Monday, 31 December 1990

The Valkyrie Chronicles - Return to the 24th Century Chapter 1

The U.S.S. Valkyrie was in high orbit around the planet Earth, but not the Earth it’s crew knew. The Valkyrie was still in the 20th century, and as they considered their options, they knew their time was running out.
    A meeting of the Valkyrie’s most senior officers was called. Seated at the head of the table was Captain James Watt, the commanding officer, a man well respected by his crew. His number one was Commander Arthur Pendragon, one of Starfleet’s finest young officers, who, one day, was destined for a command of his own.
    Lt. Commander James Winthorn was the third in command. Although still weakened by events beyond his control, his experience was valuable at this meeting.
    The variety of different species was no more apparent than in the other officers. Although all of them humanoid, they were different from the inhabitants of Earth.
    Lt. Tamar Amarus was chief security officer. A native of the ice planet of Traxxor, he possessed the ability to naturally generate heat.
    Lt. Lom, an insectoid, was the chief engineer. He knew the Valkyrie inside out.
    Trospheo, a telepath, was the ship’s counsellor. Although green skinned, there was something compelling about her. She was proof that brains and beauty could mix.
    Lt. Sutek was well respected by the scholars of his home planet of Vulcan. Their scientific community was unhappy to see him enrol in the Starfleet Academy.
    Finally, Dr. Gourlak Singh, the chief medical officer. A Sikh from India, some alien cultures were amused by his choice of headwear, most notably, the patka.
    Other officers present included Lt. Mark Tompkins, the helmsmen, and Ensign Archer Greenleaf, the first academy graduate from the planet known only as The Time. His Elvin fighting skills had helped away teams on many missions.
    A non-crew member had also been invited to the meeting, Dr. Magus, the immortal wizard and leader of the group of young super-powered beings, the Warriors.
    They discussed many ideas on how to return to their own time.
    “Can’t we slingshot around the sun? Admiral Kirk did it in that Klingon Bird of Prey!”
    Sutek shook his head.
    “Our power is decreasing. We no longer have sufficient to get us to warp nine. I fear, gentlemen, that unless we find a way of returning to our own time soon we are effectively ‘dead in the water’.”
    “Do we have enough power to get to the Time?” asked Magus. “I believe that my brothers of the Istari may be able to regenerate enough power to return the Valkyrie to it’s own time.”
    “In what manner?” asked Sutek.
    “We will project the ship forwards by mystical means.”
    “I do not believe it will work. Logically it cannot.”
    “Magic, my dear Sutek, takes no account of logic. It replaces the laws of physics. You only have to believe in it. In a time when mankind was less sceptical than it is now even the humblest mage could accomplish great things. The Istari were old and wise when the universe was young. The only price I ask is that my close companions and I be allowed to accompany you.”
    “I say we give it a try.” said Pendragon.
    “Agreed.” said Watt. “But what of your commitments on Earth> Your mithril mine and the Warriors?”
    “Won’t you be a little out of your own time?” asked Singh.
    Magus roared with laughter.
    “I have visited many centuries and lived in more than you can count!”
    “Perhaps I should introduce you to Jean-Luc Picard!” smiled Watt. “You both dislike Q!”
    “Q is descended from the Aramaspi. A thoroughly worthless wretch!”
    “Very well, Magus.” said Watt. “We head for the Time of Legends.”

    It was a mere two day journey to the Time. Magus had beamed down to the Citadel of Istarix, in the far north of the planet. It’s shimmering towers of ice stretched into the sky as far as the eye could see. With him were Archer, Tamar Amarus and Watt.
    “You are privileged to set foot in the citadel.” said Magus. “Usually only a mage is allowed to enter. It is here that we of the Istari decided the magical destiny of the universe.”
    They entered. As they walked down the corridors of Ice Watt noticed that it was not cold. Then he noticed that Magus was now clad in robes of black and scarlet.
    They entered a great central chamber. Here the walls were not of ice but of stone. Great arches towered above them. The chamber was lined with all manner of beings. As Magus entered they drew away. At one end of the chamber was a dais, upon which stood five oaken thrones, inlaid with cavourite and mithril silver. Four were occupied by tall, stern looking men, with flowing white bears and eyes of piercing intensity. They, too, wore robes like Magus, but in white, grey, brown and green. Magus looked quite out of place, standing a good foot shorter than each of these figures.
