Star Trek- Hornblower

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Pettytyrant101
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:02 pm

Ok small amount of info on setting- this would be set a generation before Kirk's time- early days of ST and assumes Enterprise never happened- which is for the best all round really.

Hope you enjoy this little writing experiment. Its based very closely on the first chapter of the first Hornblower book, Midshipman Hornblower (although he is a Lieutenant in this as ST doesn't have midshipmen and ensign seemed to low a rank).





Star Trek- Hornblower

by Petty Tyrant
based on the novels of C. S. Forster and Gene Rodenberry's Star Trek



The Even Chance.



A solar gale was roaring around the Mars Planatia Dockyard, it shorted monitors and filled even subspace signals with white noise static. Transporters were useless in the face of it.

So large and so long had the gale blown from Sol's single yellow star that even harnessed in the protective crib of its Dry Dock the USS Justinian pitched, pulling on the gantry force fields and arms that held her.

A single shuttle, the Draconis, was on its way out to her. On board the shuttle's impulse engines whined and were carefully coaxed by her pilot Susan Clark- a veteran of the Mars routes- back into a gentle hum. Even she had never seen a solar storm as strong as this one and her instruments flickered and fluctuated before her; giving ghost readings. The sensors struggled to pierce the space ahead of them and the inertial dampers equally struggled to keep the shuttle steady. But Susan knew her business, and for every lurch the shuttle took she deftly corrected it. She turned the nose of the craft into the storm, letting the waves of solar particles break and sweep over the deflector shields.

She flicked on the comms and hailed the Justinian, there was a blast of static from the storm in reply and she had to twist the dial to find some clean bandwidth. She signalled again and this time got a printed reply on her main display with instructions and clearance to dock in the main shuttle-bay. She flicked on her own manual input and a keyboard display appeared beneath her fingers.
She typed in the response, “Aye, aye.” Which by the curious and age-old nautical traditions which Starfleet had adopted meant that the shuttle had an officer on-board- presumably the huddled figure in the aft of the craft who was green in colour from their erratic flight.

First Officer Masters made his way to the shuttle-bay to greet the new officer. Masters had served in Starfleet until his hair was white; he had fought the unseen Romulans in pre-warp nuclear ships in Starfleet's formative years. A hellish war that had been, but it led to his promotion as better men failed to return. He knew he would never make Captain, but the knowledge had not greatly embittered him, and he diverted his mind by the close study of other beings.

So he looked with great interest on their new officer. It was a skinny young man with a boyish face, something above middle height, his tallness was accentuated by the thinness of his legs and his big, black uniform boots. His gawkiness called attention to his hands and elbows. The newcomers gold officers uniform was badly fitted, a skinny neck stuck out of the collar, and above the neck was a bony white face. But this face was not merely white there was a faint shade of green- clearly the newcomer had experienced a bit of in-flight turbulence from the solar storm. Set in the white face were a pair of dark eyes which by contrast looked like almost Betazoid.

Masters noted with a slight stirring of interest that the eyes, despite their owners space sickness, were looking about keenly, taking in what were obviously new sights; there was a curiosity or foresight in his temperament and he was already studying his new surroundings with a view to being prepared for his next experiences.

The dark eyes met Masters, and the gawky figure came to a halt and self-consciously stood to attention. His mouth opened and tried to say something, but closed again without achieving its object as shyness overcame him, but then the newcomer nerved himself afresh and forced himself to say the formal words, “Permission to come aboard, sir.”

“Name?” asked Masters, he of course already knew the answer to that, it was after all on the ships manifesto but the formal greeting was another ancient naval tradition from Earth's past and both men played it through.

“H-Horatio Hornblower, sir. Lieutenant,” stuttered Hornblower.

“Very good, Mr Hornblower,” said Masters, with the equally formal response. “Did you bring your personal belongs aboard with you?” He asked, noting Hornblower had no baggage with him.

“It was beamed ahead,” Hornblower replied and then added, “I hope, sir.”

“I'll see that it's located and sent to your quarters,” Masters said, “welcome aboard.” Masters pressed a button on the comms panel on the wall and a dark haired female ensign with Asian features appeared through a door that swished open and closed. “Ensign May here will take you down to your quarters.”

Hornblower accompanied the ensign towards what appeared to be a main corridor, they turned heading towards the turbo-lift at the far end but the ensign led him straight passed it, explaining, “The solar storm has knocked out the lifts, sir. We will have to use the Jeffreys Tubes.”

Just at that moment the ship was buffeted again and with no inertial dampers on in dock the deck lurched and Hornblower stumbled like a man tripping over a rope.

The ensign grinned at him and opened up a hatchway giving access onto one of the hundreds of Jeffreys Tubes that riddled the ship. The ensign slid down the ladder into the hole like an eel over a rock; Hornblower had to brace himself and descend far more gingerly and uncertainty into the subdued red emergency lighting of the tubes. They descended several ladders and crawled along adjoining tubes, eventually emerging in a circular chamber whose air buzzed.

Hornblower had already lost his sense of direction and did not know whether the way the ensign led them out was towards or away from the shuttle bay where he had started out.

But out the ensign did lead him, into a corridor whose white artificial lighting seemed to glare in Hornblower's tired eyes.

“Deck 5,” the ensign said, “crew quarters and recreation. Your quarters are just through the mess hall there,” she said pointing to a set of double doors. Hornblower nodded his thanks and as the ship lurched again he unsteadily approached the doors which hissed open as he approached.

Half a dozen men in red engineer uniforms sat around a large table. Food dispensers lined one wall. Hornblower stared at the engineers and it was a second or two before a moustachioed man at the tables head looked up at him. Of all the men only this one wore the pips of an officer, the rest were non commissioned men who had not come through the Academy.

“Well are you going to say something then?” the man asked.

Hornblower felt a wave of nausea overcome him, the sight of the food on the table perhaps accentuated by clambering through the ships innards setting him off. It was very hard to speak, and the fact he did not know how to phrase what he wanted to say made it even harder still.

“I am Lieutenant Hornblower,” he quavered at length.

“Bad luck then for you,” said a second engineer and the rest laughed.

At that moment the roaring solar wind hit the ship again and she rocked. Hornblower reeled where he stood, and he felt sweat on his face.

The officer stood, the rank on his collar showed he was a Lieutenant-Commander, possibly even the ships Chief Engineer, “Lieutenant?” he said, taking in Hornblower's boyish face, “How old are you Lieutenant?”

“E, Eighteen, sir,” stuttered Hornblower.

“Eighteen!” a voice said with some derision further down the table, “Starfleet will be sending children to give us orders next.”

“Looks like they already have,” another said.

The Lieutenant-Commander stared keenly into Hornblower's yes, “This is your first commission then?”

“Yes, sir.”

“The human race is at war Mr Hornblower. We don't need another Academy pup. Do you even know the difference between a warp compensator and a warp compressor?”

That drew a laugh from the other engineers, and the quality of the laugh was just noticeable to Hornblower' s whirling brain, so that he guessed that whether he said 'yes' or 'no' he would be equally exposed to ridicule.

“That's the first thing I will look up in Cochrane's Warp Drives,” he said.

The ship lurched again at that moment, and he clung onto the table.

“Look at him!” exclaimed somebody at the table, “He's space sick!”

“Space sick in Dry Dock!” said somebody else. And everyone began laughing.

But Hornblower ceased to care; he was not really conscious of what was going on round him for some time after that. The nervous excitement of leaving Earth behind for the first time was as much to blame perhaps as the journey from Mars in the shuttle and the erratic behaviour of the Justinian at Dock, but it meant for him that he was labelled at once as the Lieutenant who was space sick in Dry Dock, and it was only natural that the label added to the natural misery of the loneliness and homesickness which oppressed him during those days when the Task Force of Star Fleet ships which had not yet completed her crew compliments or awaited repairs remained in the Dock Yards of Mars Planatia.

After a few days on board he was able to find his way about the ship without (as happened at first) losing his sense of direction. During that period his fellow crew members ceased to have faces which were mere blurs and came to take on personalities; he also became aware of all the duties expected of him, whether on watch down in the bowels of the sensor arrays, or overseeing refits and repairs. He even had an acute enough understanding that his new life could have been a lot worse- that destiny might have put him on board a ship ordered immediately to the front lines instead of one safe in Dock.

But it was poor enough compensation; he was lonely and unhappy. Shyness alone would long have delayed his making friends, but as it happened the officers on the Justinian were men all a good deal older than he. They were inclined, after the first moments of amused interest, to ignore him, and he was glad of it, delighted to shrink into his shell and attract no notice to himself.

