1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | Story Index
The dinner that evening was more subdued. It was clear that Glir felt out of place and several of the officers were uncomfortable with this stowaway being present. Walker knew that if they were going to react badly to Glir it was better he find out now. He scanned the room. Botha and Eritt were chatting away, Walker was surprised how quickly they had become friends. Sai was going over the helm's remote padd configuration with Voraak which left Kelsey, Glir and himself.
Kelsey had not said much all evening. This did not surprise Walker. It worried him that there was another Betazoid present who also wasn't talking. He still had some of that human prejudice against conversations going on around him to which he was not privy.
"You look concerned, Captain." Kelsey had noticed the look on Walker's face.
Walker dropped his previous line of thought and smiled. "It's nothing. I was just deep in thought is all."
Kelsey smiled back. It was one of her special smiles that told him she knew exactly what he had been thinking about. Betazoids could be frustrating at times. "Have you had a chance to look over your new remote console, Commander?" Walker felt a change in subject was a good idea.
"Yes. An interesting device. I'm surprised Starfleet has not been making them for years now." Kelsey picked up her padd and checked some details. "Everything appears to be running smoothly according to this."
Sai and Voraak joined the discussion. "Well, I just hope I don't have to use one of these to actually fly the ship. The controls are a little mushy to me." The young Ensign was reviewing course and speed.
"For real time controls such as flight and weapons some degradation is inevitable, Ensign." If Walker did not know Vulcans better he would have said that Voraak had been offended. Still, it was an important point to remember.
"Well, the engineering one is fine. It will tell me all I need to know. Thank you, Voraak." Botha and Eritt now joined in as well. Walker noted that Eritt's (or at least the sick bay's) remote padd could access the EMH program as well as all the key medical systems.
"Where do you wish to store the remote padd not currently in use, Captain?" Voraak's held up a single padd and waved it slightly.
"Which one is unused at the moment?"
"The Science Lab."
"That will not be unused, Voraak." The Captain glanced at the Betazoid ensign. "I believe that the new Science Officer will need it."
"You can't be serious, Captain!" Botha growled his complaint. "This boy..."
"This boy as you call him has a flair for shield systems and high energy subspace field generators. Do any of your staff have a high degree of experience with these types of systems?"
"Well, no, but..."
"What about you, Voraak?"
"Not as much as the Ensign, Captain."
"Well, I need that level of skill. I don't care how it got aboard my ship, I am going to use it. At least for now. Any objections?" The room was silent. Voraak handed the science lab remote padd to Glir. As soon as he had accepted it he continued. "Glir, you should know that this is a temporary assignment. I am not condoning what you did, but you will be put to use while you are here. Understand?"
"Yes Sir!" Glir sat straight with pride.
"Good. Now your first duty after you have changed out of that red uniform and into a blue one will be to find a way to make the high energy field we use for jamming sensors invisible to long range scans."
The young Ensign gasped. He understood what the Captain was asking for, but many technicians before him had failed to deliver this. The high energy fields stood out on long range scanners like sore thumbs. If a ship running sensitive cargo under such a field did not want anyone noticing its flight path as it travelled through space at warp it had to raise the field only when ships were within standard sensor range. The field then made you stand out to the rest of the sector, attracting additional ships. The trouble was that with the possibility of cloaked Romulan Warbirds out there, if you left it too late to hide your cargo with the field your secret was out. If you engaged the field too early, you attracted a lot of unwelcome attention. "Captain, I..."
"You what Glir? Have I made a mistake in giving you this opportunity?"
Glir straightened once more. "No Sir. Invisible to long range scans Aye." The young Ensign made to rise.
"Hold on, Ensign, I do not mean now. You are still an officer on this ship for the time being. You are welcome to stay with us." The Captain glanced over at Botha. He was smiling. It was clear he saw this as a fool's errand for Glir. The captain knew his Chief Engineer's opinion was probably right. Still, if Glir somehow pulled it off, it would earn him some respect from the people at this table.
