plans to reanimate her friend with a transporter. She was drunk.
"You have to stop drinking," Elvin told her.
She chose the lounge that overlooked the retired Vanguard, "His essence is still within the transporter buffer. All we have to do is get to it."
"That's illegal," he assured, "and you know it."
He thought for a moment then said, "Alright. Let's do it."
Beaming to the Constellation-class ship, they had little time. Lieutenant Commander Elvin Swan reported, "The ship has been retired. The antimatter has been taken out of the engines. There is little chance of success."
"Come on," Sara ordered. "We can't stop now."
They started to retrieve Duncan. It did not turn out well. He was crying out in pain as every molecule in his body was torn to shreds.
"Jesus," Sara spoke.
A moment passed, then she said, "We have to try it again."
"There is no way we're doing this again," he responded. "We're already going to lose everything if we get caught."
Sara cried, "We have already lost everything! We can't explain this!"
She was serious, "I am going to do this one more time. I don't care what you think. I'm going to do this. You can leave if you want to."
"Fine," he smiled tugging on his uniform. He secretly wanted his brother to materialize in the same horrible way he did before.
"We can always try again," Sara noted.
The second time was a charm. Duncan Swan was safe and sound on the transporter pad. The problem was that he wore the same uniform he had when the Vanguard was retired one year before. The officers waited for arrest. The three of them were demoted one whole grade. It was a miracle.
Duncan Swan tugged on his uniform. He was given the long explanation on why he was alive and how he came to be. His brother explained it all. And, with a shallow apology, they talked about his future.
The lieutenant junior grade stated, "If what you're saying is true, I'm a year younger than I should be and the ship I serve is out of commission."
His brother replied, "Not to mention that your department has been replaced by computers."
Elvin was also going through some hard times. He was demoted one grade to full lieutenant. He was no longer the first officer of the Cleopatra.
There was a pause.
"I know the future I want," he replied. "It's in the past."
His brother realized what he was implying and responded, "No. Not in a million years. We'd never get away with it."
"Yes," Duncan spoke.
"You want me to smuggle you back onto the Vanguard and beam you into the past?" he stressed. "We could only attempt that once. You could die."
"You asked me what I wanted," Duncan told him.
Security was everywhere. It kept the two from boarding. Duncan had to be beamed in from Spacedock. Elvin beamed his brother in in such a way that he might travel through time. He materialized two years before.
Duncan turned to see no one in the transporter room. Lisa Hovelson then appeared. She believed he was in his quarters. His first impulse was to murder his alternate self to avert a time paradox. He did not know why. Entering his quarters, he killed his alternate with a phaser.
"What is the stardate?" he asked the computer.
The computer replied in a pleasant voice, "Stardate 45921.5."
Duncan subconsciously remembered that stardate. The Vanguard tractor beamed a lifeless Borg cube to Deep Space Nine. He thought the Borg cube might become active. He ran to the bridge.
Captain Sean Brinkledge inquired, "I was under the impression it was your off hours. Do you want more time at tactical?"
"No, Captain," Duncan told him. "It doesn't make any sense. Borg cubes do not deactivate like that. It could be a sneak attack."
The captain replied, "It's alright. Our chief engineer led an away team to the Borg cube. We know why it's nonoperational – a Starfleet officer named Adam Inkolar was assimilated. His will was so strong that the cube shut down."
"That's amazing," Duncan smiled.
The captain passed him a PADD, "I was just about to recommend to Starfleet that we promote the chief engineer to full commander."
"What about Adam?" he had to ask.
Sean responded, "I'm requesting he be assigned to us, even though that means taking his commission until we know his loyalties."
The Constellation-class Vanguard was peacefully towing the Borg cube. The mission was to reverse engineer the Borg technology. Duncan had to wait in line to see the officer they liberated from the Borg Collective.
He was not yet out of surgery. He was talking, though. He didn't know his name. His uniform could be seen under all the Borg implants. It was that of a lieutenant and operations officer. He was very brave.
"Hello, Adam," Duncan said.
"Why do people keep on calling me that?" Adam asked.
Duncan smiled and explained, "That is your name. It means, Man."
"Adam," he repeated. "I am Man."
The supply officer went over to the doctor to ask, "What did you do to his eyes? Are they supposed to be that color?"
"We had to give him artificial eyes," the doctor replied. "But, don't worry, he will be as healthy as a horse."
"Why did you choose red?" he inquired.
The Vulcan doctor responded, "I blessed him with the rarest eye color a human could have. You're not the first person to ask me that."
