Return to Glory

Lieutenant Stev

Helmsman's Personal Log: 2308.5.14

Changes, given the fact the change is an ongoing constant in the universe one would logically conclude that the acceptance of change would be at the forefront of any humanoids psyche. Observation and personal experience shatter the perfect logic of that hypothesis.

Ensign Charles Hubbard (an old friend of mine from childhood) is our new Xenolife Specialist. Ensign Cary has taken over at communications, she's as good with the equipment as I am (probably better) but I wasn't kept on that assignment because Captain Northtree needed my skills at ship navigation more than she needed three communications officers (at least she is still letting me reprogram the Universal Translator in my free time). It was because of this last change that I was among the first to know of a more significant change affecting us all.

We were redirected from our mission of charting sector SCN028 to proceed to Starbase 44. Upon our arrival, a civilian with pointed ears and a greenish tint to his skin came aboard and went immediately to Captain Northtree's ready room. Although the civilian looked Vulcan, he did not move or carry himself like one. The doors stayed shut far longer than usual for a briefing. When the doors opened the civilian abruptly left the bridge and Captain Northtree looked like she wished she could leave as well. She did announce that there would be a briefing for a select group of officers tomorrow at 0800. My curiosity is piqued about what will be said at the briefing, but then I'll find out in the morning as I'm one of the officers on the list to attend.

Stev left his quarters at 0730 hrs, because he didn't wish to be late for the briefing. He met up with Ensign Cary waiting for a turbolift.

"Fancy meeting you in a place like this." Ensign Cary said with a smile.

"Buffy, I must point out that since we serve onboard the Intrepid, are assigned to the same bridge shift, and have our quarters on the same deck there is a 95.4% probability of chance encounters in the corridors." the Vulcan replied.

"That was supposed to be a joke Stev."

Stev arched his eyebrow, "Ah, Terran humor." he said with a grin, "I am conducting a study of the phenomena. It is somewhat puzzling. Was this joke funny?"

"No, not really."

"I didn't think so."

Stev and Buffy went to the conference room and had seated themselves by 0745 hrs. Stev looked around at the other officers who had already taken seats. Some were friends, most he knew, and all but a few he had worked with. Commanders Smith and Phillips were sitting at one end of the table next to two empty chairs and were talking quietly to themselves. Commander Clemens and Lieutenant T'Aiya were seated next to them with placid looks of concentration on their faces.

Stev noticed the bracelet on T'Aiya's arm quivered occasionally and he knew her companion was slightly agitated at the number of people in the room. T'Aiya looked up momentarily at Stev as they had recently begun dating. Her eyes brightened quickly when she saw him and then just as quickly resumed her professional gaze. The rest of the seats were occupied by Ensign Hubbard, Ensign Baker and Commander Drox, the Denobulan CMO. Stev could see the logic behind the choice of personnel, but couldn't begin to guess as to why they had been assembled. The time for speculation was over as the chronometer signaled 0800 and the doors slid open to admit two people.

Captain Northtree entered the followed by the mysterious civilian, now dressed in a regulation Federation uniform but without any rank insignia or years of service swatches.

"This meeting is classified. Do not discuss it with any other members of the crew," the Intrepid's Captain began. "Mr. Lenartin will be briefing us on the nature of the mission. Please save any questions or comments until after I've given you your assignments. The remainder of the crew will be informed later. Mr. Lenartin you may proceed."

"Very well. Simply put, the Intrepid has been ordered to ferry me across the Neutral Zone to Romulus. Once there a select group of officers and I will endeavor to extract a Federation operative."

"That's suicide!" Ensign Baker blurted out, just ahead of the rest of the officers all with the same words on their lips.

"I agree Ensign," Captained Northtree said, "but, I believe I requested that all comments be saved until the end of the briefing. Mr. Lenartin please continue."

"Thank you Captain, I was just getting ready to say that crossing the Neutral Zone will be accomplished by means of a prototype holographic projector that will disguise the ship. This device must remain top secret and therefore the details will only be revealed to Commander Clemens. Suffice it to say we will look like a Romulan ship and be able to enter and leave Romulan space without being detected as a Federation vessel." He looked directly at Lieutenant Stev as he continued, "We must also have someone who can speak Romulan fluently. This person will handle all open channel communications as we don't want the electronic signature of the Universal Translator to give us away." Finishing his briefing he looked at the Intrepid's CO, "Captain."