For the Justinian was not a happy ship during those days. Captain Keene- it was when he came aboard that Hornblower first saw the pomp and ceremony Starfleet still clung to concerning a Captain of a ship of the line- was a man of melancholy disposition. He had not the fame which enabled some Captains to fill their ships with enthusiasm and eagerness, and he was devoid of personality which might have made enthusiasts out of an otherwise average crew.

His officers saw little of him, Hornblower, summoned to the Ready Room for his first interview, was not impressed- a middle aged man at a desk covered with chunky grey PADS with translucent screens. An equally chunky ships monitor sat among them. Out of the viewing port behind the Captain one of the huge arms of the Dock Yard frame which held the ship in place with magnetic coils could be glimpsed, an automated worker bee went by in the silence of space.

“Mr Hornblower,” the Captain said formally, “I am glad to have this opportunity to welcome you aboard my ship.”

“Yes, sir,” said Hornblower- that seemed more appropriate to the occasion than 'Aye, aye, sir', and a Lieutenant seemed expected to say one or the other on all occasions.

“You are- let me see-” he picked up one of the many PADS strewn about the desk and stared at the display, tapping at it with a stylus, “eighteen. Fresh from the Academy.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You were born five years to the day before I was posted Captain. I had been six years as Lieutenant-Commander before you were born.”

“Yes, sir,” agreed Hornblower- it did not seem the occasion for further comment.

“A Doctor's son- yet you choose not to follow him into Starfleet Medical.”

“That is correct sir.”

“I see you passed with distinction in theoretical physics, sub-space mathematics and that you also studied alien philosophy and languages among your many other academic achievements.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Better if you could triangulate an attack pattern or outfit a photon torpedo when the emergency lighting has gone out. We are a Fleet at war, your skills are more suited to peace time.”

“Yes, sir,” Hornblower said again, but he could have told his Captain he could easily triangulate an attack pattern, his mathematics studies were far advanced. He refrained nevertheless; his instincts told him not to appear boastful, and besides Captain Keene must have reviewed all his Academy results.

“And not a single star hour logged outside a simulator.”

“No, sir,” Hornblower said staring blankly ahead.

“So this is not just your first posting, it's your first time off world at all. Well, obey orders, perform your duties and no harm can come to you. That will be all Mr Hornblower. You are dismissed.”

“Thank you, sir,” Hornblower said, retiring.

Starfleet had learned to its cost that those dubbed 'New Humans' were not suited to the rigours and perils of space exploration. Early missions became disasters whenever advanced races were encountered and the new humans became enamoured. And so Star Fleet had turned to the greater mass of humanity, who had not sought out states of higher being, or group consciousness or super intelligence and who had instead clung onto many of their old ways and customs; retaining surnames and even religions. These humans now formed the bulk of Star Fleet personnel, but with the very traits which made them more suited to space exploration also came some of humanities old problems, especially at times of war, and many of those were manifest in the person of Simpson, one of the Justinian's Security Officers.

Hornblower was sitting at mess with his colleagues when he first saw him- a brawny good-looking man in his thirties, who came in and stood looking at them just as Hornblower had stood a few days before.

“Yes, my brother officers,” he said in a thick Irish brogue, “I’m back. And I am not surprised that nobody is pleased. You will soon be less pleased. I want battle drill assessments and readiness reports by sixteen hundred hours and as of tomorrow every crew person will undergo close quarters combat training. Twice a day every day.”

“But your promotion?” asked somebody, greatly daring.

“My promotion?” Simpson leaned forward and tapped the table, staring down the inquisitive people on either side of it. “I'll answer that question this once, and anyone who asks again will wish they hadn't. Starfleet decided that my mathematical knowledge was insufficient to make me a Bridge Officer, this time. And so its Security Officer Simpson once more. And don't you forget it.”

As the days went by with Simpson’s return life ceased to be one of passive unhappiness and became one of active misery. Simpson had apparently always been an ingenious tyrant, but now, humiliated by his failure to pass the Bridge Officer exam- one which Hornblower himself would shortly be taking- he was a worse tyrant, and his ingenuity had multiplied itself. He may have been weak at mathematics, but he was diabolically clever at making other peoples lives a burden to them.

Significantly, it was not his ordinary annoyances which roused the greatest resentments- his calling drills at all hours, his close quarters training which often seemed an excuse to physically hurt, or the ceaseless demands for lists, reports and preparedness tests from all departments.

These things could be excused as understandable, Earth was at war, the first since the Romulan wars. But Simpson displayed a whimsical arbitrariness which reminded Hornblower, with his studies of earth history, of the freaks of the ancient Roman Emperors; he tricked Chief Engineer Cleveland into getting drunk, switching his synthahol for the real thing and then persuaded him into a bet he was certain to lose and made him shave the moustache which was his inordinate pride.

Early enough he had discovered Hornblower's most vulnerable points, as he had with everyone else. He knew of Hornblower's shyness; it amused him to make Hornblower recite passages from the Security Guidelines Manual to the assembled mess.

And the torment grew worse when Simpson instituted what he aptly named, 'The Klingon Inquisition' when Hornblower was submitted to slow and methodical questioning regarding his home life and childhood.

The ordeal would leave him feeling weak and sick; someone less solemn might have clowned their way out of his difficulties and even into popular favour, but Hornblower at eighteen was too ponderous a person to clown. He had to endure the persecution, experiencing all the black misery which only an eighteen year old can experience; off duty, more than once, he shed bitter tears.

He even thought about desertion, resigning his commission and going back to Earth, but he realised for him that desertion would lead to something worse than death, failure. He was as lonely as only a boy among men- and a very reserved boy- can be.

It was Hornblower's hard luck that the Justinian lay in Space Dock an entire month whilst her whole warp array assembly was replaced. And Hornblower had his Bridge Officers exam to occupy him.

It was also bad luck that Simpson was taking the exam again and that the Captain choose to happen by and glanced through the results of the navigation tests; in which a course had to be worked out and plotted for manual input into a ship whose navigational systems had failed.

Keene had a sharp tongue, and it seemed no love for Simpson either. He took a single glance at Simpson's screen, and chuckled sarcastically.

“Now let us rejoice,” he said, “Kronos has been discovered at last.”

“Pardon, sir?” said Simpson.

“Your ship,” said Keene, “as far as I can make out from your calculations Mr Simpson, is deep in Klingon Space. Let us now see what other terrors await our remaining intrepid explorers.”

It must have been Fate- it was dramatic enough to be art and not an occurrence in real life; Hornblower knew what was going to happen even as Keene looked at other screens, including his. The result he had obtained was the only one which was correct.

“Congratulations Mr Hornblower,” said Keene, “You are half Mr Simpson's age. If you double your attainments while you double your years, you will leave the rest of us far behind.”

Hornblower did not need to to look at Simpson to feel his glare.

Within two days Hornblower found himself planet-side on Mars, and under Simpson’s command. The two were part of a group sent to bring back medical materials which were too unstable for transporters. Unfortunately for Hornblower the materials themselves were late in arriving and the parties trip to Olympus City- the main colony of Mars sitting at the foot of the impressive and imposing Olympus Mons mountain- was extended and he was stuck at least overnight in the company of Simpson.

“All is well with life,” said Simpson.

It was an unusual speech for him, but he was in unusual circumstances. He was sitting in the Fleet Bar in a comfortable chair with his feet up on other in front of a holographic fireplace (a real fire would have been a waste of oxygen) with a litre of beer, and it was not synthahol.

“Here's to Starfleet Medical,” said Simpson, “Long may our supplies be delayed.”

Simpson was actually genial, comfort and beer had thawed him into a good humour; it was not time yet for it to make him quarrelsome; Hornblower sat on the other side of the holo-fire and sipped his beer, he was not used to drinking actual alcohol, marvelling that for the first time since he had boarded the Justinian his unhappiness should have ceased to be active but should have subsided into a dull misery like the dying away of the pain of a throbbing tooth.

“Give us a toast, Lieutenant,” said Simpson.

But before Hornblower could think of a suitable one the door opened and two more officers came in, one a female Lieutenant with dark eyes while the other wore the pips of a Lieutenant Commander- it was Chok of the Goliath, he was a Vulcan and currently in charge of supplies between the Mars Ports and the Fleet ships. Even Simpson made room for the superior rank.

