“Fly her apart then!”
Captain’s Personal Log, Stardate 47233.1
Captain Matsumoto Sulu
Excelsior was shaking, every seal and rivet rattling as the old girl strained at Warp 9.9, the equivalent of Warp 14 back in the early days. This is faster than she would have made even if the trans-warp drive had come off, and really ran the risk of us “flying her apart!” But we needed the speed.
I didn’t do this in a rash moment, blood rushing to my head. Chief Engineer Resh and Engineer Tokhtakhounov worked out a considered plan, based on Tokhtakhounov’s skills with support from First Officer Rekan’s insights into theoretical Warp Field dynamics. As a team we tested and prepared, as a team we considered the risks, as Excelsior’s Chief Engineer Resh advised me that we could do it, and as Captain I said “let’s do it!.” And it worked: sustained Warp 9.9 for over 24 hours. What a team!
I was never much for Engineering school at the academy: quantum physics, warp dynamics and dense mathematics were too involved for me! But since I’ve been Excelsior’s Captain, with Resh’s expertise available to me, I’ve become quite the warp engine enthusiast. And this experiment, taking Excelsior faster than she’s ever been before, was a terrifying delight! She cruises comfortably at Warp 9 (that’s Warp 11.5 in old money), and can take Warp 9.6 for extended periods, if she has to (Warp 12.6 back in the day). She still surprises me, and the admiration I have for her designers and builders, and for all those engineers and mechanics who have looked after her for all these years, only increases.
I say “experiment”, but this was no fun warp engine trial. My earlier log entries cover the incident with Poseidon’s Rift, our rescue / policing mission that diverted us from tracking down this alien signal that goes ever deeper into the Shackleton Expanse.
Well, we had calculated that we would still be well ahead of the Romulans and their Warbird, IRW Devian, under the command of Captain Nurama. You can imagine my surprise when Rekan told me he’d scanned the Devian, ahead of us and travelling at Warp 9! This was new: all our intelligence about the Warbird told us they were slow compared to us, with speeds beyond Warp 8 beyond them. In our current position, and even with pressing Excelsior to her so-called maximum, Warp 9.6, they would arrive at the new source of the signal 24 hours ahead of us.
They could do a lot of damage in 24 hours.
So, we shifted to Warp 9.9 for three hours, hoping to make the Romulans push their warp engines even harder and maybe blow a gasket, but what had started as a bluff didn’t work – they didn’t slow.
So, sustained Warp 9.9 it was. And it worked: we arrived in the star system a few hours before the Romulans, Excelsior suffering no ill-effects from her exertions, even if the warp engines would need some servicing before we pushed them so hard again. We tracked the signal to a small asteroid, hollowed out but protected by a shield, before Devian fell out of warp and joined us.
It was immediately clear what they had done, and our debate over the warp capabilities of the Warbird was settled: Nurama had pushed Devian hard to keep the ship at Warp 9, and the Warbird had suffered. She was listing badly, drifting towards us, her warp core running wild and explosions rocking her badly. A quick scan revealed the depth of her trouble and showed the depths of their determination to keep ahead of us.
I hailed, offering our assistance but expecting a short rejection. I was answered by the First Officer, Andeel, Captain Nurama having suffered terrible injuries. Andeel was only too happy for our aid. He realised that without our help they were all-but doomed.
Doctor Ketsu beamed across with a triage team, and Resh with an engineering team, supported by Lieutenant Torgh and a security detail, in case of Romulan deceit. Engineer Tokhtakhounov manned the sensors, his expertise with cloaking devices helping him search for a covert threat that is an ever-present concern when dealing with the Romulans.
Ketsu reported that the Romulans had suffered 300 dead, one-fifth of their whole complement. Many were wounded, about 20 critically, including Captain Nurama. Ketsu returned to begin trauma surgery, and his skill and that of his team, allied with his extensive knowledge of Vulcan physiology (very similar to Romulan), allowed him to save Nurama’s life. In fact, every critical casualty that we beamed to Excelsior survived – again, testament to my wonderful crew.
Aboard Devian Resh first managed the radiation leaks that continued to threaten everyone, then turned to help bring the Devian’s warp engines under control. This was not easy: Romulan warp technology is based on quantum singularities, very unlike our matter-antimatter technology. But again, the expertise of my Chief Engineer and his team made quick work of the problems, and within hours the danger was behind us.
It was in the quiet after the storm that we returned our attention to the signal and the asteroid, but this time I took the chance I’d missed a few weeks ago, to propose an alliance between Excelsior and Devian, so we could join forces and search together.
This may be doubly important if the civilisation behind the signal turns out to be hostile, although I am not blind to the risk of allying with the Romulans. We can’t trust them, and yet this is possibly a unique opportunity to extend the hand of friendship to our erstwhile rivals and adversaries: one that I’m not going to ignore, even if that comes with some risk to my ship and my crew. Risk is part of the deal, as a Starfleet officer.
I’m glad to say the Romulans agreed. A joint away team managed to access the asteroid, only for the signal to drop and yet another new one appear far in the distance. The next leg of the trek beckons…
Captain’s Log, Supplemental:
One more thing: despite the desperate need to bring the Devian under control and give aid to her crew we didn’t miss the opportunity to gather some intelligence on the Romulans and their Warbird: we now know that the crew complement is about 1500, nearly double that of Excelsior; we also know that sustaining their engines at Warp 9 is far beyond the Warbird’s operating parameters; Resh learned much about their engineering set-up and their quantum singularity warp drive, and from that we will be able to deduce much more; Ketsu knows much about their medical needs; and Torgh didn’t miss the opportunity to observe Romulan security and tactical crew, their weapons and stance in the face of Federation rescuers all over their ship.
I’ve submitted a formal report of our findings to Starfleet, using priority encoded subspace channels. It may add to our body of knowledge, against the day that the Romulans, and my new friend Captain Nurama, become our mortal enemies…