Standard Disclaimer: Star Trek belongs to Paramount. No infringement or assumption is intended, no profit is being made from this story, it is for fun. I am a huge Trek nerd and this is my take.
Of course, if anyone wants to offer a contract for the complete edited story, I wouldn’t say “no.”
Star Trek: Fearless Episode 2.3
Text copyright Skye Knizley, 2017
Cadence paced the length of her quarters, her mind working furiously. She could feel that the captain was more irritated than angry, but also concerned about the incident. Had the Klingons set Republic as a trap, or was it a coincidence?
She didn’t believe in coincidences. The Klingons were getting bolder all the time, this was just another of their efforts to restart the war that had stalled decades ago. She’d felt their anger, the red hot rage that burned in their hearts. They blamed the Federation for, well for their Empire not being bigger, for starters, and their lack of resources. They were mining their worlds to the brink of destruction to feed their continual war machine and it was taking a toll on them and their conquered peoples.
Her door chimed and she didn’t need to be a telepath to know it was Captain Kirk.
“Come in, sir.”
The door hissed open and Kirk entered, followed by Spock. Cadence raised herself to attention and tried not to peek at their thoughts.
“At ease, lieutenant,” Kirk said, “and have a seat.”
Cadence kept her eyes carefully on the wall. “I’d rather stand, if I’m to be reprimanded, sir.”
Kirk met her eyes. Cadence had never noticed how green they were.
“You disobeyed a direct order, lieutenant Song,” he said.
“Yes, sir, I did.”
“Would you care to explain, lieutenant?” Spock asked. He stood almost as rigid as she did, with his hands folded behind his back.
“The Klingons came out of nowhere, I felt them, their hate, anger and intent to destroy us. The commander of the lead ship, Qass, thought the destruction of Enterprise and your capture would help the Empire,” Cadence said.
“You ‘felt,’ lieutenant? You can read Klingon minds at that distance?” Kirk asked.
Cadence blushed. “Yes, sir. Not deeply, just surface thoughts, really. I need physical contact to go any deeper.”
Spock looked troubled. “I was not aware Betazoid abilities were that far reaching.”
“My talent is different, my parentage is…unique,” Cadence said. “Most of us can only read people in the same room, within perhaps fifteen meters.”
“You felt what the Klingon commander was thinking, and that’s why you disobeyed a direct order?” Kirk asked.
“No, sir. I disobeyed orders because I believed if you’d had the same information you wouldn’t be ordering me to abandon three of Starfleet’s most valuable assets. The Klingons would have tortured and killed you, and that is on a good day,” Cadence said.
“I see,” Kirk said. “You felt endangering a crew of four hundred and fifty-eight was worth three lives.”
“Six, sir, plus the survivors aboard Republic,” Cadence said. “Rescuing you was worth the risk, I doubt any crewman aboard would disagree. You wouldn’t have left me behind if the circumstances were reversed.”
Kirk tried to fight a smile. “Reading my mind, lieutenant?”
Cadence shook her head and relaxed slightly. “No, sir. I’ve read your file, as well as Captain Spock’s and the rest of the command crew of Enterprise. Your missions are almost legendary. I’ve tried to learn from you, to be the best officer I can.”
“Disobeying direct orders is hardly a step in the right direction,” Spock said dryly.
“If the captain wishes, I can quote the times you have both disobeyed orders when you felt it was the right decision,” Cadence said in the same tone.
“You stand by your decision, then?” Kirk asked.
“I do, sir.”
“Then we have more to talk about, Lieutenant,” Spock said.
Kirk sat at the small desk in Cadence’s quarters and activated the computer. “Computer, open file 4925B, authorization Kirk, James T.”
“Sir?” Cadence asked.
“Eyes only, lieutenant. Have a seat.”
Six months later, Federation carrier George Clinton near the Betreka Nebula…
Cadence looked up at Fearless, an Icarus class patrol ship that technically didn’t belong to the Federation. She was registered as a privateer, wanted in both Federation and Cardassian space for smuggling and drug running. The fictitious ‘rap sheet’ was a work of art she and Commander Chekov had worked on for over a month. It was so good, there were now Federation captains who swore they’d chased Fearless through the nebula or traded fire over the moons of Nebia. The ship was brand new and had been transferred directly from space dock to George Clinton in the dead of night. Since then she’d had her shakedown and trial runs under the careful eye of Captain Ferguson with Cadence at the helm, but she’d yet to trade fire with anything but a few asteroids.
