Monday, 31 December 1990

The Valkyrie Chronicles - Return to the 24th Century Chapter 5

The High Council of the planet Sontara was in session. Before them stood General Jago. The leaders of the council gazed down at him sternly.
    “What news from the Empire?” he boomed. “What have your spies discovered?”
    Jago settled himself more comfortably in his chair.
    “First reports indicate that a starship from the United Federation of Planets was involved, one of their new Valkyrie class. Unfortunately no lasting damage was done to the Empire, they still remain too strong for us to conquer at present. The Federation forces have done us a service by wrecking a potential alliance with the Monstrons.”
    “We should attempt to capture this ship.” remarked one of the councillors. “Although these hominids are wasteful of their technology their drive systems and shielding devices are superior to ours. It would prove beneficial to study them.”
    “I would recommend their capture for another reason. Whist monitoring their transmissions we discovered that they had one of the order of the Istari aboard.”
    “The Istari are a legend. They no longer exist.”
    “We will discover that if we capture the ship. A scientific study of this Istarian may prove useful.”
    “Very well.” replied the council leader. “Do what must be done.”

    Aboard the Valkyrie…
    “We are now entering Sontaran space.” said Winthorn.
    Amarus stood beside Watt.
    “I recommend caution, Captain. Although there has never been any conflict between the Federation and the Sontarans, we have never enjoyed a cordial relationship with them.”
    “Carry out a full range sensor scan. I want to know when any Sontaran ships approach us.” ordered Watt.
    The scan began, vast areas of space all around the Valkyrie being swept by the scanners.
    “There is a Sontaran ship in this sector, Captain.” answered Winthorn.
    “They are hailing us, Captain.” added Tompkins.
    “On screen.” replied Watt, seating himself in his chair.
    The screen broke into life as the visage of General Jago appeared on the screen.
    “Federation vessel, you have entered Sontaran territory. Explain your mission.”
    “I would advise caution, Captain.” said Amarus. “The Sontarans have been at war with the Rutans for many centuries. Neither side has gained an advantage. They may seek to take over our ship to gain that advantage.”
    “How, Mr. Amarus?”
    “The Sontarans are bred exclusively for war. While battle is regarded by the Klingons as a matter of honour, and by the Predators as a sport, it is regarded by the Sontarans as a fact of life. Their weapons are amongst the most effective ever developed. However, their spacecraft are inferior to Federation craft in speed and manoeuvrability. They still employ trans-light rather than warp drives. This development has thus far eluded them. Should they gain possession of this ship it’s my belief that they could gain warp drive by studying us.”
    “We are on a peaceful mission.” replied Watt when communications were resumed. “A navigational error carried us into Sontaran space. We are currently returning to the nearest Federation starbase.”
    Jago’s face grew grim.
    “We have received intelligence reports that your ship was involved in a pirate raid on the Galactic Empire. Under stellar law I have the right to detain you until such time as you prove to my satisfaction that it was a legitimate act of self preservation.”
    As Jago spoke, two Sontaran battle cruisers were moved alongside the Valkyrie.
    “You will remain here in orbit, you, Captain Watt and your senior officers will be taken to Sontara to answer questions.”
    Once more Watt silenced communications.
    “Can he ask that?” he said.
    Winthorn checked the computer.
    “He has the right. Even the Romulans recognise the right. If we were to refuse it would not only cause an incident with the Sontarans but also with the Romulans.”
    “What right do we have?”
    “We have the right to communicate with our commanding officers, in our case Starfleet Command on Earth. We also have the right to travel to Sontara without leaving our own ship under their escort.”
    Once again Watt called Jago.
    “We agree to your request, General, but we claim the right to contact our commanders and the right to travel to Sontara in our own ship.”
    Jago nodded, then cut the communication.
    “Mr. Tompkins, how long would a priority one signal take to reach Earth from here?”
    “Three days, Captain.”
    “Send it. Then set a course for Sontara.”
    Magus arrived on the bridge, humming one of the airs from The Pirates of Penzance.
    “What’s going on?” he asked.
    “We’ve been accused of space piracy by the Sontarans.” replied Watt. “Under space law we have to accompany them back to Sontara to answer their accusations.”
    “They are using very unusual tactics for Sontarans.”
    “What do you know of Sontarans, Magus?” asked Watt. “I want all senior officers in my ready room to hear this.”
    All assembled. Magus spoke.
    “Sontarans have known of the existence of mankind for millennia, regarding you as a primitive, but potentially threatening species. I won’t bore you with the details which you already know about their culture. What I do know is that there is no way the Valkyrie would be intact now unless the Sontarans wanted something from her.”
    “When we reach Sontara the following officers will accompany me; Amarus, Pendragon, Trospheo and Winthorn.”
    “May I attend also, Captain?” enquired Magus. “I may prove to be useful.”
    “By all means do so, Magus.” replied Watt. “Meeting adjourned.”