“I have been informed,” Chok said in stiff Vulcan manner, “that the Medical convoy will be delayed until eleven hundred hours tomorrow,” then he eyed Hornblower keenly, “I do not believe that we have met before.”

“Mr Hornblower- Lieutenant Commander Chok,” introduced Simpson, “Mr Hornblower is distinguished as the Lieutenant who was space sick in Dry Dock.”

Hornblower tried not to writhe as Simpson tied that label on him. He imagined the Vulcan was only being polite when he changed the subject and introduced his fellow officer- Caldwell- who immediately suggested a game of cards to pass the time.

There were all sorts of recreations available in the Fleet Bar, from Tri-D chess to a thousand and one electronic devices; cabinets, headsets and holo-sims. But for some reason the simple old game of poker had become a stalwart at Starfleet Academy where games were frequent and fierce, and Hornblower was a good player.

A table was set before the holo-fire, the chairs arranged, the cards brought in.

Being the senior officer Chok deftly cut and shuffled the pack with Vulcan efficiency before dealing out the cards.

A man like Simpson, with a blind mathematical spot, was not likely to be a good poker player, but he was not likely to know he was a bad one. Besides he enjoyed gambling, and one game was as good as another for that purpose to his mind.

Hornblower had played poker ever since his mothers death, when he and is father had bonded playing the game with other Doctors from Starfleet Medical. The game was already something of a passion with him therefore before he had even entered the Academy. He revelled in the nice calculations of chances, in the varying demands it made upon his boldness or caution.

For some time the game proceeded quietly. Only a couple of hands were necessary to show up Simpson as a hopeless poker player. He gloated over good hands and sighed over poor ones; clearly he was one of those unenlightened people who looked upon cards as a social function, or as a mere crude means, like throwing dice, of playing the odds. He never thought of the game either as a sacred rite or as an intellectual exercise. Moreover as his losses grew, and as the beer came and went, he grew restless, and his face was flushed with more than the artificial heat of the holo-fire. He was both a bad loser and a bad drinker, and even Chok's punctilious Vulcan manners were sufficiently strained.

Hornblower however was lost in the pleasure of playing the game: the only attention he paid to Simpson's writhings and muttered objurgations was to regard them as a distracting nuisance; he even forgot to think of them as danger signals. Momentarily oblivious to the fact that he might pay for his present success by future torment.

The game proceeded with hands divided up almost equally between Chok and Hornblower, with Simpson the nights biggest loser.

It was hard for Hornblower to realise that foggy-minded players like Simpson could find difficulty in keeping tally of fifty-two cards. Simpson flung down his hand again as Hornblower took the pot with some relish.

“You know too much about the game, “ Simpson said, “You know the backs of the cards as well as the fronts.”

Hornblower gulped. He recognised that this could be a decisive moment if he choose. A second before he had merely been playing cards, and enjoying himself. Despite the comforts of his present surroundings he remembered acutely the hideous misery of the life in the Justinian to which he must return. This was an opportunity to end that misery, one way or another. Into the back of his mind stole the germ of the plan he was going to act. His decision crystallised.

“That is an insulting remark, Mr Simpson,” he said. He looked round and met the cool eyes of Chok who raised a quizzical eyebrow at him, Caldwell looked suddenly grave; Simpson was still merely stupid. “For that I shall have to ask satisfaction.”

“Satisfaction?” Chok queried, still with eyebrow raised.

“I have been accused of cheating,” said Hornblower.

He was trying to behave like a grown man; more than that, he was trying to act like a man consumed with indignation, while actually there was no indignation within in him over the point in dispute, for he understood too well the muddled state of mind which had led Simpson to say what he did. But the opportunity had presented itself, he had determined to avail himself of it, and now what he had to do was to play the part convincingly of the man who has received a mortal insult.

“The effect of alcohol in clouding human judgement is well documented,” Chok said by means of an observation and explanation, “Perhaps we should end the game there and return to our berths.”

“With pleasure,” said Hornblower, fumbling for the words which would set the dispute beyond reconciliation. “If Mr Simpson will apologise before you both, and admit he spoke without justification and in a manner no Officer of the Fleet would employ.”

He turned and met Simpson's eye with defiance as he spoke, metaphorically waving a red rag before the bull, who charged with gratifying fury.

“Apologise to you!” exploded Simpson, alcohol and outraged dignity speaking simultaneously. “Never this side of Orion.”

“You hear that?” said Hornblower. “I have been insulted and Mr Simpson refuses to apologise while insulting me further.”

“And what are you going to do about it?” Simpson snarled.

“Now gentlemen,” Chok interjected standing and trying to maintain the peace, he found this sudden turn into human emotionality disturbing and puzzling in equal measure.

“We will decide this, “ Hornblower said coldly and calmly, “on the Parissee Squares court.”

For the next two days, until all the medical supplies came in, Hornblower and Simpson, under Chok's orders, lived the curious life of two combatants forced into each others company.

Hornblower was careful- as he would have been in any case- to obey every order given him, and Simpson gave them with a certain amount of self-consciousness and awkwardness. It was during those two days that he elaborated on his original idea. Packing, cataloguing and transporting the medical supplies gave him plenty of time to think the matter over.

Parissee Squares was a game Starfleet had tried to ban unsuccessfully for many years. Perhaps it was because of the otherwise overly safety cautious attitude of Earth and its institutions that such a dangerous game had become so popular. There were everything from national events between earth colonies to inter campus matches at the Academy, and people often were hurt, even occasionally killed playing it and that was with all safety systems- force barriers and low gravity impact zones- switched on, which was the only way the Fleet allowed the game to be played at all.

Viewed coldly- and a boy of eighteen in a mood of black despair can be objective enough on occasions- it was as simple as the calculations of the chances in a hand of poker. Nothing could be worse than his life in the Justinian. It was at this moment Hornblower advanced his idea one step further- a new development, startling even to him.

He brought forward his suggestion in conversation with Preston and Danvers, the two ensigns whom he asked to be his seconds as soon as he returned to the Justinian.

“We'll act for you, of course,” said Preston, looking dubiously at the weedy youth when he made the request. “Have you any skill with the ion-club?”

“No,” said Hornblower. Truth to tell he had barely ever played the game or handled one.

“Simpson probably has,” said Danvers, “I wouldn't care to stand up before him myself.”

“Easy now, “said Preston hastily, “Don't dishearten the man.”

“I'm not disheartened,” said Hornblower, “I was thinking the same myself.”

“You're cool enough about it, then,” marvelled Danvers.

Hornblower shrugged.

“Maybe I am. I hardly care. But I've thought that we might make the chances more even.”

“How?”

“We play without the safety systems,” he said taking the plunge.

“My God!” said Danvers.

“I don't think that would be legal,” said Preston. “It would mean a reasonable chance one of you will be seriously injured, even killed.”

“If the conditions aren’t unfair I don't think any objections can be raised.”

“But would you carry it out to the end?” marvelled Danvers.

“Mr Danvers-” began Hornblower; but Preston interrupted.

“We don’t want another match on our hands,” he said, “Danvers only meant he wouldn't care to do it himself. We'll discuss it with Cleveland and Hether, and see what they say.”

Within an hour the proposed conditions of the match were known to everyone in the ship below decks. Perhaps it was to Simpson's disadvantage that he had no real friends in the ship, for Cleveland and Hether, his seconds, were not disposed to take too firm a stand regarding the conditions of the match, and agreed to the terms with only a show of reluctance. The tyrant of the lower decks was paying the penalty for his tyranny.

The Justinian did not have a Parissee Squares court, she was a ship at war and such diversions were deemed a waste of ships space, but there were several on Mars. At noon on the day before the match First Officer Masters sent for Hornblower.

“The Captain has ordered me to make inquiry into this match, Mr Hornblower,” he said, “I am instructed to use my best endeavours to end this quarrel.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Why insist on this stupid game, Mr Hornblower? I understand there were a few hasty words over drinks and cards.”

“Mr Simpson accused me of cheating, sir, before witnesses who were not officers of this ship.”

That was the point. The witnesses were not members of the ship's company. If Hornblower had chosen to disregard Simpson's words as the ramblings of a drunken ill-tempered man, they might have passed unnoticed. But as he had taken the stand he did, there could be no hushing it up now, and Hornblower knew it.

“Even so, there can be satisfaction without this match, Mr Hornblower.”

“If Mr Simpson will make a full apology before the same Officers, I would be satisfied, sir.”

Simpson was no coward. He would rather risk death than submit to such a formal humiliation.

