As he looked out the window, he saw a peaceful world.
Intar was much like his own homeworld, Bajor, as it was before the Occupation.
Yineth Nikara could see the scars that the Intarans had endured in fighting off Tzenkethi raids. The damage to the fields on the southern continent could be seen even from orbit.
The Ernst Ruska’s captain had been reading and re-reading the reports filed by Captains Picard, Harris, and Th’Nar. For all their apparent shortcomings, the Intarans’ resistance against the Tzenkethi reminded him of his time in the Bajoran Resistance. The Occupation had taken many lives, including those of his wife and son. To him, the Tzenkethi might be overgrown house cats, but to the Intarans, they held the promise of being evil oppressors, much as the Cardassians had been before the Federation began their administration of Deep Space Nine.
Looking down at his PADD, he thumbed through Lieutenant Commander Ikar’s report about the recent Tzenkethi incursion. This thoughts were interrupted by the door chime’s distinctive ring.
The doors opened to admit his executive officer, Commander Henry Nash, who was carrying a padd of his own. He was accompanied by Lieutenant John Colby, the Nottingham-class starship’s chief tactical officer.
“Gentlemen,” Captain Yineth said, greeting them, as he turned away from the window, “what can I do for you?” Silently, he motioned for both officers to assume the chairs in front of his desk.
“We’re still in the process of beaming down cargo and personnel for Gwalior, sir,” Colby said, who remained standing as the commander took the offered seat. The dark-skinned officer folded his hands behind him and stood at ease. As a former Federation Marine who had transferred to Starfleet Security after the war, his Corps training was still a part of him. “According to the quartermaster, the Intarans seem to have a different process of checking, re-checking, and storing all of the equipment. The local hospital is insisting that everyone be medically checked before reporting for duty.”
“I’m sure their procedures aren’t appreciably different from our own, Lieutenant. Our technology merely allows us to do them nearly instantaneously. We certainly don't want a repeat of what happened to Sergeant Major Corwin. I trust that Chief Lewis and her people are capable of working through any snafus?”
“I’m also sure that Doctor Reh’loryn will be happy to give the Intarans a hand, should they need one.” Reh’loryn was a physician from the Klingon Exchange Program whose assignment to the Ernst Ruska had been requested by Commander Worf, in his last days as the Federation's ambassador to the Klingon Empire. Despite a few incidents when she had first come aboard, the Klingon woman was a quite capable medical professional.
“If I may, I’d like to bring up a security issue, sir,” Commander Nash said, ignoring the light banter between the security chief and the captain. Handing the Bajoran his padd, he continued, "Lieutenant Breeze has told me that we’ve been receiving a number of requests for tours of the ship from the base public affairs office since our arrival.”
“It seems that the popularity of the Marshal Martz has worn off onto us. What’s your concern, Henry?”
“I’m concerned about possible sabotage attempts, sir,” Nash said, setting his PADD down on the captain’s desk. “These are people who aren’t familiar with our level of technology, and until fairly recently, they didn’t even know there were other sentient species beyond their star system.”
“It’s almost like when the Vulcans first came to Earth, sir,” Colby piped in.
“There could also be Tzenkethi sympathizers.”
Yineth nodded at them, moving to sit down behind his desk. Picking up Nash’s PADD, he saw a list of security contingency plans on it. “Hmm…,” he murmured to himself, speed-reading the report. “I’ll bring the matter up with the general, but I think you’re wrong, Henry. We’ve been sent here to represent the United Federation of Planets and to protect the Intarans. If we instituted these ‘security procedures’ aboard the Ernst Ruska, we… I would be setting a policy that I’ve fought against all of my life. Besides, they’re not quite as primitive as your people were when Dr. Cochrane made his first flight. These people have had warp drive for nearly forty years.”
“This isn’t Earth, Captain, nor is it Bajor.”
Yineth narrowed his eyes at his first officer. Nash’s assignment as his second-in-command had been a computer-generated decision by Starfleet Command, before the Ernst Ruska had gone to the Gamma Quadrant on their last mission. The officer that he had handpicked for the XO’s position had been tapped by Starfleet Intelligence at the last moment.
“Commander, I will pretend you didn’t say that,” he said, returning to his feet.
“Bridge to Captain Yineth.”
“Sir, you’re needed out here.”
