Star Trek Enterprise: Beyond The Farthest Star

Authors Notes: This is a repost and continuation of Beyond The Farthest Star, though I have also taken the opportunity to make some small changes here and there, mostly cosmetic, to address problems that cropped up the first time. I'll be posting the rest as I finish making any changes each chapter needs.

This story is set in an alternative star trek universe to the canon show. In this story, I'm using some of the characters and events in the novel Federation by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens than the canonical timeline established by First Contact. It also includes a number of my own ideas and thoughts as well. I am also employing some of the ideas originally conceived for Enterprise but which never made it into the show. I am also ditching that ridiculous Temporal Cold War thing as it never really made sense to me, instead the Suliban will have other motives for doing what they do as will be seen as the story goes on.

One thing I am going to try and do with this story is have Starfleet act more like a proper space navy with exploration duties as part of its mandate instead of a force that doesn't really think of itself as being a part of the military. All in all my goal with this story is to show a more independent, more realistic humanity than the space hippy future we are regularly exposed to in Star Trek, while I do like that possible view of the future I think its time to try something a little different. I hope no one minds.


Chapter One

Klaang's hearts thumped in his chest and he could hear the pounding of his pulse in his ears as he ran with the speed of a frightened targ through the fields of this unknown alien planet that he'd crash landed on a few minutes ago. It was exhausting to run continuously especially as there seemed to be marginally less oxygen in the atmosphere of this planet than there was on Qo'nos, not to mention vaguely dishonourable as he would rather stand and face his enemies in true Klingon fashion. But he had no choice. Not if he wanted to live long enough to get the information he carried back to the Chancellor so he could prevent the Klingon Empire from tearing itself apart in a civil war – a horror that had not happened since the Klingon species mastered spaceflight and found new worlds, new species to test there mettle against.

Oh, there were always competitions between the various houses and castes of Klingons – tests of strength and dominance as that was the Klingon way. Blood feuds and small honour wars between houses and castes were common but it had been centuries since the last all out civil war, not since the death of the last Emperor and formation of the High Council and the Chancellorship had such a war occurred. But now it was a very dangerous possibility, instigated by outside forces in the form of the Suliban using the Klingons own natural aggressive tendencies and need to dominate against them and thus threatening civil war. Klaang would surely be damned to spend eternity among the dishonoured dead in Gre'Thor if he failed to complete his mission, a mission that could prevent such a catastrophe from befalling the Klingon people.

Unfortunately for Klaang completing his mission had just gotten a whole lot more difficult. The damage the Suliban had inflicted upon his ship as they chased him deeper and deeper into the unexplored regions beyond the Vulcan Confederation and Andorian Empire had forced him down here. The K'toch-class scoutship he'd been piloting was so badly damaged now by the crash that it would never fly again. He would somehow have to acquire a starship from the unknown denizens of this equally unknown world. He knew they were a warp capable species the sensors on his ship had confirmed the presence of warp ships in orbit before the crash – which in itself would not be easy. Especially as he had no idea what species it was that lived on this world, what their physical capabilities were or how advanced their technology was.

The high pitched screech of a disruptor beam cutting through the air reminded him of his more immediate problem. He dodged to the side just as another bluish-green beam cut through the air, passing within centimetres of where his head had just been, so close that he could feel the heat of the beam on his skin and smell the ionisation trail left in the air by the passage of the intense stream of energy. Risking a glance over his shoulder, he spotted his pursuers closing, though all he could see of them were flashes of their maroon jumpsuits and dimpled yellow skin through the tall green stalks of the alien plants.

Another blast of disruptor fire came his way but only succeeded in striking a nearby stalk, which immediately exploded raining singed vegetation all around. This is no good I need to get out into the open then I can kill those filthy pa'tach Suliban, he thought before recalling how these fields of strange alien crops seemed to go on forever from what he'd seen from the air in the last few seconds before the crash, if there is an open area anywhere nearby.

More disruptor blasts from the doggedly pursuing Suliban soldiers forced him to pick up his pace despites the protests of his body. Though Klingons were tough and physically powerful, they'd evolved from ambush hunters, thus they were not really built for endurance running like this, and Klaang found his muscles burning with the exertion and felt beads of sweat on his brow. He hoped this ended soon or he would end up collapsing from exhaustion and become easy prey for the Suliban.

Fortunately, for the first time in weeks luck seemed to be on his side as the thick rows of green stalks were thinning out. With startling suddenness, the vegetation gave way to a large open area, in the centre of which stood a large cylindrical structure. There were no windows but Klaang clearly spotted doors recessed into the metal structure, one at the base and another at the top just below where the structures roof began. Though his people didn't use them he recognised the structure for what it was, a food storage facility presumably for the crop being grown in the surrounding fields.