“I see. Now I understand you are insisting on there being no safety systems active for this match?”

“There are precedents for it, sir. The safeties are a late inclusion to the game and are only insisted upon in certain arenas. And as the insulted party I can choose the conditions of the match.”

“You sound like a Fleet Lawyer to me, Mr Hornblower.”

The hint was sufficient to tell Hornblower that he had verged upon being too glib, and he resolved in future to bridle his tongue. He stood silent and waited for Masters to resume the conversation.

“You are determined, then, Mr Hornblower, to continue with this foolish business?”

“Yes, sir.”

“The Captain has given me further orders to attend the match in person, because of the conditions on which you insist.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very good, then, Mr Hornblower.”

Masters looked at Hornblower as he dismissed him even more keenly than he had done when Hornblower first came aboard. He was looking for signs of weakness or wavering- indeed, he was looking for any signs of human feeling at all- but he could detect none, Hornblower was as level and cold as a Vulcan. Hornblower had reached a decision, he had weighed all the pros and cons, and his logical mind told him that having decided in cold blood upon a course of action it would be folly to allow himself to be influenced subsequently by untrustworthy emotions. The conditions of the match on which he was insisting were mathematically advantageous. If Simpson were (as he almost certainly was) a better player than him, the switching off of the safeties was advantageous. There was nothing to regret about his recent actions.

All very well: mathematically the conclusions were irrefutable, but Hornblower was no Vulcan and was surprised to find that mathematics were not everything . Repeatedly during that dreary afternoon Hornblower found himself suddenly gulping with anxiety as the realisation came to him afresh that tomorrow morning he would be risking his life. One serious slip and the chances were, almost unbelievably, the world would be going on without him. The thought sent a shiver through him despite himself. And he had plenty time for these reflections as with all supplies loaded there was little to do on board ship as she awaited her new orders.

He crept into his bunk that night in a depressed mood, feeling unnaturally tired. He yearned to relax, but relaxation would not come. Time after time as he began to drift off to sleep he woke again tense and anxious, full of thoughts of the morrow. He turned over wearily a dozen times, noting the digital clock display each time showing barely the passing of half an hour between awakenings, feeling a growing contempt at his cowardice. He told himself in the end that it was as well his fate tomorrow depended now on chance as much as skill, for if he had to rely upon steadiness of hand and eye he would lose for certain after a night like this.

That conclusion presumably helped him go to sleep for the last hour or two of the ship's night, for he awoke with a start to find his cabin door bell chiming. It was Danvers.

“Rise and shine!” Danvers said when Hornblower called, “Enter,” and the doors swished open.

Hornblower slid out of bed and began to dress in his uniform.

They went to the mess, which was quiet at this hour. Preston was awaiting them with a cup of hot tea.

“Masters is letting us have the Draconis to go down to the surface,” said Danvers, “He and Simpson have already gone down down in the other shuttle.”

It maddened Hornblower that the cup clattered in the saucer as he took it. But the tea was grateful, and Hornblower drank it eagerly.

He went over to the food dispenser and ordered a second cup, and was proud of himself that he could think of tea at that moment.

Shortly afterwards they were aboard the Draconis and taking a much smoother ride to Mars than the one which had brought Hornblower up from the planet originally.

The second shuttle had already landed outside the Parissee Squares Court.

“The Doctors with them,” said Danvers, “just in case.”

“How are you feeling Hornblower?” asked Preston.

“Well enough,” said Hornblower, forbearing to add that he only felt well enough while this kind of conversation was not being carried on.

As they entered the building they saw the other group awaiting them; Masters, the ships Doctor and Simpson with his two seconds.

Hornblower, as they approached, caught a glimpse of Simpson’s face as he stood a little detached from the others. It was pale, and Hornblower noticed that at that moment he swallowed nervously, just as he himself was doing. Masters came towards them, shooting his usual keen inquisitive look at Hornblower as they came together.

“This is the moment,” he said, “for this quarrel to be settled. Earth is at war. I hope, Mr Hornblower, that you can be persuaded to save a life from injury, or worse, for the Fleet by not pressing this matter.”

Hornblower looked across at Simpson, while Danvers answered for him.

“Has Mr Simpson offered the proper redress?” asked Danvers.

“Mr Simpson is wiling to acknowledge that he wishes the incident had never taken place.”

“That is unsatisfactory,” said Danvers, “it does not include an apology.”

All this was as inevitable as it was hideous. There was no going back now; Hornblower had never thought for one moment that Simpson would apologise.

“You are determined then,” said Masters, “I shall have to state that fact in my report.”

“We are determined,” said Preston.

“Then there is nothing for it but to allow this stupid match to proceed.”

The two men, Hornblower and Simpson went their separate ways to put on the pads and helmet of Parissee Squares, when they returned to the court Masters had their ion-clubs ready, one in each hand.

“Now,” he said, “here are your clubs, both primed, and the safeties are all off, in accordance with the conditions. Are you both ready?”

Silently both men nodded their readiness and the match began.

If it was scored solely on points and squares captured Simpson would easily have taken the game, but this was a match played for the take down- the winner would be the last man left standing.

Hornblower's inexperience at the game and the unfamiliar feel of the ion-club in his hand meant Simpson easily took command of several squares early on, but Hornblower was not playing to capture squares. By the third pass, and with Simpson holding more than half the squares Hornblower made his move.

The fifth square was the most dangerous in the game, being the highest, easily defensible and only approachable by running and leaping from the central ramp or adjoining square. It was a notoriously dangerous manoeuvre to try when a player was just trying to seize the square, but Hornblower was not playing for the square, his target was the man.

One good hit, one well timed strike with his club and Simpson would be thrown from the square, and it was a long drop to the floor beneath.

He steeled himself and started his run.

Simpson immediately saw the danger and with surprising dexterity had leapt, bounding across three occupied squares and on to the fifth square just as Hornblower reached the apex of the ramp and threw himself into the air.

The two men came together and went over, sprawling on the hard surface of the square. Sickeningly Hornblower caught a glimpse of the distant floor far below. Almost together both men scrambled back to their feet and swung. Their clubs met in a spray of sparks and power and the force throw them both backwards so that each man went over opposite edges of the square and plummeted groundward.

The fall would at the very least break bones, and at the very worst necks or backs or be instant;y fatal. This thought flashed though Hornblower's mind as he spun down through the air, the floor rushing towards him.

But just when he should have felt the impact he found himself slowing and stopping, bouncing slightly in mid-air some two metres from the court floor. Someone had turned the safeties back on.

From the sidelines Hornblower heard the voice of the Doctor stating, “Your faces! You ought to see how you look! Solemn as a Vulcan!”

“What about a rematch?” asked Danvers, and Masters looked up straight and inflexible at him.

“There will be no rematch,” he said, “Honour is completely satisfied. These two officers have come through this extremely well. No one can now think little of Mr Simpson if he expresses his regret for the occurrence, and no one can think little of Mr Hornblower if he accepts that statement of reparation. Our shuttles await. And I think all of us would be the better for some breakfast.”

That should have been the end of the incident. The excited talk which had gone around about the unusual match died away in time, although everyone knew Hornblower's name now, and not as the Lieutenant who was space-sick in Dry Dock but as the man who was willing to take an even chance in cold blood. But in the Justinian herself there was other talk; whispers which were circulated on all decks.

“Mr Hornblower has requested permission to speak to you, sir,” said Masters one morning while making his report to the Captain.

“Oh, send him in when you go out,” said Keene, and sighed.

Ten minutes later a chime at the Ready Room door ushered in an angry young man.

“Sir!” began Hornblower.

“I can guess what you are about to say,” said Keene.

“The safeties were not switched off. And by your orders, I understand, sir.”

“You are quite correct. I gave those orders to Masters.”

“It was an unwarranted liberty, sir!”

That was what Hornblower meant to say, but he stumbled over the polysyllables.

“Possibly it was,” said Keene patiently, rearranging, as always, the myriad of PADS on his desk.
The calmness of the admission disconcerted Hornblower, who could only splutter for the next few moments.

“I saved a life for the Fleet,” went on Keene, when the spluttering had died away. “A young life. No one has suffered any harm. On the other hand, both you and Simpson have had your courage amply proved.”

“You have touched my personal honour,” said Hornblower, bringing out one of his rehearsed speeches, “for that there can be only one remedy.”

