Star Trek: Enterprise, The Open Door is written by taralon. I have put it into the Creative Writing Archive for ease of reading. Chapter 1 “Those are the plates that were beginning to buckle in the last test Jon, I think we need to get a team in to add additional bracing.” Jonathon looked at the ventral plating that Commander Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker had them hovering under, and gave a nod as he saw the telltale rainbow coloring of strained plating. “We’re going to have to do that. We don’t want those plates coming apart at warp four point five that’s for sure. How long will it set us back?” Jonathan Archer looked over at his chief engineer who had already started entering data into the work pad he had strapped to one thigh. “I’ve already got the bracing ready to install we just need to get a team out and on the hull to pull the plating and put them in. Say ten, twelve hours? They should be able to work on it while waiting for the dorsal plating that still needs to be replaced.” Jon gave a satisfied nod at that. That the Enterprise was only a few days out from finally being ready to work, mechanically at least, was nothing short of a miracle. The Vulcans had been obstinate about the design from the very beginning. It was too fast, not tested enough, too well armed, all of which were laughable. It was fast though how much so in comparison to the newest of Vulcan cruisers, was hard to say. Jon had read the intelligence reports, and while he wasn't sure if they could out run one, he'd bet that they could give them one hell of a chase. It was well armed because the Vulcans had spent the last one hundred years telling humanity how dangerous surrounding space was. It was not tested because it was an experimental ship. “Those…phased cannons that Starfleet has spent so much time researching?” Jonathon himself was more than a little miffed about the last minute addition to the armament of the ship. They had pulled eight tried and proven pulse cannon turrets for a basically unproven weapons system. Those systems alone were going to push back the launch date by weeks. “The components are here for the projectors, but Starfleet design is still working on the designs for the mounting systems and power supply. They’re supposed to be pulling power directly from the EPS manifold but it’s all still theoretical. Besides weapons systems are Lieutenant Reed’s responsibility and he doesn’t like it when I step on his toes.” Jon could tell that Trip was going to rant more about the weapons, which he possibly disliked the last minute addition of even more than his Captain, but Trip was interrupted by the beeping of the workpod’s communicator. “Orbital six.” “Captain Archer, Commander Tucker, sirs.” There was the obvious compression warble in the voice, caused by the encryption that it had to undergo to talk with a Starfleet vessel, even one in earth orbit. “Go ahead.” Jon was tired of the constant interruptions. He could not even get a fly around of his ship, one that was due to refit and launch again in a few weeks time without being interrupted for one meeting or another with the damned Vulcans. “Admiral Forrest needs you both at Starfleet Medical right away.” Jon contained the sigh that tried to force its way through his lips. He shared a look with his chief engineer and future executive officer and gave a nod. Jon cast his gaze over the Enterprise once again as the work pod turned away from the ship. Just visible past her bulk another two spacedocks could be seen each holding the skeletal frame of the Enterprise’s sisters. Humanity would reach for the stars and would claim them, rather than meekly flitting about. ****** Starfleet medical incredibly busy when Trip, and Archer arrived. The Vulcans were already present, already arguing with his superiors in Starfleet when they arrived. “Admiral Forrest.” Jon said, restrained enough Trip thought. It would take someone who knew him as long as Trip and the Admiral had to hear the frustration in his voice. Trip was content to let Jon take the lead as he could already tell that the Vulcans were somewhat upset he was here as well. Then again, being the de facto head of a not so secret, and moderately successful effort to back engineer Vulcan technology from observation and mostly invalid sensor logs had that effect around Vulcans. They disliked knowing that someone as volatile as he was; was perhaps more intelligent than they were. “Jon, Trip I think you know everyone.” Forrest’s tone was brisk, and sounded nearly as frustrated as Trip felt. Trip looked over everyone quickly noting that there were a couple faces that he did indeed not recognize. A female Vulcan, odd that, one rarely saw them outside of the Vulcan compound mainly due to the fact of their superior sense of smell. Or. The other was the being on the biobed behind the observation window. “Not everyone.” Archer said walking over to the observation window. “Who, what is he?” “He’s a Klingott.” Admiral Leonard said loudly only to be corrected moments later by the male Vulcan that Trip did not remember the name of. “A KlingON.” “Where’d he come from?” Archer asked, and Trip gave an internal sigh of relief and stepped unobtrusively into the background. Best that everyone just even forget he was here. Trip observed the Vulcans from where he stood, the female one in particular. They thought that they had their emotions