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Warning! This page contains spoilers for Star Trek:Into the Inferno.
Star Trek: Into the Inferno
Captain's Starlog June 1st, 2155. In order to foster relations between the Andorian Empire and after the recent creation of the Coalition of Planets Treaty Organization we've rendezvoused with an Andorian cruiser to pick up an old friend who will be acting as an observer, and advisor, of day-to-day operations on a Starfleet ship. "I don't trust him," Captain Jonathan Archer heard his Vulcan first officer say as the two of them walked towards the airlock on the starboard side of the primary hull. After half a decade of serving together on the Enterprise, Archer had grown used to his first officer's distrust of Andorians, and even understood it. Centuries of distrust between Vulcan and Andoria wasn't going to disappear overnight after all, even after the recent détente . That didn't mean he had to accept it, however, especially now when a certain Andorian was going to be a permanent fixture in their lives. "No," Archer said patiently as the two officers pushed through a group of enlisted personnel in the corridor. "You don't trust Andorians. You never have. This new Coalition though, is about forging bonds between former enemies, and after all that's happened between us over the last few years I doubt he's our enemy anymore." "Last year, the two of you fought a duel to the death when you agreed to stand in for a Tellarite who killed one of his officers," T'Pol said, giving him a pointed look. "Fanon:Shran was going to withdraw the Imperial Guard from the alliance against the Romulan marauders if I didn't allow the duel," Archer reminded her testily. "Besides, do I look dead to you?" He stopped in front of the controls to the airlock. Seeing on the display panel that the ship's docking seal was holding, he entered the commands into the console to verify that the airlock was pressurized appropriately. When the red light next to the airlock door flashed to green, he pressed the button and the door slid open. "Captain Archer," Shran said as he walked onto the deck. Archer looked at his friend. The Andorian commander was thin, with blue skin, blonde hair, and antennae that were currently pointed at the captain. "It's good to see you again, and to be back in space." Archer put his hand on Shran's brown-uniformed shoulder. "What have they had you doing since we last saw you?" He sighed a frustrated sigh and looked at the deck plating. "As I told you last time, an Imperial Guard officer who loses a ship isn't usually rewarded with another one." Looking up to meet Archer's eyes again, he said, "So, before I was picked for this assignment I've been on "administrative leave" and spent most of my time among the Aenar." Archer smiled. "Been spending time with Jhamel?" Archer asked, having a feeling that he already knew the answer. One would have had to have been as blind as Jhamel to not see that they had been attracted to each other last year. Shran gave him a wry smile. "You could say that." Shran said, nodding. "Ah," Archer said, the understanding clicking in him as to what precisely Shran meant. "Anyway," Shran said. "How've you been doing? I see they put your ship through a thorough refit. How big is your crew now?" "The Starfleet crew is two hundred and forty-nine," Archer said, unable to keep the swell of pride out of his voice. "With the addition of an entire platoon of MACOs it now stands at three hundred." "Three hundred," Shran said, a trace of awe in his eyes. "Impressive." "The ship itself is now-," Archer began, only to be interrupted by a beeping sound coming from the intercom on the airlock panel. "Bridge to Captain Archer," the voice of Lieutenant Hoshi Sato said. "We're receiving a transmission from Starfleet Command. It's urgent." "Transfer it to my ready room," Archer said, concern filling him. "I'll be right there."
Ten minutes later, Archer walked from his ready room into the situation room at the rear of the Enterprise's bridge. His senior staff, including Shran, looked at him curiously. Walking to the head of the small computerized situation table, he sighed, leaning heavily onto it as he thought about everything Admiral Black had just got done telling him. "Before we begin," he said, "I'm going to assume everyone here is familiar with our Andorian observer." "That's an understatement," his chief engineer said in a deadpan Southern drawl. Shran looked at everyone around him with a mixture of curiosity and annoyance. Archer allowed himself a smirk at Trip Tucker's observation before the seriousness of the situation came back at him. "The Columbia has gone missing." He pressed a few buttons on the panel before him and a star chart appeared on the display in the center of the table. "She was last reported as undertaking a survey in the Psi Cancri system before we lost contact with her. We've been ordered to investigate, and rescue any survivors." "At our maximum warp it will take us two weeks to reach the Psi Cancri system," T'Pol said. "Logic says that by the time we arrive there won't be any survivors to rescue." "Starfleet Command doesn't think so," Archer said, tapping out a few commands into the system. On the screen behind him a digital representation of an M-class planet appeared. The planet had one huge continent with a string of small islands next to it. "This is Psi Cancri I," Archer said as he got out of the way so his senior officers could get a look at the screen. "It's M-class, about the size of Earth, and," he said, his mind still marveling at the fact, "has a large population of humans living on it." "Humans," his flight controller Lieutenant Travis Mayweather said, surprise in his voice. "Are they sure?" "The sensor data transmitted by the Columbia clearly indicates the inhabitants are human, Travis," Archer said, nodding. "Define 'large'," Lieutenant Commander Malcolm Reed said, his English tones registering surprise. "Fifty thousand, a hundred thousand? How big are we talking here, sir?" Archer sighed. "According to the sensor data, the planet's population is approximately six hundred million." "Six hundred million?" Lieutenant Hoshi Sato said, surprise on the young Japanese woman's face. "Our only worlds other than Earth with a population over one million are Mars, Alpha Centauri, and Deneva, even the failed Skagaran colony in the Expanse only had six thousand humans." "Our orders are also to investigate that," Archer said. "Lieutenant Mayweather, set a course for the Psi Cancri system, maximum warp. Hoshi, T'Pol I want you to go through the historical database with a fine-toothed comb, see if anything can account for this." As all three of them left to carry out their orders, he turned to his chief engineer. "Trip, Malcolm," he said. "How are our new upgrades doing?" "The new engine upgrades are doing quite well for something so experimental," Trip said nodding. "I can give you Warp 5.5 the whole way out." Good, Archer thought. That should help us get their as smoothly as possible.