"OK, people that's what we've got to do this is how we're going to do it." Captain Northtree said with a grim determination. "Commander Clemens, you will be very busy in engineering ensuring that this device of Mr. Lenartin's will not blow up and take us with it. Lieutenant T'Aiya, you will need to install a cloak on the Blue Ghost. Starfleet has included the plans for one in the mission packet. These plans are apparently derived from the one the Enterprise obtained 41 years ago and the one recovered from under the San Francisco Bridge 23 years ago and modified for an Excelsior Class Starship."

After a brief pause the Intrepid's Captain continued, still looking at T'Aiya, "You will also need to refit the Essex to resemble a Romulan commercial shuttle and install some additional security measures on it. Commander Drox, you will be doing some cosmetic surgery on Commander Phillips, Ensign Baker & Ensign Hubbard. You three and Lieutenant Stev will be the first insertion landing party. Your mission is to locate our target by whatever means necessary."

Glancing over at her Vulcan helmsman she addressed him directly, "Stev you will also handle all communications with any Romulan outposts on our trip in. Commander Smith you will taking the second insertion team down to the surface in the Blue Ghost while we wait for confirmation of contact with the target. Ensign Cary, you will be responsible for keeping covert lines of communication open between the Intrepid and the two teams. Any questions?"

"Yes sir, who will be on team two?" asked Commander Smith.

"Myself, and Mr. Lenartin." the Captain replied with grim finality.

Personal Log supplemental:

I never thought that I would be computing a course for any starship that would take my crew mates and myself across the Neutral Zone. I also never thought I'd meet a member of the race which so thoroughly rejected the teachings of Surak and embraces the negative emotions of deceit and treachery, let alone walk on the surface of their homeworld. Life, however, is full of changes, many of them quite unexpected, it seems that I will indeed get the chance to do a great many unexpected things on this mission. Mr. Lenartin is quite unlike my preconceived notions of a Romulan. I hope that he has what it takes to lead this mission successfully. Now, I must go check on T'Aiya's progress disguising the Essex.

"Phread, you must stay here in our quarters. T'Aiya and Neila are too busy to play right now. I must go see if the Essex has been disguised," Stev paused as the tribble cooed mournfully. "We will go visit the Rec. Deck after this mission has been completed." With those words Stev scratched his pet on the belly and left the purring, now contented tribble alone in the quarters.

Minutes later Stev walked into the nearly deserted shuttle bay. Lieutenant T'Aiya, busy working on the Essex did not appear to notice his entrance, but her bracelet, becoming more familiar with the approaching Vulcan, uncurled its head and stared at Stev as he approached. Without turning her head T'Aiya spoke up.

"Yes Stev, the refit of the Essex is proceeding according to schedule and will be finished shortly." she said curtly.

"Aishamano, what is bothering you?", Stev asked. "I understand that Neila informed you of my arrival, but I can hear the unease in your voice. You may be able to hide your emotions from the rest of the crew, but not me."

T'Aiya looked up from her work, "This mission is what's bothering me." She shook her head and continued, "Starfleet expects us to go capture a spy that their bungling allowed to escape in the first place. Not only that but, we're being written off if we're caught. Do you know what the Romulans do to their prisoners?"

"No, and I have no wish to discover it first hand. Logically we must each do our best to ensure that this mission is successful."

"Even then it may not be enough," she said a touched the back of Stev's hand with two outstretched fingers.

Stev covered the fingers with his other hand, "That assessment has a 68.4% chance of being accurate, even with the added security devices you're installing," Stev uncovered her fingers and removed them from his hand with a smile. "Captain Northtree wants this shuttle ready to launch in 36 hours. What can I do to assist you?" Stev finished as he picked up a tool off the floor.

The Intrepid arrived in Romulan Space in due course. Stev's linguistic skills were needed each time the third fleet ship passed a Romulan ship and also when she passed by a Romulan outpost at the border. Apparently Stev's bluffs and the holographic projector was working as advertised. The Romulans were convinced the Federation Starship was who she claimed to be.

Soon the Federation ship arrived at Romulus, as the Intrepid entered into standard orbit of Romulan homeworld, a group of officers stood in the shuttle bay to receive final orders.