Lieutenant Junior Grade Duncan Swan smiled as he left sickbay. The Borg cube they tractor beamed was going to be dismantled. The Vanguard completed a mission. It was a victory. As he returned to duty, his memories of things to come would fade in time. No one noticed the change in his hair.
The Federation Council decided to give a sector of space to the superior forces of the Klingon Empire in a plot for peace. Duncan Swan was assigned to the tactical station ready to obey his first officer.
"How far are we willing to go?" he asked her.
Fatigued, she stated, "As far as we can for a peaceful resolution to the tensions we have with the Klingon Empire."
Duncan said, "It's not that bad. They simply outnumber us. All we have to do is not fire the first shot. Then we can win any war."
This fact elated the first officer. A young ensign entered the bridge. She passed Duncan a PADD and claimed him with a hug. Witnessing it, the first officer ordered him into the ready room for an embrace.
He was confused. He contacted his brother. Elvin was at the Academy to teach a lecture on warp theory. He was transported there by the captain in the shuttlecraft Rhine.
"What exactly did she say?" Elvin inquired.
He confessed, "She thought I was a boyfriend for that new ensign in engineering. At first, I rejected her advances, but she—"
"Advances?" Elvin cried. "Are we talking about the same woman?"
He hesitated to say, "She said that I could not begin a relationship with Ensign Baker without her approving it. Sara was given a promotion because of me surrendering myself to her."
"No kidding," his brother asked. "How was it?"
He smiled and said, "It was great."
The Klingons, unfortunately, intercepted the message and ended the negotiations. The ambassador was an admiral. She didn't know why, but her men were being forced off the planet. Duncan chose to beam down.
With weapons fire everywhere, he started to run towards the center of the disturbance. He believed he was responsible and came unarmed. As the ambassador was fleeing, he faced the Klingons.
"I am responsible for this," he spoke. "Punish me for the insult to your people. Do not harm the innocents in the starship above."
"We honor you by learning to speak your language," the ambassador responded waving a blade, "and you disrespect your own women?"
"I don't understand," Duncan said to the Klingons. "We have given you an entire sector. How could you look a gift horse in the mouth?"
It was the insult the Klingon ambassador needed to challenge him to single combat. He thrust his blade into the negotiating table. In an attempt to continue the negotiations, the officer cut his own temple with the blade.
"For that," the Klingon said, "you will live only for today. Run. But know the Federation will be hunted as long as you are still alive."
He bowed with respect as he knew war had begun. The Vanguard became damaged by a Vor'cha-class attack cruiser when lowering shields to recover those on the planet surface. Duncan became the next first officer.
Later, in the officers' lounge, Sara Baker demanded truth. He told her exactly what he had to. He chose to omit only one truth. He stood up as if he was to give a presentation. He used body language.
"Is that right?" she asked honestly. "Did I get promoted because of you getting with the female in charge? We weren't even together."
He explained with a shrug, "She thought we were."
"I believe you," she said raising a glass. "If we survive this war, I am going to marry you. Not only did you make me a lieutenant, you made me the reason for a war that will scar the Klingons forever."
"I started this war with a simple insult," he asserted. "Losing this war is inevitable. The Federation will be hunted until I die."
Lieutenant Sara Baker had only one question for him, "Was she prettier than me? Because, if she was, I'm going to end you."
That was the moment he lowered his head in shame. Duncan could no longer look her in the eye. He became sad. The one truth that he chose to omit was a reference to Sara being less attractive. It was a fatal mistake.
History would repeat itself. The Vanguard was meeting its destiny on the battlefield. Elvin Swan was blown from the helm station. Selak rushed to treat his wounds as the explosion threw shrapnel everywhere.
"Bridge!" Sara cried. Duncan ran to his brother at the helm station. The ship's computer was counting down the seconds until a warp core breach.
"Yes!" Duncan answered her.
"We don't have much time!" Sara continued. Duncan looked back at the captain to see him with shrapnel lodged in his forehead from an explosion.
"I know!" he replied. "The captain's dead!"
Selak started to pray for the lost. Tapping her communicator, Sara Baker contacted the bridge. She responded, "I've done all I can do, goodbye!"
"No, wait!" Duncan yelled. He ran to the tactical station in an attempt to appear heroic by firing weapons. The last salvo from the phaser banks missed the two K'vort-class targets.
He was an acting tactical with a command. He was not trained for combat. His final act was to focus the viewscreen on engineering. Gazing upon his one true love, he then recalled the battle he was about to lose.
The one survivor of Vanguard was detained at New Zealand. It was where Starfleet officers went when they lost their freedom. She was in her cell when a security officer came to ask her questions.
"The starship Vanguard was destroyed," stated the officer.
Sitting down, she asked, "My starship Vanguard?"