    “Greetings, my brothers. May Ilivater walk with you.”
    “And by your side!” replied the others in unison.
    “Take your place, Magus!” boomed the figure in white.
    Magus seated himself.
    “I bring the people of the starship Valkyrie.” said Magus. “They arrived as you know to aid us against the renegade Saruman. We must now help them return to their own time. I will return with them.”
    “What of your future self?” asked Gandalf, adjusting his white robe.
    “As you know, Gandalf, we have only one self.” interjected Ringulrun, the green. “We cannot effect the laws of the universe because they do not bind us!”
    “Very well.” nodded Gandalf.
    Merlin, in the grey, turned to the Valkyrie crew.
    “Return to your ship. In twelve hours you will find yourself back in your own time. Do not attempt any scan until this time has passed.”
    The last of the wizards, Radagast the brown, turned to Magus.
    “Your companions will accompany you?”
    Magus nodded. They returned to the ship. The hours ticked by slowly, unendurably. Then, exactly twelve hours later.
    “Sutek, where are we?” asked Watt.
    “In our own time, as promised, Captain.”
    “Excellent.”
    “Perhaps not. We are in the Alderaan system!”
    “How far is the nearest star base, Mr. Tompkins?” Watt asked.
    “The nearest star base is the Crow’s Lake outpost.” replied Tompkins. “At warp nine it would take us five weeks to get there, and it would take us through the Tattooine system.”
    “Make a full scan.” ordered Watt. “Mr. Lom, I need full powers to the sensors.”
    “I can give you more from the impulzze enginezz.” said Lom in engineering. “But only for a few minutezz.”
    “Make it so Lieutenant.” said Watt.
    “Beginning the scan now, sir.” said Sutek.
    A few minutes passed.
    “Two large vessels approximately one-point-five light years away.” said Sutek.
    “On screen.” said Pendragon.
    The image appeared on the main viewer. Only one of the vessels could be seen. It looked as huge as the Valkyrie.
    “Computer shows it to be an Imperial Star Destroyer.” said Amarus. “Crew compliment, two thousand. Armaments, phasers, photo beams, speed capability, maximum warp nine.”
    “The same as us.” said Pendragon. “Do they know we are here?”
    “We have not been scanned.” said Sutek.
    “Who are the ‘Imperials’?” asked Pendragon.
    “The Imperial forces are ruled by a man known only as the Emperor.” said Sutek. “He is rarely seen. They rule this and many adjoining systems, with an iron hand. They have been at war with a ‘resistance’ force for many years now. It is made up of an alliance of worlds. Five years ago, they approached the Federation, and asked them to act as ‘peace-makers’. An emissary was sent, but his starship was destroyed by an Imperial Star Destroyer.”
    “I remember now.” said Watt. “The Eagle!”
    “Yes, sir.” said Sutek. “Since then, the Federation has monitored the war from afar, and decided not to interfere unless provoked. From the last reports Starfleet Command received, the rebellion appeared to be gaining an edge.”
    Then, something happened. One of the Star Destroyers made the sudden jump to light speed. Within a few seconds, it was less than a thousand miles away from the Valkyrie.
    Counsellor Trospheo suddenly sprang to her feet.
    “Captain.” she said. “I’m feeling a very strong presence on that ship, a strange, truly evil ‘force’.”
    “We are being hailed, Captain.” said Amarus.
    “On screen.” ordered Watt.
    The image that appeared on the viewer was not a pleasant one. It was that of a humanoid, clad in a black metallic mask. Trospheo gasped.
    “Vader.” said Sutek. “The only information we have on him is that he is the Emperor’s right hand man.”
    The figure on the screen spoke.
    “Federation vessel, you are intruding in Imperial space. I give you one hour to leave.”
    Watt ordered communications cut.
    “Do we have full power?”
    “The enginezz are juzzt building to it.”
    Watt reopened communications.
    “Lord Vader, our engines are temporarily disabled. We will soon be leaving your system.”
    Vader cut communications.
    “I sense a presence aboard their ship.” he mused. “Of a type I have never encountered before. Monitor their movements.”
    Aboard the Valkyrie.
    “They are suspicious.” said Trospheo. “He knows Magus is aboard, but they do not know what he is.”