A predatory smile appeared on his face as he realised that he now had the perfect opportunity to turn the tables on his Suliban pursuers. Eagerly he ran up to the structure and opened the lower door before hurrying inside. He was immediately struck by the musty smell in the interior of the tower, the wooden floor was covered with some kind of yellow and brown dust, the air was uncomfortably warm and stuffy and lighting was poor – the only illumination being beams of diffuse sunlight coming from small vents in the ceiling. But it was enough for Klaang to see and thus spot a narrow ladder going up to a narrow platform at the top of the tower. Taking no time to rest the exhausted, bone weary Klingon warrior began ascending to the top level.

He was almost to the platform when the door at the bottom was flung open and the two Suliban soldiers tasked with his final elimination raced into the structure. They immediately began looking for him and spotted him as he got onto the platform, the sound of his boots clanging on the sheet metal surface echoing off the walls. Immediately one Suliban started to raise its disruptor pistol only to be stopped by the other who yelled something in there language before starting up the ladder after Klaang, the other Suliban – looking thoroughly chastised – followed quickly, the aliens climbing up the ladder at very high speed.

Knowing his time was short Klaang flung open the door at the other end of the platform revealing the blue sky and green fields of this planet. Without hesitation, he jumped out and took the landing at the base of the tower on bent knees. Straightening up he moved a few steps away from the structure, drew out his disruptor pistol, and trained it on the structure. With a predatory grin, he pulled the trigger. A single pulse of dense green light emerged from the weapon and flew through the air to strike the tower.

The result was spectacularly satisfying.

The moment the disruptor blast struck the tower it punched through the thin metal wall and dumped its energy into the interior of the structure, an interior that was filled with methane being produced by the bits of organic matter that had not been evacuated from the silo after harvest breaking down. Having built up faster than the small vents at the top could carry it away the unhealthy mixture of methane and air inside the silo only needed a spark to ignite. The coherent energy blast from Klaang's disruptor provided all that and more.

With a thunderous roar the tower exploded as if a bomb had gone off inside it. The thin metal walls shredding like tin foil letting thick smoke and great orange tongues of fire momentarily licked at the atmosphere before the concussive force of the detonation extinguished them. Small bits of metallic debris ripped from the walls by the shockwave rained down around Klaang even as the rest of the silo collapsed into a pile of scorched, smouldering rubble. Satisfaction gripped Klaang and he put his disruptor back in its holster even as he roared in triumph. This particular battle had been won, victory was his; the Suliban soldiers were dead – vaporised by the explosion.

Calming down Klaang stood still looking at the smouldering ruins even as he slowly started to get his breath back. It was at that moment that the crunch of footsteps on the dry soil caught his attention. He spun around – half expecting to face more Suliban as he wouldn't have put it past them to have sent additional soldiers as backup for the first two – instead he found himself face to face with an unknown but annoyed looking alien. The alien was ugly, humanoid like most species and with the familiar arrangements of arms, legs, eyes and ears but its forehead was disgustingly smooth without any of the cranial ridges that were such a prominent feature of Klingon heads, the face seemed quit flat and symmetrical. The alien was dressed in clothing that Klaang didn't recognise and was clutching a sleek, long barrelled weapon.

The alien said something to him in a language that Klaang could not understand and for the first time since the crash Klaang cursed himself for not having grabbed his translator out of the smouldering wreckage of the K'toch. As the alien spoke, it pointed its weapon at him and said something else, presumably demanding that he surrender.

"You dare to threaten a Klingon warrior," Klaang growled angrily tired of being someone else's prey, first the Suliban threatened him and now this alien. He'd had enough, his hand shot to the d'k tahg dagger on his left hip even as the alien said something else in its unknown language, though from the tone it was clearly a warning. Klaang paid it no mind as he brandished the blade and moved to attack the alien.

Only to be physically picked up and thrown backwards – crying out in a mixture of rage, surprise and pain – as the alien fired his/its weapon right into his chest; fired at point blank range the dense pulse of coherent energy instantly burning through his clothing to flay at his skin inflicting the intense, searing pain of a plasma burn. Crashing to the ground with a bone jarring impact Klaang glared at the alien through a reddish haze of agony. He tried to sit up to at least defiantly throw the knife at the creature that had dared to attack him, but he couldn't move, his limbs refusing to acknowledge his minds commands as the massive electromagnetic shock from the plasma attack shot through his nervous system brining with it an increasing surge of pain.

It was too much on top of everything that he had already been through in the last few days and weeks. Klaang glared momentarily at the alien as it came to stand over him and like a hunter, claiming a prize put a booted foot on his chest, before everything faded into a deep, all pervasive blackness as consciousness deserted him.