    A few hours later the Valkyrie was in orbit around Sontara. Watt and his party beamed down to the capital and were greeted cordially by Jago.
    “I am sure this will be a mere formality, Captain Watt, we have prepared the best quarters we have.”
    Jago returned to his office. A Sontaran soldier from the intelligence wing, Linx, was waiting.
    “What news do you have, Linx?” asked Jago.
    “We will have to mount an all out assault on their ship to capture it, or we could use Captain Watt and his men as hostages. We also know that there is an Istarian in their party, the one called Magus.
    “Then if we can isolate Magus, and find a way of tapping into his powers we will not have to trouble with an assault on their ship. We can take it. That is our right, as Sontarans!”

    On the Sontaran/Federation border, the Valkyrie’s sister ship, the Lohengrin, patrolled the space ways. A message had been sent from the Valkyrie whilst it was in the Alderaan system, and it had been received by Starfleet Command some ten days previously, so the Lohengrin had been dispatched to meet them.
    The Captain of the Lohengrin, Connor McCloud, strode onto the bridge. The tactical officer, Lt. Muir, had some news for him.
    “I have just intercepted a transmission from the Sontaran system.” said Muir. “From the Valkyrie, priority one.”
    “In my ready room, Mr. Muir.” McCloud ordered. “And ask Ambassador Watt to join me.”
    Several minutes passed. McCloud watched the message, and then another entered his ready room. McCloud smiled. The face was familiar to him. James Watt had been a Federation ambassador for over seventy years, and his exploits as the leader of Anglo-Force some three hundred years ago had earned him much respect among his peers. Now, aged four hundred and thirty, but only physically thirty, he had come here on a special mission.
    “It appears we may have some trouble, Ambassador.” said McCloud. “The senior Valkyrie officers have been taken into custody by the Sontaran government.”
    “We have known each other since 1999.” said Watt. “Please, call me Jim!”
    “Starfleet said I should listen to you as much as possible.” said McCloud. “We both know that the relationship between the Federation and the Sontarans is patchy at best.”
    “Which is why we must wait.” said Watt. “If I know my grandson, he will continue to keep us informed. If we enter Sontaran space without permission, we could be looking at another conflict with not only the Sontarans, but the Romulans as well. I can’t give you orders, Connor, but I suggest we stay put.”

    Magus sat in the quarters allocated to him by the Sontarans. Two Sontaran security officers watched him, unknown so they though, through a two way mirror. As Magus sat, unknown to his observers his mind was wandering the corridors of the stronghold. Trospheo could feel his presence. They established telepathic contact.
    “I am being observed, Trospheo. I believe that all members of our party are.”
    “I sense that they want something from us, but I don’t know what.”
    “I believe that I am in some way connected with their plan.”
    “What do you suggest?”
    “I believe that my observers will shortly make a move. Tell Captain Watt not to believe what he is told about me.”
    Magus returned his mind to his body and adopted the appearance of sleep. A few seconds later his observer entered the room, administered a sedative, and took him away.

    The next morning Sontaran guards came to escort Watt and his fellow officers to face questions from Jago. As they entered the chamber he noticed Magus was not present.
    “General Jago, where is my associate, Magus?”
    Jago looked wearily at Watt.
    “Magus escaped last night. He has stolen one of our fighters and fled the planet.”
    Magus, at the moment this exchange was taking place, was strapped down to a laboratory table. Sontaran scientists believed him to be sedated, but still he retained full control of his senses, allowing the scientists to find out only the things he chose to let them.
    “Body scans revealed a basically humid organ system. The cell structure is unique in it’s extreme resistance to the ageing which affects most carbon based life forms in time.” spoke one of the examiners into a recording device. “The cells of the body exhibit a high concentration of the substance known as cavourite, only found naturally on two places in the known universe, thus we can surmise that the specimen is either from planet Sol III or from the planet known only as The Time. The brain is highly developed, more so than the human or we must admit, the Sontaran brain is, particularly in the parietal and frontal lobe areas. The entire body seems to be capable of absorbing energy directly through physical contact with a source, or by the humanoid way of converting ingested chemical matter. In this respect the probic vent is found to be superior.”
    As the scientist spoke, Linx entered.
    “Have you isolated anything which will enable us to board their ship and take control?” he asked.
    “Nothing specific.” replied the scientist. “Except perhaps a high level of cavourite in the body.”
    “Very well.” said Linx. “Remove the brain for further study, and destroy the body!”
    Linx left. The scientist prepared a cutting disc to open Magus’ skull. As he turned to perform the operation Magus was not there. A blow to the probic vent on the back of his neck rendered him unconscious.
    “Well, I know why the Time Lords warned me against the Sontarans.” mused Magus as he placed the fallen scientist on the table. “I need freedom to move around and I certainly can’t looking like this, now.”
    Swiftly he transformed the Sontaran into his own image, took that of the Sontaran and left. A few seconds later what appeared to be Magus was removed for destruction.