"Commander Phillips," Mr. Lenartin began, "you and your team are impersonating the Captain and officers of a Romulan commercial transport that Starfleet is detaining in the Orion Sector. That particular class of ship doesn't have transporters, so it's perfectly natural for you to be flying down to the planet's surface. Captain Northtree, Commander Smith and I will be following right behind you in the cloaked shuttle. Your job is to locate T'Prist, inform me of her whereabouts, and return to the Intrepid."

The officers boarded their respective shuttles. As Ensign Baker and Ensign Hubbard strapped themselves down, Stev eased himself into the pilot's seat and remarked, "I believe that humans would say that this mission has more tendrils of follicle tissue than my pet tribble."

Commander Phillips smirked, nodding his head in agreement replied, "Stev, you are a master of the understatement."

The shuttlebay rocked with the simultaneous departure of both shuttles. Stev could see the Blue Ghost shimmer and disappear outside his window. Soon it disappeared from his monitor as well. "Intrepid, this is the Essex, communications check one on my mark," Stev started, "Mark."

"Essex, Intrepid reads you five by five, Blue Ghost confirms. Mission is now at phase two." Ensign Cary's voice came back on the scrambled circuit, "Good Luck, and come back safely.".

Stev began inputting data into the navigation computer, "Commander, course is laid in for the Krocton Commercial Spaceport. I have informed Romulan Traffic Control of our arrival. I estimate 20 minutes until planetfall."

Commander Phillips smiled the smile of a warrior, "Good. Gentlemen," he continued, "I am open to any suggestions as to how to proceed from here."

"Commander," Ensign Hubbard spoke up, "since we are impersonating a freighter crew, maybe we should just do what a freighter crew would do when they reach port and see what leads we can turn up."

"If Charles and I can get access to the Romulan computer network, we should be able to coax out the information we require." Stev added.

"Baker, you and I will cover our friends while they do what they do best." Commander Phillips concluded.

"Commander, one last suggestion," Ensign Hubbard said, "if we get caught, we should let Stev start telling his 'Rap-rap' jokes. That should cause enough confusion for us to escape."

The Essex resounded with laughter while Stev hid his annoyance as only a Vulcan could.

Stev brought the disguised shuttle to a landing at the Romulan Commercial Spaceport near the Valley of Chula in the Krocton Segment. He had no trouble with the landing procedures and answered all hails without the aid of the Universal Translator.

As the Essex settled into her alien berth Commander Phillips spoke up. "I don't need to tell anyone how dangerous this is. Keep your eyes and ears open people." He tapped a large, gaudy piece of jewelry on his tunic, "Shepherd, this is Lost Sheep 1. We are entering the Wolf's Den. Please inform Mary that we are beginning the search for her Little Lamb."

"Acknowledged." came Ensign Cary's voice in reply.

Stev raised his eyebrow in a quizzical manner. "Commander, who came up with those code names?" he asked.

"Ensign Cary did. Don't call me "Commander" or we'll be in trouble quicker than we want."

"Yes, 'Captain Jamok'." Stev said through a broad grin.

The four officers disembarked off their craft. Each keeping watch out for the others and all noticing that the common people walking the streets were nothing at all like the devious people they were led to believe lived here.

They continued ambling about the spaceport looking at the shops and kiosks hoping to find a computer terminal that would suit their needs.

" 'Captain', I believe that there is a computer terminal over there across the way. Close by is a table where you and Baker can keep a covert watch on Chuck and myself."

"Good, let's get the show on the road."

Stev and Chuck proceeded to walk over to the computer, while the other two officers went to sit down at the table. Chuck and Stev began to poke around in the Romulan Database looking for clues to the whereabouts of the Federation Spy. After a few minutes and a few false starts Chuck called Commander Phillips over.

"We found it. There's the complete file on her activities. Stev deduced that our best shot was to go poking around the files of the Vice Counsel in charge of Tal Shiar oversight. He was right that's her, that's T'Prist, and here's her address."

"Shepherd, this is Lost Sheep 1. We've found Mary's Little Lamb. Complete file in burst on this frequency, please forward to Mary." Phillips sent the information on tapped his disguised communicator. "OK, we're done. Let's get going," he said to his crew mates.

"Sir, I'm uncovering quite a bit of data here. Permission to keep going?" Stev asked his superior officer.

Phillips looked over at Baker silently asking if they had been detected yet. Baker's silent hand signal indicated they had not. "Granted, but be ready to scoot on a moments notice."