She didn’t look like much. A quad-nacelle patrol boat with heavy armor, fore and aft phasers, photon torpedoes and disruptor cannons that stretched the length of the v-shaped saucer, she was as fast as she was ugly, and had more firepower than most capital ships. Scotty had felt bigger was better for this mission, and had overseen the installation of the weapons and shields himself.
“Are you sure about this, Cap?”
Cadence glanced at Lieutenant Lacey Weathers, a fresh graduate assigned to Fearless as tactical officer. She was short, blue-haired and too cute to be a tactical officer.
“No. This is the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done. But I trust Captain Kirk and Admiral La Forge,” Cadence replied. “When they told me about this mission, I volunteered.”
Lieutenant Isaac Hiero dropped down from the open inspection hatch. He was Fearless’ chief engineer and had been working closely with Commander Scott. His black hair spilled down his shoulders and framed what could only be called noble cheekbones. He looked every bit the Apache Warrior of his ancestors.
“We are good to go, I realigned the sensors to give us a few more meters between the bow mandibles. I’m not liking the blind spot there, Song,” he said.
“Can’t be helped, lad,” Scotty said. “Ye need the space for the navigational deflector.”
He turned to Cadence and frowned. “Are ye sure about this, lass?”
Cadence rolled her eyes. “Why does everyone keep asking that?”
Lieutenant Commander T’pril entered from the shuttlebay doors, a Padd under her arm. Her uniform was anything but regulation. She wore a long jacket of some kind of weathered hide, leggings and boots that came over her knees, similar to what Cadence had seen in recent retro fashion magazines.
“Because, captain, you were top of your class at the academy, assigned to a prestigious post on Enterprise and have an illustrious career. If this mission goes awry, you could lose all that,” she said.
“Aye, what T’pril said. No one would look at ye wrong for backing out,” Scotty said. “The captain can be mighty persuasive.”
Cadence shook her head. “I’m doing this, Scotty. I’m not taking any risk that my crew isn’t sharing, I can’t back out now.”
She looked back up at Fearless. “Besides, this could be fun.”
Scotty shook his head. “Ye always did have a strange sense o’fun. Get it from yer mother.”
Cadence kissed his cheek. “Its going to be fine, Scotty. Trust me.”
Scotty gave her a hug and turned away. “It’s not you I don’t trust, lass. It’s the damn Klingons.”
She watched him go, then looked at her crew. They were missing the navigator and science station, both likely getting changed and dealing with the upcoming mission in their own way. Once they took off their uniforms and boarded Fearless this time, they would officially be off the books. Only Captain Kirk, Captain Spock, Admiral La Forge and the crew of George Clinton would know who they were. Only three people in the entire Federation would have the power to reinstate their real identities. It was a frightening thought, from Federation officer to criminal with a change of clothes. But it was necessary. The Federation needed plausible deniability and a way around the prime directive. This was their best chance at making a difference.
“Let’s get changed,” she said.
Cadence took her time getting changed, which included a hair cut and color change to fit the profile Chekov had created. When she stepped out of her quarters she had long hair streaked with pink and purple and enough makeup to qualify as a Dabo girl. Her uniform was similar to T’pril’s, with a shorter, looser jacket and thin pants rather than leggings. A disruptor hung low on her hip and a knife was concealed in her boot. It felt strange to be carrying a weapon, but it was part of the façade. Smugglers, thieves and low-lifes rarely went unarmed. The underworld was too dangerous for that.
Before she exited, she pressed her thumb to the computer in her quarters, initiating the program that would turn Cadence Song from up and coming Federation officer into a wanted criminal. She felt a pang of fear and regret as she watched her file download into the top secret database kept by Admiral LaForge, but reminded herself that, come what may, this was temporary. An assignment and chance to make a difference. Even if only a handful of people knew what they were doing.
She gathered the few belongings she would be able to take and headed for the turbolift. Moments later she was back in the main hanger overlooking Fearless. The ship was no prettier from this height, but it had an air of danger to it, with the stylized Fearless across the saucer and the old-fashioned skull and crossbones painted on her flanks. She felt pride at the ship they’d built, the ship that was to be her home until this mission was resolved.