    “We’ll head for Mos Eisley.” remarked Watt. “If we want to find out what Vader wants it will be there.”
   
    The journey to the Tattooine system would take them an hour. Because of this, Watt decided to pay a visit to the place known as ‘Gresley’, at the front of the Valkyrie’s saucer section. ‘Gresley’ was the meeting place at the Valkyrie, a place where the crew and visitors of the ship could relax with a drink in their hand. It was the ideal place to relax and Roget your troubles. If ‘Gresley’ had existed in the twentieth century, it would have been known as a pub.
    Watt entered to find an argument in progress.
    “You mean you don’t have malt whisky?” demanded Magus.
    “Our replicator can produce any drink you want.” said the barman.
    “Whisky from your replicator tastes like badly watered mammoth’s urine!”
    “What’s the problem?” asked Watt.
    “This gentleman wants real whisky, Captain. He says…”
    “I know what he says.” replied Watt. “Magus, no one is distilling whisky now.”
    “I don’t call that progress.” snorted Magus.
    He left the bar, followed by Watt. Opening up an oak cabinet he had brought from his castle, he produced a bottle.
    “The only bottle of best scotch malt in this century!”
    Wistfully, Magus cast a spell over the bottle.
    “Now it will never empty! But it’s not the same!”
    Watt gazed around Magus’ quarters. They were now oak panelled. Antique but comfortable furniture filled the rooms. A blazing log fire burned. Magus lit a pipe from it.
    “That is a real fire.” Watt cried.
    “Of course.” replied Magus. “Not everything in this century is an improvement.”
    Watt gazed around him. Magus’ dogs and cats lay asleep before the fire. Teddy, a collie, awoke.
    “Tea time yet?” he asked.
    Watt could not believe it.
    “That dog spoke!” he blurted.
    “They all do!” smiled Magus. “They have been with me for over a thousand years now, you know!”
    Then, a message got through to Watt.
    “Pendragon to Watt. We’ve picked up a small vessel, of Imperial design.”
    “On my way.”
    A few minutes later Watt arrived on the bridge.
    “It’s a small one man vessel, Captain.” said Tompkins. “Maximum warp nought-point seven, armed only with lasers, two thousand kilometres away. I’m also detecting no life signs.”
    “On viewer, Mr. Tompkins.” ordered Watt.
    The image appeared on the viewer.
    “A tie fighter.” said Watt. “How long has it been following us?”
    “Unknown.” said Tompkins. “But he probably thinks he is undetected.”
    Watt turned to Pendragon and smiled.
    “Starfleet regulations insist we go to yellow alert.”
    Pendragon was confused.
    “What do you mean?” he asked.
    “He may overtake us and attack!” smiled Watt. “He may wish to board us!”
    Pendragon smiled.
    “I see what you mean sire. Mr. Amarus, go to yellow alert.”
    “Aye, sir.”
    Watt then contacted the engine room.
    “Mr. Lom.” he said. “Have you been monitoring the tie fighter?”
    “Aye, zzir.” he said. “I’m zzuprizzed zzomething that small could travel zzo far from it’s mother zzhip.”
    “Would it be possible to beam the fighter into one of our shuttle bays? Using the transporter?” Watt queried.
    “A tie fighter izz zzlightly larger than one of our zzhuttle craft.” Lom replied. “We would have to zzlow to impulzze power to get within range. I would alzzo have to divert power from the zzhieldzz.”
    “Then make it so, Lieutenant.” said Watt. “As soon as you are ready, report to transporter room three, and beam the fighter to shuttle bay two.”
    “Aye zzir. Lom out.”
    Watt turned to Pendragon.
    “I want you to go to shuttle bay two, number one.” he said. “Mr. Amarus, take a full security team. Disable the fighter’s weapons, then take the pilot to the brig for questioning.”
    Pendragon and Amarus left the bridge.
    “Mr. Tompkins.” said Watt. “Slow to impulse power. I just hope he catches the bait!”
    The Valkyrie slowed so it could allow the tie fighter to catch up. Soon, it was under a thousand kilometres away.
    “Fighter closing rapidly.” said Tompkins.
    “Transporter room three.” said Watt. “Prepare to beam on my mark.”
    “Aye, zzir.” said Lom.
    Slowly, the fighter closed on the Valkyrie.