Earth Orbit

A Few Hours Later

Captain Jonathan Archer leaned forward slightly and inclined his head to look out the curving, transparent aluminium view port of the work bee inspection pod at the dull silver-grey hull of the starship that was starting to slowly sweep past above them, her hull seeming to glow as it was bathed in the bright light of slipway floodlights. For several months – ever since his promotion to captain's rank – he'd been observing the final phases of construction of this ship, his ship. He'd watched as the last of the hull sections on both the largely saucer shaped primary hull and the vaguely cylindrical shape of the secondary or engineering hull be completed, encasing the ship in a thick, air tight shell of tough carbon nanomesh reinforced duranium alloy. He'd watched as she was fitted out and been an observer as the dockyard crew put her through her paces in space trials, now she was almost ready to leave space dock and take her first steps out into the vast expanse of the galaxy.

The Enterprise was the first ship of her class, the first of a completely new line of ships being commissioned by Starfleet. Like all the latest Starfleet designs the Enterprise-class ships were equipped with warp five engines – though unlike the others they were designed to be able to sustain warp five for a long period of time unlike most of the other ships with could only do warp five for short bursts. Plus Enterprise and her sisters – the keels of three of which Columbia, Challenger and Discovery were already laid down – would have a higher standard cruising speed than any other class currently in service, being capable of a sustained cruise of warp 4.7 as opposed to the 4.5 that was the standard cruising speed for all the other classes.

The Enterprise-class was also designed to be a multi-role vessels from the word go as opposed to most other Starfleet ships, which were warships first, and anything else second. Indeed the primary mission of the Enterprise and her sisters would primarily be ships of exploration, charting the galaxy beyond the space known to the Terran Alliance, searching for new colonisation opportunities and making contact with species no Terran had ever seen before. Though like all Starfleet vessels they would be well armed with the latest in weaponry and protected by all the latest defence technologies, after all they had learned the hard way that not all aliens were friendly so it was best to be prepared.

"She's looking good isn't she cap," a familiar southern accented voice said from the pilots position beside him. Abandoning his examination of the Enterprise Jon turned his attention to Commander Charles Anthony Tucker the Third, an old friend of his from the academy and Enterprise's chief engineer.

"That she is, Trip," he replied using the nickname that Charles Tucker preferred to be called by – anyone calling him Charlie did so at there own peril, unless that someone was his mother who could get away with it – with a smile. "How much longer till she's ready for the maiden voyage?"

"About two weeks," Trip answered knowing his friend knew this already though it was one thing to hear it from the yard dogs and quite another to hear it off him. "We're almost ready it's just a few more systems to install and calibrate. We still have to get the weapons systems up and running – those new second generation phase cannons Starfleet's given us are being a right bitch we've had to order some new EPS relays for them with better tolerances to the original ones – those burned out when we ran a full power test on the cannons.

"The shield generators are in but there not connected to the power grid yet, the hull polarisation systems are operational as are the torpedo launchers so it's no major rush in that department," he continued. "The lateral sensor pallets are being buggy, there's something wrong with the software it's not interfacing properly with the main computer cores data management system – the IT guys are on it and assure me they'll have it sorted out in a couple of hours. Let's see what else… oh yes the port impulse drive keeps misfiring, faulty fuel flow regulators. The new ones have arrived its just a matter of fitting them, yard dogs say it will take a few days – though I'm hoping to shave a day or two off that estimate, the yard dogs are always to conservative with these things."

"Well you be careful, you and your teams have a lot of work to do to be ready for our launch date," Jon replied with a knowing smile, "and Trip do try to remember that not all your people can keep going as long as you can."

"You don't have to remind me," Trip answered back with a grin at the old running joke between them, one that dated all the way back to their academy days. "Though I've never been more grateful that those Optimum idiots forced genetic engineering on my ancestors than I have been these last few weeks, its been hectic to say the very least. The fact that I can get by on just four hours sleep a night has been a godsend."

Jon nodded in agreement, not for the first time envious of the fact that Trip only really needed four hours of sleep a night – though like normal people he would grab a solid eight hours if he could though it was not biologically necessary for him to sleep for so long. At the same time though he inwardly frowned at the reference to the Optimum Movement and how it still affected the world even though the movement itself was long since dead.

The Optimum Movement had been one of the major political factions of the twenty-first century, and one of the main causes of the Third World War and the eight hundred and fifty million deaths in the war and in the radiological and climatological fallout that had followed. At the height of its power, the Optimum Movement had controlled all the southern states of the old United States from Florida in the east to California in the west and had had enough control in political, law enforcement and military circles in the other states to paralyse the rest of the US. If that hadn't been bad enough in addition they'd controlled most of Central and Southern America, China and some of Africa giving them an enormous amount of political, economic and military power. Many of the Optimum's actions still cast long shadows over humanity, even now more than a century after their rule had ended in a blaze of thermonuclear fire.

