STAR TREK: OUTER ZONE

An original fanfiction serialised story (© the Author) based on the Star Trek (© CBS Studios) franchise, (canon) set in uncharted space at the edge of the Galaxy (dubbed the Outer Zone) around the time Starfleet entered into hostilities with the Dominion.

EPISODE FIVE

Last time on ST:OZ…

Having successfully evaded and left behind their T'Kani pursuers on the strange magnetic planet, and while subsequently navigating the runabout Hudson through the vast asteroid fields on the outskirts of Vekarian space in the hope of somehow reuniting with the SS Fantasy, Starfleet Diplomat Yeoman Lirik and his Human-Ferengi pilot cohort Reb detected a transmission apparently originating from the Fantasy. According to the computer diagnostic the message "we're here" was spoken by a female, but it couldn't verify any other information about the source voice, unusual in itself as the two men clearly heard a youthful female American English accent, although they couldn't recognise whose it was.

Shortly after, they encountered two gaggles of Starfleet escape pods and took on board the only two survivors from the USS Papillon, destroyed in the T'Kani's initial invasion of Qovakia: its brusque Executive Officer Commander Sarilev and diminutive Engineering Cadet Yip. The Commander attempted to assert his authority, but Lirik invoked his Diplomatic powers and swiftly put him in his place, not least by way of his stinging deduction that the two survivors had only escaped the fate of their fellow shipmates because they had been engaged in carnal pleasures inside one of the Papillon's escape pods at the time of the attack.

Meanwhile aboard the Fantasy the arduous process of fixing the ship continued, not least in trying to bring the main computer core online. But in doing so, Orion tech wiz Hedra and Starfleet Engineer Lt Commander Kohl inadvertently activated a T'Kani security holo-programme throughout the ship, although that wasn't apparent initially – everyone thought they had either been boarded or the T'Kani soldiers had already been hiding on board.

With safety measures inactive all but a few of the volunteers and crew were swiftly incapacitated and manhandled by the mysteriously shrouded aggressively silent T'Kani soldiers to the main shuttle bay where they were held under severe measures - even the terrified and traumatised children weren't spared their wrath. Andorian Ambassador Narli along with all the Helan people were kept separated in the adjacent standby bay under even heavier guard who systematically assaulted them. Only Starfleet medic Lt O'Hara, her volunteer helpers and the host of injured civilians (whose numbers had now swelled from the hostile takeover) were left in the Solaris Lounge with a T'Kani sentry posted outside.

Captain Christian and Ensign Collard managed to avoid capture and made their way via access ducts, jeffreys tubes and crawlways to the Command Section Bridge where they spotted not only the runabout Hudson outside evidently trying to find a way on board, but also a number of ships on long range sensors heading their way at speed, presumably T'Kani. With few systems available their efforts to communicate with the Hudson and take control of the ship from the Command Bridge were not possible, and with no weapons and two life-forms advancing on their position they didn't hang around.

Little did they realise it was in fact Hedra and Kohl hot on their heels; the two had also managed to evade the T'Kani and attempted to disrupt the activities of the soldiers who patrolled the ship's corridors trying to work out a way to help the others, but their efforts were in vain and their liberty on the Command Section Bridge was short-lived.

Hidden in the ship's access crawlways Christian ordered Collard to the Shuttle bay to try and find a way of letting the Hudson aboard or freeing the crew should he fail, while he headed for the Solaris Lounge to try and enlist some additional help to re-take the ship. Once there he learned from the badly injured Hedra that the soldiers were holograms.

Meanwhile the occupants of the Hudson attempted to enter the shuttle bay causing the soldiers to fire on them and the passengers and crew held there to dive for cover; a number were injured or stunned in the confusion – Lirik took the opportunity to beam aboard (setting his environmental shield to emit a protective ruby field for any onlookers as he rematerialized - Ed) and together with the Romulan Murat escaped into the ship. Having worked out the T'Kani were holograms they made for the Computer Core in an attempt to deactivate the programme.

As they and Christian converged on the Computer Core, Collard found herself facing off against a T'Kani soldier in a physical fight in front of the Ambassador and the Helan, only narrowly escaping a fatal blow.

After a brief battle in the Core, the T'Kani programme was finally disabled. Christian and Reb headed to Engineering to prepare the Emergency Warp Jump system for a swift getaway, ordering Lirik to the Main Bridge to navigate the ship into clear space for the jump to be successful. This he achieved after a nail-biting hiatus to clear the asteroid fields and evade the fast-approaching T'Kani ships, but not before an apparently petrified young Bajoran girl appeared from the shadows and distracted him, pulling on his arm and almost accidentally preventing the jump from happening.

The Commodore caught the tail end of Lirik's altercation with the girl, who seemed to turn suddenly angry and hateful against the Yeoman. As Jackson led her back to the Spa to re-join the other children Lirik was stopped from following by a stern and bloodied Captain who ordered the Yeoman to take the conn while he went and cleaned up and rested.