They put away the dinner things and prepared for some poker. The game would be interesting now, with seven of them. They played for over an hour with no-one gaining clear advantage. The game eventually broke up and the officers filed out to their own quarters.
Walker was beginning to use these nights to gauge the feeling among his crew and this night did not bode well. Glir was a wild card in the team, it had been fitting together well before he arrived. It would have been a foolish thing to toss him aside with his skills, but he realised after watching his team that night how much effort was ahead of him to integrate this young man into the group. He had finished packing away the cards and chips when the chime sounded. He put down the book he had just picked up. "Enter."
The doors slid open to reveal Alexis as she walked through. She looked around. "Everyone gone?"
She smiled. "Good." She walked over to him and put her arms around him. "You know, that's just one of the reasons that I like you so much, Captain."
"Oh? What are you referring to?"
"The fact that you aren't a numbers man. You weren't guided by the reports on Glir's record, only what he could do."
"Oh, that. How did you know about his record, anyway?"
"I looked it up. If he was on board, I thought it prudent to know something about him."
She was right of course. It was a sensible precaution. Walker suspected Voraak had done the same and he was glad he had officers that thorough on board. He listened as she continued. "You'll never guess where he's gone."
"He's not in quarters?"
"No. He headed directly to the science lab after the game. His head was spinning with facts, figures, ideas and experiments as he left. It took a great deal of my control just to block it all out."
Walker cooled. "Were the two of you communicating during Dinner?"
"No. Why do you ask?"
"You were both awfully quiet. I wish I could communicate with you that way."
"Perhaps you can." Walker had been watching Kelsey's smile as she said it. It took him several seconds to realise that her lips had not moved.
They were two days away from Outpost 24 and everything was running smoothly. The knife lessons were now attended by all the crew, and there was some improvement among them despite the short time he had been training them. Glir had been the dark horse of the group from the start, he was an unknown quantity but of all the students, he was the one who seemed to be most driven to improve. Walker put it down to the Ensign's desire to prove himself. When he wasn't training he spent every waking moment in the lab working on the field generator simulations he had set up. Walker actually had to order him to stop and eat periodically. He had discovered that the first thing the Ensign had done when he first entered the lab as Science Officer was replicate a blue uniform and change out of his old red one on the spot. Walker had to admit he was keen.
Botha had been keeping the ship and his engineering crew in perfect condition. He had been a good choice of officer. Botha had that natural leader's quality about him and the crew would have gone outside and pushed the ship into warp had he asked them to. Dr Eritt had spent most of her time putting the sick bay in order, she had no patients of consequence but Walker had noticed Botha over at sick bay on several occasions. Lucifrelle seemed eager to get the sick bay in order despite it being a temporary assignment. Walker put it down to professionalism. Ensign Sai and Voraak had continued their duties without complaint. Voraak had even on occasion gone to help Glir on a problem or two when he was free. That left Kelsey.
Walker was getting to know Alexis. Not in the way he had thought he had known her on the Menalaus, not even in the intimate physical sense that he had recently begun to experience, but he was now capable of sharing her thoughts. It concerned him to a degree, this was supposed to be impossible for any human, or so he had always been taught. Kelsey had explained that humans had been able to establish links to Betazoid lovers in several documented cases, but he had been unprepared for the reality. He found himself having to repeat verbally commands he issued to his First Officer on the bridge so as not to confuse the other bridge officers. The two of them were more cohesive as a team and as a couple, but it was difficult for him to be saying one thing verbally and holding a completely different conversation mentally. It had taken him several days, but he was beginning to adapt to the new level of connection.
The Officers' dinners were still a little subdued but the majority of the officers were beginning to accept Glir. Botha was the last holdout. Walker could understand his engineer's opinion. He shared it in fact. Still, Glir could make himself a valuable member of the team given a chance. It was a chance he was going to get.
