Captain’s Log, Stardate 10192018
Our request for assistance was finally answered. On the darkside of the unmanned outpost, we should have been relieved. What came through over the comms however, wasn’t a Starfleet engineering team. He was clearly a native of the sector (having failed the Carbonation Protocol and confused the sound “pop” with “soda” or “coke”) and he made it clear early on that he didn’t trust outsiders.
“Ya don’t sound like your from the Federation, dontcha know?”
“I didn’t know that…but yes, I am from the Federation. This is Captain Russ Linton of the starship Discovery, our mission to…”
“I’da thought you’d have a different accent bein’ from there.”
“We need repairs. Can you assist us?”
“Well, I suppose that depends on your troubles.”
“There was a leak in our dilithium chamber and…”
“Woah there. Sounds dangerous.”
I immediately recalled the fireworks in engineering earlier that evening. The transmission wires had nearly fused and one had even melted, leaving a bubbly trail across one of the chambers. While I hadn’t informed the crew, a self destruct sequence had probably just barely been aborted.
“No, not dangerous at all,” I said smiling at my expectant crew. “But you are an engineer right?”
“Yep. Scrapper mostly, but I can turn a digital spanner. Why don’t I just walk ya through the procedures from here. A few light years seems like a good buffer zone, ya know?”
“Yes, I know what you are saying, but wouldn’t it help if you were here?”
“Not if ya do somethin’ wrong.”
“Well can’t you come and just do it yourself?”
After several minutes of tense negotiations, the scrapper agreed to travel to the automated station. Normally, I wouldn’t allow non-Starfleet personnel to touch Discovery, but temperatures were continuing to drop…as my First Officer kept reminding me.
“You can almost freeze water outside. Almost,” she said, bundled in a layer of winter clothes atop her uniform, her regulation boots swapped for large, fluffy slippers which made her feet appear like a couple of wayward tribbles.
“I know. It seems desperate. But we’ll survive.” I placed a hand on her shoulder. “Somehow.”
Lights from an approaching craft shone on the viewscreen. I suited up to enter the frozen wasteland, the sun a distant memory on the far side. I could feel the cold searching out every gap in the environmental suit and I drew the hood tighter. Blinded by the landing lights of the shuttle, I raised a hand to make out the approaching silhouette.
Surprisingly, this alien species was identical to humans in every physical respect. But the pair of shorts and t-shirt gave away his true nature. Thick skin? A blistering metabolism? The scientific inquiry would have to wait as Science Officer Alfie had refused to accompany me on this dangerous mission.
“Hello there!” He called. “The name’s Bob.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. Many of the proper names we’d seen in this sector had been such a jumble of letters and impossible sounds as to have nearly fried the universal translator.
“Bob, a pleasure to meet you. Captain Russ D. Linton of the Starship Discovery.”
“Ya, ya said that on the phone. Where’s the engines, Captain?”
“Right this way,” I said, only partly realizing the problem with his question.
Bob immediately set to the task, delving into Jefferies tubes which I didn’t know existed. I took careful notes about every panel, every junction box, every conduit, so I could brush up on my Starfleet Engineering basics. For hours, we crawled around the dusty, confined spaces, using the glow from our communicators as our guide.
“And this here, this is your main controller board for your inverter-”
“Main…controller…inverter… Got it. And so that’s where the problem is?”
“Nope,” he said, sweeping the area with a tricorder. “Looks fine.”
“Okay, so what is the problem?”
“Can’t say, really. You got an inverter but you got no converter. Don’t make sense. Musta phase shifted and disappeared. They do that from time to time, don’tcha know?”
This time, I really didn’t know. But it sounded like something the Farpoint dopplegangers might’ve had something to do with. Millions of miles away, and their ghostly forms still trailed us.
“Sabotage,” I whispered. I stood and stared into the darkness, my mind trying to comprehend the danger we’d uncovered. “Could it be that they plan to replace Discovery with their own antimatter vessel? Is this an attempt to invade Federation space? How many more copies are waiting to do the same?
“Could be.” Bob maneuvered his torso out of a shallow compartment. “Or it could be the dilthium chambers’ve been wired in reverse. You been messin’ with those?”
“Uh…me? No. Please, I’m a Captain, not an Engineer. But, you know, in case somebody had messed with the wiring, what’s the correct order?”
I took more notes.
“Okay, great, this has been wonderful, Bob. Thanks so much,” I said, speaking quickly, my hand firmly guiding him back toward his shuttle. “Long trip back, right? What planet did you say you were from?”
“Well, I’m from Bemidji, but-”
“Be…Buhmudge…Right, yeah, we’ll send a survey team over and extend an invite into the Federation.”
He resisted as we reached his shuttle. “You don’t want me to check the chamber wiring?”
“No, not necessary.” Unable to find a better ploy, I turned my head and made a shrill whistle through my teeth. Acting surprised I held up a finger and raised my communicator to my ear. “Oh, you don’t say? Starfleet engineering team deployed? Great news!” I tapped his shuttle entry pad and the door whirred open. Leaning close, I pressed a bar of latinum into his hand. “Not a word to my crew, got it?”
Bob’s face twisted in confusion and I shoved him into the shuttle. Closing the door, I turned and saw my Science Officer and First Officer staring at me out the viewscreen. I smiled and waved, the shuttle engines purring softly into the distance behind me.
When I boarded Discovery, I found my crew waiting at the top of the gantry.
“So,” my first officer said with an expression of mild annoyance. “What’s the trouble?”
“Systems nominal!” I said, pointing to the power distribution read outs.
“And? What aren’t you telling us?”
I glanced around, searching too hard for what to say. “Uh, we have a bigger problem. The Farpoint encounter, it isn’t over. Those antimatter dopplegangers intend to invade Federation space and we’re the only ones who can stop them.”