Wednesday, September 27, 2006

My ST:TNG Novel Drone - Chapter Five



Drone: Chapter Five
by Paul Darcy

A deathly silence pervaded the bridge of the Enterprise as the realization of what had just happened began to sink in. Geordi and Data, gone? Killed by the Borg? If so then the Borg had changed tactics, opting now for complete destruction instead of assimilation. Or was this an entirely new threat from a race as yet unknown. Two crew members were gone in a instant. Those on the bridge wondered how much longer before this hostile vessel directly attacked the Enterprise.

Riker chose his moment and then spoke. "Red alert, all hands to battle stations." His voice had lost some of its sting. The captain did not object to the order. The red alert klaxon began immediately and the ship's crew sprang into practised readiness to the accompaniment of red strobing lights.

"Captain," Riker began, "I suggest we launch another shuttle immediately. Geordi and Data may still be alive. They were in environment suits when the attack occurred. Dr. Crusher and I could be in shuttle bay ..."

"No, number one." Picard cut his first officer off before he could finish. "We can't risk other crew members' lives right now." Picard looked angry, not at his first officer but at the predicament they were in. "We don't know what that vessel is, but we have more than ample proof that it fires without provocation. Our first priority is to inform Starfleet command of what we have learned." Picard turned to the helmsman. "Ensign Mahoney, move the Enterprise away from the asteroid field until we are beyond the range of this damned interference." Picard's shield of invulnerability was beginning to weaken.

Picard took a moment to gather himself, then turned and addressed Worf. "As soon as we are clear of the disturbance send all information to Starfleet Command on a priority channel." Worf nodded in the affirmative, unhappy to be leaving the possibility of battle and revenge, but he was a Starfleet officer and as such would follow the captain's orders.

Riker interpreted the message between Picard's words. If the Enterprise didn't withdraw and send a message to Starfleet before they encountered this hostile ship, they may never get another chance. The captain was right. Starfleet had to be informed, but that did not mean the order hadn't grated on him nonetheless.

"Sir, we can't just leave Geordi and Data." Despite the captain's orders, Riker was willing to take a shuttle in himself to retrieve Data and Geordi if necessary. Damn it, he just wouldn't believe they were gone until he had absolute proof.

"I said nothing of leaving them, Will." Picard was shuffling through his options. "Our first priority is to warn Starfleet. We also need to repair our shields. If whatever destroyed the shuttle finds us and attacks while we have no forward shields." Picard didn't need to explain further. "Immediately after that we will return and mount a rescue, not before." The captain stood rigidly, obviously not liking the solution but finding himself with no other options for the moment.

Mention of the forward shields gave Riker an immediate avenue to vent some of his pent up frustrations. He slapped his com badge angrily. "Mr. Barclay." The sharp edge in Riker's voice had returned and then some.

"Yes, commander," came Barclay's panting reply. Barclay sounded like he had just run a marathon.

"Any progress on those shields?" There were days when Riker could fully enjoy Worf's callisthenics program. Today was turning out to be such a day. Perhaps he would substitute a few of the adversaries with simulacrums of Barclay.

"I've just arrived at the site in the jefferies tube on deck twenty three." Barclay crawled the last few feet and looked at the work he had remembered doing only hours before. "I don't believe this," he mumbled quietly to himself, but his voice carried over the open com channel to Riker's waiting ears.

"What is it, Mr. Barclay?" Riker clenched his fists, sure he wasn't going to like the answer.

"Somebody was here after I made the adjustments for the tests. The conduit connections have been rearranged. The main feed for the forward shields has been deliberately connected to the power couplings for deck twenty three and fourteen. When we supplied the power to the shields the couplings blew and the feedback must have travelled back to the shield grid and shorted it out. I don't understand who would do this. It was definitely not like this when I left it." Barclay was becoming slightly hysterical thinking Riker would falsely accuse him of incompetence.

"Are you saying somebody sabotaged your test?" Riker didn't sound totally convinced, though he said no more waiting for Barclay's reply.

"That is what it looks like, commander." Barclay began disconnecting the charred connections. "It was very neatly done though." Barclay added as an afterthought noticing how everything was arranged so orderly.

"How long will it take you to repair it?" Riker rubbed his forehead. He couldn't believe this. What was the saying; when it rains.

Barclay quickly assessed the damage. "It will take me about thirty minutes. You should have shields back then."

"See if you can do it in ten, Mr. Barclay. Our shuttle was just attacked and destroyed by an unidentified vessel in the asteroid field which may be heading this way." Riker gritted his teeth.

"Yes, sir. Fixing as fast as I can, sir." The news of the attack hit Barclay hard. Data and Geordi were on that shuttle. Had they been rescued or... Barclay didn't have time to think about it now. He had to get the shields operational in, nine minutes, or feel the wrath of Riker.

When Riker had finished conversing with Barclay, Picard turned to Troi and tried another angle. "Councillor, can you feel anything from within the asteroid field? Life forces, intelligence, anything?"

Deanna put a hand to her temple and strained her abilities to their utmost but after a few moments gave up. "I can't sense anything definite in the asteroid field, captain. It is as though whatever has been interfering with our sensors is partially blocking my abilities. But the interference is not intelligent or sentient. That much I am sure of. I thought I could feel Geordi's emotions, very faintly, after the explosion but I can't be absolutely sure." Deanna looked away from the captain feeling frustrated.

"Thank you, councillor. Let me know at once if you sense anything more." He gave her a reassuring smile as if to say that it wasn't her fault, then he walked to the upper bridge and stood beside Worf.

Picard spoke quietly. "Mr. Worf, have a security detail search deck twenty three, including the jefferies tubes. If there is a saboteur loose on this ship I want him, her or it found as soon as possible."

"Aye, sir." Worf's eyes gleamed. He finally had something tangible to grapple with.

Picard turned to the main viewer and watched as the asteroids faded into the distance as they made for a location free of disturbance to send there information to Starfleet and repair the shields. "Damn," he swore to himself and didn't care if anybody else had heard him.

* * *

Barclay was half way through his repairs when he sensed the Enterprise come to a stop. It was a subtle shift in the resonance of the jefferies tube and would not have been noticed by anyone less familiar with the ship's systems than himself. Most likely the Enterprise had moved out of the asteroid field and was waiting for him to finish the shield repairs. Riker would be waiting for his call. Barclay could picture his bearded face glaring menacingly in his mind, and he doubled his efforts.

Barclay had become so involved with his repairs that he didn't notice somebody else crawling up the jefferies tube until the person was nearly beside him. He jumped with a start. "Who is there?" Barclay had visions of the saboteur returning to the scene of the crime to find him here and eliminate him. He dropped what he was doing and looked down the tunnel, relieved to see an officer in a mustard-coloured security uniform with a tricorder, taking readings.

"Its just me, Johnston from security. Don't let me interfere with your work, lieutenant. I just need to take a few more readings and then I'll be out of your hair."

"Oh, well be my guest." Barclay had calmed down enough to begin his repairs again, while Johnston scanned the damaged sections with his tricorder.

Once Johnston had finished taking his readings and began moving back up the jefferies tube, Barclay overheard him making his report to Worf. He mentioned something about slight readings of theta radiation near the sabotage site before he moved out of Barclay's range of hearing. Barclay paid it no heed and continued to work solidly for another five minutes after which time he had finished restoring the conduit configuration to normal. He made one last check then called the bridge. "Barclay to commander Riker."

"Good news I hope, Mr. Barclay?" Riker's voice sounded very hostile to Barclay, though it might have been mostly his imagination.

"Ah, well, all the repairs are complete. You have forward shields again, same as before. The test, I mean, sir." He grimaced and started replacing the plates in front of the conduits.

"Thank you, Mr. Barclay. And please, no more tests today."

"Understood, sir." Barclay finished and made his way towards the exit. On the way he thought again about what the security officer had reported about theta radiation. I struck him that nothing in the tubes should have caused theta radiation. The power conduits, even though hooked up incorrectly and shorted out could not have caused that kind of radiation.

He searched his mind for any possible causes of theta radiation he could remember. He was just exiting the tube when he remembered. Theta radiation was generated from the specialized field emitters found on antigravity units. Did that mean somebody had brought and antigravity unit into the jefferies tube? What possible use could it be unless you were carrying something heavy. The sabotage work could easily have been done by crawling up the tube and rearranging the connections by hand. Unless it was done by a remote control robot? But it was done so neatly also. Surely a saboteur would have done the job as quickly and messily as possible so as not to be caught. His tired mind could make no sense of it. He could be completely wrong and didn't really want to report his suspicions to Riker until he had more concrete evidence.

Barclay replaced the jefferies tube access plate and moved off down the corridor towards his quarters. He was officially off duty now and the red alert had been reduced to yellow. They must be in no immediate danger and he felt that he could use a rest. Dealing with Riker had caused him a great deal of stress.

Barclay turned a corner and collided with a blonde girl. He caught her with one hand before she could fall. "I'm sorry, are you okay?" He apologised. He felt badly for almost flattening the girl. He noticed that she seemed distressed. Perhaps she was lost, he thought. Well, at least Barclay had no problem relating to children. He seemed to have more in common with them than adults, most of the time.

"I'm Okay," she said sincerely though Barclay could tell she was extremely distracted. And now that he thought of it, what was she doing on deck twenty three? There was nothing here for children that Barclay knew of.

"Can I help you?" Barclay asked and received a strange reply.

"Do you know where I can find Data? I thought he would be here fixing the problem with the ship. Is he?" She seemed to be pleading with him as though finding Mr. Data was the single most important thing in her life.