It was two AM ship's time when the comm signal woke Walker. He looked around but Alexis was already gone. He suppressed the minor surge of irritation that flashed through him. They both had to be discreet. He keyed the badge beside his bed. "Whoever this is, it better be important."
"I've done it! By the rings, I've done it!" Glir's excited voice chirped through the comm link.
In spite of his fatigue and the irritation he felt at being woken up this early, Walker laughed. "I'll be right there." He cut the connection. As he was dressing, a thought came to him. He tapped his comm badge. "Walker to Botha."
It was a full minute before the response came through. "Botha here Captain, what is it?"
"There is something in the science lab you should look at."
It was nearly fifteen minutes before the two of them were standing in front of an excited Betazoid Ensign listening as he rattled off a list of technical formulas and equations while standing in front of a holographic projector. Neither officer was in the mood for a science lesson.
"Skip the techo briefing, Ensign. Show us what you have." Walker decided to speak before Botha did so in a less tactful manner.
Glir grinned. He keyed the projector to life and stood back as it displayed a complex 3D schematic representation of what was clearly a supplementary support module for a field generator. Walker stared at it but at two twenty in the morning he found it difficult to focus on what this module was supposed to do. He turned to Botha who was staring as if mesmerized by the projection. Walker could almost see the engineer's mind turning the schematic over. This was not a pleasant sensation for him after his recent experiences with his First Officer.
It was nearly two minutes before the Chief Engineer spoke. "You've done it. You've actually done it, Ensign." His voice was filled with awe. Walker noted how Botha had referred to Glir as 'Ensign' and not 'Boy' or 'The Stowaway'. He took it as a good sign. Botha continued. "How do you plan to integrate this module into the existing systems?"
"Simple." The Ensign was confident now. "The primary field coils require a phase alignment module connected into their intake manifolds. I believe that they can be modified to serve this function as well."
Botha considered the idea. "Won't that cause a cascaded phase variance in the primary feeds?"
"No. I've thought about that. I suggest that the unit be configured so that the functions run in serial rather than parallel with the primary function occurring last."
"Yes I see, but what about..."
The Captain decided to leave at that point. Matters were well in hand.
That morning Walker awoke for the second time at 0700 hours, just in time for him to get ready for his morning knife class. He did so and met Kelsey in the turbolift.
"Good morning Captain." Kelsey thought. Her face held the little impish grin of hers that she knew he liked.
"Good Morning. Have you heard about last night?" Walker spoke aloud.
"No, what?" Kelsey had followed the Captain's lead and switched to verbal communication.
Walker relayed the events which had lead to the conversation he had walked out on in the science lab.
"They are probably installing the system now, Thomas. I'll take care of the class if you want to check."
Walker thanked her and alighted the 'lift. He walked over to Main Engineering and entered. The place was chaos. There were unused tools lying all over the place and engine parts strewn through the entire compartment. The crew were rushing around, they looked extremely busy. Walker noticed a pair of legs hanging out of a Jeffries Tube and guessed they belonged to Botha. He was nowhere else to be seen. Glir was up the other end of the engineering section working on what looked like a highly complex cylindrical device about fifty centimetres tall. Voraak was working on a similar one nearby, occasionally stopping to ask the Ensign a question.
The body attached to the legs in the Jeffries Tube removed itself and Walker noticed he had been right. Botha didn't even notice the Captain but barked a series of orders to the nearest three men. Glir and Voraak were both giving orders of their own while working on the devices.
"What is all this, Lt Cmdr?" Botha swung around as he heard the Captain's voice. The look on his face showed that he had been up since he had left him with Glir in the science lab.
"I'm sorry, Captain, we're a little busy at the moment."
"Yes, well I can see that. Would you like me to order the ship out of warp or something?"
"No, that won't be necessary." Walker's sarcasm was lost on Botha this time. Walker noted that his Chief Engineer would be very hard to distract when focussed.
"Bateson, please modify the EPS taps to these modules to fifteen gigawatts." Glir made the request of the chief who had sat in Voraak's chair for the voyage to Starbase 73.