“This is not a Klingon vessel Mr Hornblower,” Keene replied sternly, “ we do not challenge senior officers. The mere issuing of such a challenge is a court-martial offence. Now here is some gratuitous advice,” went on Keene, “You have made a challenge and emerged with honour. That is good. Never make another- that is better. Some people, oddly enough, acquire a taste for issuing challenges of this sort. They are never good officers, and never popular ones either.”

It was then that Hornblower realised that a great part of the keen excitement with which he had entered the Ready Room was due to anticipation of the giving of the challenge. There could be a morbid desire for danger- and a morbid desire to occupy momentarily the centre of the stage. Keene was waiting for him to speak, and it was hard to say anything.

“I understand, sir,” he said at last.

Keene shifted in his chair again.

“There is another matter I wanted to take up with you, Mr Hornblower. Captain Pellew of the Indefatigable has room for another Lieutenant. He and I have agreed with Starfleet to consider favourably your application for a transfer should you care to make one. I don't have to point out that any ambitious young officer would jump at the chance of serving aboard her.”

Everybody knew of Pellew's reputation and success. Distinction, promotion, fame- an officer under Pellew's command could hope for all these. Competition for places to the Indefatigable must be intense, and this was the chance of a lifetime. Hornblower was on the point of making a glad acceptance, when further considerations restrained him.

“That is very good of you, sir,” he said. “I do not know how to thank you. But you accepted me as Lieutenant here, and of course I must stay with you.”

The drawn, apprehensive face relaxed into a mile.

“Not many men would have said that, “ said Keene. “But I am going to insist on your accepting the offer. This ship is no place for you- with her old Captain- don't interrupt me- and her old officers. You should be where the action is. I have the good of Starfleet in mind, Mr Hornblower, when I suggest you accept the transfer- and it might be less disturbing for me if you did.”

“Aye aye, sir,” said Hornblower.



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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:50 pm

Not one single comment? Mad Not even someone pointing out an ensign is closer to a midshipman than a leuitenant? Or that if is set pre Kirks time rank should be braid and stars on uniforms not pips?
Not even to accuse me of destryong CS Forester and Rodenberry's work, at the same time?
I dont know why I bother. Mad Just for that you are not getting chapter 2- no, in fact, just for that I probably will give you chapter 2- that'll teach you! Twisted Evil

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Post by CC12 35 Fri Mar 15, 2013 10:06 am

so....................



this is like a Star Wars parody about horns ?

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Fri Mar 15, 2013 5:27 pm

Banghead No, its not a parody at all. :facepalm:

Nor is it anything to do with SW. Mad

Its a mashup of sorts between the books of Forester about the career in the British Navy of a young officer begining about the around the time of the French Revoluton (1789) and ST (24th century).

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:30 am

Really? Still no-one bothered to read this? Mad

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Post by azriel Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:38 am

Im gonna Petty ! Ive had to bookmark it as Ive got family stuff brewing thats taking WAY to much of my precious time ! Nod

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:47 am

Oh ignore them- family- no matter what you do they will almost certainly keep turning back up again. Very Happy

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Post by azriel Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:53 am

I know ! tell me about it ! worse than a plague of locusts ! Very Happy I know Im their mother but I wonder if any of them are mine ? Wink

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:55 am

Laughing

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Post by CC12 35 Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:57 am

is this something 2 do with the Simpsons

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:49 am

Extremely Crabbit

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Post by azriel Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:44 pm

Star Trek- Hornblower Lol_zpsda5e3cd8

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Post by azriel Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:37 pm

Ive read it Petty ! & I loved it so far ! I could sense the merging of the two opposite styles,morphing into one, becoming "Star Trek-Hornblower" Cheerleader

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Post by David H Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:59 pm

I hadn't seen this! I'll give it a read later. I was of fan of both. It makes sense that it would work. I seem to remember that Gene Roddenberry listed both Hornblower and Wagon Train as inspirations for Star Trek so in a way it started life as a mash up.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:05 pm

Thanks Azriel- I am working on tiding up chapter two at the moment.

I didnt know that David- I knew about wagon train but not Hornblower- but yeah it does make sense.
The idea first came up for me discussing with friends before Enterprise was announced what would make for a good new series- other ideas included being set entirely on a Romulan ship. And one I particularly liked was setting the whole thing on anoher planet, with another race, who then make first contact with the Federation and how their society reacts to that.

Any of those ideas I still think would have been better and more interesting than Enterprise turned out to be.

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:52 pm

Chapter 2 is longer than 1 so I thought Id put it up in parts- heres the first of them-

2.
The Cargo of Grain.


The wolf was in among the sheep.

The Ocatrex Corridor was dotted with small cargo ships as far as the sensors could read.

Every ship but one was trying to escape; the exception was the Federation's U.S.S Indefatigable NCC- 1371, Captain, Edward Pellew.

Far out in space the Klingon worlds and slave colonies were awaiting the contents of these supply ships. No doubt in some sectors the success or failure of the Klingon military even depended on them.

The Ocatrex Corridor was a region of space some four AU's in length and a little over two in width. It was hemmed in on all other sides by the M'Garu Nebula, an area of immense scientific interest, being as it was a stellar nursery, but filled with extremely high levels of radiation. A ship would last no more than a day in there.

Within the Corridor the cargo ships, which which were not themselves Klingon but made up mainly of Orion Traders making a quick credit, were forced into a sub-warp convoy that would take several weeks to pass through.

The Indefatigable had taken advantage of the Nebula's masking properties and spending only an hour in hiding within its purple tinged radiation clouds, well within safety limits, she had sprung her trap.

Ship after ship was overhauled; a shot or two of the phasers and the poorly defended cargo ships shields fell, another shot would knock out their impulse engines, and a small crew was sent over to take command.

On the Bridge of the Indefatigable Pellew fumed over every necessary delay. He had his eyes fixed on the sensor scans. The convoy was slowly scattering, spreading further and further with the passing minutes, and with the nebula's proximity limiting sensor distance some of those ships would find safety in mere dispersion if any time was wasted.

Pellew did not wait for the shuttles to return - it had to be by shuttle as the nebula disrupted transporter beams - at each surrender he merely ordered an away team;officer and Security guards, and the moment the away team was off ship he ordered the pursuit begin again of the next victim.

The ship they were currently pursuing was a class D cargo carrier with the colourful markings of one of the many bands of Orion Traders on its wide sides. The phaser banks of the Indefatigable fired more than once; warning shots across the Orion ship's bows, but she kept on her course heading for the Nebula where the Indefatigable's sensors would become useless.

“Very well,” snapped Pellew. “They have asked for it. Let them have it.”

Down in phaser control the targeting changed from warning shots to targeting the impulse engines. But the radiation seeping out from the nebula brought white noise errors into the systems and the first shots of blue phaser beam that streamed out struck empty space. Immediately the Orion ship broke into evasive manoeuvres.

“I want those engines offline. Fire again!,” Pellew ordered.

Again the Indefatigable phasers flashed outward, this time they struck the Orion ship but the targeting sensors had missed the engines and struck her sides, what little shielding the Orion ship had flickered and went off, air vented from her hull.

Once more the phaser light leapt and this time successfully found its mark and with a silent flash of plasma fire from her impulse engines the Orion ship slowed and began to drift on the currents of radiation.

“What ship is that?” asked Pellew.

Mary Galante, out of Orion 3,” the Helm Officer reported back as the information from the Starfleet ship registry came up on her screen, “its listed as a bio-matter carrier- scans indicate they are carrying grain, probably for supplying newly established colonial planets.”

“Grain!” said Pellew, “That'll be a blow to the Klingon's to lose. I would say she could hold, what, several thousand tons.”

“Over six thousand according to the sensors , sir.”

“Twelve of a crew at most. We'll need a Lieutenant in command.”

He hit the intercom button on the arm of the Captains chair.

“Mr Hornblower!”

“Sir.”

“Take four crew from the list and board that ship. Take her into any Federation Star Base you can make, and report there for orders.”

“Aye aye, sir.”

Hornblower was at his station in phaser control- which was perhaps why Pellew had thought of him. It was a moment for fast thinking, for anyone could hear Pellew's impatience.

Lieutenant Commander Soames was waiting for him in the Shuttle bay with a PAD containing the list from which Hornblower was to take his crew.

“The Captain told me to take four crew over,” Hornblower began.

Soames held out the PAD to him then asked, “Do you know any of these personnel? Or should I pick them for you?”

“I'd be obliged if you would, sir.”

Soames shouted out four names, and three male and one female crew member responded instantly and lined up. Two in the yellow uniforms of security and two in the red of engineering.