Her question brought back Riker's voice like the stab of a knife. Geordi and Data's shuttle had been destroyed. Had they survived? Barclay wasn't sure what kind of relationship this girl had with Data but surely telling her of his possible demise in the asteroid field would serve no purpose. He chose to tell her a half truth instead. "Mr. Data is off the Enterprise on an, extended mission into the asteroid field. Ah, I don't know exactly when he will return, but I don't think it will be for some time. Possibly days."

This news about Data seemed to crush her spirits. She visibly sagged. Barclay watched helplessly as her face screwed up into a terrible contortion and she began to cry. Barclay had no idea what to do. He was alarmed and taken aback by her odd behaviour. "Ah, I can talk to Data as soon as he returns for you, if you like." He tried feebly.

"I need Data to help me, now. He has to help me." Barclay understood her words though they were muffled through her sobbing.

Barclay decided to volunteer his services even though he was very tired. She seemed to desperately need somebody to help her. "I'll help you if I can. Please don't cry." He smiled down at her hoping she would stop. He hated when children were sad.

Her face brightened a little and her sobbing lessened. "I don't know if you can help me." Julie-Anne wasn't sure what to do. Could this officer really help her? Would he tell on her? She obviously couldn't find Apur by herself and Data would not return in time to help. She wasn't even sure he would have helped her anyway. Running out of options, she decided she would have to trust this officer. She wiped her eyes and looked up at him. He appeared harmless enough, and when she saw his inoffensive grin she felt reassured. His offer seemed genuine and sincere. Maybe he could help her find Apur. It was worth a try.

Julie-Anne wiped the rest of her tears away and confided in the stranger. "I've lost Apur and I don't know where he has gone."

Barclay immediately thought he had the solution for her. He touched his com badge. "Computer, can you tell me the location of a person named, Apur?"

After a brief pause the computer's female voice answered through Barclay's com badge. "There is no one on board the Enterprise by that name."

Well that wasn't much help. He knelt down to face the girl and realized he didn't even know her name yet. "I think the computer will need more information to locate your friend. Anyway, my name is Reg Barclay. What's yours?"

She answered quietly. "Julie-Anne LaSalle. My dad works in sickbay and my mom is a systems engineer working in stellar cartography." She offered.

Reg asked the obvious question. "Did you ask your parents to help you find Apur?" He suspected that she hadn't.

"No. They are both busy and I didn't want to worry them. You won't tell them, will you. Oh, please don't." Barclay could see she was becoming distressed again, almost begging him not to report this to her parents.

"Well then, lets try the computer again. Can you tell me Apur's last name, or is that his last name?" Reg was beginning to think Apur may be an invisible friend. Lord knows he had had many of those when he was a child and if he counted holodeck creations he suspected he still had a few now.

"No, he is just Apur." She answered and at that moment decided to confide in him completely. He hadn't called her parents right away and that counted for something. "Apur stands for Automatic pick-up robot. I created him. He is an android like Data, although he doesn't look like a person. He doesn't have legs at all actually, but he has two manipulator arms."

"You mean he is a robot?" Barclay was slightly amused and that was the wrong expression to have, he noted when she scowled up at him.

"He is not a robot." She said with conviction. "He is almost sentient. He can adapt and think. Robots just do what you tell them but Apur is different. I studied the way Data's neuro-pathways operate and made a neural net computer brain for Apur." Barclay wasn't sure if he should believe this girl or not. She didn't look old enough to be creating androids, let alone robots. But, there was something about her that made him feel that she wasn't lying.

And suddenly Barclay's tired mind assembled the pieces. The robot doesn't have legs; that would mean antigravity of course, and manipulator arms for manipulating and rearranging. Oh, no.

Julie-Anne could read Barclay's face and thought he was about to call somebody, maybe her parents. "Oh please don't tell anyone. I didn't mean for him to get loose. Just please help me find him before he gets hurt." She looked at Barclay with watery eyes and the beginnings and an irresistible little smile.

Suddenly, Barclay was faced with a very difficult decision.

* * *

Geordi tried desperately to manoeuvre the shuttle behind the nearest asteroid to avoid the approaching ship's weapons, but despite his quick reflexes and the shuttles high manoeuvrability they were no match for the speed and accuracy of the plasma beam fired from the attacking ship. The beam sliced into the port side of the shuttle separating the port nacelle from the shuttle and nearly penetrated through into the cabin before the shuttle flew behind an asteroid and out of the weapons line of sight. Geordi had diverted the shuttle's path just enough to save their lives for the time being, but not enough to save the shuttle.

"Data, are you all right?" Geordi yelled above the scream of the shuttles emergency sirens. Without a second thought Geordi quickly replaced his helmet, forgetting the shuttles controls, and Data with unhuman speed replaced helmet also. Data then reached out and touched the emergency beam-out controls, but nothing happened.

Before they could think of another solution, a second beam lanced out and carving straight through the hull and into the shuttle's interior. The air inside the shuttle decompressed violently. The control consoles of the shuttle exploded. Exposed circuitry showered the interior with bright sparks. Miraculously, the beam did not hit either Data or Geordi, but the heat created from it was intense. Their suits gave them some protection but it was evident they would need to get out immediately or be killed.

Data sprung to action amid the maelstrom. He moved in the now zero gravity shuttle by grabbing the walls and made it to Geordi's position. Once there, Data used his body as a shield for Geordi from the fires and explosions erupting from the consoles. The particle beam was meticulously cutting pieces of the hull from the shuttle and Data was forced to violently fling himself and Geordi out of harms way. If Data had not been as strong and fast as he was they would have been carved to death by the beam. Data spied an opening and with an incredible push-off launched himself and Geordi into the asteroid field through a breach.

Once outside the shuttle Data put his suit thruster on full and flew himself and Geordi away from the wreckage as quickly as he could manage. They were not quite far enough away when the shuttle exploded behind him. Data, with Geordi in front of him, could feel the impact on his backpack. Incredible heat washed across them and then he and Geordi were drifting out of control. Data very quickly realised his suit had been compromised and several of his lesser body functions damaged but he paid them little heed. His main concern was for Geordi's safety. "Geordi. Are you Okay?" At least his suit communication still worked, for now.

"Ah, I think so." Geordi answered groggily. " How about you Data, that was one hell of a ride." Geordi managed to get the words out though it was a struggle. He felt as though had played an hour of soccer, as the ball.

"Geordi, I believe that no serious damage has been done to me though my suit has been compromised. Yours appears to have taken damage though mine bore the brunt of the explosion. Are you sure you are Okay?" Data could see that Geordi appeared uninjured, but wanted to be sure.

After a pause, Geordi answered, "Ya Data, I'm shaken up but I think I'll be alright. I think the radiation shielding on the legs of my suit is burnt away. Let me look at yours." Data turned around and Geordi could see that the back of his suit was all but gone. There was no way to fix it in their current predicament. "Will you be all right in vacuum like this?" Geordi didn't know how much protection Data's android body would afford him in space and was concerned. His positronic brain might be damaged by radiation or freezing also. Data may be superior in many ways to humans but he wasn't invulnerable.

Data answered. "I feel no ill effects from vacuum, however prolonged exposure will eventually cause me to go into a stasis mode to safeguard vital circuits. For the time being the cold of space has frozen the fluids on my exposed areas and I am no longer losing fluid. That would be more harmful to me than freezing. Thank you for your concern Geordi, but I believe for now I will function adequately."

Geordi turned and read the gauges on his thruster control. "Oh no, my thruster pack is damaged and Its loosing power. We better decide which direction to go in, and fast." They didn't appear to have many choices.

Geordi and Data looked in the direction of the destroyed shuttle. The square vessel had finished carving it up and now used a tractor beam of some sort to haul in the selected pieces. The parts of the ship it seemed most interested in were the hull and nacelle connections.

"This is awfully strange Data. The Borg wouldn't do that. What possible technology could they gain from the hull of the ship, leaving all of the computer circuits behind?" Geordi awaited Data's reply which was not long in coming.

"Perhaps this ship is not Borg. It is roughly the same size and uses the same plasma laser, however, its behaviour is not of the Borg. You are correct in saying that if it is indeed the Borg, they are behaving very much out of character." Geordi listened to Data and then watched as the hull and nacelle connections were efficiently and quickly taken inside the vessel.

"Data, I don't think we have much choice. We certainly can't make it back to the Enterprise on one damaged suit thruster, and our shuttle has been completely destroyed. I say our only choice is to go over to the alien vessel and board it. Maybe try to talk to its owners. Its either that or wait out here until we get crushed by debris, or slowly die of radiation poisoning, or freezing. If I correctly recall the radiation readings we took earlier from the shuttle, that would give us about six hours out in the open before its lethal." Geordi could think of no other alternatives.

Data tilted his head a few degrees inside his helmet. "I agree. We should proceed to the alien craft and try to make contact. Maybe we could contact the Enterprise from there also. They should be warned of the danger this vessel poses should they attempt a rescue. Since the ship seems oblivious to us now, they appear to have been after the metal form the shuttle only. Perhaps that would explain the attack on the Tecton also. It definitely needs further investigation." Data looked at Geordi who nodded in agreement.

With trepidation the two approached the Borg like vessel. Geordi had the uneasy feeling that at any moment the plasma beam would fire and consume them, but it didn't happen. They managed to reach the exterior of the stationary vessel without incident.

It took some time of careful flying and investigation before a suitable entrance could be found. They worked their way between a set of girders next to extremely hot pipes on the exterior and made their way to the inside, none too soon. Geordi's thruster ran out of power.

After a cursory examination of the ship's interior it became evident that this ship was not likely to carry any life forms. Data confirmed that with the surviving tricorder from Geordi's backpack. No living quarters or any form of atmosphere were present. The sole purpose of the ship was unknown. It seemed to be merely a machine, and most likely one that was out collecting ore and minerals. The ship had one large storage area, mostly filled with metal that had been melted and formed into cubes and packed closely together. The storage compartment was nearly full and took up at least seventy five percent of the ship's total size.