"Just a minute, Ensign. I'm..."
"Bateson, that officer gave you an order!" Botha roared at the woman. She started, then calmed herself.
"Aye Sir. Setting the EPS taps to fifteen gigawatts." She moved over to the console to apply the changes. Walker smiled to himself. So, Botha had finally accepted the young man. Good.
Over in the holodeck, Kelsey was warming up the morning class for Walker. Some of the students wondered why she started smiling during one of the exercises.
It was three and half hours later that Walker gave the order to engage the field. Voraak keyed the appropriate sequence and the field went active.
"Check the subspace sensors. Are we putting out any interference?" Walker was concerned. If these modifications did not work, he could be getting some unwelcome company soon. This was Federation territory, but it was not unheard of for Romulan patrols under cloak to reveal themselves this far in if it served their purposes.
"No interference whatsoever." Voraak replied. "We are completely invisible on all long range scanners." Voraak frowned and rechecked his readings. "We are completely invisible. These modifications appear to cloak us from long range scans whenever the field is engaged."
Now that was a side effect Walker found interesting. He imagined the confusion that would be raised at Outpost 24 now that they did not appear on their screens. They might not be the only ones watching though. Walker realised that disappearing may be as much a reason for enemy ships to investigate as a field's beacon effect.
"Voraak, give me a constant sensor check for all ships and anomalies which may be cloaked vessels. That is to be an around the clock check, understand?" Kelsey had clearly recognised the pattern of his thoughts and given the order accordingly. Walker realised that this could have benefits. He could analyse a situation and have the appropriate actions take place without him losing his train of thought.
"Aye Sir." Voraak initiated the scans. "There is nothing out there at the moment, Sir."
"Advise us both immediately should the situation change. Notify the other shifts to do the same. Meanwhile, send a coded message to Outpost 24. Don't tell them anything, just that we are still on schedule and that we will arrive there within two days."
Walker considered this effect. Maybe Glir had stumbled on something that could prove useful. It was incredible that he had found anything at all but this, this could be a find of incredible proportions. This young Ensign was not just brilliant, he had to have access to information not available to the usual scientists. He decided to investigate. "Kelsey, you have the bridge."
He walked over to the science lab after stepping from the 'lift. Ensign Glir had said something about investigating spinoffs before leaving Engineering. He stepped through the doors as they gave way to him. The lab was almost in as much disarray as the Engineering section had been nearly four hours ago. Glir looked up from his consoles with bloodshot eyes. Beside him there was a plate of haasprat that was half eaten. Glir clearly was not looking after himself.
"Ensign, when was the last time you slept?"
"I'll be alright, Sir. I..."
"Ensign I want to have a word to you, but after you have rested. You will report to Dr Eritt immediately and if she says there is nothing seriously wrong with you then you are report to your quarters and get some sleep. Is that understood?"
"I don't want to hear it, Ensign! I want to see you at the evening knife classes fully rested, understood?"
"Aye Sir." Timonis Glir lowered his head and stepped through the doors. Walker noticed just before they shut that he had turned down the hall in the direction of sick bay. He smiled to himself and shook his head as he gazed over the computer displays and padds littering the lab. He looked at the padd Glir had been reading from as he had come in. He froze. He had only seen two reports during his career that had been classified as Top Secret. As a captain, he expected to see a few more but not lying around on an ensign's science lab desk. He read the heading. Field tests on board the USS Pegasus. It was dated quite a few years ago but it was not of an age where it became declassified. The captain wondered where this Betazoid ensign got himself a copy. He put the padd down. He thought about asking Glir about it after he had got some sleep, but decided against it for now. If there was something to it that he needed to know, he didn't want to tip his hand before he had any facts. He would watch silently for now. He decided to check in on Engineering while he was down on the fourth deck.
Having seen the chaos which had gripped engineering four hours ago first hand Walker had to look twice to assure himself that he was looking at the same section. The area had been scoured clean of all parts and tools. The staff on duty were going about their regular duties in the calm manner that he had seen many times before that morning. He had to hand it to Botha, he ran a tight operation.
