24 August 2006

A Universe Away: Star Trek, a scene before chaos

So, let us cast our minds back to the original series... a time when you had enemies, you had means and yet did not want to touch of a Galactic War. And the Romulan Heavy Cruiser Actium, suddenly has its cloaking device go bad while it is deep in Gorn space on an intelligence mission. Discovered by a Gorn Frigate pack of six frigates small ships compared to the Actium but together more than a match. The Actium moves off at top sustainable speed, and its engines are slowly degrading even with 'sustainable'. The Gorns face a similar problem and their engines will go out proportionately faster due to their smaller size....

Commander Toksa: "Centurion, how long to the border?"

Centurion Bareth: "Commander, at this speed it will be three days to the border, and ship rescue by the fleet another day past that."

Toksa: "Engines?"

Bareth: "They will hold for three days, possibly four, Commander"

Toksa: "The Enemy? Will they hold that long?"

Bareth: "No, Commander. They only have two days at this speed, they cannot hold out to the border."

Toksa: "Those odds are better than a fight."

Bareth: "Yes, Commander. We would need slow, turn, charge weapons and attack, while they would overhaul us, pass us and then turn and do the same. We might take out one ship on passing and two more in combat."

Toksa: "Very good, Centurion. Keep me notified. All non-essential systems are to be shut down, keep speed."

Bareth: "Yes, Commander. This shall be done."

The Actium and the Gorn ships haul through space, a vast emptiness until the border region days away... but there will not be days left for the Actium. Two hours later...

Bareth: "Commander, the Enemy is gaining."

Toksa: "They have increased speed?"

Bareth: "No, Commander their ships stay within the speed envelope, their configuration has changed."

Toksa: "On display."

Toksa sees the rendition of the ships with the far scanner. They are in a line, not spread out... as he watches one ship shifts out, darts forward to the front of the line. As it takes its place the last ship also does the same. And this repeats over... and over... and over.

Toksa: "What is this? I have never heard of this before."

Bareth: "It is very unusual, Commander. Each ship goes at maximum velocity for a short period and then reduces speed once it is in lead position."

Toksa: "Lieutenant Adra, analysis."

Lt. Adra: "Sir. They are using these short bursts to gain on us and not over strain their engines. They have also reconfigured their warp envelopes."

Toksa, looking puzzled: "Explain?"

Lt. Adra: "Sir. They share common warp fields when in-line. The stress on the engines of each ship is reduced in proportion to the number in line."

Toksa, eyes slowly widening: "Tactical."

Bareth stands next to the tactical officer: "Commander, they are trickle charging their weapons."

Toksa blinks... sits back in his command chair: "How long until they are charged fully?"

Bareth squints at the tactical display, looks at Lt. Adra: "Sir. Their energy profile shows all phasers charged, plasma weapons at quarter charge and building."

Toksa: "Can we do similar, Centurion? Go on and off high speed like that?"

Bareth looks to his Commander: "Not and make the border, Commander. Our engines will not take that cycling due to heat stress. Their ships can as they are smaller and rid heat faster. And we would still not outrun them, they gain ship lengths too quickly."

Toksa, squinting his eyes at the line of ships gaining slowly: "If we turn to fight, they will overwhelm us. How long until they are within their main weapon's range?"

Bareth looks to Lt. Arda, who checks his station: "Sir. One hour to maximum effective range of known weapons for that class of ship."

Toksa: "Very clever."

Bareth, checking the tactical station, then looking across the bridge at the silent officers, staring into their work stations: "I had never heard of anything like this by anyone, Commander."

Toksa: "Spare energy to send a signal home, it does not matter now."

Bareth, looking to the communications officer and nods: "What do we do, Commander?"

Inside the Gorn ship Sting, the soft murmur of hissing was continuous. Gorns had always had a mass mind of individuals... alone they were quite reduced to savagery. Together they formed a web of thought that was unique in the Universe. The sussurus went through the ship... and communicated to one individual part of that massed, communicative structure...

'Tell us more about this ancient thing you learned of from the Federation Archives... this 'Indian Run'...'

And the engines whined with a sudden burst of speed and then went back to normal... heat discharging quickly via the radiation system... soon all Gorns would know this... and things would change...

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