completely in check, but after being around so many of them, while working on the Warp 5 project he had been able to learn to read them, more or less. This one did not look particularly happy to be here, but she showed at least more interest in him and the Captain than the other two did. “Oklahoma. A corn farmer named Moore shot him with a plasma rifle, after the Klingon blew up a grain silo that two other aliens chased him into. Moore claims it was self defense, Starfleet is inclined to believe him.” Forrest advised. Trip gave a nod and a low whistle, wondering what it was like to come face to face with that in a cornfield after an explosion. “Fortunately Soval and I have both been in contact with the Klingons before. They are a warrior people, one much concerned with honor. Should the full story of this incident come to their attention, no doubt you would be facing a full squadron of battlecruisers by the end of the year.” The older Vulcan Ambassador said condescendingly. Trip frowned at the words, which drew a questioning lift of the brow from the female. He gave her a glare in return before pointedly turning his attention back to the alien on the biobed. “Evidently this, Klaang, was carrying crucial information back to his people, on Qo’nos. The Vulcans want to delay your launch until this can all be cleared up.” Forrest continued, not batting an eye at the earlier interruption. Trip bit his lip at that. They were always coming up with one reason or another to delay the launch of the NX class vessel, as if humanity was not already out there among the stars. There were hundreds of freighters and Starfleet ships plying the space around Sol. Humanity was already out there, the Vulcans were only desperately grasping at straws to hold them back. At least this one was more imaginative than the last delay. “We will deliver Klaang’s corpse for a proper burial.” Soval said smoothly and without hesitation. Trip looked up at that, as did his Captain. The alien looked far from dead, true he did not look good, but he was definitely not dead. “Corpse? Corpse? Excuse me, is this Klingon going to die?” Jon strode into the medical atrium, demanding information from the Doctors therein. “Excuse me, is this man dead? Is he going to die?” Trip kept his eyes on the Vulcans, the two familiar faces were livid with rage, the female well she seemed to be more intrigued and amused than anything else. The Denobulan’s answer was muffled by the transparent aluminum wall, but Trip could still understand the words. Trip peered to try and make out the nametag, Phlox he thought it said. “Well his autonomic nervous system…” “A simple yes, or no answer will suffice doctor.” Trip hid his grin as the female Vulcan’s eyebrow raised again at Archer’s bluntness. Trip wondered if any of her companions was going to bother introducing her, or if logically, due courtesy was no longer necessary in their culture. “Short of being shot again, no.” “So, how do intend to go about killing him then? Poison? A knife in his sleep? Hardly an ‘honorable’ death for a warrior.” Archer asked as he charged back out of the isolation room. Trip joined him in staring down the triplet of Vulcans. Trip gave a short nod of agreement, thinking that being killed in a coma would be hardly honorable, and noticed that the female Vulcan did as well. At least one member of her race then saw how badly things could go for humanity if this Klaang was murdered. “Admiral, killing this man now, and taking his murdered corpse back to his people would not only be morally reprehensible, it would be the basis for a disastrous first contact. Hardly a ‘logical’ course of action.” “The Klingons, if we were able to speak to them, would demand the return of Klaang immediately. If they were to see him like this…” Soval interjected. “That’s your solution? Murder him? Admiral, don’t tell me that you are going to let them do this? With a man that landed on ‘our’ soil who is ‘our’ responsibility, how long are we going to continue to allow the Vulcans to dictate our policy.” Trip silently cheered Jon on as he took up the issue with the ranking human in the room. “Your ships are hardly up to dictating policy in this situation Captain. The fastest ship currently in your fleet would take a year to deliver Klaang back to his people. The Vulcan High Command has a course of action that you would be wise to follow. Especially until you learn restraint, and the ability to look beyond your provincial nature.” The woman, silent until now spoke up, her voice, unlike those of her companions still unaffected by emotion. “You have no idea how much we’re restraining ourselves from knocking you on your ass lady.” Trip mumbled to himself softly, but not softly enough for her eyes shot to him, and her eyebrow climbed her brow. Whatever she was going to say in reply was cut off by Admiral Forrest. “Perhaps it would be best to defer to their judgment in this case Jon.” “How long are we going to defer to their judgment Admiral? We’ve been doing so for the last hundred years.” Trip caught Jon’s look on the heels of his words, a silent plea to weigh in himself, and found his mouth opening before he had even thought of something to say. “Three days.” “What, Commander?” It was as if Trip’s presence had been forgotten by the higher ranking officers and they were calling him to task now for butting in. “Three days Admirals. It might