Botha walked up to the Captain with a look of ease upon his face. "Captain." It was a greeting in the terse manner both he and Walker accepted between each other while on duty.
"I notice that the field has been initiated and left going. I take it that Ensign Glir's modifications are a success?"
"Yes they are, Cmdr. In fact they are a little more successful than intended. They have shielded us from long range scans completely."
"You mean it acts like a long range cloak?"
"Exactly." Walker watched with amusement as the look on Botha's face showed him weighing the full import of this.
"Does this mean that Glir has the capacity to create a cloak?"
"I don't know. He's working on several spinoffs if his lab is any indication. I've sent him off to get some sleep. He's running himself into the ground."
"Of course he is." Botha thought this obvious. "He has nothing to lose. If you don't want him after DS2, his career is over whether he runs himself ragged during this trip or not. This is his only chance."
Walker considered this. It made sense but he couldn't give Glir the sort of guarantees he required just to get him to pace himself. All he could do was order him to rest when he needed it. Speaking of rest, Botha did not look like he had handled the morning's events unscathed either. "What about you? Why aren't you getting any rest right now?"
Botha chuckled. "I'll be alright Captain. I've felt worse than this the morning after a good night's shore leave." Walker smiled at that. He had returned to duty hung over in the past himself. He realised Botha would be able to cope.
"Alright, Cmdr. Just remember, I need these engines ready to give us everything at a moment's notice. If we went off the outpost's screens, we will have gone off the screens of everyone in this sector."
Botha grumbled. "Alright, Sir. I just wish they would put some weapons on these birds instead of making us run from everyone." Botha went back to work leaving Walker to head back to the bridge. On the way, Walker thought about what Botha had said. Weapons. It wasn't a bad idea.
Walker was nervous. They were only half a day out of Outpost 24 and they were under escort from the Lexington, which had been patrolling near the outpost when they had disappeared off the screens. It was agreed by both ships that they should travel to the outpost together.
This was not the cause of Walker's concern. The unexplained readings from the sensors that were suspected Romulan ships were the primary cause of the Captain's discomfort. Glir had been working around the clock trying to come up with a secure detection system for ships under cloak at his captain's request. The tachyon detection grid system employed by the fleet on the Klingon border several years ago was not practical with two ships, but they had to come up with something. The Lexington had been on alert for over twenty four hours.
Commander Kelsey sat beside him on the bridge. She too was nervous. The 'enhancements' she and Voraak had been working on over the last day were now complete but they were a far cry from a full fledged weapons array. Still with that and the Lexington, they were as prepared as they could be. They all realised that.
She looked over her console once more. There was only that one anomalous reading that had been with them since they had decided to put together the enhancements to their shield configuration. She wanted to fire some tachyon bursts at it and see what they came up with, but no-one wanted a confrontation.
"Are you still worrying about that blip?" Walker had asked the question with a touch of humour in his voice. He wanted his First Officer to be at ease.
She looked over and smiled. "Not at all. The worst that can happen is that it turns out to be a Warbird, decloaks and gets off a lucky shot that sends us all to hell, right?"
"Well, when you put it that way..."
"I'm sorry, Captain. I'm just used to being on something more substantial than this ship when there are Romulans about."
"I understand. We're all in that position, Commander. Just remember we have gotten ourselves out of worse. We are not better because of our resources, but because of our resourcefulness."
"Captain!" Alexis feigned surprise. "Why I had no idea you could give such rousing speeches and inspire us all like that." This sent Sai into fits of laughter. He nearly drowned out Voraak's alert signal.
"Romulan Warbird decloaking." Voraak made the statement in his most dispassionate voice. "Lexington hailing us."
The star field dissolved as Captain Brannagh appeared on the screen. "Well, this is it. I suggest you run for it, Captain. We'll try to keep the Romulans distracted."