“Watch the Orion crew,” Soames said, “they'll recapture the ship and have you in a Klingon prison in an instant if you don't.”

“Aye aye, sir,” said Hornblower.

The shuttle surged up to the hanger bay of the cargo ship Mary Galante.

Hornblower had his crew ready phasers, set to stun- these were merchants and pirates at worse, not Klingons- as they left the shuttle and into the Mary Galante's hangar bay.

But he need not of worried. The first sight to meet his eyes was an alien seated on a storage bin, his head thrown back, holding to his fanged mouth a bottle, the bottom pointing straight to the bay roof.

He was it turned out one of a large group beyond the bin, of various races, all sitting round passing bottles of the blue liquid between them. An empty bottle rolled from the group and bumped up against Hornblower's boot.

One of the group, with white hair flowing out round a flattened forehead rose to welcome them, and stood for a moment with waving arms and rolling yellow eyes, bracing himself as though to say something of immense importance and seeking earnestly for the right words to use.

Belurga Federation” was what he finally said, the universal translator seemingly not knowing his language, and, having said it, he sat down with a bump on the bin and from a seated position proceeded to lie down and compose himself to sleep with his head on his arms.

“They've made the best of their time, sir” said the Security Guard at Hornblower's elbow.

“Wish we were as happy,” said the other Security guard.

A case still a quarter full of bottles, each elaborately sealed, stood beside the bin, and the Security guard picked out a bottle to look at it curiously.

“What is it?” Hornblower enquired just as curious.

The Security guard studied the bottle a moment then eventually replied, “Its, blue, sir.”
He undid the seal and sniffed the liquid inside, “Fheeewee!” he said, wrinkling his nose and blinking, “its blue and very strong,” he added and lifted the bottle towards his mouth to take a taste.

One thing humans had not lost was a taste for alcohol. His away team would be as drunk as the Orions in half an hour if he allowed it. A frightful mental image of himself drifting in the Corridor with a disabled ship an a drunken crew rose to his mind and filled him with anxiety.

“Put that down,” he ordered.

The urgency of the situation made his eighteen-year old voice crack like a fourteen year old, and the Security guard hesitated, holding the bottle in his hand.

“Put it down, d'ye hear?” said Hornblower, desperate with worry. This was his first independent command; conditions were absolutely novel, and excitement brought out all the passion of his mercurial temperament, while at the same time the more calculating part of his mind told him that if he were not obeyed now over this simple thing, he never would be.

The Security guard put the bottle back into the case. The incident was closed, and it was time for the next step.

“Take these men to the brig,” he said, giving the obvious command.

“Aye, aye sir.”

Most of the crew could still walk, but two were dragged by their collars, whilst Hornblower and his smaller crew herded the others before them at phaser point.

They safely stowed the prisoners in the brig before moving to the next stage. To take the Bridge.

This proved easier than expected. Having lost control of her crew the Mary Galante's commander was in no position to put up much resistance.

Her Bridge crew got off one shot which missed and the perpetrator got a heavy stun blast in return before she ordered an immediate cease fire and surrender.

Soon she and her crew were being sent to join the others in the brig.

“I officer,” she said, pointing to herself, her race was unknown to Hornblower, she was beautiful by human standards, with a humanoid shape and long flowing hair that fell about her shoulders and cascaded over her voluptuous bosom, but her skin and hair were a uniform green head to toe. The Universal Translator did not seem to have her race on its database as it had not translated her words, she had spoken in a broken Federation, “ I iss officer. I not go wit' zem.”

“Take her away!” said Hornblower. In his tense condition he could not stop to debate trifles.
With the bridge free he set about checking the ships status and their position relative to the nebula, whose purple billowing edges filled the view screen.

The ship was essentially adrift. Her impulse engines still out. He ordered his two engineers with one security guard down to begin repairs whilst he set about acquainting himself with the alien instrumentation he was going to have to work with.

A short while after the bridge intercom crackled into life, “This is Mathews down in engineering sir.”

“Hornblower here, go ahead Mathews.”

“Looks like these engines were running on good luck and not much else before we even hit her, sir. Its a mess down here. We need more hands than we have, sir. Can I put some o' they Orions to work?”

“If you think you can. If any of them are sober enough.”

“I think I can, sir. Drunk or sober.”

“Very good.”

When the work was advancing towards completion, Hornblower came to himself again to remember that in a few minutes he would have to set a course, and he dashed to the helm station.

He quickly calculated their current position and set a course to take them not just out of the Corridor, some week away at impulse speed, maybe longer in this ship, but on a heading into Federation space.

So when the impulse engines were repaired, and the Orion crew returned to the brig and Mathews came onto the Bridge to look for further orders, he was ready.

“Take the Helm Mr Mathews,” he said, “you will find the course already set.”

Hornblower glanced at his sensors as the deck began to gently vibrate as the impulse engines kicked in. There was barely another ship within the sensors power range. There must have been plenty of ships just out of range he knew, but that did not do much to ease his feelings of loneliness as on the view-screen the swirling clouds of the nebula were replaced with the darkness of space. There was so much to do, so much to bear in mind, and all the responsibility lay on his unaccustomed shoulders.

The prisoners had to be kept secure, a watch had to be set- there was even the trivial matter of finding food on this ship. A crew member at the helm, one to keep an eye on the prisoners below, an engineer to watch the engines. Two snatching some sleep- knowing that to coax this ship back would be an all-hands job. Hornblower paced the bridge.

“Why don't you get some sleep, sir?” Mathews said.

“I will, later on,” said Hornblower, trying not to allow his tone to reveal the fact that such a thing never occurred to him.

He knew it was sensible advice, and he actually tried to follow it, retiring to the former Captains cabin, which was very feminine in its decorations and contents. And of course he could not sleep.

He could not prevent himself from getting back up again and coming onto the Bridge to see that all was well. With Mathews in charge he felt he should not be anxious, and he drove himself back to the cabin again, but had hardly fallen onto the bed when a new thought brought him to his feet again, his skin cold with anxiety, and a prodigious self-contempt vying with anxiety for first place in his emotions. He rushed onto the Bridge.

“Nothing has been done to check if we holed her,” he said hurriedly- he had worked out the wording of that sentence in the turbo-lift, so as to cast no aspersion on Mathews and yet at the same time, for the sake of discipline, attributing no blame to himself.

“That's so, sir,” said Mathews.

“One of those shots fired by the Indefatigable could have holed her, we could be venting air, and worse she will be filling up with radiation from the nebula,” went on Hornblower, “What damage did it do?”

“I don't rightly know, sir,” said Mathews, “the internal sensors are still offline.”

“Then we will have to do this the old fashioned way, and get a radiation readings directly from the cargo holds, that will soon tell us if we have a breach or not.”

They made there way down the ship until they were on the deck immediately above the cargo bays. Access here was through hatchways, some very large to accommodate larger cargo.

Hornblower and Mathews stood over one of the smaller hatches whilst Mathews cranked it open.
Immediately a forcefield sprung up around it.

“I can deactivate that for as long as we need, but remember if the hold is flooded with radiation then the longer its open the more gets out.”

Hornblower had attached a tricorder to the end of a length of cabling and hung it over the open hatch. He nodded at Mathews who disabled the forcefield.

Then he let the tricorder drop, pacing out the line until he felt the tricorder strike the cargo bay floor with a satisfactory thud. He hauled it back up and Mathews picked up the tricorder and looked at the display, “Not a drop, sir!”

Hornblower was agreeably surprised. But something was nagging at him. Their phaser blast, even if it did not penetrate, should have left some background radiation traces. 'Not a drop', and a quick check of the readout confirmed a zero reading, bothered him. But he wanted to be both non-committal and imperturbable.

“H'm,” was the comment he eventually produced, “Very good, Mathews.”

The knowledge that the Mary Galante did not have a hull breach might have encouraged him to sleep, if the ship had not chosen that moment to veer from course soon after he retired.

It was Mathews who came to his cabin door and awoke him with the unwelcome news.

“We can't keep the course you set much longer, sir” concluded Mathews once they were back on the bridge, “there is something amiss with helm and she isn't answering as she should.”

It took time for the engines and the Helm controls to be given diagnostics, and the ships ageing central computer did not help speed matters up. And when the reports finally did come in they could find no fault in either the running of the impulse engines, or in the Helm controls.

“I've no explanation, sir,” Mathews said from the Helm station, But if we keep turning like this we will drift right into that nebula.”

There was nothing for it but to go about, to go with whatever was pulling their ship, that way at least if it continued they would be drifting away from the nebula and not toward it.