“She’s something, isn’t she?”
Cadence looked down at the tellarite beside her. His name was unpronounceable by human tongues, everyone just called him Gordo. He was amazing with computers and a competent science officer, when he wasn’t being grouchy as hell.
“Something is right,” she said. “You ready, Gordo?”
He smiled, and it was a thing only his mother could love. “That I am, Cap. Looking forward to this, hey? A chance to relax the rules and put something in the record books.”
His uncharacteristic enthusiasm was contagious, and she smiled back. “Glad to have you with us. Have you seen Willow?”
“I have, she got changed and is already aboard. I can’t believe what she was wearing, her sainted mother would be scandalized,” Gordo said.
Cadence looked back at the ship and frowned. She wasn’t sure what Willow could wear that would scandalize anyone, but Gordo seemed to think if you exposed ankle or collarbones you were engaging in hard core pornography. Tellarites were weird.
“I’m heading down, you coming?” She asked.
“I’m waiting on Thrace, she’s a bit nervous, I thought I would walk with her,” Gordo replied.
Thrace was the youngest of the crew, an ensign younger even than Lacey. She was a Caitan with a long black mane and tribal scars around her neck and arms. She was skittish around most of the crew, but a skilled technician. Isaac probably wouldn’t admit it, but Thrace knew as much about the ship systems as he did and had been invaluable during damage control drills. She’d been developing a close friendship with Gordo, and Cadence encouraged them.
“Thank you, Gordo. If you need anything, either of you, let me know. We’re still officers until we leave.”
Gordo smiled and patted her arm. “Song, you have “officer” imprinted on your soul, no matter what fleet you serve in. I’ll see you aboard.”
Cadence gave him a slight bow, then turned and took the stairs down to the hangar deck, where she took one last look around. Her heart was beating faster, and she felt, for the first time, fear. Her whole life she’d been safe, protected first by her mother, then by both her and Scotty. For the first time in her whole life, she was going to be on her own, flying without a net.
She squared her shoulders, rested one hand on her disruptor and strode up the ramp that led into Fearless’ companionway. The airlock was open and she stepped through past the assortment of old but serviceable EV suits and down the corridor. Unlike Federation ships, the main passage was more utilitarian, with a metal-grate floor that allowed access to ship systems and bare metal walls. Red and yellow-painted pipes crossed the ceiling and service lights spun in their sockets, casting yellow shadows across the walls.
Just beyond the entrance were the stairs to main engineering. She took them two at a time and stepped onto the engineering deck, which sat in the center of the ship. Isaac, now dressed in a black uniform with red details, was bent over the controls outside the sealed warp core.
“How we doing, Isaac?” She asked.
“Looking good, Cap. We’re running at a one-oh-five and the impulse engines are raring to go,” Isaac replied.
“Good to know. Thrace is on her way, try to be nice, will you?” Cadence asked.
Isaac straightened. “I’m always nice, she’s just… fragile.”
Cadence gave him a look. “Be nice.”
Cadence held his gaze a moment longer, then descended to the main corridor then down the next flight to where the crew quarters were located. The one luxury on Fearless, aside from the replicator, was the quarters. The crew had been given time to make them as comfortable, or in T’pril’s case, as uncomfortable, as they wanted. Cadence had made the captain’s cabin her home away from home, complete with a small aquarium of holographic fish, queen-size bunk and piano. The piano had taken some work to get into place, several engineers had disassembled then reassembled the antique, but the upright classic looked and played beautifully.
She set her bag on the bed then continued down the corridor past the two ladder wells that led up to the Jeffries tubes, past the small sick bay and transporter room then up the ramp to the bridge. She recognized Lacey’s short red hair, but not the uniform. She’d chosen pants with cutouts down the side, Federation-issue boots and an old-style uniform jacket over a tee-shirt. She looked like a teenager ready for a casual date, and Cadence had to force herself not to take a second glance. Lacey had no idea how attractive she was.
“Phasers and disruptors on standby, all tubes are loaded and sensors are hot, captain,” she said as Cadence passed.