This thought ran against all Walker's instincts. The Romulans had made their presence known in Federation space. They never did that unless they had a good reason. Walker considered the possibilities and found only one that made sense: They wanted him to run, it was a diversion to get rid of the escort. "No, Captain. We'll approach on a flanked attack vector with you."
Brannagh looked shocked. "Are you insane? That's a Warbird out there. What are you going to do, throw darts at them?"
"If I have to. Remember, they don't know what weaponry we have on board."
Brannagh wasn't convinced. "I hope you know what you're doing, Walker. Lexington out."
The star field reformed on the screen as Walker barked his commands. "Set course 115 mark 15. Stagger our approach with the Lexington and make it look good, Ensign."
"Aye Sir!" Falar had a rush of adrenalin coursing through him, Walker could see that plainly. He just hoped it would last. He looked over at Kelsey. He had expected her to be nervous or telling him he was insane as Brannagh had just done. Instead, she was calm.
"I don't understand you sometimes. You've been nervous for the last day and now that I'm throwing us in the thick of it you're relaxed. What gives?"
"The enemy have finally shown their face and we know what we're up against. You made the right decision, it did smell like a ruse and finally I have trust in the crew, myself and you."
Walker decided she had summed up matters concisely. Now all he had to do was repay that trust with some results. "Okay Boys and Girls, we're on. Kelsey, are the enhancements ready?"
"Sai, are you ready for some defensive manoeuvres?"
Walker tapped the com badge on his chest. "Botha, we need full power now."
"You have it, Sir."
"Okay. Sai, head directly for them and be prepared to execute changes on my order. Voraak, if they lock weapons, I want to know about it. Kelsey, execute our little surprise on my order." The ship spun around, changing course to a charge at the Warbird. The Lexington came at it from the other side. The other Warbird, lying in wait for the Nullabor, must have seen that the transport had not taken the bait. It decloaked several thousand kilometres off and made a charge for the battle.
The first Warbird locked it's weapons on the Nullabor. "They've locked on." Voraak called to his Captain.
"Sai, evasive pattern delta!" Sai barked an acknowledgement and the ship spun away from it's course dodging from the path of a disrupter beam. It was just the opening the Lexington had been hoping for. She unleashed a full spread of Quantum Torpedoes and a volley of phaser beams.
"The Warbird has taken heavy damage from the Lexinton's attack, Sir. She's out of the fight for now." Voraak continued by referring to the second Warbird. "The other ship has not made the same mistake. It's going straight for the Lexington."
"Take us in Ensign." The Warbird fired off several disrupter beams as the Lexington performed it's evasive manoeuvres. Most of them shot into empty space but one glanced the Engineering section.
"The Lexington's shields are badly damaged, Sir.What should we do?"
Walker thought about this. There was really very little they could do. The second Warbird was ignoring them. It was acting on the premise that the transport would be an easy target after the Lexington was disposed of. This was not something he was prepared to accept. It regaled against everything he was, everything Starfleet was. Just because they were in a transport it did not mean that they were nothing. "Sai, set course directly for the second Warbird. Ramming speed."
Sai spun around, the shock was evident on his face. "Sir, I..."
"That's an order, Ensign!" Walker turned to his First Officer as she spat the admonition. It sent the young man spinning back to the console.
"Aye Sir." Walker noted the smile on Alexis' lips. She had clearly realised what he was up to. This did not surprise him, their telepathic link was strengthening. The ship hurtled towards the Warbird at full impulse. It gave no indication that it realised that it was being rammed and made no attempt to resolve the issue until the last minute.
"All power to the front shields." Walker had to admire the Romulans for their nerve. They were seconds away from colliding with the shields of the enemy ship when he barked "Sai! alter course ten degrees up now!"