    Watt and his officers had been returned to their quarters. The questions had been slow and hardly relevant to the matters in hand. He now began to suspect the Sontarans of plotting something but he did not know what. He did not even look up when a Sontaran scientist entered the room.
    “Come now, Captain, I hardly think it’s that bad.” said a familiar voice.
    Watt looked up to see Magus before him.
    “Trospheo told me not to believe everything they told me about you. They said you’d stolen a fighter.”
    “Oh, my dear fellow, no!” smiled the wizard. “I’ve just escaped having my brain removed. It seems they want your ship, and they thought I was the key to getting access.”
    “We must return there at once.” said Watt.
    He tried to establish contact with the Valkyrie but could not.
    The Valkyrie was in contact with others, however. Tompkins was in touch with McCloud aboard the Lohengrin.
    “You’ve heard nothing from Captain Watt for three days now?” asked McCloud.
    Tompkins nodded. McCloud turned to Ambassador Watt.
    “Tompkins, what is your current position?”
    “We are in orbit around Sontara. Five Sontaran battle cruisers have taken up station around us with all weapons powered up. Our shield cannot stand up to the barrage they can deliver. All crew present except the senior officers and Dr. Magus who are down on the planet.”
    McCloud cut in.
    “Did you say Magus?”
    “I did, sir. He helped us get back from the twentieth century.”
    “Can you beam down a rescue party?”
    “Negative. They have surrounded the planet with a force field.”
    “Right.” replied McCloud. “We are on our way.”

    It was a matter of mere hours before the Sontarans knew of the approach of the Lohengrin. Jago summoned Linx, who escorted Watt and his party to his presence. Jago strode up and down the chamber angrily.
    “Now we know the reason for your presence in Sontaran space, Watt!” he boomed. “The Federation is planning an invasion of the Sontaran Empire.”
    He strode to the communications console.
    “Five squadrons of fighters to intercept the starship Lohengrin.”
    Then he turned angrily to Watt.
    “You will take a party of Sontarans onto your ship. There we will take it over and use it to defend ourselves.”
    A group of soldiers entered and bundled Watt and his men roughly into a shuttle.

    Tompkins sat in the captain’s chair on the bridge when Jago’s face appeared on the screen.
    “Your ship is now the property of the Sontaran Empire. You will permit us to dock safely of your Captain and his officers will die.”
    “We have no choice. Let them dock.”
    Jago strode onto the bridge and seated himself in the command position.
    “Put us on a course to intercept the Lohengrin.” he ordered.
    The Valkyrie left Sontaran orbit.
    Lom was in engineering. As he watched the consoles, monitoring the matter/anti-matter balance in the warp drive engines he noticed an anomaly on the screen. He moved closer. The matrix on the screen resolved itself into the face of Magus.
    “I’ve returned to the ship in the only way I know how, but I am trapped in the warp drive circuits.” he said. “You must arrange a transfer of energy to free me, but I cannot use my powers once I am free, I have been drained of too much energy and I cannot cope with channelling more.”
    Lom arranged the surge and soon Magus stood before him.
    “What do you zzugezzt?” the insectoid asked.
    “No one knows this ship better than you Lom, you must find a way to stop the Sontarans using her against the Lohengrin.”
    “They muzzt not know what we are doing.” replied Lom.
    Magus nodded. He entered the turbo lift. He left it in sickbay.
    “Magus.” cried Singh as he entered. “We were told you were dead.”
    “Never mind that now, you must find a way of immobilising the Sontarans while leaving our crew alone.”
    Singh moved to his console.
    “I believe I have a way of doing so. They do not feed as we do, but absorb energy through the probic vents on their necks. If we reverse the polarity of the ship it should knock them out but leave our people conscious.”
    Lom entered. Singh outlined his plan.
    “I will need a low power phaser burst from outside to do this. I will send a scrambled message to the Lohengrin.”
    Magus nodded.
    “Is everything else as we discussed?”
    “All izz ready.”
    Soon, the Lohengrin was in sight.
    “Release our starship now.” boomed McCloud.
    Jago ignored him.
    “Raise shield and fire at will.” he sneered.
    Then Magus entered the bridge.
    “You will find all offensive and defensive systems are inoperative.”
    “Lohengrin preparing to fire.”
    A low intensity blast struck the Valkyrie. One by one the Sontarans fell unconscious. When they recovered they found themselves in custody and McCloud and Watt gazing at them amusedly.
    “Well.” said Ambassador Watt. “I trust my grandson with a ship and he almost loses it.” Watt smiled sheepishly. “It’s a good thing Magus was aboard.”
    Magus shook his head.
    “I can take no credit for what happened. You have Singh & Lom to thank.”
    “What about the Sontarans?” asked Pendragon.
    “We will leave them on the edge of their own territory. Now let’s get home.”