Stev grinned in reply and continued his assault on the computer network. After poking around the Romulan database some more Stev looked over at Commander Phillips and urgently said, "'Captain', call the sheep pen, abort the mission, it's a trap."

"What? What do mean, a trap?"

"Look, the Romulans underestimated our computer skills," Stev said without a trace of pride in his voice. "They knew we where coming. They want Mr. Lenartin. This file clearly shows that there are about 40 Tal Shiar operatives at the address we sent to Mr. Lenartin. He and Captain Northtree are walking into a trap." The Vulcan stated with ice in his voice.

"We've got to do something." Charles said as Ensign Baker came over, his tricorder out and scanning the area.

Commander Phillips worked his communicator while Ensign Baker reported. "Commander, my tricorder shows 12 armed people advancing on our position and closing in on us."

"We're being jammed. People we've been had. Stev contact the Blue Ghost on open frequencies, see if we can stop them before they leave. We need to move back to the Essex, I hope the security measures LT T'Aiya installed are still operating."

"Commander Smith says that Mr. Lenartin and CAPT Northtree have already left," Stev reported to his team leader while handing him the communicator with Commander Smith listening on the other end.

"Gordon, this is Jim. Get the hell out of there. Get back to the ship, this mission is blown. We'll take care of things down here." Phillips paused, "Stev, how quickly can we get to that address?"

"It will take about 15 minutes sir, given the fact that we must elude our pursuers."

"Hubbard, Baker, Stev, we'll do this in overbounding watch pattern delta. If anyone gets in our way, take them out." Phillips commanded, "Move."

The four officers left in a hurry. Along the way Commander Phillips dispatched three of the Romulans who thought they had the drop on him. Ensign Baker took out two more. Ensign Hubbard stunned two and Stev neck-pinched three others. The remaining two took the better part of valor and ran off to find reinforcements. They arrived at the address in question to see a familiar pointed eared being crouched behind a smoldering ground vehicle. Lenartin was firing his phaser while an even more familiar red headed being slumped next to him. The four officers rushed to the phaser blasted vehicle where Mr. Lenartin was crouched.

"Mr. Lenartin, it appears that you could use some assistance." Stev said flatly.

Lenartin looked directly at the Vulcan and handed out phasers to the four. "I never go anywhere without being over-armed." he offered in way of explanation. Ensign Hubbard pulled out his tricorder and began examining Captain Northtree as Lenartin continued. "We received the data you turned up. I thought it arrived a little to quickly. I dismissed that thought at having underestimated Lieutenant Stev's and Ensign Hubbard's computer skills," he paused. "I tried to convince Captain Northtree to stay with the shuttle since I work best alone. She adamantly insisted on coming. We arrived here, went inside and found 40 armed Tal Shiar operatives and T'Prist's body was lying on the floor," Lenartin's eyes blazed with anger.

"Dammit, they tortured her to death." he stopped and composed himself before continuing, "I ducked and rolled before they could fire but your Captain wasn't quick enough. She caught a blast in her chest. I managed to drag her out here behind cover," he paused at looked at Charles, "How's she doing?"

"I've got her stabilized. If we can get her back to Dr. Drox she should be all right." Ensign Hubbard responded.

"Stev, get the Essex over here now." Commander Phillips ordered.

"Already working on it sir. Monitors show that someone has tried to gain access to her already." Stev replied feverishly working his tricorder. "I should have her remotely piloted in another two minutes."

The Essex, still disguised, but bearing the marks of someone trying to tamper with her, came swooping in low and landed just behind the Third Fleet personnel. The door opened and the party quickly ducked inside.

"Stev, we're strapped in. Get us out of here." Phillips yelled.

"Aye sir." came the calm reply. "Shepherd, this is Lost Sheep 2. We have Mary and the Wolves are in pursuit. Prepare the sheep pen for a hot landing."

Stev settled back into the seat and began concentrating on evasive maneuvers while Ensign Baker manned the weapons. Commander Phillips was seated next to Lenartin and Ensign Hubbard kept on eye on Captain Northtree. Dar Lenartin held a black rectangle in his right hand.

"What's that?" Phillips asked.

"It's a data chip for a system T'Prist and I have used in the past with an organization you've never heard of." Lenartin answered. "The Romulans wouldn't know what it was and I was able to retrieve it from off the floor near her body. Do you have a tricorder handy?"