    “Craft now three hundred kilometres away.” said Tompkins.
    “Transporter room three!” said Watt. “Now!”
    Lom powered up the transporter beam. Within a matter of seconds the tie fighter vanished from the void of space, and a second later, it stood in the shuttle bay. A phaser blast to the fighter’s exhaust port, and the fighter’s power drained away.
    “Open the hatch!” ordered Pendragon.
    Two of the security guard opened the entrance hatch to the fighter. Commander Pendragon then climbed the fighter, and peered into the hatch. What he saw was not what he was expecting. He switched on his communicator.
    “Pendragon to Watt. You’d better get down here sir. Something unexpected has turned up.”
    Moments later, Watt entered the shuttle bay.
    “What’s wrong, number one?” he asked.
    Pendragon turned round. He had been obstructing Watt’s view. He was greeted by a gold metallic humanoid-shaped being.
    “Greetings. I am protocol droid R4. I do hope this is an Alliance vessel!”
    Watt switched on his communicator.
    “Watt to bridge. Cancel yellow alert.”

    Half an hour later, the droid was being examined in engineering.
    “Remarkable.” said Lom. “We’ve known that Imperial forzezz are lezz advanzzed than uzz in zzome areazz, zzuch as weaponry and tranzzportation beamzz, but I’ve never zzeen anything like thizz before!”
    “If Dr. Soong were alive, he would be very interested in this.” said Sutek.
    The droid looked around, very bemused by what was happening.
    “I do hope I’m not causing any concern, sir.” he said. “But I do not see any need to have an armed guard present!”
    Then, Watt and Commander Winthorn entered.
    “A remarkable piece of technology, Captain.” said Sutek. “Starfleet would be most interested in this droid.”
    Watt walked over to the droid.
    “You claim to be a Rebel Alliance droid.” said Watt. “But what were you doing on an Imperial tie fighter?”
    “I was merely trying to escape, sir.” R4 replied. “I was captured a few weeks ago from my craft, the Antilles. The thought I carried information about the whereabouts of the Rebel base, but I’m afraid they were mistaken.”
    “Mr. Sutek.” said Watt. “Would it be possible to connect this droid to our computer?”
    “It is possible.” said Sutek. “But it may take some time.”
    “You have all the time you need.” said Watt. “Make it so.”
    Sutek and Lom lifted R4 to his feet.
    “Will you follow us?” said Sutek.
    “Certainly.” said R4. “But I do hope that this process does not hurt!”
    The droid was taken to the bridge, where one of the science stations was activated. Sutek took out a small micro-chip sized device, and placed it on the droid’s metallic head.
    “Computer.” said Sutek. “Access the memory banks of protocol droid R4.”
    “Working.” said the computer.
    R4’s head began to twitch about.
    “Oh my!” he said. “I’ve never felt anything like this before!”
    Many images appeared on the screen.
    “Remarkable.” said Sutek. “If such information were to fall into the wrong hands…”
    Several more minutes passed as the ship’s computer continued to access the droid’s memory.
    “Exactly what izz your memory capazzity?” asked Lom.
    “I was constructed several years ago, sir.” R4 replied. “I am programmed in over two thousand languages, including Klingon, Romulan and many other obscure languages.”
    “Klingon, obzzcure?” remarked Lom.
    “Certainly.” said R4. “Imperial forces have only had a passing contact with the Klingon Empire!”
    Then, Watt entered the bridge.
    “Have you finished, gentlemen?” he asked.
    “The droid’s memory capacity is vast.” Sutek replied. “His memory banks contain a vast amount of information.”
    “When you have studied the information, let me know and I’ll call a staff briefing.”
    “Captain.” called Tompkins. “We are approaching the planet Tattooine, and we have company.”
    Watt walked over to the ops station.
    “An Imperial Star Destroyer, sir.” said Greenleaf. “In a parking orbit above the planet.”
    Then, Sutek approached Watt.
    “Captain, we have finished the transfer of information.” he said. “As there is much information, I will need some help to study it. May I enlist the aid of Dr. Magus’ companion, Teddy? I understand he is well versed in computer technology. He did design the computer in Craigmillar Castle.”
    “It’s still hard to believe that a dog, even a border collie, can have an I.Q. of nearly two hundred.” said Watt. “Go to Magus’ quarters. It’s probably best to ask him in person.”