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[2005: FEB-MAR] What price a dream?

Ryan Horn

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Here goes..first time trying the writing challenge...

And to all from the Indy...this is at least PART of why Ben's...well Ben.


“Welcome to the USS Intrepid. Ensign Walker. You’ve been assigned to Engineering, so familiarize yourself with the protocols. I’ll see you on third shift.

--Lt. Crystal Yen


USS Intrepid”

Ben laughed as he read the message. While he’d been given more than ample time to complete his real mission, he doubted it would take all the way to 3rd shift.

Sitting down at the console in front of him, he began making routine requests of the computer, safety protocols, emergency responses, power linkups. All the things he would normally have access to, and as a new ensign would access. From there, he dropped in a Trojan horse, allowing it to capture the Captain’s pass code in a matter of minutes. And from there, he quickly gained root control of the system.

“THIS is supposed to be my “Big test”. I’ll be graduated in no time at all. Heck, I may even make the ceremony at this rate.” He laughed as he worked.

On the bridge, the tactical officer suddenly shouted to the captain “Sir, 3 Romulan warbirds decloaking in front of us. Disrupters armed!”

Captain Dimatteo responded quietly. “Red Alert, shields up full. Helm, I want evasive maneuvers, but no firing until fired upon.”

As the bridge crew moved to respond to the threat in front of them, the Red Alert klaxon went on throughout the ship.

Seeing the Red flashing lights, Ben smiled. He’d been on the ship for only 4 hours, and already things were playing his way. A timer on his computer started running, 14 minutes, 30 seconds and counting down.

Back on the bridge, Captain Dimatteo was having problems.

“What do you mean they aren’t responding to Hails? And how the devil are they remaining in formation as we move? “

“No idea sir.” His communications officer said, as he tried once again to hail the Romulans in front of him. “They simply aren’t responding, it’s like we’re hailing empty space”

Captain Dimatteo turned to face the Comm. Officer, “What did you say?”

As the timer hit 0, Ben engaged the next protocol.

“Sir, we are seeing holes appearing in our outer hull at multiple points, we have massive loss of air pressure throughout the ship!” Chief engineer Rybicki cried out. “Internal forcefields are in place and holding. “

“How are they…? Tactical, open fire! Stop that weapon...whatever it is!”

As the starship launched phasers and torpedoes at the ships in front of them, the expected crash with shields or a ship’s hull failed to register.

“Sir…we um….missed.”

Ben smiled; everything was going according to plan. Using his preplanned code, he diverted all access away from the Bridge, making the computer believe it had been destroyed. And, by setting up the loop that showed repairs being made between the battle Bridge and main, control was effectively out of everyone’s hands. He then sent out a message through the communications station to the specified account.

“Huh, 5 hours, not bad...not bad if I do say so myself. Maybe they’ll just skip me past that whole ensign bit.” He went over and got a cup of synth ale. Hardly the means he wanted to celebrate, but it was good enough for now.

On the bridge, the lights suddenly went dark as the computer “recognized” the “destruction”. After a few moments, the main screen came back on, then blinked back out as Ben’s program ran its course.

“Alright people, anyone want to tell me what’s happening?” A very frustrated Captain Dimatteo asked.

Lt. Commander Rybicki responded, “Sir, we’re not sure, we’ve gotten partial sensors back, we can verify that there are no ships outside, but that the internal forcefields are still in place. No location appears to have helm or weapon control. He paused, Sir, one of our torpedoes split a passing meteor. We are going to need to move the ship in 5 minutes. “

“There’s no way to move the ship now is there.”

“No Sir, not without Helm.”

“Signal abandon ship, we need to get the people out of here.”

“Sir, impossible to do so, Communications has been routed…to an ensign Walker’s quarters?”

“Bring it up…NOW!”

Ben wasn’t overly surprised as the image of the bridge came up on his panel. Ben thought, ‘This must be the difficult part, they are going to try to trick me into releasing control. Huh...didn’t think Starfleet had it in them…may as well go with it.’

“Ensign Walker here, how can I help you Captain?”

Captain Dimatteo found himself stunned by the [...]y look on the young ensign’s face.

“You did this…” he whispered.

“Obviously, as none of you could have managed it. “ Ben said with a grin.

Forcing himself to remain calm, Dimatteo tried to glare down at the young man. “Ensign, return control immediately and perhaps we can prevent an extended time in lockup when we get back. “

Ben laughed, THIS was supposed to be hard?

“I don’t think so sir. I’ve decided to take it easy, wait for a ride. I figure your chief engineer can regain control in...oh...about 12 hours. If he can get it done before then…I promise not to interfere.”

Captain Dimatteo looked over at his Chief Engineer, who shook his head.

“Ensign, we have a meteor heading toward the ship, if we can’t move in the next…2 minutes, everyone here will die.”