The biggest of these lingering shadows was with regards to genetics and bioengineering.

During its long reign the Optimum had had forced all pregnant mothers in the places they controlled to have their children undergo in utero genetic alteration as the Optimum leadership had seen genetic enhancement as a means of making better – or as they put it more optimal – people. People had not had the luxury of refusing as if they did they would have been declared non-optimal and summarily executed. They'd made such a mockery of the stricter controls on biotechnology and genetic science imposed after the Eugenics War that many of those controls had had to be abandoned or at the very least substantially reduced.

The modern result of their actions was people like Trip, who were through no fault of their own Augments in everything but name. Though I should be grateful myself that the Optimum's actions made a blanket ban on genetic engineering impossible to maintain, he thought, thanks to that I'll never get the Clarks Syndrome that killed my dad, since they fixed the faulty gene responsible in me before I was born.

"But enough about me," Trip said breaking the momentary silence. "How are the selections coming for the rest of the senior staff?"

"Not too badly," Jon admitted. "I still have some positions to fill, especially the first officer, science and armoury officer positions; though with regards to the latter I'm tempted to ask Major Reed to assume the role, having served on ships before he does have the right cross training to do the job. I also need to select a new chief medical officer considering Doctor Parks broke his back in three places in a climbing accident on Kilimanjaro last week – poor guy will never walk again."

Trip winced. "Poor guy," he said shaking his head knowing that even with modern medicine there wasn't much that could be done to repair a damaged or severed spinal cord. Doctor Parks had been a good man and one he'd been looking forward to working with. "Any idea who his replacements going to be?" he asked.

"Not yet, Starfleet Medical has given me a list of candidates but I've not had any chance to really go through it yet."

Trip frowned thoughtfully and was about to put in his own two pennies worth when the work bee's communications panel trilled for attention. Instantly he turned his attention to the comm. panel, which showed an encrypted transmission from the planet waiting to be answered, a signal that going on the encryption and priority tagging was coming directly from Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco.

"What is it," Jon asked all thoughts about Doctor Parks and the still vacant crew positions on Enterprise forgotten for now.

"Encrypted priority comm. from Starfleet," Trip answered before giving his friend a surprised look, "Jon its coming straight from Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco!"

Jon blinked in surprise at that. Encrypted subspace comm. messages coming to and from Starfleet ships to other Starfleet ships or to other Starfleet facilities be they orbital or ground based was nothing new – Starfleet never exchanged information on open channels to do so would be foolhardy as you never knew who could be listening in. But it was highly unusual for Starfleet Command to send a priority marked encrypted signal to a ship that was still safely cocooned in one of the slipways of the orbital shipyards.

"Put it through," he ordered wondering what in the world had happened now. Something had to be going down otherwise Starfleet wouldn't have bothered to hail them, whoever wanted them in command would have just waited till they returned to the stations hub or returned planet side.

Trip did as instructed and a moment later the worker bee's speakers crackled and hummed with the incoming transmission. "Captain Archer, Commander Tucker, sirs," a young male voice said over the channel, almost being drowned out by the humming of the power the subspace antenna at Starfleet Command was putting behind the signal.

"Yes what is it," Jon asked.

"Admiral Forrest would like to see the two of you in Starfleet Medical immediately, sir," the voice, presumably that of some young ensign in the headquarters communications division, answered. Inwardly Jon sighed softly. Now what, he thought wondering if he would ever get more than ten minutes peace before Enterprise slipped her shipyard moorings for the last time and went out into the galaxy. He knew he wouldn't get much peace afterwards – captaining a starship was after all a lot of hard work.

"Tell him we'll be right there," Jon replied giving Trip a subtle nod. Trip inclined his head in acknowledgement of the silent command before starting to guide the pod away from the nearly complete ship towards the shipyard hub where no doubt a shuttle would be waiting to take them down to Starfleet Headquarters.

"Yes sir," the communications rating on the other end of the channel answered before closing down.

"I wonder what that's about," Trip said.

"Not a clue," Jon replied glancing out the view port again, catching a last glimpse of his ship before the grey metal of the shipyard gave way to the star filled darkness of space. Though only for a moment as Trip brought the pod around so the whole of the shipyard came into view.

It was a huge facility over fifty kilometres across and dozens of kilometres tall. All around the perimeter were slipways in which Starfleet ships of all sizes and configurations were in various stages of construction, inside the perimeter were the storage bays and fabrication facilities where the parts for the various ships – everything from deck plates to EPS relays – were created and stored. Then there was the hub in the core where personnel quarters, power plants and control facilities were located. Back dropping it all was the blue, green and brown ball of the Earth. The shipyard wasn't the largest in the Terran Alliance – that title was held by the Utopia Planitia Shipyards over Mars – but it was still an impressive complex and of a scale that was only possible to build in space.