"Wow, this is something. Data, this must be a Borg ship, only there aren't any Borg." Geordi stared around in wonder. It was just like the inside of a Borg ship minus the Borg and a few changes.

"I believe Geordi that this is not a Borg vessel. Although it configures to the Borg ship design by approximately eighty six percent, there are significant differences. For one, there appears to be no device to transmit or receive signals, and their is no form of drive at all. It has minimal thrusters for manoeuvring, but little else. It may appear to be a Borg vessel but I must conclude that it is not." Data's voice was beginning to slow down and lose its pitch. His movements became jerky and erratic.

"Data, are you O.K.? What's happening to you?" Geordi came over to were Data held the tricorder in his hands and looked at him through his visor. He was showing almost no heat at all and a thin layer of frost had developed all over his face.

"I am reaching a critical temperature at which I can no longer function. In approximately seven minutes I will automatically shut down to preserve my positronic circuits. I am sorry, but I have no choice." Data sat down slowly on a metal structure and continued to take readings with the tricorder until the moment that he shut down.

"See you in a while Data." Geordi said to himself. He looked around and tried his communicator, knowing it would be useless. "Away team to Enterprise, come in Enterprise." Geordi tried several more times but got nothing but static. He decided after a while that there was nothing he could do but wait for a rescue, so he went to look around, hoping to learn all he could about this Borg like vessel. He had never felt so alone in his whole life.

Geordi took the tricorder from Data's frozen hands and set it to scan for radiation. In a few seconds he calculated the danger. The vessel was shielding some of the radiation, but it would only prolong his life for sixteen hours. By that time his life support would run out anyhow. Great, now he could experience radiation death in a cold vacuum, with his best friend completely out of commission beside him. The Enterprise would be unable to approach this ship through the asteroids and any rescue attempt by shuttle would most likely end in disaster. Damn it. He had to find a way to reach the Enterprise. He scanned the rest of his ship with his Visor, but it revealed nothing of immediate usefulness to him.

This just wasn't one of Geordi's best days, and when the ship began to move, he felt it wasn't about to get any better.

Monday, September 25, 2006

taking stock


Um, this is just a random image - just to have an image.

Well maybe it signifies danger or doing the right thing or taking risks or something . . .

. . . Anyhow, I just finished my last slurp of fresh ground coffee.

Yummy!

Well, I guess I better get on with the review of this week’s highly exciting writing projects and progress and tribulations life choices and . . .

. . . Um, well I would need to write about somebody else then wouldn‘t I. Um, err, so let me just stick to the regular Monday updates about what is up with me.

And yes, it’s always about me . . .

A quick rundown on the upcoming (dun, dun dun . . .) ebook.

So far, including myself, I have received four short stories for the volume. There is still one week to go before I slam the doors and get to editing, so um (this means you) if you have yet to send me a piece “Get off your butt now and send it”

I won’t name names until two days before the end of the month. You know who you slackers are - nuff said.

And the cover art for the book is going to be bloody cool thanks to M. (Thanks M)

I haven’t decided on which image to use yet because, well, I don’t have enough stories from people yet to make a decision on which very cool graphic would best suit. So, after the end of the month I’ll decide.

This is going to be pretty exciting for us since we have been meeting for reading nights for (has it really been) about twelve years? Somewhere about that long anyhow.

So, come Halloween, be on the lookout for a super-cool, easily transported, and share with all of your friends, ebook of short stories and other diverse thingies . . . Okay, just short stories I think, unless somebody sends me in a diverse thingy - which I will then include.

Oh, and you may have noticed my Star Trek novel is actually being posted and the chapters are adding up. I’m sticking one up every Wednesday (skipping a couple) until Christmas.

Two other items of note. 1st is another project (can’t ever have too many) which three of us are going to get started on. The idea has been whacked about via emails but we are going to have an official get-together this Saturday to drin . . . , um, work out the details, assign deadlines and get it off the ground.

Work on the pilot, so to speak. (the laughter is coming from the in-joke . . . Um, never mind)

And second is my imminent career change. The BIG REVEAL will need to be postponed until April 2007 (my first course) ooops. Did I say too much already.

So for those dying to know what I’m changing into (career wise that is) sorry, but I need to keep a lid on it until I start my courses.

Then you probably won’t get me to shut up about it - so maybe enjoy the quite time between now and then.

Well, that’s about it for this week in review. I have to get at editing my own submission so it doesn’t suck down the overall quality of the ebook.

So, I’ll just do that then.

Until next Monday when I will name names and generally rant and rave and froth.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My ST:TNG Novel Drone - Chapter Four



Drone: Chapter Four
by Paul Darcy

The signal sent from the shuttle was weak and barely able to penetrate to the Enterprise. Worf's stentorian voice emanated from the upper command console. "The destroyed ship has been positively identified. It is the USS Tecton. Opening a channel to the shuttle. Transmission will be displayed on the main viewer as soon as the computer filters out as much interference as possible." After a few moments, the garbled and static filled transmissions appeared.

Riker leaned over the communications station next to Worf and watched the transfer of data. The computer had managed to unscramble the weak signal somewhat and what appeared on the main viewer was marginal. The visual and audio signals faded in and out. Despite the interference, it was painfully obvious that the USS Tecton and all her crew were dead. The ship appeared to have been dissected. Key components were missing altogether and the outer hull looked as though it had been peeled away in places exposing the innards of the ship to harsh vacuum.

Picard felt as though a heavy weight had just been applied to his shoulders. "My god, what happened?" He said to no one in particular, crossing one of his arms about his chest. His free hand moved to his chin. "Mr. Data, are there any life signs?"

The broken voice of Mr. Data came across the open channel. "I am reading no life signs captain." Data's voice sounded deadpan and matter of fact. Even though Picard knew Data could not experience emotions he felt certain Data did care a great deal. "Data and La Forge, is it possible for you to enter the ship and retrieve the computer logs?"

Geordie answered this time while Data tried a few more scans of the wreckage on different band widths. "You are breaking up pretty badly sir. I don't know if there will be too much left to retrieve. Data and I will have to use environment suits to enter the ship and retrieve the logs. We are reading no other vessels in the area, though our sensors are severely hampered. We'll take the shuttle in as close as possible then board her."

"Be as quick as possible Mr. La Forge, then return to the ship." Geordie's reply was all but cut off but it looked, from the nod of his head, like he was agreeing. The signal chose that moment to phase out very badly, then broke off completely.

Worf struggled with the visual and audio signals until he gave up in frustration and vented some of his anger with a verbal growl. "I've lost the signal again, captain. There is too much interference."

"Understood Mr. Worf, keep trying to get through." Picard faced away from the screen and tapped his communicator."Beverly?"

"Go ahead, captain." Came Beverly's immediate reply. She sounded anxious. So far the transmissions from the shuttle had only been viewed on the bridge.

Picard hesitated for only a second, but Will noticed. What Picard had to inform the doctor of was never an easy chore. "We have found the Tecton." Picard said slowly as though he didn't want to share the information.

Beverly answered before the captain could say more, "We are ready to retrieve survivors. Give us the coordinates and we will shuttle over right away."

Picard took a quick inhalation of breath. "That won't be necessary doctor. I'm sorry, there are no survivors. Data and La Forge are going to enter the ship and see if they can salvage the logs. Once they return we hope to have our answers."

Beverly did not reply and Picard did not expect her to.

* * *

Mr. Barclay stood in front of the main system's display in engineering. Across from him Ensign Roche did some last minute checks of the key shield systems. "Ensign, are the anodyne relays configured for the test?"

"All set, Mr. Barclay." Roche made one last check and stood by waiting for further instructions.

Mr. Barclay braced himself and clenched his fists once, then swatted his com badge a bit too roughly. "Barclay to the bridge."

"What is it, Mr. Barclay.," came back Riker's prompt response.

"Sir, I am ready to run the tests on the shields. I just, I, well, I would like to do them now, sir, if its okay with you. If you don't mind, sir." Barclay stopped talking before he rambled on any more.

Riker intimidated Barclay even more than the captain. Perhaps it was the beard, or maybe the height. Could be the weight Barclay thought and was brought back to reality by Riker's voice. "Go ahead, Mr. Barclay. What should we expect during this test?" Riker didn't like surprises, and his tone of voice demonstrated it. At least Barclay thought it did.

"Ah, well, a short test. Should only take thirty seconds. Shields will be modulated from fifty percent to maximum and back down again. There should be no noticeable effects." Barclay at least had confidence in the technicalities of the test. It should be straight forward. He felt fairly confident that nothing could go wrong. In fact, maybe if the tests proved positive Riker would be impressed.

"Then proceed, Mr. Barclay." Riker sounded distracted and annoyed to be bothered by the interruption, but Barclay felt better for having cleared this with the bridge first.

Barclay looked over at Roche. "Okay, lets do it. Engage shields at fifty percent."

Roche initiated the test sequence. Nothing appeared to be happen for several seconds and then the panel erupted in a shower of feedback sparks. Roche leapt backward avoiding injury. Reg's side of the panel had not erupted and he was furiously trying to see figure out what was happening. Lights flickered on and off all over the ship and two small explosions shook deck twenty three.

Barclay managed to get an estimate of damage before the inevitable call from Riker could come through. Two main power couplings had blown. One on deck twenty three and another on deck fourteen of the saucer section. As well, the main power grid for the forward shields had been damaged rendering the forward shield inoperative for the moment. This should not have happened. It should definitely not have happened. Barclay could not think of anything that could have gone wrong with what he had done. It wasn't possible.