“Thank you, Lacey, well done,” Cadence replied. She stepped down to the command deck and looked around. T’pril was securing last minute gear in the below-deck storage compartments and Willow was looking at star charts on the console in front of her. Willow’s outfit choice wasn’t unusual. Of all the crew, she’d chosen a short skirt ensemble similar to what had been worn on the original enterprise, matched with low-heeled boots and a belt that held a standard issue type-2 phaser. Doubtless her visible knees were what had driven Gordo to call her ‘scandalous.’ Cadence thought that the outfit, matched with her short blue hair, looked cute.
“Course plotted into Cardassian space, captain,” she said.
“Thank you, Will. As soon as Gordo and Thrace grace us with their presence, we’ll be good to go,” Cadence replied.
She sank into the command chair and reviewed her own checklist while she tried not to feel nervous. It didn’t help that she could feel both the nervousness of her own crew as well as the concern of those aboard George Clinton. This was a highly unusual mission, with a high probability of failure. Everyone was on edge.
Thrace entered from behind her and she glanced at the small Caitan. To say she was beautiful was an understatement. Most of her tribe was, by anyone’s standards. Her mane was pulled back behind her pointed ears and braided tightly, her tribal markings were highlighted with colorful cosmetics, and she’d chosen a traditional uniform that left her tail and felinoid feet free.
“Welcome aboard, ensign,” Cadence said.
“Thank you, Captain Song,” Thrace replied. She sank into her seat with grace and poise that only Caitans can muster, and set about her pre-flight. Cadence watched her while pretending not to. Thrace was a reasonable pilot, but she was more valuable in engineering helping with repairs and systems checks. She would be helmsman only when stations were green. If danger threatened… when danger threatened, Cadence would take the helm until they found or were assigned an experienced pilot.
“Boards show green, Captain,” Gordo said behind her.
“Thank you, Gordo. Button her up. Lacey, hail the flight officer,” Cadence said.
Lacey’s “sir” rode over Gordo’s “aye, retracting the ramp.”
“I have Captain Kirk for you,” Lacey continued.
“On screen,” Cadence said.
The main viewer sparkled then showed James T. Kirk and Captain Spock on the bridge of Enterprise.
“Captain Song, I hear you’re ready to depart,” Kirk said.
“Aye sir, we were just about to call the flight deck,” Cadence replied.
“Clearance will be granted from here, Captain,” Spock said.
Kirk nodded. “We wanted to see you off.”
‘You wanted to give me one last chance to back out,’ Cadence thought.
“Thank you, sir. That means more than you know.”
“Fearless, the deck is clear, you have permission to depart,” Spock said.
Cadence nodded at him. “Thrusters at station keeping, Thrace. Retract the landing gear.”
“Aye sir, thrusters one quarter, landing gear rolling up,” Thrace echoed.
Cadence felt the dull thump of Fearless’ landing gear and the swaying sensation that came with solid fuel thrusters fighting artificial gravity.
“Take us out, Thrace, thrusters only till we clear the deck.”
“May the wind be at your back, Captain. I look forward to our rendezvous in sixty days,” Kirk said.
“Thank you, sir. We’ll see you there,” Cadence replied.
Kirk’s eyes met hers. “See that you do. Enterprise, out.”
The screen faded, to be replaced with an exterior view of George Clinton. “Shields up, half impulse, take us into the nebula and let GC get clear before we go to warp.”
“Aye sir, shields up,” Willow said, touching the controls.
Fearless had triple shielding, a design originally intended for the Star Empire dreadnought class starship. Only one had ever been built, only to be scrapped for being against everything the Federation stood for, but some of the breakthroughs were useful. The redundant shields meant Fearless could take a pounding even Excelsior class ships couldn’t. The down side was power consumption in combat, which was through the roof. Fearless chewed through dilithium the same way tribbles ate cereal.
On screen, the purple-orange swirl of the nebula swam into view. Cardassian space lay on the other side, as did their destination, an asteroid that catered to a less law-abiding class of people. Rumor was that their contact, a Klingon named K’Ratak, could be found there.
“George Clinton signals good luck and God speed, they’re going to warp,” Gordo announced.
Cadence felt the sudden emptiness of the GC crew vanishing, and knew they were gone.
“Take us through the nebula, go to warp two as soon as we’re clear,” she said.
She settled back into her seat and folded her hands. Come what may, they were on their own.
To Be Continued