“Acknowledged.” Tapping his combadge to deactivate it, Nikara walked around his desk and stopped in front of Nash, who stood up from his own chair. “Henry, we’ll discuss this later. I don’t like loose ends.”
“Aye, sir,” he said, following the Bajoran out of the ready room.
Walking out onto the bridge, Yineth could see that everyone was on edge. As Nash and Colby moved to assume their positions, he walked towards the center of the bridge, stopping next to Lieutenant Commander Joan Kelby, his operations officer.
“We’ve received a request from Gwalior Base to aim our short-range sensors at something near the flight range,” the brunette said, turning aside to look at him before returning to her panel.
“What’s so unusual about that?” Nash asked from the first officer’s chair.
“Well, what the shuttle and our sensors discovered,” Kelby said, putting the source of the emergency on the main viewer, “is something that could ruin everybody's day.”
“By the Prophets…”
The Citadel Spaceport, which was in reality one of the largest of the city’s airport’s terminals, was filled with a multitude spanning much of the local galaxy, with an occasional Intaran. While a fair portion of the aliens were from Starfleet, a number of civilian ships had come seeking commerce.
With the arrival of the Federation upon their shores, business was booming, and seeing a lot of happy people brought a smile to Andrew Mundi’s face. Of course, he was happy for other reasons.
“See them, do you, Andrew?”
Standing beside him, Lieutenant Commander Ikar wore civilian clothes, like her first officer. Unlike the Hawaiian shirt and dark trousers that the younger man wore, the green-skinned Horrusi was attired in a gold blouse and dark trousers. Only the commbadges they wore identified them as Starfleet.
“No, not yet,” Mundi answered, politely waving away another food vendor. Though he accepted the choice the Intarans had made, he was starting to find their desire to ‘fatten him up a bit’ an annoyance.
“Sure, you are, on the Wozrel, they came?” Ikar asked him, her head stretching in her attempts to look over the crowds. It was an exercise in futility, as she stood only as high as her first officer’s waist.
“Kara said it was the Bolian ship.”
“Three Bolian freighters, arrived, they have.”
Mundi nodded, looking up at the large monitor that displayed arrivals and departures. Some thoughtful programmer had reconfigured it to display Federation Standard as well as the local Intaran dialect. The Wozrel was one of the ships shown to have just landed on the tarmac.
The dark-skinned man smiled when he saw which arrival gate that was being used for arriving passengers.
“C’mon!” he said to his commanding officer. Moving at a quick jog, he moved ahead of Ikar, who tried desperately to keep up with him.
“Andrew!” a happy voice called out to him.
Standing on the edge of the arrival gate, Kara Mundi and her daughters, Myra and Sarah, were waiting for him. Andrew’s smile grew wider when he saw them. He ran up to them and grabbed his wife, pulling her into a fierce hug. Their lips met as the lieutenant lowered her back to her feet.
“Oh, it’s so good to see you!” Andrew whispered into his wife’s ear.
“It’s good to see you too, honey.”
“Auntie Ikar!” the girls screamed in unison when Ikar finally caught up with her first officer. The Horrusi smiled at the girls as they ran to embrace her. She had never expected to be adopted by the Mundi family, but since she didn’t have a family of her own after leaving Horrus, they were a valuable substitute.
“To my heart, good feelings, they are, seeing you,” she said, accepting a kiss on the cheek from Myra. Both girls stood as tall as she did, turning to watch Andrew and Kara sharing several kisses between them. Her first officer’s love for his wife was a passionate one, and protecting them was the force that drove his service to Starfleet.
“Ikar, it’s good to see you,” Kara told her, once Andrew gave her a chance to come up for air.
“The flight, good, it was, hmmmmm?” The Horrusi asked, as she walked next to the Mundi family on their way through the spaceport.
“I saw a Boolian!” Sarah told her, smiling.
“It was a Bolian, silly,” Myra corrected her younger sister.
“Espero to Commander Ikar,” suddenly came over the Horrusi’s commbadge.
“What the--,” Mundi started to say. It was supposed to be their day off.
Ikar held up a hand and moved aside to a quiet alcove. Tapping her commbadge, she said,” Ikar, this is. Go ahead.”
“Skipper, this is Ensign Lake,” the operations officer answered her. “I’m sorry to interrupt your day off, but General Rentoshi is asking for all captains to report to him immediately.”