be true that a NY would take a year or more to make the trip, but the Enterprise could make it in three, maybe four months. Three days and she’ll be ready for the flight.” Trip could not believe what a heavy burden he was placing on himself and his crews with that statement, but he knew it could be done and that it had to be done if humanity was ever going to take that next step to truly becoming a part of the galactic community. “Jon that’s crazy, surely you don’t believe it could be done. The Enterprise has not even passed trials yet.” Trip opened his mouth to speak, to answer Admiral Forrest but found Jon doing it for him. “If Commander Tucker says three days, he means three days. He’s got more hours in on the design of that ship, that engine than any other two men combined, and you all know that.” Trip felt a flush of pride go through him at his Captain’s words and gave a nod. “Dan?” Forrest asked, turning to the other Admiral. “What about your crew? You only have half a crew and your Communications officer is in Brazil on a leave of absence. You haven’t even selected a Chief Medical Officer yet.” “Three days, and a pick of anyone willing to volunteer who is already in Starfleet, that’s all I need. Give me, no give us a chance to prove we’re ready for this.” Jon pleaded. Trip could feel the tension in the room as Admiral Forrest looked from one of his fellow officers to the other. “You’ve got three days Jon, don’t let us down.” “You’re making a mistake!” Everyone in the room was surprised by Soval’s outburst, perhaps most of all Soval himself. Trip withheld a soft chuckle as Jon gave the older Vulcan a withering glare, and called him to task. “Shouting when you don’t get your way? You have been on Earth too long Soval.” Jon stated softly. The two men glared at each other for a moment, Human, Vulcan in a schoolyard staring contest. Finally Soval turned and walked out of the room, his aide following a short way behind. Trip expected the woman to immediately follow, but she stayed for a few moments more, studying the arrayed humans with a more respectful and appraising look on her face. A few moments more and she too left. “God help us, but you’ve got three days. Don’t either one of you fail, if you do there won’t be any second chances.” Forrest said softly before he and the other two Admirals filed out after the Vulcans. Trip gave a nod, and knew that Admiral Forrest meant that in more than one way. If humanity failed now, it would only be more fodder for the minority in politics to add to their attempts, and the Vulcan’s attempts to make Earth a client world of the Vulcan Republic. Jon though, Trip saw, was already working on his own problems. He was tapping on the glass and motioning the Denobulan physician over to him. ***** “I hear that they’ve approved this thing for bio-transport.” The younger man spoke. Lieutenant Reed looked over at his bridge colleague, Ensign Travis Mayweather, an acquaintance of some years. He had been the Ensign’s mentor through Starfleet Academy and had referred him to the Captain as a helm officer when he learned the sudden rush for qualified crew. Having a person already experienced at deep space missions like the Boomer, especially for a helm officer would be a good thing. Malcolm was always thinking of the safety of his ship. “I hope you mean fruits and vegetables.” Malcolm said as he eyed the device. It had been a last minute addition to the design of the Enterprise, yet another experimental device onboard from Starfleet’s top secret science teams. There had been a lot of those experiments suddenly coming out into daylight in the last few months. The phase cannons had been another, and one of which Malcolm heartily approved. He had seen what the experimental device had done on the targeting range, and he for one was appreciative of the upgrade the eight installations would give the Enterprise. Rumor had it that most of these upgrades were coming from an alien spaceship that had been found under the ice on Antarctica. “I mean armory officers and helmsmen.” Mayweather said nervously in a soft voice. Malcolm found himself in agreement with the nervousness. There was a steady stream of crew members moving through the transporter room, carrying off small supplies that they did not have time to bring up via shuttle, or which had been suddenly unexpectedly needed. The activity was mirrored all over the ship, as supplies were taken on for the upcoming voyage. “I’m not sure I’m ready to have myself compressed into a data stream. I think I’ll stick with the shuttles thank you very much Ensign.” Malcolm shared a grin with the younger man, who looked as wary as he of the transport pad. “They say it’s safe.” Malcolm took a step back as his object materialized on the pad. “They say the same about skydiving, and yet people still manage to die of accidents every year doing that.” Malcolm replied as he stepped forwards to the case. “Good point.” Malcolm opened up the case, hoping that it contained the plasma coils that were supposed to have materialized and not the EPS valves that the case was labeled as, whatever those were. He could not help the curse that came when he found the case was indeed labeled correctly. “Damn it, if I’m to have weapons online in two days, I need those plasma coils.” “Weapons? Why do we need weapons? We’re just taking an injured man back to his home.” “Have you read the