He gave the order with a heavy heart.

Now she was heading away from the dangerous edges of the radiation filled nebula, without a doubt, but she was heading nearly as directly away from the friendly space of the Federation- gone was all hope of an easy few days run to Federation space; gone was any hope of sleep that night for Hornblower.

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Post by azriel Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:34 pm

This is very good reading Petty Nod At 1st I thought "orion traders" said "ONION traders"! Laughing expected to see "cranberry dave" pop up ! Wink

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:21 am

Could make him an alien! Very Happy


Heres the rest of the chapter.



During his years at the Academy Hornblower had studied alien languages. And they had found a permanent resting place in Hornblower's tenacious memory. He had never thought with the universal translator that it would be of much use to him, but he discovered the contrary when the Orion captain insisted on an interview with him.

The Captain spoke a little broken Federation, but not enough. And Hornblower did not know her own language, which he tried to indicate with gestures.

“Canz speak Norsican?” she asked him, and he shook his head in response, “Ferengi?” she tried.

“Never heard of it,” Hornblower replied to her uncomprehending face.

“Andorian?” she said.

“Andorian!” Hornblower exclaimed, then in Andorian replied, “Yes, I studied Andorian at the Academy.”

“Good,” she replied in Andorian also and sidled towards him, “My crew are hungry,” she said; she did not look hungry herself.

It was natural when one spoke Andorian to gesture, the Andorians did with their antennae and it was usual for races who did not possess such appendages to use their arms instead to indicate the nuances of the language.

“We may have a problem,” Hornblower said.

“Yes,” she replied. She seemed to be feeling the motion of the ship under her feet with her attention. “She is not flying true, is she not?”

“Perhaps,” said Hornblower.

“Is her hull breached?” asked the captain.

“The internal sensors are not functioning, but there is no radiation in the hold.”

“Ah!” said the captain, “But you would find none in the hold. We are carrying trioxidentrine grain.”

“Yes,” said Hornblower, not seeing the relevance.

“Grain modified for maximum growth on worlds with thin or no ozone layers,” the Captain spelt out.

He found it very hard at that moment to remain outwardly unperturbed, as his mind grasped the implications of what was being said to him. The grain would absorb every drop of radiation taken in by the ship, so that nothing would show on the tricorder. And if the hull was holed then the exchange in pressure would explain the effect on the helm.

“One shot from your cursed ship struck us in the hull,” said the captain, “of course you have investigated the damage.”

“Of course,” said Hornblower, lying bravely.

But as soon as he could he had private conversation with engineer Mathews, and Mathews instantly looked grave.

“You were in phaser control, where did the shot hit her, sir?”

“Somewhere on the port side, the cargo bays, forrard of the impulse manifolds, I think.”

He and Mathews craned over the ships sensors which Mathews has sparked into limited life.

“I can't get any scanners in the cargo bays to function, I can't see anything,” Mathews said eventually, “Someone’s just going to have to go out and take a look, sir. And I volunteer.”

Hornblower was about to agree and then changed his mind.

“I'll go myself,” he said.

He could not analyse the motives which impelled him to say that. Partly he wanted to see things with his own eyes; partly he was influenced by the doctrine that he should never give an order he was not prepared too carry out himself-but mostly it must have been the desire to impose a penance on himself for his negligence.

Mathews and Security guard Carson helped him suit up and operated the airlock. He found himself floating on the end of a walk line, trying to remember his zero G training. He focused his eyes on the hull of the ship and used it as an artificial horizon to stop the feelings of space sickness that were washing over him.

He gained his composure and using his magnetised boots locked himself onto the hull and began walking in the direction of the cargo bays.

Eventually he found himself surveying the seemingly vast outer hull of the cargo section.

“I can't see any breach,” he reported into his comm.

“You're sure the shot hit, sir?”

“Yes, I'm sure!” snapped Hornblower.

Lack of sleep and worry and a sense of guilt were all shortening his temper, and he had to speak sharply or break down in tears. He continued on examining the hull. Just ahead of the bulging monstrosity of the outer plating of the impulse engines he found what he was seeking.

An area of plating had been ripped away by the phaser blast, the actual breach itself was no bigger than Hornblower's fist but an area some 20metres square surrounding it had been stripped of its radiation shielding. The plates which should have coated the hull beneath its outer shell were completely gone.

Hornblower made his way unsteadily back on-board the ship and before he had even got out of his suit he knew what had to be done.

“We must cover that hole up and replace the radiation shielding,“ he said to Mathews, “we can strip some plating out of somewhere less important. If we don’t we will flood with radiation, eventually and we will keep losing helm control. Use the Orion crew for the work. Get them suited up.”
The former crew were not quick to help in the task; it was no longer their ship, and they were heading for a Federation prison, so that even with their own lives at stake they were somewhat apathetic. It took some time to get a suitable piece of radiation plating stripped and prepared, and to set a team to manoeuvre it outside the ship and towards the damaged hull.

The Orion captain looked at the viewscreen of her crew working in the vacuum of space.

“Five years I spent in a Federation prison,” she said, “five years.”

“Yes” said Hornblower.

He might have felt sympathy, but he was only preoccupied with his own problems. He had every intention if possible of escorting the Orion captain to Federation space and to prison again.

An alarm sounded on the Bridge.

Mathews who had been monitoring the work crew from the sensor station flicked on a screen.

“What the hell!” he remarked not sure what he was reading. He flicked some switches, trying to get readings from other sources to confirm the first.

“Sir,” Mathews said, “the interior bulkheads are buckling.”

“What?” demanded Hornblower and joined Mathews at the sensor station. The internal sensor display was alive with flashing warning lights.

The internal walls between the cargo bays were giving way, as if forced outward by some great pressure within. It was something beyond Hornblower's limited experience, even beyond his extensive reading.

But the Orion captain was at his side staring at the screen too.

“Its the grain!” she exclaimed in Andorian. “The grain!”

Hornblower stared at her without comprehending, “What about the grain?” he asked.

“The cargo!” she said in explanation, “It-” she struggled for the right words in Andorian, “it grows bigger.”

“That's it! The radiation's got into the grain and it's swelling.”

“We scanned this ship before we came aboard sir, those holds were filled to bursting,” Mathews put in, “there is no more room in there for it to swell in to.”

“Yes, and with an unlimited supply of radiation pouring in its growing and forcing the bulkheads apart. It will push the ship apart from the inside out.”

It was a black moment; he looked round the Bridge for inspiration and support, and found neither.

Several seconds passed before he was ready to speak, and ready to maintain the dignity of a Starfleet officer in the face of difficulties.

“The sooner we get that radiation plating over that breach the better. Hurry the repairs up Mathews.”

He turned to pace the bridge, so as to allow his feelings to subside and to set his thoughts in an orderly fashion again, but the Orion captain was at his elbow.

“I said she was not flying true,” she said, “That breach has pushed you of course.”

“Go stick your head in a wormhole,” said Hornblower in Federation, he could not think of the Andorian for that phrase.

Even as he said this he felt a sudden sharp shock beneath his feet, as if someone had struck the deck underneath with a giant mallet.

“Hurry with that plating!” he yelled into the comms, and then was angry with himself because the tone of his voice must have betrayed undignified agitation.

At last the radiation plating was fixed into place, covering the breach.

“Mathews, see if the helm will answer better now,” Hornblower commanded.

“Aye aye sir,” Mathews responded and went to the helm station, “she's sluggish, sir,” he reported, “But I think I can bring her round to out previous heading.”

The captain saw them making preparations to bear the ship round, and turned on Hornblower with voluble protests. She insisted they could easily make the neutral K-6 station where she had picked up her cargo without loss of more than a few hours, that she and her crew did not deserve to both lose their ship and their liberty in one day.

Indeed she began protesting so violently that a new doubt crept into Hornblower's mind. A word to Mathews sent him round the Orion crew with the security guards to search for weapons. They found nothing but as a matter of precaution Hornblower had them returned to the brig. He put his hand to the phaser at his side, reassured by it.

“Sir,” Mathews said, “I don't like the looks of this.”

His panel was lit up now across the board with flashing warning lights, it was the same all over the Bridge.

“If I am reading these internal sensors right she is opening up down there. I'm certain of it.”

Down below Hornblower could hear the fabric of the ship continuing to strain against the ever increasing pressure of the cargo. Ships were built to withstand fire from without, and there was little about their construction to resist an outward pressure.

Another alarm went off.