With the vessel relocated over 900 million kilometres away from their previous position the passengers and crew were now out of immediate danger: the cloaking substance would keep them suitably concealed until they could lick their wounds, make sufficient repairs and get underway again, although Lirik's odd encounter with the girl had got him thinking…

Main Players:

Captain Christian – Starfleet Captain, former Engineering officer recently promoted to command his own ship, the USS Firefly, posted to the Outer Zone; he travelled there with the reluctant Reb in his pod, but on arrival found the T'Kani forces manipulating the wormhole and wreckage of the Firefly close to the exit point; the two barely escaped to Vekaria with their lives where they witnessed first-hand the bombardment of the Helub spaceport and destruction or disabling of any and all vessels with weapons capability demanding Qovakia and all therein to immediately surrender (see Eps1 in recent months his father was driven insane and mother killed after accidental prolonged exposure to a Medusan. In agreement with Commodore Jackson, he is taking the centre seat on the SS Fantasy, although she made it clear she still outranks him. He clearly has conscious bias against Yeoman Lirik for his Medusan heritage, now exacerbated as he disobeyed Christian's orders in Episode 3; was instantly attracted to Professor Narli who reminds him of a previous love.

Reb – a pilot for hire who only came to the Outer Zone because he had been transporting Christian there in order to avoid a smuggling charge. His mother was Human, father Ferengi. He has had to find his own way into adulthood and has experienced many setbacks along the way, the last of which was losing his Pod in the T'Kani attack and winding up in the company of the other survivors. A loner, Reb and Lirik have begun to form a bond during their recent shared adventure (see Eps 3 and not only are they both of mixed heritage but they also share a passion for holo-D&D.

Commodore Jackson – veteran Starfleet regional HQ commander most recently assigned to the Outer Zone; lacking in starship command experience for many years, but is the senior officer present among the survivors. She has agreed to be Christian's Executive officer and refresh herself on starship operations, but is frustrated by the Fantasy's continual repair problems and also suffering greatly from the apparent loss of her son as well as her closest friends and colleagues in the T'Kani attack (Ep2) – and without a supply of her vision medication her eyesight is now failing her as well.

(Lieutenant Jackson – the Commodore's son, a security officer who had been assigned to the docks when the T'Kani strike took place; he is missing on Helub, presumed dead.)

Lieutenant O'Hara – Starfleet medical officer, former Marine medic, not quite fully qualified MD; had been romantically involved with Lt Jackson, the Commodore's son, before the attack. Has already locked horns with Christian and Jackson, and is frustrated with her lack of medicine and medical equipment. She has a group of volunteer helpers and they're doing everything they can for their patients, but their situation is worsening rather than improving from an increasing number of injured, worsening conditions of those hurt in the initial invasion and exodus, as well as from the lack of supplies.

Ensign Collard – French Canadian Starfleet security officer, recent Academy graduate specialising in the field of tactics and security. She had been injured in the initial T'Kani attack while attempting to apprehend Hedra in the process of stealing Starfleet supplies (Ep2) – and was again injured in a hand-fight with one of the T'Kani holograms in the last episode, which could have been fatal. She is pissed that Hedra hasn't been held to account for her actions, and while somewhat out of her depth in the current situation given her lack of experience in the field, she is very keen to show her dedication to the service, not least to Captain Christian who she finds herself attracted to.

Hedra – on face value, an Orion thief; when the invasion took place, Collard had been trying to apprehend her, but was wounded – Hedra made sure the two of them made their escape with the rest of the survivors, if only to mitigate her intended criminal action. She is fully aware that both Collard and Professor Karim, the science specialist from Vulcan, dislike her but tries not to let it bother her. Hedra is proving herself to be adept with computer systems, much to Collard's ire, and is personally wrestling with her innate desires.

Lieutenant Commander Kohl – Starfleet Engineer, he discovered the passenger liner Fantasy (see Ep1); a bit of a nerd; technically he is AWOL from his own ship the USS Draco where he was serving as Deputy Chief Engineer; he tried to warn Starfleet HQ of the impending attack but was not believed; he led the survivors to the vessel and was key in ensuring their escape. Is working harder than he has ever done in his career to repair the SS Fantasy. He's not yet found his level with the Captain, an experienced Engineer, but has formed a good bond with his diverse volunteer Engineering team. He and Lirik don't get along much.

(Minister Re Lorken – Qovakian politician of Vekarian birth allocated as chief liaison to the Starfleet visitors; shortly before the invasion to her surprise she had been assigned to assist Kohl in his quest to find out if a ship from Federation space was present in the Outer Zone (see Ep1); she was even more surprised they were permitted to go to the former T'Kani facility to investigate; she had been spooked when she discovered a flag there, the T'Kani Flag of Invasion, staked to the floor of the hangar by an Ore Challenge Stick – the Ore were a nomadic people from far beyond Qovakia who during the previous occupation had been attacked by the T'Kani and joined the resistance movement, helping it to succeed, but who were believed to have been wiped out in the process; [while in the facility investigating the Fantasy's existence, the Runabout Hudson had disappeared, but later was found aboard the Fantasy, evidently 'stolen' by the Helan, for reasons as yet unknown] She left her diplomatic bag aboard the Runabout Hudson, and in it several encoded transparencies that have given Lirik cause for concern.)