"Aye Sir!" Falar did not have to be told twice. The ship lurched upwards, grazing the shields of the Warbird as it dived to avoid the collision. The transport was tossed by the shield bounce and the wash from the impulse engines of the Warbird. The Romulan ship was not as lucky. Brannagh had realised what Walker was up to as he made the ramming run and was in position. As the Warbird dived, it found itself flying into the path of two full spreads of torpedoes. It's shields were already weakened from deflecting the Nullabor and it dissipated in the centre of a massive antimatter explosion. The entire bridge (save Voraak of course) cheered.
A green beam lanced past the starboard window on the bridge. The first Warbird had managed to make enough repairs to strike again. Walker had to admit they were persistent. It was funny, he had ordered a full retreat once on the Menalaus when they were under Romulan attack and damaged. This ship however was not only taking on a fight it could not win but was making the same mistake it had done first off: attack the transport. "Evasive!" he yelled the order but Sai was already on it.
The ship spun and dodged as the energy beams lanced out at it. Walker was impressed, Sai was good. There were not many pilots who could dodge disrupter beams like this, but it was time to end this dance. "Kelsey, get those enhancements ready." Kelsey acknowledged the order as the communications system came to life.
"Walker, this is Captain Brannagh." The captain of the Lexington seemed distracted and injured if his voice was any true indicator. "We've taken some serious damage. It seems you were right to stay with us but we can't defend you at the moment. Can you run?"
Walker smiled. "I think we can do better than that, Captain. Stand by." He turned to Sai. "Set course directly for the Warbird. You know what to do if they fire."
"Aye Sir." His fingers flew over the keyboard as the ship spun once more to a ramming vector.
"Weapons are locking, Sir." Voraak called.
"Kelsey, Now!" The disrupter beam shot towards the Nullabor, dead on. Sai kept the course steady as a rock as the forward shields glazed momentarily. The disrupter beam struck the shields at that point and the beam bounced back, reflected off by the harmonic reciprocators added to the shield. The disrupter blast struck the Warbird's main engineering section. The Nullabor's shields only held long enough to deflect the worst of the debris from the exploding ship. The harmonic patterns that had been set up on the shields had burnt out the emitters after that, right on schedule. "Good timing everyone."
It took several minutes for the shock to wear away. They checked in with the Lexington. She had wounded, her medical was taking care of the worst cases but the rest were beamed aboard the Nullabor. Brannagh swept so much praise on Walker he nearly cut the connection. All over the ship celebrations were starting. This was the Nullabor's first battle, and she had won. She had actually done better than that, she had helped defeat two Romulan Warbirds with nothing but a few shield modifications and a lot of heart. Walker decided to let the crew celebrate. It was important that they accept that this wasn't 'just' a transport.
Two hours later things were nearly back to normal. The sick bay was full of crew from the Lexington, Walker was glad Eritt was on board. The Lexington had made some makeshift repairs and was ready to travel the remainder of the distance to Outpost 24. Brannagh signalled that they were about to get underway. As Brannagh's visage dissolved on the screen Kelsey spoke. "Perhaps we should take up the escort position this time." Sai chuckled.
"Do it." Walker noted the surprise in Sai's voice as he acknowledged the order. Both ships engaged their warp drives and no message from the Lexington came to tell them that their position in formation was inappropriate. He knew that most of the off duty crew would be looking out windows at the sight of a starship they were escorting. Something special was forming here. Walker had thought it impossible two weeks ago, but the crew were beginning to identify with the Nullabor. There was a fierce pride in her building up. He felt it himself.
Kelsey leaned over and whispered. "Well done Captain."
"What's well done?" Walker's voice was equally soft.
"The building of this crew. Can't you feel the pride, the singularity of purpose on this ship?"
"Yes I can. I just feel it differently."
"Don't be too sure about that. We'll just have to find out how you really feel things tonight." She winked at him.
"Captain! I've done it!" Glir's voice had the intensity stripped from it by the com system.
"You've done what Glir?"
"I've come up with a tracking system to detect cloaked ships. We can install it whenever you're ready." Walker had to wait for the laughter on the bridge to die down before responding.
This page ©Copyright 1999 Acid