Silently, gracefully and with easy skill Trip guided the small pod over the massive shipyard towards one of the hubs docking ports; Jon watched out the corner of his eyes though he didn't doubt his friend's abilities. Genetic enhancements non-withstanding Trip was an excellent pilot – he just wanted to distract himself from wondering about the reason for the summons to Starfleet Medical. It wasn't working and try as he might he couldn't think of anything to explain it. Whatever is going on I hope its something minor, which wont disrupt our launch plans, he thought.


A Short Time Later

Any hope Jonathan Archer had had that the issue that had led to Admiral Forrest summoning him and Trip would be something relatively minor evaporated when they arrived at Starfleet Medical. A muscular male orderly – with a high powered phased plasma pistol visibly holstered on his right hip – met them at the entrance and led them to the facilities high security wing. After submitting to both retinal and DNA scans to confirm their identities and security clearance the two men followed the orderly to one of the isolation rooms.

Standing like statues outside the room in question were two MACO troopers, decked out in full combat armour and carrying a full array of state of the art weapons. Seeing the two heavily armed space going versions of marines standing guard made both men's concern grow markedly. Whatever they were being brought to see in the isolation room, whoever or whatever was in their, it was clear that their superiors weren't taking any chances with it.

The orderly opened the door and gestured for them both to enter. As he obeyed, Jon noticed that there were a number of people waiting in the outer or observation room, watching something going on in the treatment room beyond the transparent aluminium wall. Both Jon and Trip immediately recognised Admiral Maxwell Forrest, General Robert Casey of the MACO's and Ambassador Soval of Vulcan. With Soval were two more Vulcans, one a younger unfamiliar male in the robes of a junior ambassador the other a female in the grey flowing uniform of the Vulcan High Command.

"You sent of us, sir," Jon said to Admiral Forrest while straightening to attention and offering both Forrest and Casey a salute, beside him Trip did the same.

"Yes I did, Jonathan," Forrest replied returning the salute, aware that Casey was doing the same. "Stand easy," instantly the two younger Starfleet officers relaxed and adopted the parade rest stance, there feet shoulder width apart and hands clasped behind there backs, "I believe you both know Ambassador Soval."

"Ambassador," Jonathan acknowledged, he'd had a fair few encounters with Ambassador Soval in the last few months as Enterprise drew closer to completion. Politely he brought a hand around from behind his back and made the familiar V-shaped Vulcan greeting.

"Captain, Commander," Soval replied returning the greeting. "Allow me to introduce Ambassador Tos and Sub-Commander T'Pol," he added gesturing to his two companions in turn prompting another round of greetings.

With the greeting, formalities over with Jon turned his attention back to Admiral Forrest. "What's this about, sir," he asked.

"Take a look, Jonathan," Forrest said pointing to the window into the rest of the isolation room. Raising an eyebrow Jonathan Archer did as instructed and found himself looking on the familiar site of a medical treatment room – he'd been in one enough times over the years, especially during the last few months of his fathers life as his body slowly shut down from the effects of Clark's Syndrome – to recognise most of the equipment there. Medics moved around the room most of them human though there was a Denobulan doctor present as well. Jon momentarily stared at the Denobulan, as he'd never met a member of that particular species before even though there had been strong diplomatic and trade relations between the Terran Alliance and the Denobulan Hegemony for many years.

What really grabbed his attention though was who or what the doctor and the assisting medics were working on. A humanoid alien lay on the biobed, unconscious but still emitting an air of menace and danger. The alien was very tall with dark bronze skin its forehead was more sloped than a humans and featured unusual cranial ridges that ran like a mountain range down the centre of the forehead, framing a face that looked like it was made to permanently snarl was wild black hair almost like a lion's mane. In addition, the alien was big, very big and none of its mass appeared to be fat. Overall, the alien looked like someone Jon would not want to meet in an alley – drunk or sober – on a dark night.

"What kind of alien is that," Jon asked calmly, not letting a hint of the unease the aliens appearance caused creep into his voice. "I've never seen this species before."

"He's a Klingott," Casey replied stumbling slightly over the pronunciation.

"Klingon," Soval corrected immediately. "The correct pronunciation, general is Klingon."

"How did he get here," Trip asked moving forward and looking through the window himself at the alien and feeling the same air of menace that Jon felt even though the alien was unconscious. Immediately he felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up slightly and felt his muscles tensing as his instincts prepared his body for a possible confrontation he almost balled his hands into fists ready for combat but managed to clamp down on that reaction with practice ease, though the tension remained.

