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Monday, September 7, 2009

An Enemy from the Dark. A New Mission. Chapter One

Hello Troops,
This is a repost of the first chapter of a story I'm writing. It was orginally posted last Christmas. I haven't done much with it since then. I've decided to continue the story now that the school year is underway.

I enjoyed writing our school mission 'The Children of Perikoi'. I enjoy telling it even more. I've wanted to continue the story and did once several summers ago. The mission was told in the Galileo. It was OK but not what it should have been. I blame myself for that. Not everything you write is good. This is another attempt at a continuation of Perikoi using our own staff and volunteers as characters.
Enjoy and post comments. I'd like to know what you think.
Mr. Williamson

December 21, 2321
23:00 Hours
McAuliffe Station, Earth Orbit.

The McAuliffe Station’s Lounge was located at one end of Hallway 12A on Deck 12 near the Officer's Quarters.  The hallway was futuristic in design, with softly rounded corners where the walls met the holotop.  The holotop ceiling displayed a 3D sky as one would see on Earth's surface.  A holosun tracked the correct position of the Sun as seen in the sky over San Francisco.   A bright moon and stars lit the hallway a deep twilight during the evening hours.

Two brightly polished oak doors separated the lounge from the hallway. Each door had an over sized port hole with the station’s logo etched in glass. The station’s Command Training Academy (CTA) was a brisk 45 second walk to the opposite end of Hallway. The CTA section housed the staff and instructor's office's and academy class rooms. Between the lounge and academy, Hallway 12A passed several staff quarters, two turbolift elevators and a small convenience shop managed by the academy's senior class.  The shop benefited the both the senior and junior cadets.  The senior's got valuable work experience and the cadets had access to a never ending supply of reasonably priced sweets and sodas.  The hallway was carpeted in a speckled blue carpet.  Fiber illuminated lighting was stitched in the carpet, displaying the number of each room.

It was 23:00 hours. The Station’s Christmas party was in its third hour.  The sound of laughter and singing poured into Hallway 12A every time the doors slid open.  The noise didn’t matter . Two thirds of the station’s staff were at the party.  The others were on duty.

A large Christmas Tree stood on the opposite end of the room from the entrance. It was decorated with holographic ornaments. The ornaments changed color and design to match the beat of the music. False Flame took the place of traditional Christmas tree lights, giving the tree a very 19th century look.  A two hundred year old glass star crowned the tree, compliments of the station commander’s wife.

The people in the room divided themselves by choice. Starfleet Officers occupied one end of the room. They were the ones who ran the daily military operations of the station. The educational staff gathered on the other end of the room. They commanded and staffed the Command Training Academy (CTA). The CTA was a special military boarding school for gifted 13 to 16 year olds wanting careers in Starfleet.  After graduation, most CTA students found themselves at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. Their time in the CTA placed them well ahead of their peers.  That advantage made getting into the CTA very competitive.  The majority of the academy’s cadets were on home leave for the holiday. Those who remained were looked after by instructors and the academy's house parents.

The Lounge doors slid open.  The director of the CTA, entered the room.   Commander Williamson was fashionably late. He looked around and noticed the demarcation line between the two camps. He moved toward the side of the room reserved for the CTA staff.

“Hello Sir and Merry Christmas,” Lt. Stacy Carrell said. She was the first to see the Commander. The others in her group stopped talking in mid sentence and extended their holiday greetings .

“I see you’re all having a good time,” Commander Williamson observed. He glanced around and noticed the absence of his senior officers. “Where are the old timers?"

“There were sitting at that far table. They’re gone now,” replied Lt. Bracken Funk.

“I see that Lieutenant. Anyone have an idea where they went?” the Commander asked.

“Not a clue,” Lt. Emily Perry sang as she danced rhythmically to an upbeat Christmas carol. She had a drink in her hand. Some of it spilled onto the carpet. Williamson reached out, took the cup and smelled its contents. “I don’t drink Commander,” She replied curtly while taking back the drink. “Besides alcohol is banned on this base so we make due with what ‘s available - we are drunk with joy!” she exclaimed as she picked up her prancing.

“You younglings have fun. I’ll just back away before I get hurt.” Williamson moved from the table and did another glance around the room looking for people closer to his age. His senior staff were nowhere to be found. As he turned toward the door he caught the eye of the station’s commander. The commander gave Williamson a polite nod. Williamson returned the nod and the pleasantries were finished. The Admiral was well respected throughout Starfleet.

The Commander ran the station by the book and strictly followed the chain of command. He rarely questioned his superior's decisions but strongly disagreed with the decision to place the Command Training Academy on his station. It was something else on his plate even though the school was, for the most part, self sustaining.

Williamson picked up a cranberry juice from the bar in one hand. His other hand dove into a bowl of yogurt covered pretzels . He walked out of the lounge to find his senior teachers. The hallway went quiet when the doors closed behind him. He walked slowly toward the turolift elevator. The lift opened as he approached. He stepped in. The doors closed.