The very annoyed and expected voice of Riker shouted from Barclay's com badge. "Mr. Barclay. What the hell happened down there!"

"I'm not sure, commander. It shouldn't have done that." Barclay felt like he was going into shock but he had to remain in control. There had to be an explanation.

"I suggest you find out very quickly. We don't have any forward shields right now, and in case you hadn't been informed we are bordering the Romulan Neutral Zone. Now get those shield back up and functional, now!" Riker had a way of stripping a layer of skin from your body with that voice thought Barclay.

"Ensign Roche, run a level three diagnostic of the shield systems and try re-outing the power coupling from deck twenty three. I'm going back to the jefferies tube to see if I can find out what caused this." Roche began the diagnostic as Barclay raced from engineering for deck twenty three.

* * *

Julie-Anne sat in Mr. MuClusky's class and racked her brains until they hurt. His monotone voice droned on while formulas sprawled across the classroom viewer. She was concentrating so hard on a way to find Apur that she hadn't noticed McClusky asking her a question until the third time. "Julie-Anne, do you know what the theoretical particle speed should be. Are you listening?" He glowered at her as only he could. That look could frighten small children or make them laugh out loud.

"Ah, sorry. What was the question again?" She hadn't the slightest clue what he was asking her. Flashing her most charming smile failed to produce the desired effect. McClusky wasn't buying it.

He was about to open his mouth again when all power died and the emergency lights flickered on. McClusky looked more annoyed than alarmed and quickly dismissed the class after consulting the ship's computer on the estimated time for the resumption of normal operations. It had told him: time unknown.

Julie-Anne was almost the first out of the classroom after the announcement from McClusky. She would have some extra time to find Apur now, wherever he was. She had decided the first place to search would be the deck she lived on: number seven. She searched as thoroughly as she could, calling his name quietly so as not to arouse suspicion, though she did receive some looks from passers by.

After a half an hour Julie-Anne realised it was hopeless. She had covered only half of this deck and what if Apur moved into an area she had already searched? The ship was far to large. Apur could be anywhere by now. But where would he go? She grew worried by the possibility that she would never find him by herself. Tears began to form in her eyes.

An idea suddenly sprang to her mind and she wiped her eyes dry. Data would be able to help her. He was a sentient android and would probably know where to find Apur. All she had to do was go to where Data was and ask him for his help. She had overheard when Mr. McClusky asked the computer where the trouble was located: deck twenty three. Data would most likely be there helping to fix the problem. She hurried off to deck twenty three will new found hope.

* * *

Worf ever diligent at his station was the first to notice his console report the presence of another vessel, just at the edge of sensor range through the disturbances. He immediately stopped trying to clear a channel to Data and La Forge and informed the captain. "Sir, a ship just registered at the edge of our sensor range."

Picard looked up, slightly alarmed. "A ship? What sort of ship, Mr. Worf?" The bridge crew stood quietly, hanging on the implication of the captain's question: the Borg?

Worf struggled with the console to get a definite identification. "Enhancing sensors in that vicinity" Worf stated. The bridge crew waited tensely as Worf struggled for a better reading. Finally, after what seemed forever, Worf announced. "Ship identified sir, it is a Romulan warbird. No life signs, and considerable mass missing from the hull and drive sections."

The announcement of a Romulan warbird in the area, dead in space or otherwise was still a cause for concern, but the crew breathed a collective sigh of relief anyway.

"It would seem Number One that the Tecton was not alone out here." Picard was not sure if he liked this new development, although he wasn't at all surprised.

Riker took the initiative. "Mr. Worf, how far away is the Romulan ship?"

Worf took only a moment to answer. "It is ninety seven kilometres off the port bow just inside the asteroid field and drifting outwards."

Riker turned to Picard, "I suggest that we send a team over to investigate the Romulan ship. It may contain all the answers we need."

"I don't think so Number One. It will be here for a while yet. Let's wait for Data and Geordie to return first. If this whole incident is the Romulan's doing I would rather know that before boarding one of there ships. And I wouldn't want our people snooping around inside that one as another Warbird uncloaks. Mr. Worf have you managed to reestablish contact with Data and La Forge yet?"

"Attempting to do so, sir. The interference is making this most difficult." Worf stabbed at the controls as though they were the heart of a Romulan. Picard and the bridge crew waited patiently while Worf attempted to get through.

* * *

"Well Data, let's go find out what we can. The transporters are useless with all this interference so we are going to have to do this the old fashioned way." Geordi said.

It took only a few minutes for Geordi and Data to fully suit up once the shuttlecraft was as close as they could manoeuvre it to the broken Tecton. La Forge depressurized the shuttle and opened the door. The suits Data and Geordi were wearing had built in booster packs for thrust and stability and one miniature tractor beam for manipulating large objects if the need arose.

Through there face shields they could see the blackened and roughly carved hull of the Tecton as though it had been peeled away with high energy plasma beams. Data used his tricorder to record their approach and analyze the burnt and twisted metal. "It appears to have been cut by a beam similar to the one used by the Borg." Data checked the display again to confirm his readings.

Geordi spoke to Data through his helmet communicator. "What do you mean by similar, Data?" Geordi made a few minor adjustments to his thrusters to bring him alongside the Tecton, next to a large breach in the hull.

"What I meant, Geordi, was that the residual ion and radiation residue readings of the hull closely, though not exactly, match the readings from the Enterprise's hull after the Borg attack. The variation could be due to the slight differences in hull composition, or a variation in Borg weaponry. It could also have been caused by an entirely new weapon belonging to a race we have not yet encountered." Data put away his tricorder and used his magnetic hand pads to grab the Tecton's hull.

Geordi looked at Data through his faceplate. "So what you are telling me is that you don't have enough information to say for sure."

"That is correct. Perhaps the Tecton's computer core will help." Together Data and Geordi moved along the outside of the ship and then entered the interior through the breach.

The inside of the ship was not in any better condition than the outside. The fires that must have raged through the computer consoles had destroyed most of the plasteel mouldings and walls. Geordi began to feel a bit nauseous when they met up with the first body, burnt yet frozen with most of the blood vessels burst on the skin. They travelled for a few more minutes through gaping holes apparently cut clear through the remains of the ship by a powerful beam and arrived at what was left of the bridge.

Geordi had a quick look around. "It must have been over pretty fast. Let's see if the computer will still operate at all." Geordi and Data plodded on magnetic boots to the main console. Once there Data directly linked his tricorder into the bridge control and tried accessing the core. He tried many settings, all of which failed to produce any results.

"It may be necessary for us to remove the log core and bring it to the shuttlecraft for analysis." Data looked at Geordi who replied with a nod and began to pry back the ruined main console to expose the circuits below. After a few cuts with a suit torch the main log core came away more or less intact. "I believe we should return to the shuttlecraft, our safety time has run out, we may be struck by an asteroid, or pulled into the gravity of a large one."

"I couldn't agree with you more. Let's go." Data and Geordi returned the way they had come and were soon safely back aboard the shuttle.

In the few moments it took the shuttle to pressurize Data had removed his helmet and had started to connect the main control of the Tecton to the shuttle computer for analysis. Geordi wasting no time to remove his suit, began to fly the shuttle back to the Enterprise. "Enterprise, this is the away team. Do you read me?" Geordi waited a few moments then tried again with no success. "Data, we are still getting an incredible amount of interference from this field. It seems to get worse the closer we are to any of the asteroids."

Data looked up from what he was doing. "I am still puzzled by the discrepancy between calculated disturbance level and our observable readings. It should not be so. Perhaps the asteroids themselves are highly reflective of radiation?" Data made a few more adjustments to a circuit he was using to connect the Tecton's control. A practised human grin spread across Data's face for Geordi's benefit. "I believe I have successfully retrieved the majority of information stored in the Tecton's logs. I am attempting to play them back now." Data touched a couple of keys on the console and the voice of captain of the Tecton was heard in the shuttle.

"Stardate 4316.34, captains log. We have discovered what could only be described as unbelievable. Inside most of the asteroids are extremely high concentrations of dilithium in its unrefined crystal form. At first we thought our strange sensor and high energy readings a systemic malfunction, but once we retrieved a asteroid sample and had it analyzed, well we were shocked and thrilled at the same time." Data stopped the playback and looked at Geordi. "Yes, that would explain the higher than normal radiation levels, since the crystals would channel and amplify the surrounding emissions. This is an extremely rare find."

Geordi looked at Data. "Data, do you have any idea what we are sitting in? This could be the richest dilithium find ever. This could benefit the federation significantly."

A static filled voice broke through there communications console. "Worf the shuttlecraft five. Come in please."

"We are here Mr. Worf." Came Geordi's reply. Geordi was just about to tell the Enterprise crew of there find when from behind a large asteroid a square vessel hove into view" No time to talk Mr Worf, we have company, a large square vessel is six kilometres off our port bow, leaving all channels open on automatic transmission."

The tension on the bridge of the Enterprise rose significantly. Picard looked back at Worf. "Mr. Worf how far our are they from us?"

"They are thirty seven kilometres inside the asteroid field. We will be unable to reach them." The scene on the main viewer was constantly breaking up but the crew could make out a squarish vessel approaching the shuttle. And as suddenly as those hazy images appeared the squarish vessel fired on the shuttle and sent it reeling. The entire crew stood shocked.

"Geordi to Enterprise. The ship has fired on us, beginning evasive ..." The picture broke up as the transmission from the shuttle abruptly stopped. Worf pounded his fist on the console in frustration.

"Damn it. Mr Worf what happened? Can you raise them again?" Picard stared at the screen in disbelief at what he had just witnessed. "No use captain. The signal has terminated at the source. Sensors indicate the shuttle has been destroyed."