“I see. Transporter relays, orbited, are they?”
“Ernst Ruska and Kumari are running transporter relays.”
“Onto my signal, lock on. Back to the ship, beam me.”
“Should I inform Lieutenant Mundi?”
Ikar looked at his first officer, seeing a worried expression on his face. She certainly didn’t want to interrupt his reunion with his family. She smiled, turning back to the conversation with Ensign Lake.
“Bother him, you shouldn’t, Mr. Lake. A day off, deserves it, he does.”
“Aye, ma’am. Locking on transporter.”
With a wave of her hand to Andrew, Kara, and the girls, the Horrusi commander disappeared in a wave of blue energy, just as an announcement sounded over the terminal’s public address system.
“All captains, please report to Gwalior facility immediately. All captains to Gwalior immediately.”
An Rentoshi looked out at the assembled aliens before him. Most were civilians, but the black, gray and red uniforms of the Starfleet commanding officers were distinctive.
“Captains,” he began, slowly pacing along the edge of the small stage, “thank you for coming. We find ourselves in need of your assistance. An asteroid is heading for this planet that will, if allowed to hit, end civilization as we know it, and likely cause a mass extinction event. Normally, we would position a nuclear or photonic charge and push the asteroid off course. Unfortunately, we do not have that option.”
One of the civilian captains signaled for recognition, standing at Rentoshi’s nod. “What about those quantum torpedoes the Defiant class ships carry? They could pulverize your average asteroid.”
“We don’t have any,” Mike McCune, the captain of the Hammersley, answered. “We used them fighting off the last mass Tzenkethi raid, and resupply is two months out.”
“In a similar situation, we are,” Ikar added. “Manufacture quantum torpedoes, Starbase 128 cannot.”
“Same with the big ships. We have a few, but not enough to affect this thing,” the Kumari’s Andorian captain added.
“I understand that some of your ships have more powerful tractor beams than those used by Starfleet,” Rentoshi said. “I’ve asked Commander M’Rowri to brief you in more detail. I will be reporting to the Prime Councilor, and I’d like to be able to go to him with a plan.” He stepped aside, allowing everyone to see the large screen behind him. “Commander?”
“Thank you, General,” the Caitian engineer replied, activating the small control panel built into the podium. “The object we are facing is an irregular piece of iron approximately four kilometers in diameter, closing at a velocity of one tenth light speed.”
There was a wave of whispers and murmurs that quickly passed.
“Obviously, this is not a natural occurrence. This thing was deliberately accelerated, and the projected course bears that out.”
At the touch of his finger, the screen came alive with a simulation of an impact. “Computer predictions,” he continued, “indicate an impact in the mountainous region to the west of this city. At predicted angle and velocity, more than ten million cubic kilometers of planetary crust will be melted or vaporized, and the released energy will be equivalent to 4.5 billion photon torpedoes. A global seismic event of 12.3 on the Terran Richter Scale will be produced, as will an atmospheric overpressure of 129 meters per second at the antipode. Wile this will not destroy all life, it will, as the general stated, end all civilization on this planet. I believe this object was very carefully targeted to leave as much arable land and existing crops intact as possible, as the antipode is located in the prime tanzila growing region, which was just replanted following the government-ordered burn.
“Based on current readings, we do not have enough firepower in this system to destroy enough of it to significantly alter its trajectory. What we need is a Fesarius-class tractor beam or some way to destroy this rock, and we have twenty days to come up with it.”
“What about Blount Island?”
Dominic Baier, the captain of the ship in question, turned in his seat. “Blount Island is a construction ship, not a tug. Our tractor beams are built for precision, not raw power.”
“It looks like we’re going to have to think outside the box,” M’Rowri remarked. “I’ll be reporting to the Prime Councilor with the General, but I’ll make my engineers available to consult with all of your and your engineers. Maybe together, we can come up with something.”
“Obviously,” Rentoshi said as the screen went dark, “evacuation is out of the question. Just here in Citadel, which would be obliterated just by the overpressure, we have a population approaching five million. Planetary population is approaching 3.8 billion. Also, I would ask you all, and your crews, to keep the information quiet. Mass panic can be just as devastating as an impact.
“Are there any more questions?”
He was met by silence.
“I know some of your planets have faced this sort of threat before, and I can only pray that, with your help, this planet will survive. Thank you all.”
More to come.