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Episode 4: Prelude to War, Pt. 1: Sensor Upgrade

by Justin(e) Norton-Kertson

originally published in Headcanon Magazine

Captain’s Log: Stardate 64990.6 My father… 


“Computer, pause—This isn’t my personal log. I can’t be so informal—Computer, delete and resume.”


Grand Nagus Rom sent three squadrons of ships that arrived about an hour ago. They are a welcome addition to the fleet that has been gathering to defend against the Undine incursion, especially given what the Nagus had to go through to make it happen. Not everyone on Ferenginar is happy about the decision to get involved in the affairs of the Hu-mans. It’s understandable, given that the Ferengi have never been a militaristic people. In true Ferengi fashion, most prefer to aid war efforts through business transactions. 


The reinforcements arrived just in time. We received a report prior to their arrival that a contingent of Undine fighters have broken off from their fleet’s holding place near the Badlands and are headed this way. I'll be leading a contingent of Alpha Alliance ships that is setting out to intercept them before they reach the Bajoran Sector. 




“Are you still down here Nguyen?” Ensign Rojas had short, dark hair and a smile that was infectious. They were on the tall side, and Crewman Nguyen couldn’t help watching with mild amusement as they clumsily crawled through the cramped but temperature controlled jefferies tube.  


You’d suspect Ensign Rojas might be a bit bumbling by the look of them, but despite their size, the fact is that they could—hands down—beat Crewman Nguyen at a footrace. It wasn’t because Operations Specialist Nguyen was slow either. Rojas had a number of advantages due to prenatal genetic enhancements. Being fast was one such advantage. 


Rojas was the first Genetically Modified Human to be accepted into Starfleet Academy after the ban on human genetic engineering was lifted about a decade ago. It was a distinction that they wore with pride.


“Let’s see how quickly you can manually realign the sensor array, Rojas.” 


Brightly colored isolinear chips were lit up by the light on Nguyen’s hyperspanner. The hum of the warp engine echoed softly through the long, empty chamber. The hyperspanner spit out various squeaks and beeps as it recalibrated the subprocessors that linked the network of sensors together.


“Probably faster than you. But I’m not the one who was ordered to do it by Commander Sh’Koth.” The deadpan delivery might have caused offense to someone who didn’t know Rojas. Crewman Nguyen liked to think they had become pretty good friends over the past week though. He certainly knew them well enough to recognize their dry sense of humor. 


“Pft, orders. Do you realize how silly that whole thing is?” 


“What whole thing?”


“Orders, Rojas. Command, hierarchy, all of it.”


“Have you lost it Nguyen? How would a Starship function without a command structure?”


“Think about it, Rojas. Does Sh’Koth really believe I didn’t know the sensor grid needed to be realigned? It was already on my to-do list for today. It’s literally standard procedure when you are preparing a ship to go into battle.”


“So. What’s your point? A ship like this would still descend into chaos without a strong command structure.” 


“My point is that “command is just an excuse for people to hold power over others. It’s a centuries old relic that should have been done away with back when we got rid of currency. Really Rojas, what value do you think is created by someone running around barking orders while the rest of us actually work?”


“Are you suggesting that Commander Sh’Koth doesn’t work as hard as the rest of us?”


“You said it, not me.” 


“Careful Nguyen, you’re teetering on the edge of insubordination.”


“Why is it really so hard, let alone dangerous, to imagine a ship like this running democratically? You’re human. You were born and raised on Earth. When did you ever live under dictatorial rule where you had to follow orders, essentially without question? Where on Earth are those values the norm?”


“I think you’re taking things out of context Will.”


“Am I?”


“Captain Nog is hardly a dictator. And Sh’Koth, well she certainly has it out for you. But a dictator? Come on.”


“Would ‘benevolent dictator’ sound more palatable to you?”


“Not really. In military situations, having a clear chain of command creates order out of chaos. It helps save lives.”


“Even if it were true that militaries demand hierarchical command structures, Starfleet isn’t a military organization, at least not generally speaking.”


“Really? I don’t know if I would agree with you about that.”


“Well regardless, the fact is that we customarily have democracy and cooperation among equals everywhere around us for our entire lives growing up on Earth. Then when we get to the Academy they expect us to throw those values out the window for some archaic way of organizing militaries and maritime vessels.”


“Are you saying you think a ship like this could actually operate democratically?”


“I believe that, yes. But what I’m really saying, Rojas, is that no one will know unless someone gives it a try.”


“Hmm… maybe. Can we continue this fascinating philosophical discussion some other time though. Right now though I’d settle for you hurrying up and finishing that realignment so we can go grab something to drink before bat'leth practice on the holodeck.”


“They’re still holding practice even though we’re literally about to go to war?” 


“Sh’Koth said a little bat’leth practice right before a battle will be good for us.”


“I guess I can’t argue there. Well I’m done here, so let’s go grab that drink.”




Captain’s Log: Stardate 64990.9We set out with a squadron of ships to intercept the Undine fighters. Assuming they stay on course, we’ll reach them within a few hours, on the other side Calondia IV. I’d be lying if I said that we aren’t nervous. Things didn’t go well against the Undine in the Beta Quadrant. Now that they’ve turned their attention toward us here in the Alpha Quadrant, we’re all on edge and, to be honest, many are expecting the worst. If we thought the Dominion War was bad… 


Everyone is trying, but it’s hard to keep up crew morale when we all feel like we’re being marched off to our deaths. Incidentally, the sensor grid is working better than ever. Maybe that will help us in some small way during the coming battle.


To be continued… 

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Crewman Nguyen

by Chris Mitchell, CRM Comics

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