"A small alien vessel crashed in a cornfield near the town of Broken Bow, Oklahoma," Forrest answered ignoring the slight almost invisible shift in Trip's body posture as his muscles tensed – it would only embarrass the man to call him on it as it was something he couldn't really help.

Jon's eyebrows shot up. "And we didn't detect it coming in," he asked in surprise.

"Not until the last minute no, it came in at a very oblique angle from high above the plane of the elliptic," Forrest explained. "It didn't show up on our sensor grids until it was already entering the ionosphere. General Casey immediately dispatched a team of MACO's to investigate, when they arrived at the crash site the found a grain silo had been blown up – apparently the Klingon was chased in there by some other aliens, got out and blew the others up when they were still in the silo – and the Klingon flat out on the ground. The farmer, a man named Moore, shot him at point blank range with a plasma rifle he claims in self defence; we have no reason to doubt him."

Trip winced in sympathy for the Klingon at that last part, he'd had plasma burns in the past – most starship engineers got them at some point in time as they were something of an occupational hazard – and though they'd completely healed, not even leaving scars, he fully remembered how painful they were. "Ouch," he said imaging how painful a close range blast from a plasma weapon – even a low powered civilian grade one – would be. Though he's lucky not to be dead, Trip thought, as even the low energy, non-phased plasma weapons civvies can legally own are pretty damned lethal especially at point blank range.

"We have analysed the crashed vessel it was a K'toch-class scoutship," Ambassador Soval added. "The Klingons name is Klaang apparently he is a member of the Klingon Imperial Intelligence Agency and was carrying a high priority message back to the Klingon High Council when his ship was attacked by an unknown warship near Rigel Nine and forced to flee into Terran space. Apparently the aliens followed and attempted to kill Klaang after his ship crashed."

"You mean there is a potentially hostile alien warship hiding in this system now," Jon asked in concern, an alien warship with unknown but possibly hostile intentions hiding in the Sol system was very worrying as it could potentially cause a lot of damage to vulnerable shipping and space infrastructure before Starfleet could intercept and drive away or destroy it.

"No," Forrest replied, making Jon inwardly sigh in relief. "Shortly after the crash we detected a ship of unknown configuration moving out from a polar orbit it had apparently been using the ambient magnetic flux there to hide from our sensors. They went to warp before our ships could intercept them and masked their warp trail somehow so we've not been able to track them. Patrol ships have been alerted they'll keep an eye out for them and deal with them if needs be. But back to the issue at hand."

"Indeed," Soval said. "Thankfully the Klingon Empire does not know of this incident – if they did they would not react well."

"The Klingons are a warrior race with a highly martial culture that is heavily concerned with honour," Ambassador Tos added. "They are also not the most rational of species, if they learned of Klaang's condition they could well interpret it as an act of aggression against them on the part of Earth."

"They'd attack us over something we haven't even done," Jon asked.

"Indeed they would," Soval replied. "The Klingons are a very volatile and illogical people with an almost pathological need to fight. They would not hesitate to launch raids into Terran controlled space in reprisal for any perceived insult to their honour."

"They could try," Casey said back. "Like the Nausicaan's did they'll just learn that we don't respond well to people trying to bully us or raid our territory for any reason, if we have to teach them that lesson at the point of a phase cannon or by slamming a few photonic torpedoes up their asses then so be it."

"The president would like to avoid any trouble," Forrest reminded his MACO colleague, even though he agreed with the sentiment – if the Klingons did try anything like a raid they would soon learn that Terrans did not tolerate other species attempting to push them about or muscle in on their territory. The Nausicaan Republic had learned that particular lesson the hard way. "And we don't really want another war," he added.

"So what are we going to do," Jon asked. "And what does this have to do with Enterprise?"

"We will be returning, Klaang's corpse to the Klingons for the proper ceremonies," Soval answered.

"Corpse is Klaang dying?" Jon replied looking back through the window at the Klingon, while he didn't look good he didn't look like he was dying. Though he was no expert, he could see that while serious the burn from the plasma rifle was not fatal and didn't look to be infected. Without waiting for a response, he walked up to, the comm. panel on the wall next to the window and pressed a button to speak to the Denobulan doctor on the other side of the transparent aluminium barrier. "Excuse me, doctor is this man dying?"

"Doubtful," the Danobulan answered looking up and meeting Jon's brown eyes with eyes that were a distinctly alien shade of cerulean blue. "The plasma burn is extensive, he has sustained a minor concussion and a broken rib presumably from the crash and is suffering from minor theta radiation poisoning…"

"A simple yes or no will suffice doctor," Jon interrupted with just a minor hint of impatience and irritation in his voice as he was not interested in hearing a full list of the injuries that Klaang had sustained, he didn't need that information.

"Provided he's not shot again then no, Klaang isn't going to die," the Danobulan said. "With a little bit of time and with appropriate medical care he will make a complete recovery."