Ben whistled silently, they’d upped the ante…not bad. Not going to work, but not bad.

“Nice try captain, but the only meteor in system will miss us by over 10,000 miles. I hardly think we are in danger. But nice try…I have to give you credit for that. “

Dimatteo found himself grinding his teeth at this….prima donna of an ensign. “At least let us send out an abandon ship message. Let some survive, if you want to suicide yourself”

Ben shook his head, “Why, so you can have some people on the hull regaining control? Despite my age, I’m not completely foolish”

“You have to, you have no idea what you’re doing!”

“Oh I think I do, and I think if you just sit tight, everything will be just fine. “

As if in signal to his words, suddenly Ben found himself thrown from his seat, as automatic alarms went off everywhere. Finding himself floating, he pulled his way back to his console. He ran through it twice to be sure.

They’d told the truth.

The ship, now the wreck, truth be told, was only even in pieces because of the force fields he’d put to keep everyone out of the way. The Bridge was gone, as well as over 2/3 of the ship. And he’d done it all.

Worse, with his clever program, he couldn’t even regain control of the remaining systems to assist. Working feverishly, he was able to open an area to the evac suits.

The next hours were a nightmare to him as he moved from location to location. He’d managed to seal off a larger portion of engineering. And by ejecting the warp core, he’d stabilized the damage…such as it was. They had 12 hours of air…for 10 people. He was able to rescue 40…out of the crew and families of over 1000. He then watched as he told them the news, well at least the part that rescue would be there in 12 hours…but there wasn’t enough air for all. 31 other people chose to leave. He was held down by the survivors who claimed him as a savior…never knowing what he’d done. The sedative they gave him kept him out...and unable to tell them. His last conscious vision was of 31 people waving to their families and friends...as the vacuum claimed them.

Ben found himself sitting in a chair, across from the review board he’d spoken with before the mission.

“So Cadet, it looks like you completed your mission. The USS Intrepid was obviously no longer under bridge control at the end of the 12 hours” Commodore Smith said.

Counselor Basku turned to the young cadet. “So Cadet Walker, do you feel you’ve earned the rank of ensign?”

“Sir, no sir. I…I…I request the harshest penalty allowed. I…my actions…the meteor….all my fault.” Ben knew he was babbling but couldn’t help himself.

Basku leaned forward.

“But Cadet, you completed the mission. The others on board weren’t required. As you said in your previous review, ‘You did your job right, if the others couldn’t keep up they deserve what they get.’ Looks to me that’s exactly what happened. “

“I never meant this. I thought…I …” Ben pulled himself together. “Sir, I formally resign my commission and request a trial be brought against me for the murder of the members and families of the Intrepid.”

Basku leaned back, a slight smile on his face. “You see Commodore, he can be salvaged.”

Commodore Smith turned to counselor Basku, “You think this will set him straight?”

“I think he has a healthy respect for life now…”

“And that will make the difference?”

“*I* think so.”

Ben watched the interplay with only half interest. He kept seeing the faces of the people he’d killed. And the faces of those he’d rescued, smiling and thanking him…never knowing he’d sent them to their graves.

“What do you think Cadet Walker?”

The counselors question roused him from his morbid thoughts.

“Sir, I’m sorry..I missed the question.”

“Do you think you recognize the value of your fellow cadets, and future officers?”

“Sir, of course I do. How could someone not after… But I resigned my commission, and in any case there has to be a trial for what I’ve done.”

Counselor Basku smiled, “Not as much as you’d think. You’ve heard of the Koyabashi Maru I presume. Think of this as a personalized version of it.”

Ben sat back as the idea hit him.

“Sir, none of that was real?”

“Oh the people you saw were real, local actors and such. “

“They are alive?!?” His face suffused with joy at the thought.

Basku frowned at him. “Yes, though surprisingly none are very interested in talking to you.”

“Why? How could you?”

Counselor Basku looked down at Ben. “You are a cadet of the Academy, and show great promise if we can remove this Romulan taint from you. “


Commodore Smith stood up.

“It is the decision of this committee that Cadet Benjamin J. Walker will repeat his senior year. If successful, he will graduate with that class. Graduation will be carefully examined to make certain his grades, and his cadet Cruise are passed without fail.

This hearing is closed”

Ben sat there stunned. All of it was a lie. The Federation. The honest, defenders of truth, had played him far worse than any Romulan trick he’d ever experienced.

Counselor Basku walked up to him. “I’m sorry Ben, it had to be done. You needed to see the big picture, duty to your comrades and ship…not just yourself. “ He walked out of the room.

Duty, it all came down to that. Ben got up out of his chair. He’d pass. Nothing would stop him from it…he’d lock down that part of him that trusted…that believed in the dream of the Federation. After all, what price a dream when compared to Duty?

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