Monday, September 18, 2006

a new hope

Paul Darcy and Jewle StaiteYa Joe, we were supposed to be at a Science Fiction convention, but remember (see this week’s picture insert) we already got (to) one you see . . .

Can’t afford more than one boondoggle like that in the same calendar year.

So, the week in review.

Much has been happening in my mind, which is not to say the usual state of my mind is blankness - okay it is blankness - but that is only during my day job. A necessary survival reaction.

Anyhow, I solicited the reading group this past weekend for one short story or a few poems to include into the “dun, dun, dun” ebook coming this Halloween.

Excited?

I will know by end of month just how many participants I have and report it right here first Monday in October.

I think it will be great to showcase our work for others to pass around like a virus . . . Er, a good, friendly virus . . .

And the title of this post is not without some meaning today either. You see, I have a plan. A cunning plan (you should know the rest of this . . . if not please watch all of Black Adder)

It involves replacing my current day job with another career altogether. And if you are jumping up and down thinking - oh, he is taking the plunge and becoming a full time writer finally - um, well, you can stop jumping even though that kind of exercise is good for you.

And if you were holding your breath - for goodness sake breathe!

Don’t worry I’m not thinking of pro-tennis, or dog walking - though there is nothing wrong with either of those activities.

No, this new career will be a paying professional one and something I‘ve always enjoyed. There are many openings and can dove-tail into my current writing.

In fact, starting January, I’ll be chronicling my journey towards my new career. January is the start of the first course.

This does not mean I am abandoning all hope of writing (that plan remains) but I will be getting on with a new life.

You can change your future - if you want to.

I’m happy for myself.

Well, I’m going to chop it off here.

Until next Monday.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My ST:TNG Novel Drone - Chapter Three



Drone: Chapter Three
by Paul Darcy

Julie-Anne was awakened by her alarm. It chimed irritatingly and with a quick one word command she made it stop. If only she could sleep for another five minutes before having to get up and go to school. Friday meant an early class in advanced astro-physics and she didn't really like her teacher Mr. McClusky much. He always seemed to ask her for the answer when she didn't have it. She couldn't keep her concentration in his class at all. He was boring. So very boring.

Her mind began to relax and before long an arm was gently shaking her awake. Her father's voice spoke close to her ear. "Wake up honey. You have to go to class soon."

Julie-Anne opened her eyes a crack wishing it were Saturday or Sunday. Grudgingly, she rose up on her elbow and yawned, stretching the sleep from her body.

"That's better." Her father said sitting on the side of her bed. "And I am proud of you for cleaning up your room last night like I asked you to. Hurry up and get ready and I'll have your favourite breakfast for you." Her father stoked her hair and got up and left the room heading for the replicator to prepare breakfast.

Julie-Anne started to come fully awake and suddenly her father's words shocked her to complete alertness. Her room was completely tidied up. She couldn't remember putting Apur away. Oh no, she had fallen asleep. She looked around the room searching for her robot and spoke his name, "Apur," a bit too loudly.

"What is it dear?" Her father's voice answered from the other room.

"Nothing, dad." Julie-Anne jumped from the bed and looked in the drawer she usually kept Apur in. Maybe he had returned there by himself after he was finished cleaning. But he wasn't there and she couldn't find him anywhere at all in her room. She checked every place twice. She realised that he was not in her room. That could mean he was out in the living area and her dad could find him at any time. She dressed as quickly as she could without taking a shower or fixing up her hair. She had to find Apur before somebody else did. They might take him apart or damage him in some way.

She entered the living area well before her dad had the breakfast ready. "You needn't have rushed that much dear, you still have enough time before class." Julie-Anne hadn't even checked the time and she barely heard her father as she searched all around the room for Apur. Where could he have gone?

"What's the matter Julie-Anne. Have you lost something?" Her father was just setting the breakfast on the table.

Julie-Anne thought up something quick. "No nothing. I just thought I might have left my computer pad out here." She hated to lie to her dad but she could tell he had been fooled.

"Well, come and eat your blueberry pancakes while they are still hot. I haven't seen your computer pad our here, but I'm sure it will turn up. Maybe when you cleaned yesterday you put it someplace you wouldn't normally. You were pretty tired form the game yesterday as I recall."

"Ya, you're probably right." She joined her father for breakfast but continued to look about the room thinking that at any moment Apur would rise from cover somewhere and reveal himself. She ate her pancakes slowly wondering when her father would leave for his shift in sickbay.

After what felt like an hour to Julie-Anne, her father rose and put his dishes back in the replicator. "I'll walk you to deck sixteen if you like."

"No, that's Okay dad. I need to find my computer pad before class anyway. You go ahead." She flashed her most effective father melting smile.

"Alright. I'll see you for lunch then in ten forward? Mom is going to join us too."

"Ah, ya fine." Julie-Anne answered distractedly. Once the doors swished closed on her departing father she became a flurry of motion. "Apur, where are you? Come our right now."

In ten minutes she had gone over every inch of there living quarters. Apur was nowhere to be found. Julie-Anne's stomach began to turn over. Apur had to be somewhere out in the ship. Where would he go and what would he do? She should look for him right away, but she couldn't. McClusky knew her parents well and would tell then if she had missed class. Then she would have to explain everything to them or lie again. She didn't want to do either just yet. She would just have to wait until after class to search for Apur. She would use McClusky's boring class time to try and figure out how.

Julie-Anne grabbed her books and hurried off. How much trouble could Apur get into anyway? She rushed down the corridor.

* * *

"Okay, Reg. That oughta do it. By coupling the phase relays inversely in series we should gain about twenty percent better control of the fluctuating shield frequencies with no appreciable drop in shield intensities. You know what to do." LaForge turned of the engineering computer's display and handed Mr. Barclay the toolkit he would need to make the adjustments.

"No problem. I'll just be a, minute only, sir. Well, more than a minute, you know what I mean, I'll. It will be no trouble." Barclay still had difficulties speaking coherently to his superiors, though his counselling with Troi and the therapy drama classes with Dr. Crusher were helping, somewhat. He was still convinced that he would never learn all of his Cyrano lines despite the doctor's confidence in him. He grabbed the toolkit and headed for the jefferies tube access on deck twenty three.

"Let me know when you're finished, Reg." Geordi yelled after him. "I'll be on the bridge if you need me." LaForge watched as Barclay spun awkwardly around to face him, mumble some reply in the affirmative, turn around again and walk straight into Ensign Roche who was carefully carrying a particle cycler. Roche managed to catch the cycler before it fell. Barclay apologised emphatically to Roche then hurried for the turbolift.

LaForge and Roche exchanged hopeless glances and Laforge wondered how Reg had ever managed to get out of the academy alive. Barclay's psych profile must be must include some of the strangest readings ever for a human being.

Barclay ran through the procedure in his mind one last time. He reached deck twenty three with no more mishaps and positioned himself in front of the jefferies tube. He removed the access cover and set it aside. He checked to make sure all of the tools he would need for the job were in the toolkit and they were, of course.

As he snapped the toolkit closed he thought he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned and faced down the corridor but nobody was there. He must be tired. Those drama classes were stressful and taking a lot out of him. He began to recite one of his lines then abruptly stopped. This was no time to be distracted he thought and immediately entered the tube.

Barclay worked steadily for twenty minutes rearranging the relay feeds. Optical cables lay in a jumble on the tube floor but the job was done. He checked it once more to make sure and found everything to his satisfaction. If the tests were successful he would return and make a more permanent job of it. He packed away his tools and called LaForge. "Barclay to LaForge"

"Go ahead Reg." Came Geordi's reply from the bridge.

"Ah, the feeds have all been rearranged. All done here, sir." Reg had considerably more control speaking when the person he was speaking to was a com badge away.

"That's great. Let me finish up what I'm doing here and I'll meet you in engineering in, say, two hours. We'll run the shields through the tests then and see what happens."

"Yes, sir. Two hours, I'll meet you then." Barclay checked the time, then began crawling back out of the jefferies tube.

Apur had followed the lifeform into the tubes but was very careful not to be seen as he was instructed. Once the human had left the spot he had stayed in for twenty minutes Apur havered over to the area and took a sensor reading. His computer pathways analyzed the contents on the tube floor. This was definitely a mess which needed to be cleaned up. Apur's manipulator arms reached out and began to organize the mess, putting everything where he thought it should go.

* * *

All command personnel were on the bridge except doctor Crusher, who was busy preparing her sick bay to receive injured crewmen from the Tecton, if any survived. Worf constantly monitored his reading for any signs of other vessels as they approached the asteroid field. He did not like to be taken by surprise. Riker sat in his chair as Jean-Luc paced to and fro, rubbing his chin occasionally. Geordie had just come up form engineering and transferred its main functions to the bridge. Data sat as though everything was as normal. Picard finally stopped his wanderings beside Data's console. "Mr. Data, how long?"

Data touched the keypad once, "one hour, seventeen minutes, sir."

Picard rubbed his forehead, "Good. Would you inform me when we have reached the asteroid field, I'll be in my ready room. Will, would you join me."

Riker rose from his seat and gave Deanna a questioning look which she returned. The captain disappeared into the ready room with Riker close behind. Once inside the captain took his chair and Will sat down across the captain's desk opposite him.

Riker was the first to speak, "Something wrong, sir?"

"You know there is, number one. If we are dealing with the Borg, it is quite possible that they have passed through Romulan space." Picard touched the lap computer console and a three dimensional image of the triangle appeared. Picard leaned forward as did Riker.