"Thank you, doctor," Jon replied before flicking off the comm. and rounding on the others in the outer room. "Admiral we can't kill this man, it would be murder. And if the Klingons find out that we murdered him before returning his body then we would be asking for trouble."

"There isn't much choice, captain," Soval pointed out trying to reason with the stubborn human though experience had taught him that it was probably a loosing battle. Terrans could be as stubborn as the Tellerites when they wanted to be, it was one of the facets of their nature that made them so bitterly confusing to his kind. "If the Klingons were to learn you have Klaang they would demand that he be returned immediately and they wouldn't hesitate to dispatch a squadron of warships to enforce that demand. Given the volatile nature of the Klingons if their ships and yours met in space there would almost certainly be a battle that could lead to war."

"So we don't tell them we have, Klaang," Jon reasoned, inwardly shivering at the thought of war, he'd fought in the campaign against the Nausicaan's and that had been enough war to last him a lifetime. "We just take Klaang back to his people ourselves without telling them we're coming. They can hardly launch an attack if we return Klaang alive and unharmed while we would also have the benefit of letting him complete his mission. If we do that we stand a chance of at least being on speaking terms with the Klingon Empire."

"Starfleet is in no position to dictate here," Soval pointed out. "All of your faster and more advanced ships are on your border regions, patrolling shipping lanes or enforcing your ongoing blockade of Nausica Prime. There are no ships available that are fast enough to get Klaang back to the Klingon Empire in a reasonable period of time."

"That is not exactly true, ambassador as you are well aware," Jon replied finally figuring out why Admiral Forrest had sent for him and Trip. "We could take Enterprise."

"Enterprise is not fully operational yet," Ambassador Tos pointed out. "Not to mention that you do not have a full crew compliment." Jon frowned slightly wondering just how Ambassador Tos knew that Enterprise did not yet have a full crew compliment, though there were almost there. A glance at Admiral Forrest showed he was thinking the same thing.

"Three days," Trip abruptly said bringing everyone's attention to him. "With some assistance from the yard dogs my engineers can have Enterprise fully operational and ready to launch within seventy-two hours."

"It would be illogical to rush you would risk the safety of your entire crew, commander," T'Pol said speaking for the first time.

"No we wouldn't, not if the yard dogs working on Columbia stop for a bit and help us," Trip answered. "Construction on Columbia is way ahead of schedule it would not be a loss of time if the yard dogs stopped working on her and helped us finish off Enterprise."

"That is doable," Forrest said. "What about crew? Ambassador Tos is quite correct in that you do not yet have a full crew compliment, especially with regards to senior officers."

"There are only a handful of senior officer positions left to fill, sir," Jon replied. "I've already thought of who could fill the armour officer/security chief position. If we can bypass the bureaucrats in personnel I can get the rest of the remaining positions filled."

"This is typical of your impulsiveness," T'Pol pointed out. "It is illogical to rush, it would be more logical to follow the High Command's recommendation. You should kill Klaang and give him to us so we can return his body to the Empire. As illogically aggressive as they are the Klingons will not risk a military confrontation with us in the way they would be willing to risk with you."

"We don't answer to the Vulcan High Command though, we don't have to listen to your advice, especially when that advice is to commit cold blooded murder," Jon replied giving the Vulcan a look of mild annoyance, before turning back to Forrest. "Admiral let us do this, please."

For a moment, Forrest considered. While the Vulcan High Command had proposed a logical plan, it was typically Vulcan in its coldness and didn't sit well with him at all. He knew the Vulcans didn't mean to be cold, it was just the way they were what with the whole suppression of there emotions thing. From a strictly logical point of view killing Klaang and letting the Vulcans take his body back to the Klingon Empire made sense – the Vulcan Confederacy was extremely powerful and not to be challenged lightly. But he liked the idea of sending Enterprise instead, if felt more right, more the human thing to do.

"Alright," he said at last. "You've got your three days."

"We still have concerns about this," Soval said. "But we obviously cannot convince you to follow the more logical course of action. Do as you wish, I just hope it doesn't backfire on you."

As soon as he finished speaking Soval turned and left the room, Ambassador Tos followed immediately behind him while T'Pol lagged behind. For a moment, she studied the assembled humans with a look of detached interest in her eyes. She'd been watching Captain Archer and Commander Tucker from the moment they'd come in the latter especially since he caught sight of Klaang. She'd noticed the almost invisible change in his body posture as his muscles tensed a reaction the other Terrans hadn't had even though it was obvious that the hulking Klingon warrior made them uneasy even though he was as they said out cold. It indicated to her that there was a lot more to the commander than what there appeared to be on the surface. Mentally she made a note to look over the personnel file of one Charles Tucker the Third when she returned to the embassy compound before turning and following her fellow Vulcans out the room leaving the four humans alone.