Commander Phillips handed a tricorder over to the enigmatic Romulan. Lenartin began pulling out components rearranging and rewiring them. Finally he stuck the data clip in a socket and watched the data scroll by. "We need to get this information to Admiral Sulu." he stated to no one in particular.

The Essex bumped and shuddered with phaser hits. Stev's face betrayed no emotion whatsoever as he swung the craft violently from one maneuver to the next. As they neared the Intrepid, Stev spoke. "Drop shields for 30 seconds, we are coming in under full impulse". The craft careened in the shuttle bay and only came to a stop when the emergency nets blew around the tiny craft.

"Bridge, this is Commander Phillips security code Delta 1-319 Ripley 1067. Get us out of here warp 9. Transporter room, emergency beam two to sickbay." As Captain Northtree and Ensign Hubbard dissolved into beads of light he continued, "Mr. Lenartin please come with me you can tell me what's going on. Stev, Baker, you're needed on the bridge."

Stev and Baker got to the bridge to see the sight of four Romulan D7 battle cruisers on the viewscreen. Stev took his seat at the helm as his relief vacated just as Commander Smith said, "Set course 183 mark 217 to that nebula Lieutenant Wilson discovered."

The turbolift doors opened and out stepped Commander Phillips and Mr. Lenartin. "Stev set a course that will take us through the nebula and straight to Starbase Epsilon. Ensign Cary maintain subspace silence, I don't want anyone to know we're coming."

"Aye Sir." came the dual replies nearly in unison.

Personal Log supplemental

Captain Northtree was injured very badly. Only Charles's timely intervention saved her life. Admiral Sulu has cut her new orders as his attaché. We will have a new Captain for the Intrepid. Changes, I will get used to these changes, life must go on.

Stev entered his quarters and was greeted by his animated ball of fur. Stev picked up the brown ball of fuzz and scratched it. The contented tribble cooed its delight.

"I promised you a trip to the Rec. Deck if you were good. All appearances of our quarters would logically point to the fact that you have indeed been good. We will call on T'Aiya and Neila to see if they are available." Stev and Phread left the room and the door shut behind them.

As Stev walked down the corridor to T'Aiya's quarters, another pointed eared being sat in a chair in the Captain's ready room. He squinted at the entry he had just made in the ship's log and remembered the conversation he had just had with Admiral Sulu over a secure subspace channel. He knew his wife would not be pleased with the entry he had made, but it was a change that would have to be dealt with later. "Computer, replay log entry" he said.

The computer's voice started with far less emotion than the words had originally been entered, "It seems that Commodore Connely wanted to deliver myself and an Excelsior class starship into the hands of the Romulans. He apparently was part of a schism within Starfleet that dates back to Admiral Cartwright, Klingons, and a Romulan Ambassador that wanted Starfleet to bring the Klingon government to its knees. When that plot fell through the schism decided that the Romulans needed some Federation technology to accomplish the task on their own.

Commodore Connely was going to "dispose" of me as well since I was Starfleet's prime source of information on the Romulans. I sent the data that T'Prist had accumulated to Admiral Brannon and he promised to bring the Commodore up on charges. The good news is that T'Prist was able to lay the groundwork for the Romulan underground to get started. She was able to make contact with a Romulan senator who knows Captain Spock. The bad news is that the Romulans got information on the Tomed listening post from her.

Admiral Sulu decided that it was better to not tell anyone else in the Fleet about these last two pieces of information, because we don't want to tip our hand to the Romulans that we've started a dissident movement on Romulus. I cannot help but think what the Federation citizens of Tomed would say to that. I fervently hope the Romulans do nothing with their knowledge, but I know it's only a matter of when they'll decide to act. Admiral Sulu is reactivating me permanently and gave me an assignment he says I'll enjoy. On a personal note, that Vulcan Lieutenant at the helm certainly handled himself when the fecal matter hit the rotating circular blades. I wonder if I could convince him to join another Federation organization where those talents could be put to use. END LOG.". The computer waited for its next set of instructions.

"Computer, file that log under Captain/Personal/Secured.", Captain Lenartin said with a sigh as he closed his eyes and contemplated the future.

Historian's Note: This story takes place approximately 2.75 years before Stev's shuttle 'accident'.