STAR TREK: OUTER ZONE

An original fanfiction serialised story and characters (© the Author) based on the Star Trek (© ViacomCBS, CBS Broadcasting, CBS Studios, Paramount Pictures, National Amusements) 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 RECAP

Huddled aboard the enormous ageing former luxury liner SS Fantasy the survivors are one week into their escape from Vekarian space following the swift and merciless T'Kani invasion of Qovakia - for the second time in less than a century.

In the last episode, while still recovering from the accidental activation of a brutal T'Kani security holoprogramme (see Ep4) Yeoman Lirik presented to Commodore Jackson, Captain Christian and Ensign Collard his theory that a T'Kani agent was on board; who he believed to be in the guise of a Bajoran girl.

The senior officers took it under advisement but before anything could progress the Fantasy picked up a distress signal. Ganhedra, leader of the Helan contingent they'd found living aboard the Fantasy, warned against helping since the damaged vessel was on the outskirts of a nebula known to his people as being home to several antagonistic and aggressive nations.

Despite that fact, and that the Fantasy was still a very long way from being fully operational, in accord with Starfleet protocol to always offer assistance to those in need Captain Christian nevertheless ordered the Runabout Hudson to attend. The rescue team was led by Commodore Jackson, accompanied by medic Lt O'Hara, security Ensign Collard, retired engineer Cally Warnerburg and newly arrived Commander Sarilev piloting the vessel. Sarilev, former First Officer and survivor of the USS Pappillon, destroyed by the T'Kani, was picked up and brought back to the Fantasy along with fellow survivor Cadet Yip by Lirik and Reb during their recent unplanned excursion (see Ep4).

The rescue team beamed the two badly injured aliens aboard just moments before their vessel exploded, but something was wrong and the rescue party soon began to feel emotional and ill.

Once back on the Fantasy the same effects soon spread to those in and around the shuttle bay and unconsciousness soon followed. On the Bridge, faced with potential incapacitation fortunately Ganhedra was able to recognise the rescued individuals on the runabout's internal monitors as being of the Ere, and also pinpointed the location of their home star system in the nebula. With no other option the Captain set a course for Ere space with the intention of dispatching the Runabout ahead of them in order to bring back help – once the situation down on the Shuttle Bay was under control and they could gain access to the vessel.

Despite best efforts very quickly nearly everyone else on board became overwhelmed by what was thought at first to be a highly contagious virus.

With the Captain and most of the rest of the volunteer crew and passengers unconscious, only those aboard with colourful skin pigments appeared to remain unaffected. Ambassador Narli and Hedra assumed leadership of their reduced number.

As the consensus was to follow the Captain's original plan Ambassador Narli took off in the Runabout Hudson in the hope of finding help. Hedra was left in command, but almost immediately delegated the centre seat on the pretence of having important work to do in the Captain's Office. There she accessed the adjacent private quarters on Deck 2 where she indulged in a sonic shower for both herself and her clothes, finishing at the exact same time her Andorian colleague returned - a lot sooner than expected - accompanied by three Ere vessels.

The Ere it transpired were a race proficient in the sciences including medicine and those who accompanied him were colleagues of the two injured aliens who had been conducting a scientific expedition in the area. They explained the cause of the survivors' affliction was in fact due to a unique form of radiation, but was easily treatable with their advanced knowledge and superior instrumentation.

That same advanced medical skill meant they were not only able to bring all those affected quickly back from their unconscious state, but were also able to treat and heal all the remaining injured under O'Hara's care. Although they stopped short at providing any medicine or supplies or in helping with repairs, hamstrung as they were by their race's own form of a Prime Directive.

Once the Ere had gone, as the crew continued to recover from the effects of the radiation Christian finally held his first meeting with those he considered to be his command team.

The ship remained in a sorry state of disrepair, not least the main computer core being far from operational. But other systems had been made available and Lt Commander Kohl had also restored the engines to a functional low warp capability, yet he warned it wouldn't be long before fuel supplies ran dry.

The young Bajoran girl was yet to be found, Lirik adamant in his theory she was a T'Kani agent; the fact that she has disappeared during both the holoprogramme and Ere incidents lending extra credence to this. Others remained sceptical.

But proceedings were soon interrupted with news that a number of bodies had been found – cause of death apparent suicide, each at different times during the flight from Helub.

Christian vowed that addressing the ship's company and assessing all those on board would be the next priority together with ongoing essential repairs.

Main Players:

Captain Christian – originally an Engineer he'd switched to Command and soon become Commander and First Officer of the USS Venture. A number of weeks ago his mother had been killed and father driven insane after accidental prolonged exposure to a Medusan lifeform. During his compassionate leave while admitting his father to a long-term care facility he'd received orders for his first command, commencing immediately, as Captain of the USS Firefly, a scientific exploration vessel posted to the recently discovered Outer Zone. The final leg of his journey there was unexpectedly made in the care of a self-made pilot and smuggler named Reb in his over-embellished Pod. On arrival they found 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 onslaught of the T'Kani forces, bombarding much of the surface of the Helub spaceport and destroying or disabling any and all vessels with weapons capability, demanding Qovakia and all therein to immediately surrender (see Eps1&2). The wormhole was then destroyed. Making their way along with others to the area beneath Starfleet's temporary HQ on the Helub spaceport, using Kohl's information about a ship that could accommodate their number Christian with the support of Commodore Jackson led six hundred plus survivors to the remote T'Kani storage facility where they made their escape about the SS Fantasy. In agreement with Commodore Jackson, he is taking the centre seat, although she made it clear she still outranks him. He's locked horns several times with the fiery Lt O'Hara, but has developed a soft spot for the young Ensign Collard and is attracted to Professor Karim who reminds him of a former love. He is suspicious of and a bit intimidated by Ambassador Narli and clearly has conscious bias against Yeoman Lirik for his partial Medusan heritage, now exacerbated as he disobeyed Christian's orders despite agreeing to rescind his Diplomatic authority (see Episode 3).