For a moment, there was silence in the room. Then General Casey sighed.

"Thank goodness there gone," he said in relief looking after the departed aliens. "No offence, Max but I don't know how you can deal with them so often."

"Practice and a great deal of patience," Forrest answered with a smile. "The Vulcans aren't bad once you get to know them, they just seem very strange to us because of the way they repress there emotions. They don't mean to be cold, its just there way."

"Still rather you than me dealing with them," Casey replied before looking at the other two men in the room. "Now if you'll excuse me gentlemen I have to go, there are things I need to do."

"We should all get going," Forrest said. "We've got three days to get Enterprise ready. Commander are you sure you'll be able to have Enterprise ready in time?"

"I wouldn't have said it if I wasn't, sir," Trip replied. "We'll be ready."

"I hope so," Forrest replied. "Because if you're wrong the Vulcans will be all over us diplomatically speaking; the president won't like that at all. Especially given that there are elections next year and how the general public like the Vulcans."

"If Trip says three days then it will be three days, admiral," Jon said coming to his friends defence.

"I hope your right, because God help us if you're wrong. Good day gentlemen," Forrest replied before leaving the room, Casey following leaving the two friends alone.

"Three days," Jon said turning to look at Trip. "You've really set us a tough deadline there, Trip. What on Earth possessed you to say three days? We could have done with a week."

Trip shrugged. "I had to say something," he said. "I didn't mean to say three days it just slipped out. I'll have the ship ready in time don't you worry about that."

"I know you will, though you're going to be knackered by the end of it."

"I'll be fine. I'll just have to make sure there is plenty of coffee handy."

Jon chuckled then frowned as he noticed the way Trip was standing. "Are you okay," he asked putting a hand on his friends arm and feeling how tense Trip's muscles were. Had Trip taken off his uniform jacket to show the short sleeve polo shirt underneath he was sure he would have seen the muscles looking like they were about to pop out of Trip skin like how they looked after a heavy workout. "What's got you so tense?"

"Klaang," Trip admitted. "I have to tell you, Jon he gives me the creeps. There is just this air about him that you can feel even from here. Considering how busy I've been the last few days I couldn't help but react to it."

"Are you going to be okay with him on the ship?" Jon asked in concern.

"I'll be fine, though I can't guarantee the punching bags in the gym will be. I'm sure I'll be okay with him once I get used to him. It's just right now…"

"…your instincts are telling you that he's a potential threat to you," Jon finished for him. He had guessed that was the case having known Trip for as long as he had and having dealt with other augments in the past. He knew how strong there instincts could be at times – especially the fight or flight instinct. All humans had it; it was just a little stronger in augments than in normal humans for some reason that the geneticists had yet to fully define.

"Yeah sometimes this enhanced genetics thing is more trouble than its worth. Oh, I don't mind the fact that I can get by easily on four hours sleep, and the strength certainly comes in useful but at times like this, it can be a right pain in the ass. Don't worry though I'll be fine."

"Okay if you're sure. Now then, how about we go over to the Officers Club and grab a bite to eat before heading back to Enterprise and getting to work. I'll buy."

Trip smiled. "Deal," he said.

Jon smiled back and took one last look around the outer chamber and then into the isolation rooms treatment area. He caught sight of the Denobulan doctor still working tirelessly over the unconscious Klingon, working to save his life without any sign of being intimidated by the hulking alien. I should see if I could get him on Enterprise, he thought, a doctor who's not intimidated by even a hulking alien like Klaang could come in very useful.

A hand suddenly waving in front of his eyes made him jump. "Hello Earth to Captain Archer come in please," Trip, said his voice thick with humour. "You okay? You were staring into space quite intently there for a minute."

"I'm fine, Trip. I was just thinking," Jon replied. "That Danobulan doctor, maybe I can entice him into the chief medical officer position on Enterprise."

"A Danobulan doctor here on that interspecies medical exchange thing the Vulcans talked the president into serving as the CMO of a Starfleet ship," Trip answered thoughtfully. "That would be interesting, especially all the things I've heard about how Danobulans like to sometimes use alternative therapies to what you would think of. Be an interesting experience for the crew as well, dealing with an alien doctor on a day to day week to week basis."

"Indeed, but enough standing around here, let's go have some food, I don't know about you but I'm starving."

Trip laughed slightly and where his hand was still on Trips arm Jon could feel his friend relaxing, feel the tense muscles loosening. Letting go of his friends arm Jon turned and left the isolation room himself, with Trip following along closely behind him, both thinking first about having something to eat and second on how they were going to do the near impossible task of getting Enterprise ready to launch in just three days. We'll do it, Trip thought as he followed his old friend and now commanding officer, we have to.