"See, here," the captain pointed to a red spot in the image. "that is the location of the Borg's origin according to Guinan. It also roughly corresponds to the last time we encountered them. This, is the location of the Altronin asteroid field. You can clearly see that for a Borg vessel to travel there they would have to cross through a significant portion of Romulan space. Could you possibly imagine the Borg passing the Romulan's by to reach an asteroid field? If the Romulans had encountered the Borg we would most definitely have found out about it, would we not? The only other possibility is that the deliberately went to the asteroid field, but for what reason, if it is the Borg at all. I'm almost convinced it is not."

Riker's eyebrows went up. He knew the captain had been closer to the Borg than anyone would ever care to be. "I see what you mean, either the Romulans have been very quite about this, or they have not encountered the Borg. Both possibilities seem remote at best. Could it be that the Borg came from another sector entirely?"

"Possible, number one, but as equally far fetched don't you think? Why do I keep smelling the Romulan's in all of this."

"Probably because when there is trouble about the Romulan's can't be too far away from it." Riker leaned back and sighed.

"What do you believe are best course of action is number one? If it is the Borg we could not stand up to another invasion. We got lucky last time. I don't think the Borg will ever give us a chance like that again. The Romulans will be just as difficult, though at least we know more or less what we are dealing with." Picard switched the hologram star field off.

"I say if it is the Borg we hit them with everything we have before they can respond. After that we'll have to become inventive." Riker was having his doubts. "If it is the Romulans we need to find out why they would risk a war over an asteroid field."

"I'm not so sure attacking a Borg ship would be wise. Geordi has been working very hard at improving our weapons and defensive capabilities, but as confident as I am in his abilities I don't think we could stand up to the Borg. I think we should lure it away from possible danger to others if we can, contact Starfleet via several automated probes and hope their research into weapons that can neutralize the Borg are more advanced than last we heard." Picard swivelled in his chair and rose. "Well, enough discussion, I just wanted to be sure we were agreed on our course of action. Now lets see if the long range scanners have picked up anything yet."

Riker and Picard emerged from the ready room and sat in there chairs. Picard talked to Worf. "Worf, are we getting anything on long range scan?"

"Yes, captain. Our sensors indicate nebulae gases from the explosion as well as small meteorites and dust particles. The explosion must have been of magnitude six or greater." Worf continued his scanning his readouts.

"Thank you Mr. Worf." Picard stood up and faced Data, "Data, are there any other vessels within sensor range?"

Data went through various scan settings before answering. "I am picking up no signs of any vessel within our sensor range."

"Mr. Worf, will you send a message to Starfleet command. Inform them that we will be at the given coordinates within the hour." Picard tugged his uniform straight and sat down again, obviously nervous.

"Aye sir." Worf's replied as he proceeded with the various necessary functions.

The captain's communicator beeped and the doctor's voice issued forth. "Captain, I just wanted to inform you that our medical teams are ready for immediate deployment."

"Thank you, and stand by doctor, I'll keep you informed of the situation."

After what seemed an immeasurable length of time Data spoke. "Captain, we now are entering the fringes of the Altronin asteroid field."

"On screen." Picard rose from his chair again followed by Riker and Troi.

The main viewer was replaced with a full view of the new Altronin asteroid field. Various shapes and sizes of asteroids could be seen tumbling slowly. The farther in the more dense the field became until it looked like an impenetrable wall of boulders. Data touched a few buttons and looked confused.

"What is it Data?" Picard noticed Data's practiced look of bemusement.

"I am unable to accurately scan for debris. There is an incredible amount of radiation and high level band emissions interfering with our sensors. I am only able to scan an area of several kilometres with any accuracy. The closer in to the field the higher the interference. I have found nothing so far." Data continued scanning relentlessly.

"Mr. Worf will you relay that information to Starfleet Command?" Picard looked at the debris in the main viewer.

Worf looked irritated after touching his panel several times. "Sir, the interference is too great to guarantee that a transmission will be sent intact."

"Understood, Mr. Worf. We were asked to stay in contact at all times. Helmsman, would you move us just far enough away from the asteroid field to make a safe transmission?" Picard saw the Ensign respond immediately.

Data was busy trying everything he could think of to penetrate the interference and had limited success. "The coordinates the Admiral gave us do not show any sign of the Tecton, however, the ship may have drifted. Our sensors are badly hampered because of the interference so I can not be absolutely sure of the accuracy of the readings." Picard thought about what Data had just said then looked hard at the main viewer as though his sight could pick out what the sensors had missed.

"Data how far in could we bring the Enterprise into the field?" Data answered in his normal voice. "Not very far, sir."

Picard looked at him from the main viewer. "Explain."

"Certainly, sir. Since this is a newly formed asteroid field, the asteroids in it have not yet reached a steady state and their trajectories are unstable. Bringing the Enterprise too close into the denser clusters would jeopardize the ship since it would not be able to manoeuvre quick enough." Data raised an eyebrow waiting for the captain's response.

"Very well Mr. Data, keep us in this position and do a wide level scan of the area. How far have you been able to make the sensors penetrate?"

Picard waited a very short time for Data's calculations.

"The sensors are unable to penetrate deeply. Dependable readings can only be confirmed out to a distance of twenty kilometres. Various energy fluctuations and high level particle emissions are interfering significantly. It would appear that the high concentrations of heavy radioactive elements in the asteroids and the fact that residual radiation still persists due to the explosion not long ago would account for part of the interference." Data looked puzzled again.

"What do you mean, part of the interference?" Picard said.

"The interference our sensors are experiencing that should occur from this type of explosion is calculated to be much lower than observed. Either our sensors are defective or our basic assumptions about the formation of this asteroid field are incorrect."

Picard leaned forward, "Keep on it Mr. Data, we have enough mysteries to solve right now without another one."

Picard turned around to face Worf. "Worf, any sign of the Tecton on our sensors yet? Debris, lifepods, anything?" Picard was getting impatient.

"Too much interference, but the readings I have so far are negative." Worf looked grim again as usual.

Picard's gaze took in the crew and stopped on Riker. "Well, number one, it would seem the Tecton has disappeared. Any suggestions?"

"We could send in a shuttlecraft to try and locate the Tecton and then fly another in with medical help if needed. The shuttlecrafts are manoeuvrable enough to avoid the drifting asteroids, as long as we can stay in contact I think it's our best chance of locating the Tecton." Will stared at the main viewer, trying to think of other options but none were immediately forthcoming.

"Agreed, number one." Riker was slightly surprised at the captain's quick acceptance of his suggestion, but responded to it nevertheless.

"Mr Data, LaForge please go to shuttlebay two and prepare to do a sweeping run fifty kilometres inside the asteroid field. Keep in contact with the ship at all times. "Data and LaForge rose from their respective posts and met in the turbolift. Geordi touched his communicator. "Geordi to Mr. Barclay."

"Here, commander." Barclay answered after a brief pause.

"I'll be unable to meet you for the shield tests. Carry them out with the help of Ensign Roche. I'll talk to you later and go over the results." Geordi and Data were almost at the shuttlebay.

"Yes, sir." Came Barclay's response.

In a few minutes Data and Geordi were in shuttlebay two and aboard the El-Baz.

The shuttlecraft cleared the main doors and Data piloted the El-Baz into the asteroid field, his mind doing slightly better than three trillion calculations a minute to compensate for the sensory input of the drifting asteroids, the majority of it optical. Data was correct in assuming the Enterprise could not have manoeuvred safely through the field. In his estimate the Enterprise would have sustained considerable damage already and they were only into the field to a depth of twenty seven kilometres. The asteroids were becoming very densely packed and Data had to bump the shuttle's deflectors off of some of the smallest asteroids to avoid the larger ones.

At a depth of thirty six kilometres they encountered debris and a disabled ship, drifting. It was what was left of the USS Tecton. They flew in close and quickly determined that all personnel were dead. The hull of the ship looked to have been peeled apart. All decks were exposed to vacuum and there were no life signs at all. Data and LaForge approached the dissected vessel and prepared to board her. Perhaps they could find answers inside.

The broken message received by Picard and the crew was quite clear in its meaning. There would be no rescue mission, only an investigation, one that Picard feared would lead to a very bad conclusion.

Monday, September 11, 2006

left right right left


Now that my script is done (well draft 1 anyhow) I’m floating in a sea of happiness and turmoil.

Kinda swirling around the drain of pleasure with the unknown pipe leading to what - a septic tank or a Caribbean lagoon?

Yeah, whatever.

So, been concentrating on my other blog “Reader’s Den” the past few days. Getting posts set up for the next two weeks and then coming over here to update on what it is I’ve been supposed to be doing . . .

. . . like an ebook. Which I think is the correct way to write ebook, not E-Book or E-book or any other abomination I’ve thrown at you the last few weeks. Sorry, if you are one of those anal (hey-you-ass-you-didn’t-write-that-correctly) types.

So, about that ebook. I’m getting a little nervous about the whole thing. Nervous because I haven’t figured out exactly how to do it using my Movie Magic Screenwriter program, which is all I have for creating PDF files. It is capable of achieving all that I want, but I’m not sure my grey matter will figure out the details in time for Halloween - the, gulp, “deadline”

But that is quite a while from now, isn’t it? Oh, and just as a treat I”m going to include a story never-before-seen from me. Yup something totally new, not just rehashed sidebar tales which you can read and re-read and send links to publishers and friends if you like - I don’t mind.

Pictures are what I worry most about. I’ve kinda asked each contributor to give me an image to go with their story, but um, not sure how to insert all this good stuff into the Screenwriter program.

Aren’t computers supposed to make our lives easier? I know, and they were supposed to create a paperless environment too - so how come we make printers that can spew out a hectare of forest in about two minutes, eh?

So, you can see I have some work set out for myself in the next few weeks. I’ll report if I’ve had any success next week.

Oh, reading night for our group is this coming Saturday night. I may have some info about what went on there and a guestimate about how many short stories will appear in the ebook to come.