briefing on these Klingons?” Malcolm answered as he closed up the case and indicated Travis to take the other end. They stood with easy teamwork that had developed over the past couple hours. Lift and carry, is what both officers had been delegated to, as neither had any pressing duties elsewhere, not at the moment at least. “They evidently sharpen their teeth before battle, and they eat their food, alive. If we want them to respect us, we may have to force that respect.” The pair moved through the corridors carrying the case past the sparking work of fleet yard welders rushing to get all the interior panels secured, and of engineering teams working to wire up all the necessary internal subsystems. Many of those panels and systems had not been scheduled for installation for weeks. Everyone was rushing now, and Malcolm was proud of these people because nobody was complaining. Everyone understood how important the Enterprise had just become. “No doubt Commander Tucker will assure me my plasma coils will be here shortly.” Malcolm said as he ducked by cables that were hanging from the corridor ceiling. He mimicked the southern officers accent as he continued. “Keep your shirt on Lieutenant, your plasma coils will be here in the morning.” “No doubt they’ll arrive with our new Vulcan science officer and second in command.” Mayweather offered. Malcolm gave a nod and a grimace as he turned a corridor. “Why the Captain ever acquiesced to having them put a watch dog like her on us I will never understand. This was supposed to be a ‘human’ ship, a chance to go out there on our own without them holding our hand, and now we’ve got one of them onboard looking over our shoulder.” Malcolm paused as he looked at a dockyard ensign recalibrating a tactical system. “It will go faster if you repolarize the system before tuning Ensign.” “Yes sir.” The tone of voice told Malcolm she already knew that, but reminding everyone in earshot that time was of the essence was not a bad thing, and neither was reminding her who would be relying upon those systems. “Well we needed the Vulcan star charts to get this Klaang home. There’s not any human ships that have ventured out that direction and returned to bring back charts, the Vulcan’s warned us off exploring in that direction.” Mayweather said softly. Malcolm gave a nod, knowing that there was truth in the Ensign’s worlds. He stepped around an open grate in the floor from which a hand was reaching for wire cutters before answering. “Seeing the data on these Klingons I don’t have to wonder why. Though I wish we would have known of this possible threat before hand.” “Is that possible threat the reason why the MACO squad has been added to your tactical team?” “Yes.” Anything more of an answer that Malcolm would have made was cut off by their entrance to engineering and the arrival of the previously mentioned Commander Tucker. The man bounded over to the pair and motioned for them to put the case down even as he was opening it. “Commander Tucker, Ensign Travis Mayweather. He just arrived a short while back.” “Ah, our Boomer. Good to meet you Ensign.” Trip said as he bounded up the platform in front of the reactor. Malcolm noticed that the helmsman was taken aback by the display before them. The Warp 5 core was a new design, smaller, more powerful than any previous cores, and seemingly radiated that power. “How fast have you gotten her?” “Warp four, we’ll hopefully be running warp four point five all the way to Qo’nos.” Trip said proudly, his hand moving over the core. Malcolm gave an internal nod at the words. Not only was this ship the fastest in Earth’s fleet, or shortly to be so, it was also the longest legged. It was designed to give warp five ability, but it was also designed for a long duration cruise speed ninety percent of that designed velocity capability. “Four point five…” There was a reverence in Travis’ tone, a feeling that Malcolm himself felt, but for the trepidation that the thought of their arrival caused. “Excuse me, but without weapons that arrival may be short lived.” Malcolm said as he set his end of the case down. “Keep your shirt on Lieutenant, your plasma coils will be here in the morning.” Malcolm shared a look with Travis as his prediction came true. His smile faded to a frown at the engineer’s next words. “Besides without these EPS valves the only thing you’d get when you tried those plasma coils would be the clicking of EM switches, those were supposed to be here yesterday.” “You don’t think that someone is trying to sabotage this mission Commander?” Malcolm had to ask the question, it had been the forefront of his mind for hours now. There were too many misrouted and mistimed shipments of goods. “I’m sure there’s nothing of the sort Lieutenant. Just basic foul ups due to the speed at which we’re trying to get things done.” “But sir, don’t you think it is excessive?” “How do you tell what is excessive Lieutenant? This is the first time someone’s tried to complete three months of work on a ship in three days, there are bound to be some foul ups. Look, we’ve got all our basic needs and a hold full of crucial components. If need be I’ll make your damn plasma coils the first week out, you’ll still have plenty of time to get them installed and tested before we arrive at Qo’nos.” Malcolm gave a sigh and a nod. He could not argue with that statement, as much as he wanted the work done now.