Yeoman Lirik – Starfleet Diplomatic Corps, long serving primary aide to the Federation delegates with a shady past; part-Medusan, wears an environment shield to protect others from the nauseating ambient energy caused by that energetic part of him he keeps contained beneath his skin although that doesn't prevent others from being wary of him at best or considering him a liability at worst; escaped with the rest of the survivors. He's proven himself an enigma, being familiar with a range of disciplines, all of which bely his apparent position and have intrigued the Captain, although his Medusan heritage is a constant painful reminder for Christian of his dead mother and insane father. During their escape from Vekaria Lirik agreed he would rescind his powers of Diplomatic veto and respect Christian's authority, however on his sortie outside the Fantasy in the runabout with Reb (Ep3), when seemingly detected by the T'Kani he felt there was no option other than disobey Christian's orders to come back aboard and instead try to lead the enemy away in order to keep the ship and the survivors safe. It seemed to have worked but he's unsure if Christian will see it the same way. Lirik is intrigued by the Helan being immune to his ambient Medusan energy.

Ambassador Narli – Andorian Trade delegate, old sparring partner of the Yeoman's; was elsewhere when all the other delegates disappeared from his hotel on Helub just before the attack; made his escape with Lirik. Not trusting of Christian's ability – or anyone else's for that matter. He knows a lot more than he's letting on. [Lirik distrusts him because of several mysterious absences prior to the invasion, and also because the Andorians are mentioned alongside the Dominion and Cardassians in one of Re Lorken's documents]. Like Lirik, Narli is also more familiar with starship technology and protocols than the Captain feels comfortable about; Narli reserves judgement on Christian's ability to lead effectively; it's unclear if Narli has lost his edge, he appears comfortable with his Ambassadorial comforts and is outwardly attracted to both Hedra and Professor Karim.

Professor Karim – from the Vulcan Science Academy; Human, but raised a Vulcan; she and her assistants helped Narli and Lirik to reach Helub during the attack where they made their escape with the others. Despite her genetic humanity she behaves as a Vulcan would, trained from a young girl to be unemotional and unimpressed by illogical, emotive behaviour. (Note I created this character in about 1985 when I first devised this story - just a coincidence that the writers of Discovery created a very similar character years later, although mine is completely unrelated to Spock and his family)

Cally Warnerburg – retired Starfleet engineer; survivor who volunteered to help Kohl in the Fantasy's engine room. Was injured in Ep3, now mostly recovered and back on duty.

Murat – a Romulan junior ranking engineer separated from his crew who had found himself among the survivors; was volunteered to help Kohl which has offered him a level of protection from others who consider all Romulans to be untrustworthy and dangerous; has saved the ship and stepped up to help his fellow survivors several times over since the invasion, putting himself in peril in the process, although it has gone mostly unnoticed.

[Jaz Lepraniem – entrepreneur and former engineer who volunteered to help Kohl. Jaz was killed in Ep3, taking the full force of an exploding plasma conduit]

Karless, Kluless and Kidron – three Klingon warriors separated from their brethren on Helub, reluctantly made the escape with the other survivors, keen to do their bit; tried to battle the T'Kani holo-programme but were quickly subdued and variously injured.

Ganhedra – eccentric/mysterious leader of the Helen, the group of OZ aliens found living aboard the SS Fantasy (see Ep2); seems to behave erratically, swinging from bumbling old man to focused, imperious leader from one moment to the next; another who appears to Christian to know more than he lets on.

Vostaline – daughter and heir to Ganhedra; along with her brethren she is helping to repair and maintain the Fantasy.

Fraxon – Vostaline's 'little' brother; evidently the Helan are immune to Lirik's ambient Medusan energy field as the Yeoman found out when the man hugged him.

Commander Sarilev – First Officer of the USS Papillon, only he and Cadet Yip survived when it was swiftly destroyed by the T'Kani; had they not been having sex inside an escape pod at the time both would have been as dead as the rest of the crew; Sarilev is showing signs of early space psychosis following the trauma of losing his ship and crew in the circumstances.

Cadet Yip – Starfleet Engineering student on the officer programme serving a work placement on the Papillon she had formed an intense physical relationship with her Exec and mentor; is devastated by the loss of the ship and crew including her cousin who also served on board; she is repressing the embarrassment and shame of her survival and intense guilt toward allowing herself to be romantically involved with her superior.

SS Fantasy – an enormous, largely submarine-shaped passenger liner over a kilometre in length, 47 decks deep, comprising three main sections: the Command Yacht, the Command Section, and the Passenger Section, the largest part of the vessel – the latter is currently sealed off and impenetrable. A legend in its own time, the formerly bright, white vessel is now entirely covered in a mysterious black substance that renders it 'cloaked', though it is in much need of repair. It is packed full of an assortment of items that were destined for the Federation archives when it vanished.