And, lastly, I have been spending a bit of time going over my Star Trek novel (which you see starting to appear more and more here) since I kind of want it to be readable instead of hashed hack. I hope it doesn’t come off as hashed hack even though (can you believe it) it was written 15 years ago. I'll keep posting more of it until it is complete here by Dec 25 this year.

Ooooh, another self-imposed deadline. What can I say, I'm a self-sadist.

Holy ole crap, but where does the time go anyhow?

On a personal note. I have an absolute deadline of 85 months at the official slave pits. I know that is a lot of cracked rocks, but as I mentioned earlier - where the hell does the time go.

Keep writing and don’t let adversity fly into the crotch of your twin towers . . .

Er, um, I know - poor and in bad taste Sept 11th humour . . .

. . . but what do you expect from a twisted mind anyhow?

Until next Monday.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My ST:TNG Novel Drone - Chapter Two

Drone: Chapter Two
by Paul Darcy

Julie-Anne's parents activated the door to their quarters. All was quiet inside and the lights were dimmed as they had left them upon going out. The door to Julie-Anne's bedroom was closed.

Mr. Lasalle approached and opened it to see the sleeping figure of Julie-Anne on the bed while Julie-Anne's mother began removing her jewelry in the other room. He looked around in the shadows and noticed that she had cleaned her room as instructed. He was mildly surprised and elated. He thought Julie-Anne would be too tired after the game to do as he had instructed, but she must have found enough energy to clean up her clothes. Perhaps she did listen to him once in a while. He had been led to believe that when children reach double digits in age they are supposed to enter the age of rebelliousness and he feared Julie-Anne was headed in that direction.

During their routine sessions with councillor Troi, she had assured them that most children go through a phase where they don't listen to their parents and need to feel independent by doing only what they want. But if this clean room was any indication of her behaviour maybe they wouldn't have trouble from her after all. Troi did say most, not all. He pulled the blankets up to Julie-Anne's chin and kissed her forehead.

Mr. Lasalle returned to the main room and removed the cufflinks given to him from his wife on their tenth anniversary. He reached down to the table to put them away and found the box he kept them in missing. "Dear, have you seen my cufflinks box?" He asked his wife looking around the room for other obvious spots where he might have left it.

"No, I thought you left it on the table? Is Julie-Anne asleep?" She said sleepily. It was late and she had an early shift tomorrow.

"Yes, she is asleep, and she cleaned her entire room. I could hardly recognize it." He still mulled about looking for the missing box.

"Really. I told you she would. She may have a mind of her own but she does what she is told, most of the time. Maybe you left it in our bedroom." She added when she noticed he still hadn't found the box.

"No, its not in here." Came his distracted voice from their bedroom. "That is strange. Where could it have gone?"

"I found it." Mrs. Lasalle replied opening a storage drawer. She took it and held it out to her returning husband. "It was in the drawer with my jewelry box. That's funny. You must be getting old not remembering where you put it." She joked and received a pat on the behind and a warm hug form her husband.

"Very funny indeed. I'm not that old yet, but I'll have the doctor run a full scan on me tomorrow if you like, just in case." He put the cufflinks away in the box and took them into the bedroom. Mrs. Lasalle followed smiling, pushing the whole incident from her tired mind.

* * *

Riker and Deanna had planned to have a late dinner together at the end of their shifts, but that wasn't likely to happen now. The mood on the bridge had changed. Data, sitting at science station one, was rapidly absorbing and compiling information as fast as the computer could supply it to him for the briefing in thirty minutes.

Troi looked over at Riker in the wake of the silence left by the captain's departure. "Commander, I believe this could be very unsettling for the captain just now. He has been though a lot lately. The Borg are a force I'm not sure he is ready to deal with again so soon."

Riker frowned over a Deanna. "I'm not convinced anybody is ready for the Borg again this soon. Me included, if it really is the Borg and I can't think why not. Starfleet hasn't had near enough time yet. We would need another six months at the least just to replace the crews and ships lost at Wolf 359. As, for the captain. Starfleet believes he's ready so don't worry Deanna, the captain will be fine, as long as we look out for him a little." Deanna produced a weak smile at that, "Perhaps you are right Will, let’s wait until after the briefing before we pass judgement."

* * *

Picard hesitated inside the turbo lift a moment, then gave a verbal order. " Deck ten." The turbo lift shot off at it's usual quick pace and Picard found himself rubbing his hands together for no apparent reason. He found it hard to believe the Borg could have returned to Federation space so soon. Perhaps their ability to be a linked unit extended to all Borg everywhere, not just those sharing a ship. How would he deal with them this time if they could be dealt with at all. No, he was jumping to conclusions. They had no definite proof that it was the Borg. Picard rubbed his hand over his face just before the turbo lift doors opened to admit him to deck ten. He followed the corridor for several paces and stopped before the large, double, wood simulated doors to ten forward. He knew he would come here even before he was fully conscience of the decision. He moved forward and the doors moved aside to admit him to the lounge.

Inside were several off duty personnel sharing a drink, completely unaware of the danger before them for the moment. Word had a way of leaking out very quickly. Then again, the captain thought, the crew were always facing danger, hardly new to them now after three and a half years in space aboard the Enterprise. He walked over to the bar and sat down on a stool. Guinan was serving drinks to a couple of lieutenants. When she had finished she came promptly over.

"What can I do for you, captain?" Guinan asked in her usual tone. The captain looked up at her, grateful to have somebody to talk to, someone he didn't have to act as a superior to all the time, somebody with a wealth of wisdom he was hoping she would share with him.

"Guinan, I believe the proper question should be, what can I get you, isn't it? " the captain looked all too unconvincingly like all he really wanted was a drink.

"No, I think if you had come in for a drink you would have asked for one straight off. I think I know you pretty well. You see, when you come in here and look at me first I know you want a drink, but when you come in here and look at the bar first I know you want to talk, unless I am mistaken." Guinan looked far from mistaken.

Picard looked uneasy for a moment before he spoke. He took a deep inhalation of breath rubbed his hand across his mouth and then began. "Guinan, I've asked you for information on this in the past, and I believe you told me all you know, but I would feel better knowing that were true."

In the brief pause Guinan says, "So, ask."

"Guinan what do you know of the Borg?" Picard looked a bit foolish. He probably had more information having been part of the collective, but he always valued her opinion on any matter. She had a way of seeing things he would sometimes not think of.

Guinan pretended to look surprised, "Well, they destroyed my world. They don't negotiate very well and they take what they want, apart from that there isn't much I can say. I can tell you they first appeared from the Striata Nebulae, though that may not be where they originated. My people tried everything they could think of for a peaceful solution, but there just wasn't one. I'm sorry I can't be of more help captain. Captain, have there been reports of another Borg ship?" Guinan asked coaxing the captain on.

The captain looked up at Guinan. "You are nothing if not perceptive, Guinan. It may be the Borg, I'll know more after the briefing in half an hour when we view the transmission from the Tecton. If it is the Borg, I'm not sure I'll know how to proceed."

"Proceeding isn't the hard part, it's proceeding in the right direction that is tricky. You'll do exactly what you have to. Everyone on board know's that. Everybody trusts you."

"But what if I'm wrong. The lives that were lost the last time."

"Were not your fault." Guinan cut in. "The Borg don't reason like we do. They just take what they want in any way they can. You know that. You made decisions last time and you'll make decisions this time too."

"I just hope they are the right ones. I’m not sure I can face them again, Guinan. Do you have any idea what they did to me? My entire soul was violated, my life's memories were stolen from me and used for destruction. The knowledge and memories stripped from me were the cause of so much death. I can't make that mistake again."

"All humans make mistakes. Its what defines them, makes them learn and grow. Some make more than others but that's part of what being human is all about. Anyway, you had no choice. The Borg give no options except the ones they dole out. You will do the right thing and we will all be behind you. I think it's time you ordered a drink, the usual."

"Yes, that would be fine. Thank you Guinan." Picard looked a little better and watched as Guinan moved over to the bar's replicator to order up his drink. She came back quickly and set it down in front of him, then started wiping the bar to let him know she was still available if he wanted to talk, or equally unavailable if he didn't.

The captain sat for a while and drank, then abruptly rose and exited ten forward. In a few brisk steps he was in the turbolift and on his way to his quarters for a sonic shower and a few minutes of relaxation before the briefing.

* * *

Data arrived at the observation lounge and proceeded to organize his presentation. He had been compiling information for this session for a solid eighteen minutes. He needed only twelve more to completely ready his presentation to be the most succinct and effective he could make it in the allotted time. Data connected the meeting rooms display systems to the ships computer so the pertinent information could be reviewed when needed during the briefing, then began to arrange a logical series of information steps that would reveal all available details.

As Data worked diligently, Riker, Worf and Geordie entered the room. Data quickly accessed his internal clock, ran a quick diagnostic of his sub-routines and confirmed that all his systems were functioning properly and in fact Riker, Worf and Geordie had arrived early. Seven minutes, twenty seven point six three seconds early to be exact. Nobody spoke, and the three proceeded to sit at the large oval table while Data continued his efforts. Shortly after, Beverly and Deanna came in and also and took there seats without comment. There was an uneasy tension in the room and each crew member looked at the other and exchanged reassuring smiles though none felt reassured.

Captain Picard arrived promptly on time and was the last to arrive. He looked refreshed and Troi felt that his initial tension seemed greatly reduced though he was understandably very concerned about this briefing. Picard sat at the head of the table and looked at Data who had now stood and was half facing the viewer and the assembly.

The captain looked around at his senior officers, then back to Data. He did not look forward to this at all. No briefing involving the loss of Starfleet personnel was ever pleasant, and the possibility of Borg involvement cast an even darker shadow on the whole incident. "Well, it appears as though we are all present. Mr. Data will you proceed."