"I'm still having issues aligning the upgraded tactical sensors," Reed reported, concern on his voice. "If we run into trouble I can't guarantee that they'll be at their peak effectiveness." "Trip, will you assist Mr. Reed?" Archer ordered. "If Columbia was the victim of hostile action, I want to be ready for whoever may have destroyed them." "Aye, sir," they both said before leaving to carry out their orders. "Well," Shran said as soon as both men were alone in the situation room, "this is a...interesting development." "You can say that again," Archer responded, looking at the world on the computer screen. Another human world where one had no earthly business being, he thought, marveling at the fact that this was the second pre-warp extrasolar human world they'd come across in the past five years. What alien race took our people out to an M-class planet this time? And for what purpose? "I take it from that look on your face you know someone on the Columbia personally," Shran remarked, and it wasn't a question. "Her captain," Archer said, remembering that time a couple years ago when they went mountain climbing in California. "Captain Hernandez and I were...involved many years ago. I hope she's okay" "Well," Shran began, clearly making an effort to sound comforting. "I'm sure if there are any survivors they've already established peaceful contact with the local human population."
Suki knelt in the underbrush, watching as two people stepped out of the strange vehicle. The woman was slightly older than her, dressed in gray and brown pants and a coat. The man was in his twenties with a navy-blue uniform with red stripes. Both of them carried strange black, curved devices. What are those, she thought, struggling not to make any noise that would betray their position. Better proceed with caution, they could be weapons. "Private," the man said, his tone telling Suki that this was either a senior noncom or an officer. "Scan the area; tell me if we're alone." "Yes, sir," the woman said, pulling out a strange gray device and waving it around in front of her. Officer, then, she thought, nodding to herself, but for which side? I've never seen that uniform design in my life. She looked over at Zuko. Her friend was watching them curiously as well. He caught her eye and shook his head, silently ordering her not to break cover. Suki, still in officer mode from the conversation right before that thing nearly creamed them, immediately nodded and stayed low. "We're not alone, Commander," the woman said, showing the officer in the newly made clearing something on her device. "Two humans in those bushes over there." Suki dropped her head in frustration. How did they locate us that fast? She heard a rustling from her left and saw that Zuko had stood up and was walking towards them. Seeing no other option, Suki stood up and began walking towards them. "You're oddly dressed for rescue workers," the officer said, giving them a curious look as he stared at the two of them, "you're dressed more like special warfare operators. Besides shouldn't there be more of you?" Suki looked at them askance, unwilling to believe what he just heard. You damn near kill us coming down in that thing, and you think we're here to assist you? "What makes you think we're here to rescue you?" Zuko said, incredulity and anger on his voice. "We were running a patrol through here when you came crashing down out of the sky in that thing. Now who are you, and what is that thing?" "You were?" he said, a suddenly ashamed look on his face. "My apologies, after our ship was in orbit was destroyed we lost control of our pod. My name is Commander Robert Kelby, chief engineer of the starship Columbia. This is Private Sana Kassab of the MACO platoon also late assigned to the Columbia." "And if I knew what a "Columbia" or a MACO was that might mean something," Suki said. Then the other word he said hit her like a ton of lead bricks thrown at her head. "'Starship,'" she repeated, feeling rooted to the spot. "You were on a ship in orbit. That's impossible; humans don't have the technology to get into space. We have airships, but not starships; those are the pipe dreams of engineers and scientists thinking hundreds if not thousands of years into the future." "What are you talking about," Kelby said, giving her a look like she was insane. "Our race has been launching people into space for about two hundred years, and we've had the capacity to travel between stars for the past century. You're the first of our kind we've met who doesn't know that." My gods he's serious, Suki thought. Then she thought about it. It's the only thing that makes sense. The soundless explosion, the unexpected meteor shower, she looked over at the vehicle, lying motionless in the wreckage of the forest, that thing over there. It's the only thing that works. They're humans like us, but they're not from around here. "Well," Suki said, flustered, and, trying to maintain a level head she latched onto the only thing that she knew was a connection between them and finally resolved to introduce herself. "I'm Major Suki," she said, bowing politely. "Commanding officer, Kyoshi Warriors. This is my friend Zuko." Zuko, ever silent, simply nodded. The moment the words were out of her mouth she saw a change come over the woman in front of her. Her guard had been oddly down, for some reason not considering her a threat, but the moment she heard her rank she snapped immediately into drillyard perfect attention. "You're an officer?" Kelby asked. "Forgive me, but Majors aren't usually as young as you." "Yes, sir," Suki responded politely. If these people's rank structure was anything like the rank structure she knew, he did outrank her after all. "I'm the youngest commanding officer my unit's ever had, but that's neither here nor there. More to the point, there are a lot of questions that need answering among all of us, and what's left of this forest isn't the best place to do it." Suki looked over at Zuko. As the only other person in that clearing to have even technically held a rank higher than hers, she tended to defer to him. Zuko, seeing where she was going, nodded. "You're welcome to come with us back to camp," Suki said. "We should make it quick, though. There's no way they're didn't hear what just occurred, and we should get back to smooth their ruffled feathers." "Thanks for the offer, Major," he said. "We accept."
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