“Destination?” the computer waited for his response. He thought for a moment. Where would they be? He knew they were going to the party so they had to be together somewhere. He could ask the computer to locate their comm badges but wanted to try a guess before taking the easy route.

“Observation Deck,” he replied. The lift moved upward and then sideways. Seconds later, upward again. The lift stopped and opened on deck 3. In the doorway stood two of the Academy’s students, Midshipman Aland and Midshipman Merryweather. They stopped dead in their tracks upon seeing their Commander occupying the same lift they were waiting to enter. They were caught. They were suppose to be in their squadron's common room enjoying their own party. Instead they were loose.

“Well, well, well..... what do we have here?” Williamson asked. Both boys jumped to attention. “Two cadets roaming the station without clearance. I do believe that is a violation of curfew. Please correct me if I’m wrong,” he asked. Neither of the boys spoke. Their gaze was unbroken on a spot on the wall.

“Sir, we were on our way....” Aland began speaking only to be cut off by the Commander.

“Not interested. Sorry. If I want to hear a fine piece of fiction I’ll go to the theater. Let’s see, what is playing tonight on the holoscreen? Yes, I believe it is ‘Caught in a Web of Lies’. No gentlemen - words would be a waste of breath at this point and we don’t want to overwork the oxygen generators.” Both boys squirmed every so slightly. Merryweather’s eyes rolled upward and then toward Aland. He knew it was pointless to explain a breech of curfew. He was surprised Aland had tried. “Gentlemen, you will take the next lift and go straight back to your dorm. You will report to your leader, explain what you were doing and then go straight to bed. You will bypass the party in your Common Room. Tomorrow we will sit down with your squadron leader and decide on a suitable punishment. I don’t want to make such an important decision now. This is something that needs thought. You know what I say - the punishment must fit the crime. Now step back and you have my permission to breath.” The boys took one step back. The lift’s doors closed. “Resume,” Williamson said. The lift speed off. Seconds later the doors opened. Williamson stepped out onto a solid floor. The rest of the room appeared to be open space. He was right - there at one of three tables sat his senior officers. “I thought I’d find you in the Observation Deck,” he said moving toward the table.

“Too noisy in the Lounge,” Mark Daymont said. Sitting with him were five other CTA officers. When they were alone they called each other by first names. On Mark’s left sat Aleta, Lorriane, and Sheila on his right sat Dave and Bill. The table was full of snacks all hand carried up from the party below.

“You’ve got the right idea,” Williamson said as he moved a chair out and sat down. “This view never gets old.”

“That’s why we came up here. Quiet talk and a great view,” Dave explained. The blues and whites of Earth nearly filled the sphere over their heads. Beyond was the star studded blackness of space. Their conversation wound it way through many topics. Time was spent on the students. They discussed the new simulations being prepared for the Senior Cadets. Lt. Megan Warner, assisted by several of the younger instructors, was writing a complete military campaign involving several simulations to be told in three of the station's training ships.

Two hours passed in good conversation. It was getting late. They agreed to call it a night. As they stood the station's alarm sounded. The klaxon's pitch caused some in the party to cover their ears as it reverberated around the transparent ceiling of the Observation Deck . The alarm stopped just as suddenly as it started. A second later the voice of the Station’s Commander came through the speakers.

“Alert Condition One. This is no drill. Alert Condition One. This is no drill,” his voice sounded firm and emotionless.

“We are under attack?” Lorraine asked with a puzzled expression. Everyone in the room starting looking up through the sphere into space. There were no ships. All seemed peaceful.

“Control,” Williamson said as he tapped the communicator pinned to his uniform. There was a slight pause before the call was answered.

“What can I do for you Commander?” the voice responded.

“Where is the attack?” Williamson asked.

“We’ve received word from Command that Farpoint Station has been destroyed,” the duty officer answered.

“Farpoint Station?” Williamson was surprised by the answer. Farpoint Station was the Federation’s furthest starbase, four months away at maximum warp from Earth. He wondered why the station was placed on battle alert if this attack occurred so far away.

“Farpoint was attacked by an alien race only recently encountered,” the officer answered his unasked question. “They use wormholes.” That statement made it clear. Anyone able to use wormholes could strike anywhere and at anytime.

“Who are they?” Williamson asked almost fearing the answer.

“I’m not sure what they call themselves but the Voyager and Copernicus encountered them at PCX2214. It is also referred to as Perikoi. We lost the Copernicus. They lost one of their ships. It appears they are back and in force.” The conversation ended. The room was still. Everyone knew the implications of wormhole travel.

“Well ladies and gentlemen, life is about to become very interesting.” Williamson said to the small gathering. “Let’s go to the Common Rooms and explain this to our cadets. I’m sure they are as concerned as we are.”
The group moved for the turbolift. The doors opened and closed leaving the quiet of space behind.
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