The officer responded with silence. The decorated commander started to cry when she realized Duncan inadvertently saved her life with the charges against her.
On one knee, the officer asked, "I once wanted to serve on Vanguard. What was it that started this war with the Klingons?"
"Well," the prisoner started, "I saw a new ensign, Baker, I think her name was, lifting a leg as she hugged an acting tactical on my bridge."
The officer was confused, "Did she claim him?"
"Yes," she nodded her head in shame. The guard eavesdropping at the door tapped his communicator to inform his superiors that the prisoner was to be released. Her badge was suspended to test how loyal she was.
Knowing she was under surveillance, she contacted an asteroid within Klingon space famous for the strongest drinks in all the universe. K'nor drank there to acquire information. They spoke via subspace.
"Okay," K'nor said raising his glass, "now I'm drunk."
"I don't care if you're drunk," she firmly stated. "This guy gave his life to save mine and didn't even know what he was doing. So pay attention."
"Sorry," the Klingon stressed, "I'm too poor to pay attention. I traffic information and traffic it well. Know what I mean?"
Electronically transmitting all the bars of gold-pressed latinum she could get her hands on, the commander asked, "How can I save this loser?"
"Well," K'nor burped, "you could save him with a transporter buffer, if the ships he served on were not lost in battle."
It took a while for her to realize the implication, "Time travel? How far should I go? One year? Two years? How many?"
"It doesn't matter," K'nor answered. "Some believe an alternate universe is created with every trip in time. That is, if you survive."
She travelled back to the first mission of the Prime Maxim to rescue him as a guest on the starship Reliant. At first, the commander was not certain her mission was ethical. She then noticed the change in his hair.
One night, as an ensign serving on the starship Vanguard, Duncan Swan walked to the bridge assigned to the helm. It was a station run by his brother, a lieutenant. He was away from his station.
"Where is the first officer?" the ensign asked. He secretly had a crush on the commander. Duncan knew her before she knew him. He was attracted to her for saving his life.
"She went to look for you," the captain replied. Ensign Herald Brigs was also serving on the bridge that night as acting tactical. It was good that he chose to do so.
The helmsman was more disappointed than you could possibly imagine after realizing what was going on. He broke the silence, "Oh, shoot!"
"Ensign!" Sean Brinkledge cried at the officer running. The ensign ran towards his brother's quarters. He bumped into the commander in the corridor believing she was with Elvin. But she had just left Duncan's.
Duncan transferred immediately from the Vanguard back to the Prime Maxim. He was in line for a nice, quiet spot at the helm. But, first, he chose to speak before returning to the ship of Galaxy-class.
"He raped her in my quarters," the young officer spoke in shame. Captain Stark was holding back as it upset her.
She had to inquire, "How do you know it was rape?"
"I was on the bridge to take a shift by his request," he began. "I never gave my brother permission to enter my quarters either."
Grinning, his captain asked, "Could it be a coincidence? He is a better officer. He has a superior rank and position. You could be less of a man. The two might have been having an affair."
"Why was she waiting in my quarters?" he asked the two.
A pause took place that needed some time to pass. Then she, Doris, turned to the captain of the Constellation-class ship to say, "You're dead."
In time, the Vanguard would be decommissioned by the fleet. Its captain asked that Elvin Swan lose only one grade. Duncan was ever so fond of his commander before this incident. It hurt him.
Love conquers all. It also took time for the ensign to finish therapy. He was not up for promotion until the therapy was over. All in all, the only therapy he needed was time for his wound to heal. Incest was a crime.
Lori Gates was on USS Reliant. No one wished to be captain because of the instability of the Maranda-class vessel created by the full-power start it experienced a century before. She drank water.
"Well, self," she started as she sat alone, "here we are."
Lori sipped her drink, "Less crew are on board than can operate."
"I need a miracle," she spoke leaving abruptly for the bridge. The walls seemed to shimmer as it sometimes did. It was annoying to her at times.
"Bridge," Commander Gates said tapping her communicator.
"Yes," a lone voice from deck one stated. "I'm glad to know you're still in command. I'm considering leaving and—"
"I know how you feel," she replied coming onto the bridge. She thought about things as she lost her breath. It took some time for it to return.
Smiling, a thought occurred, "Son of a gun!"
"What," the engineer lazily inquired.
She gingerly sat down in her captain's chair to proudly say something as equally as profound, "I have a dream every night about a boy who is captain of this vessel. And I have never even met him before."
She held her head in her hands, "And there's nothing I can do."
Lori Gates was at her finest acquiring the rank of commander. In another place, Duncan was her captain. They had never met. He might not leave therapy as she might not a captain have to operate the ship, so unpopular.