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. Little else is known about him other than he has clearly had to find his own way into adulthood and has experienced many setbacks along the way, the last of which was losing his home and beloved Pod in the T'Kani attack and winding up in the company of the other survivors. A loner, Reb and Lirik formed a tenuous bond during their recent shared adventure (see Eps 3 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 from the apparent loss of her son as well as her long-time friends and colleagues in the T'Kani attack (Ep2); not understanding what her son saw in the medic, in the last episode she attempted to give Lt O'Hara advice on controlling her temper; she also received a pair of enhanced spectacles that will aid her eyesight and then some. Only witnessing the tail end of what happened between Lirik and the young Bajoran girl she is unconvinced of the validity of his accusation, feeling the girl behaved just as any child would, but not dismissing the evidence of the voice recording Lirik played them or of the fact that the girl seems to have completely disappeared.

(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 had several altercations with Christian and Jackson, frustrated by the number of serious casualties and lack of medicine and medical equipment, although in the last episode the Ere had treated every last one of her patients, at least for physical problems. Everyone is in full agreement there needs to be a rapid assessment of those aboard following the discovery of several individuals who appear to have taken their own lives. O'Hara has a committed group of volunteer helpers, including a healing Empath and a Carmelite nun; now that the crew's physical ailments are taken care of it's time to deal with their mental health; though she's still frustrated by the lack of a sickbay, let alone the supplies still needed.

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 apprehending the Orion woman named Hedra who had been stealing Starfleet supplies (See 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; the Ere have managed to repair her fully. She holds a grudge against Hedra who she regards as a felon and a fabricator of truth and is aggrieved she has not only gone unpunished but has been given a level of responsibility among the 'command team'. A rookie, Collard appears to be somewhat out of her depth in the current situation given her lack of experience in the field, but 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, partly mitigating her intended criminal action. She is aware that both Collard and Professor Karim dislike her but tries not to let it bother her. Despite accidentally activating the T'Kani holo programme Hedra has been proving herself to be adept with computer systems, much to Collard's ire, and has been wrestling with personal issues, mainly in trying to establish who she is in the current situation. Left in 'command' of the Fantasy while Narli sought help for the rest of their fallen crew, Hedra shied away from the responsibility, instead gaining access to the Captain's personal quarters on Deck 2 where she took a much desired sonic shower, although she has kept this fact a secret, ably covering her tracks (see Ep5).

Lieutenant Commander Kohl – Starfleet Engineer, he discovered the passenger liner Fantasy while on leave on Helub (see Ep1) although rather than shimmering white it was covered in a strange black substance that appeared to not show up on scanners; 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 T'Kani attack but was not believed; after it happened 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 equally experienced Engineer, but has formed a good bond with his diverse volunteer Engineering team. He and Lirik don't get along much; Hedra has displayed a physical interest in him.

(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 in a remote area of the moon Helub to investigate; she had been spooked when she discovered a flag there, the T'Kani Flag of Invasion, as she called it, 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 had given Lirik cause for concern, but now believes could be harmless)

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 contradict his apparent position and have intrigued the Captain; 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 renounce 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 worked but the Captain has made it clear that would be the last transgression he makes. Their relationship seems to have deteriorated again. During the last episode in a discussion with Ambassador Narli he learned that Qovakia's government is merely a cover for the true rulers of the region, a secret cadre formed at the birth of the Union and committed to their endurance by manipulating events to their end – although they could not stop the T'Kani on either occasion it's possible they may have remained unknown and also facilitated the airlifting of all the delegates gathered at the Trade conference before the invasion. He also learned more detail of the final outcome of the Ore, betrayed by the Qovakians at the last. Lirik is intrigued by the Helan being immune to his ambient Medusan energy and noticed that their leader's youngest son Fraxon appears to have taken an equal interest in him.

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. In the last episode he and Lirik shared details about what they knew; Narli confided that the reason he'd been absent was because the mysterious power behind the Qovakian government reached out to confide in him several pieces of key information, not least the imminent attack and of the truth about the Ore's final demise. Like Lirik, Narli is also more familiar with star ship technology and Starfleet 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 fully treated by the Ere and feeling better than she has in a long time.

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 except by Kohl who's taken a shine to him; there appears to also be a spark of friendship between Murat and Collard.

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. They didn't cope well with the debilitating effects of the radiation in the last episode.

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. Appears to be a bit infatuated with Lirik.

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 had been showing signs of early space psychosis following the trauma of losing his ship and crew in the circumstances, though showed a strength most others couldn't have brought when affected by the radiation in the last episode.

Cadet Yip – Starfleet Engineering student on the Officer Training programme serving a work placement on the Papillon she had formed an intense physical relationship with her Exec and mentor Commander Sarilev; 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.

Nedu Figg – Bolian man who lost his best friend during the T'Kani invasion but rallied survivors, many of them gravely injured, to join Captain Christian and the others in the escape from Helub; has in the last episode proven himself to be capable and willing, not unfamiliar with Starfleet technology and shows potential.

Enshless Duar-Melret – Anchrinarian female volunteer on the Bridge with engineering knowledge and evidently an amount of experience of ship's functions and leadership.

Judge Madison – a discredited and disbarred former Federation Judge Madison has shown ability and skill gained in his younger years that could prove useful, although his previous actions and reputation are a concern.

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 and has extensive holographic technology fitted throughout.