Data nodded and began immediately. "As admiral Rhoulin already informed us, at o-eight hundred hours yesterday the USS Luffton received a heavily garbled distress call from the USS Tecton, a geological survey ship recently sent to study the newly formed Altronin asteroid field. The Luffton is an almost fully automated ore freighter with a crew compliment of three. It was flying a routine cargo run from the Brittana mines in the Drax system to the refineries on Tri Seti Six when it intercepted the distress call from the Tecton. It was the only Starfleet vessel to do so."

Data touched the control pad of the meeting room viewer and a star field appeared. A bright red line traced its way across the star field. "This was the registered flight path of the Luffton and here," a blue dot began to pulsate at one point along the red line, "is where the distress call was received."

"Where is the Romulan Neutral zone compared to this?" Riker wanted to see more pieces of the puzzle displayed. He wasn't yet convinced that the Romulans weren't somehow involved in this. Or maybe he was hoping only the Romulans were involved.

Data touched another control and a region of the star field was sectioned off in green indicating the Neutral zone. "As you can see, the Tecton's call originated from the Altronin asteroid field which is bordering the neutral zone, though still technically within Federation space."

There were no more immediate questions so Data loaded the distress call for playback. "Here is the audio and visual recording of the distress call, enhanced by Starfleet." Data sat down and touched the pad once more. The lights automatically dimmed for better viewing. This was the moment when some of their questions may be answered or perhaps just lead to many more. The message started and quickly consumed all of their attentions.

The garbled image of the Tecton's captain appeared, haggard and upset. The signal faded in and out but was clear enough to make out with concentration. "To all Federation vessels within range, this is captain Holesworth of the USS Tecton. We need assistance immediately. As we entered into the Altronin asteroid field we encountered another vessel, cube-like in shape, but motionless." A blast rocks the Tecton and the captain is jostled out of camera range. He gets back into view with small fires blazing on the bridge behind him and the red alert siren screaming. "This vessel approached but would not answer any of our hails. It is now firing on us, evasive manoeuvres are useless in the field, our shields are failing... "

The screen abruptly blacked out and Data rose and the lights came back up. "It appears as though the Tecton was fired upon by what the captain described as, a cube-like vessel." The playback brought back to all in the room the many recent memories of the Borg incursion.

Picard leaned forward and said. " Data, could you confirm the authenticity of the distress signal?"

"Yes, captain. It would appear to be genuine though I can not be absolutely positive due to the degradation of the signal." Data looked deep in thought.

"Data, any idea on why the signal was so weak and only reached the Luffton? That doesn't make much sense, it would take incredible interference to block a sub-space distress signal. Could there be enough residual radiation from the stars collapse to account for it?" Geordie was running all the possibilities he could think of through his mind that could block the signal.

Data answered. "The Altronin asteroid field is composed mostly of planetary remains, torn apart by the explosion of their large star. This phenomenon occurred three thousand and seventeen years ago. Initial Starfleet automated long distance surveys indicate this is a normal asteroid field, thought the Tecton’s mission was to conduct a thorough survey of the field. There are several forms of high level radiations which could account for the interference, however, none strong enough have ever been discovered to date in any asteroid field."

Worf piped up. "Romulans. They could be using their cloaking technology somehow to block the signal and create a false distress call."

"That is a possibility, however slim. The Tecton is recorded missing and not responding to subspace hails.” Data added.

Riker interjected. "As much as I want to believe it, this just doesn't sound like the work of the Romulans. They may block signals, but to attack a Federation ship without provocation? It sounds too much like the Borg. Who else would attack an unarmed research vessel? A cube-like vessel also? This can't be coincidence, could it?" Riker hated the possibility that it could be the Borg but felt it should be pursued.

Data cut back in with more information. "Commander, although the vessel is described as cube-like that does not immediately implicate the Borg. There are sixteen known species of interstellar races which employ what could be termed cube-like vessels. It also seems unlikely that a Borg vessel could have penetrated into Federation space from the Romulan border without bringing attention to itself much sooner."

Picard turned to Worf. "Mr. Worf, any indication of the Romulans building up along this area of the Neutral zone?"

"None, sir. All recent reports indicate the Romulans are maintaining regular patrols. There is also no indication that the Romulans have encountered a Borg vessel. I doubt they could hide the fact if that were true. That is why I think the Romulans are somehow behind this, though I don't know how, yet." Worf scowled, unable to vent his frustration in a true Klingon fashion.

Troi followed Worf's lead. "Could this be a trick of the Romulans then, and to what purpose?" She looked at Data who answered.

"I do not have enough information to conclude what or who caused this. It is also possible that we are dealing with new a race entirely." Data waited to field more questions.

Doctor Crusher asks, "Could there still be survivors from the Tecton. We can't be certain that it was destroyed. The ship’s crew may have escaped in pods." The doctor showed her usual concern.

"That is also a possibility doctor." Data concludes, "However, based on the facts we have, it is highly unlikely."

"Unlikely or not, doctor you are to arrange a medical team in case there are survivors. Data, how long before we reach the Altronin asteroid field?" Picard asked.

"We will reach the field in six point three hours."

Riker added one more comment. "The patrolling Romulan ships along the Neutral zone. Would they have been close enough to pick up the distress call, provided they aren't behind this entire incident?"

Worf answered. "The closest estimate of a Romulan vessel would make it near enough to have received the distress call from the neutral zone."

"So it would seem that even if this isn't something the Romulans have instigated they are most likely going to be involved anyway." Riker didn't like any of this at all. He looked over at the Captain trying to judge his reactions, but as always he was cool in appearance.

The captain fielded Riker's look. "I believe our questions will be answered in about six hours. Geordie just in case, will you review all available information on the Borg weapons and prepare our defences. Thank you Mr Data. If anyone has anything else." The captain looked around but nobody offered any more comments. "Very well then lets all get some rest, I believe we should get very busy soon."

Monday, September 04, 2006

butt cheeks meet bootheels

I have some information I must share. And as you may already know it ties directly to deadlines - or the missing of them.

First I must say that a deal was struck, a contract formed, an unwritten trust assigned to two individuals and something fell off the rails, somewhere.

Inexcusable, is the word which sums up a certain individual’s behaviour best. Said individual entered into the deadline contract with the best of intentions and was working very hard to meet it.

Nothing was to interfere with meeting the deadline. Nothing at all. But, as time slipped closer to midnight on September 1st, it became apparent that nothing could be done.

In short, the deadline was not met. Somebody must have checked their email all day, even up to midnight on the 1st. But the agreed upon script did not show up in any in-basket.

So, with that said, somebody’s ass must be kicked far past Haliburton, and on, perhaps, all the way to Baffin Island. And, no amount of grovelling, excuses, elocution, or anything (even cash) will put this to rights.

He must be brought before his peers and duly lambasted, heckled and then yes, kicked all the way.

Even this humiliation may not be enough. Perhaps said individual’s name should be displayed for all to see, this individual who can’t meet a simple deadline on a blood oath. Yes, that may be appropriate.

Did he really try, I wonder. Or did he goof off and play computer games. Did he simply spend the time reading books, or playing with his daughter? Perhaps we will never know the real reason (other than sloth, of course) as to why this deadline was not met.

Maybe his laptop died? Yeah, that must be the official reason. But, how hard can it be to take your backup someplace else. I mean, there was an entire six weeks between contract and due date. Nope, dead computer does not cut it here.

You probably think I’m stalling here. Should I poke the finger in the eye of this ingrate?

Should I merely file it away in the recesses of my brain as a failure of character?

Can this individual ever truly be trusted again to complete assignments on time?

Ripe for ridicule, this individual must pay somehow. Maybe, at the next reading night at our house, this PDM (premeditated-deadline-misser) should be tarred and feathered?

It would be a fitting punishment for the crime.

Plus, he may be so embarrassed as to never try such a stunt again. At least he would know that dire consequences follow missing a deadline.

Truth! I speak the truth now. Two men entered (the contract) and one man left. To decipher this mess, take the first letter of each paragraph and string them together. Now, where did I put my boot!
.............................................................................

Okay, enough with the cryptic crap. On to the usual Twisted Mind ramblings.

I am a happy camper today because it is done. But I’m not stopping there. Next up is an E-Book, an idea to get a finished story from each of our “regular” reading night crew together into an E-Book, which would then be distributed to each of our respective websites and blogs for free download to the world.

Cool idea, I think. Oh, deadline for this little project? Why, Halloween, of course.

But I really need the story and image by September 30th. Call this deadline number 1. If you miss it - you are out. Simple as that.

How it works. Each author will supply their story in RTF (Rich Text Format) and email it to me. I also need and image (not too big) to accompany each submitted story but that is optional. I will then make up the E-Book and distribute by Halloween.

Images can be anything from photos, to drawings, doodles, paintings or even xeroxes of your own butt (but I would not suggest this).

The only outstanding item will be the actual cover for the E-Book. We need something eye-catching I think. We will talk next reading night about this I hope.

Looking forward to this a lot. Should be fun and long overdue.
.........................................................................

And one other thing of significance. I noticed (and it bugs the hell out of me, don’t know about you) that I have in my right margin this novel in 13 chapters. Only problem is, I keep looking at only 1 chapter.

What the hell is up with this? Yeah, I ask the same question each visit here too.

So, as a commitment to you (the reader) I’m going to be putting up the rest of the novel and a deadline. Why Christmas day of course.

So, my present to you will be the complete Star Trek: Next Generation Novel “DRONE”

Tingling yet. That’s not all . . .

Well, okay it is. This post is getting too long.

Until next Monday when I return with a soar foot from all the butt kicking.

Keep writing!