“Look there, sir!” Mathews said pointing at the floor. There on the bridge, having forced its way out of a panel, with a shiny carapace and twitching nose, was a hairless space weevil, several others followed it out. Something convulsive must be going on below decks to bring them to the bridge.

Hornblower felt another shock trembling through the deck plating beneath his feet. There was one more card to play, one last line of defence he could think of.

“I'll jettison the cargo,” said Hornblower. He had never uttered that word in his life, but he had read it.

“We can't, sir, “ Mathews informed in, “we have no control over the doors, sensors or anything else in the cargo bays. I reckon that grains smashed everything by now if it's pushing the bulkheads out.”

“Then we will have to dump it manually,” Hornblower said desperately.

The Bridge lights flickered off and then back on again and the engines whined and died.

Mathews looked to the helm, the controls were dead.

“Sir, those cargo bays back right onto engineering and the main engines.”

“And the warp core. Can we get a reading? Is the warp core breached?” He tried to keep the fear out of his voice but was only partially successful.

“I don't think so, sir,” Mathews reported, “but its only a mater of time.”

“I shall make preparations for abandoning the ship, Mathews,” he said.

He poked his chin upwards as he spoke; he would not allow Mathews to guess at his despair.

“Aye aye, sir,” said Mathews.

There were two shuttles on board the Mary Galante, their own and one belonging to the ship but only the Federation one was capable of warp speeds, which they would need to reach Federation space once they were clear of the Corridor.
Hornblower eyed the craft dubiously- seventeen of them would fill it to overflowing.

The prisoners were marshalled aboard whilst the hanger bay systems flicked on and off, plunging them into emergency lighting every so often whilst the ship, hopelessly adrift creaked and groaned as her bulkheads strained against the every expanding cargo.

There were a series of distant explosions and the deck rocked again.

Suddenly a horn like, brazen alarm sounded and a computer voice speaking in an alien language barked out.

The Orion captains eyes widened in horror, “Warp breach!” she called out in Andorian but Hornblower had already guessed as much from the look on her face.

There was not much time to spare. There was a panic among the Orion crew, who began fighting each other to board the shuttle. The Orion captain took one look at Hornblower and then followed them; the two security guards were struggling to keep order.

“Help them,” Hornblower said to the two engineers, Mathews and Carson. He watched as some order was re-established and with deck still shaking beneath them they boarded the vessel.

It was appropriate he board last, he was the captain, this was his place to leave the ship last.

“Take the helm, Mathews,” said Hornblower as he squeezed through the prisoners to the shuttle pilot section, he did not feel he was competent to handle the shuttle himself, “take us out of here!”

The shuttle rose from the decking as the shuttle-bay doors jerked worryingly apart with a cascade of sparks.

Mathews worked the controls and the shuttle moved forwards, cleared the shuttle-bay doors and broke out into open space with the purple haze of the nebula filling the view ahead. On the panel before him Mathews brought up a reverse angle, showing the Mary Galante as they pulled away from her.

As they watched the makeshift radiation panel blew off and an endless flow of swollen radioactive grain flooded out into space. A second later and there were a series of small explosions deep within the Mary Galante and her warp core exploded.

The shuttle reeled in the shock-wave and the lights went out. Hornblower felt for the phaser at his side but the prisoners were as ratted as the Federation crew as the shuttle spun in the wake of the detonation and made no hostile moves.

Mathews cursed under his breath and fought with the controls to regain the shuttle.

As the blinding light of the matter anti-mater explosion died away the shuttle levelled out.

Hornblower regarded the spinning debris field that was all that was left of the Mary Galante.

“She's gone,” said Mathews.

Hornblower watched the remains of his first command; shining fragments in space.

The Mary Galante had been entrusted to him to bring to star port, and he had failed, failed on his very first mission.

He looked very hard at the nebula filling the viewscreen, hoping no one would notice the tears that were filling his eyes.

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Post by azriel Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:51 pm

I like how you capture peoples emotions, their internal battles,
"-but mostly it must have been the desire to impose a penance on himself for his negligence."
"He poked his chin upwards as he spoke; he would not allow Mathews to guess at his despair."
Yet another story Ive easily gotten into !




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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:00 pm

Much as I would love to take credit for the writing Azriel, sadly I cant- its Mr Forresters work.
My job is to insert the ST stuff as closly in style as possbile without showing up the joins to badly.

For example this passage-

On the Bridge of the Indefatigable Pellew fumed over every necessary delay. He had his eyes fixed on the sensor scans. The convoy was slowly scattering, spreading further and further with the passing minutes, and with the nebula's proximity limiting sensor distance some of those ships would find safety in mere dispersion if any time was wasted.

Pellew did not wait for the shuttles to return - it had to be by shuttle as the nebula disrupted transporter beams - at each surrender he merely ordered an away team;officer and Security guards, and the moment the away team was off ship he ordered the pursuit begin again of the next victim.

Was in the original text this-

On the quarterdeck of the Indefatigable Pellew fumed over each necessary delay. The convoy, each ship as close to the wind as she could lie, and under all the sail she could carry, was slowly scattering, spreading farther and farther with the passing minutes, and some of these would find safety in mere dispersion if any time be wasted.

Pellow did not wait to pick up his boat; at each surrender he merely ordered away an offcier and an armed guard, and the moment the prize-crew was on its way he filled his maintopsail again and hurried off after the next victim.

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Post by David H Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:41 pm

That was fun to read, but you would be disappointed if I didn't criticize so here goes:

The pivotal plot device doesn't hold up well to the adaptation. The original story is at it's heart a mystery, and the first rule of a mystery story is that the reader needs to be given all the clues.

In the case of the original story, the reader has the basic knowledge that damaged ships take on water and sink, and also that dried rice absorbs large volumes of water and swells up as it does so. Forester gives us all the facts about the gunfire and the cargo, but in such a way that the reader doesn't connect it all together until near the end.

In your adaptation you've made up some rules about radiation and grain that aren't common knowledge to the readers, so the mystery feels more like a cheat. The physics is also a bit shaky.

If you wanted to take the adaptation a little farther from literal but closer to the structure, I think you might have a shot hit an engine drive unit causing dangerous damage that would normally be detectable by the control sensors, but the sensors might have been getting false readings or have been intentionally recalibrated to compensate for radiation from a cargo of low-grade dilithium oar, for example. The important thing is that it draw on information that the reader already has.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:58 pm

I see what you mean David.
I could just have the crago identified before Hornblower is sent to board the ship- and the relevant hints about the type of grain and radiation mentioned then, tricky though without signposting what actually happens later.
I am not sure the average reader would have any more clue about sensors and false readings and recalibrations than radioactive grain but your point is well made and valid.
I shall have to think about that.

As regards the physcis- did you know in a Star Trek script whenever the writer needs science in the scrpit they just put brackets with the word 'science' in them- the script gets sent to a team of specialists, scientists and people from NASA who then work out whatever bit of technobabble is required- I wish had some of them! (and I bet the reboot ST films dont do that! Mad )

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Post by David H Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:58 pm

Pettytyrant101 wrote:

As regards the physcis- did you know in a Star Trek script whenever the writer needs science in the scrpit they just put brackets with the word 'science' in them- the script gets sent to a team of specialists, scientists and people from NASA who then work out whatever bit of technobabble is required- I wish had some of them! (and I bet the reboot ST films dont do that! Mad )

I used to know a sweet old lady who had worked as a secretary at Boeing in the 1960's. She got to know Gene Roddenberry rather well because he spent so much time hanging out and corresponding with the aerospace designers there. She had some cool pictures and letters to prove it!
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Post by Orwell Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:14 pm

What? Shocked I read the whole thing only to find out you borrowed and modified actual Forester! An outrage! Suspect {{{Quite an acceptable practice until you're caught, but an outrage once one knows. Very Happy }}} A useful and impressive adventure, Petty - but now you've had your fun, it's back to Home, orright! Mad

Oh yes, parts of the tale reminded me of Jack Vance. It only occurred to me at the end that Vance was a huge admirer of Forester. (I've only read one Hornblower book. I think it was the very one you've lent on, Petty. I remember liking it, but went no further. Sadly, I'm not a Trekky nor a Blowie. Never really got into either. Mind, I looooove Vance. I'm even thinking now that maybe Vance wrote scripts for Trek or some other Science Fiction series. Small universe, really...

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Post by Ally Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:24 pm

I’m getting a 2013 Subaru Forester in the prettiest soft green-blue color with a huge sunroof and heated seats and a warranty! Imagine that!

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