Subject: FRONTIER: The Great Break-Out (Not)

SD 70730

>"We go in and we get them out!" Keanu replied.

"That would not be a wise course of action," commented Houston, 
surveying the area by tricorder. "There is a sub-space dampening field
surrounding the complex, which will prevent any communication with the
ship. Also, our mission parameters do not include rescue attempts, for
the simple reason that the ship is not capable of sustaining more than
ten extra personnel."

"So instead we send Starfleet a message on a disguised channel, 
telling them where this place is, right?" suggested Angus.

"Essentially correct," replied Houston. "However-" she broke off as 
she caught sight of a figure some distance away. After alerting the 
rest of the group to the presence, she scanned as best she could the 
life-signs of their unexpected guest. It was human all right, she 
deduced from the tricorder readings. "Lt. Murray, remain cautious but 
try to be discreet. I believe this may be an escapee, but there is no 
way to be sure at this distance."

They walked closer to the human, and within minutes eyes less perfect 
than Houston's could make out a tired-looking man in a tattered 
Starfleet uniform. He was wary of the group, but seemed to recognise 
that they were on his side. Tentatively, he approached them, then 
stated, "Ensign David Ferrost, systems diagnostic engineer USS 

"Lt.Cmdr Joanna Houston, of the FRONTIER. We have been sent into 
Kzinti space to represent unofficial interests." She momentarily
checked Ferrost's name against the last USS Intrepid roster,matched
his visual and voice record, and continued, "I assume you escaped
from the complex just south of us. Are there any others with you?"

"Yes... you may have noticed them by now," replied Ferrost, gesturing 
discreetly to several figures behind him in cover. "We saw you beam 
down but we couldn't be sure it wasn't another Kzinti trick. They've 
already retaken a half-dozen of us, we broke out a week or so ago and 
hid where we could." He paused for a few seconds, scanning the area, 
listening to the air. Looked at his chronometer, then added, "Come 
with us. I think the Kzinti are about to send out another patrol."

Houston agreed, having already isolated a marching noise to the south,
and the away team moved off with Ferrost toward a mountain range.

"So, Starfleet's sent somebody to investigate and want to keep it 
under wraps, huh? I figured they might do something after a fleet of 
diplomatic ships disappeared in the Kzintian Bermuda Triangle. So, 
what did they send... a Galaxy Class?"

Houston tried to evade the question, knowing that it was neither wise 
nor encouraging to tell the young officer they had arrived in a 
moderately-upgraded escort vessel that wasn't really up to the 
mission. "Slightly smaller," she replied.

"Oh, I see... a Nebula? Ambassador? Excelsior?" His expression fell 
a little more each time Houston shook her head. "It's not big, is it?"
His tone was glum now, the concern for the sanity of Starfleet Command
growing with each passing second.

"The FRONTIER is a modified Thunderbolt-Class escort ship." Houston 
said, deciding to give them the best of the news now.

His expression was to say the least ashen at the news. "Are they mad? 
That's no ship to send on a rescue mission! You are here on a rescue 
mission. Right?"

Time for the medium-bad news. "Our current capacity is insufficient to
permit much more than ten extra personnel. Our mission priority is to 
locate the ships and their crew and arrange for their immediate 
rescue, without attracting undue attention."

"I see. Could you use an extra few hands, perhaps?" David's expression
was hopeful.

"That would be a matter for the Captain to decide, but we are now 
short of two of our original complement," Houston informed him as they
moved into a cave. Her voice filled the dimly-lit interior with a 
strange echo.

Murray realised that they were now being followed by the other 
Starfleet officers, who had been keeping an eye on Ensign Ferrost 
while he made contact with the people they desperately hoped were 
rescuers. A wise security measure at least.

He guessed they must be deep inside the mountains by now. The walls 
began to widen out into a large, well-lit cavern in which the rest of 
the escapees appeared to be residing.

Ferrost spoke briefly with a human officer bearing a captain's four 
pips.  She dismissed David, then spoke to the group.

"I'm Captain Anne Festore of the USS Intrepid. Can you tell me any 
more about this mission of yours?" she said.

Houston made note to ask later if she was a relation of Neil's and 
replied, "Little more than you have already guessed. Essentially a 
low-key scouting operation, in preparation for a rescue attempt. It 
has not been entirely successful so far... Captain, may I ask if the 
complex where you were held has any facilities for repairing ships?"

The captain chuckled softly and replied, "Yes, in fact it's a 
shipyard. They're holding the captured ships there, but I've no idea 
why. Any particular reason?... oh, you had a little trouble getting 
here, perhaps?"

Angus turned to Houston, "Commander, I can't believe you're even 
considering it! It would be suicide!"

"We have to explore all the possible options Lieutenant. That 
particular course of action would be risky but would have several 
benefits. Therefore we cannot ignore it," replied Houston. She turned 
back to the captain, "We were attacked en route, and our ship is 
damaged. We estimate three days for minimal repairs, but we could 
reduce that time period considerably with the proper facilities."

"How do you plan to overcome the forces in the complex?" asked Anne.

"I cannot formulate any plan as such without a clearer idea of the 
layout of the installation. That information may be difficult to 
gather," replied Houston.

"I have an idea," interrupted Keanu, "I've been working for some time 
now on a miniaturised cloaking device. It's not as good as the Romulan
cloak, it works on different principles, but it'll hide someone from 
view with no problems. The only thing is... don't the Kzinti have 
awfully keen noses and ears?"

"An interesting idea. You can suggest it to the Captain when we beam
up," Houston commented. "Captain Festore... I assume you wish to join 
us in the briefing room?"

"Yes, I'd like that. Only, we'll have to be clear of this place to use
transporters. The fact that the rock completely rebounds scans was one
of the reasons we chose to hole in here." She started toward the 
entrance, and the away team followed behind.

Once outside, Houston noted that the patrol was either not moving or 
back inside, according to the lack of marching noises. "Houston to 
Frontier. Five to beam up, including one Starfleet officer."

Transporter Room 1

The glow of the transporter beam took hold as the away team 
rematerialised on the transporter pad.

As the group moved into the corridor, Houston remembered the name 
coincidence. "Captain, would you by chance have a son named Neil?"

"As a matter of fact, yes. Do you know him?" she asked.

Neutrally, Houston replied, "He is a good friend of mine."

"Aaaaaah. How good a friend?" Anne seemed a little intuitive in this 
matter. And, apparently, interested in catching up on her son's 

"You could say we have an intimate relationship," said Houston, her 
tone flat.

Angus, who was listening vaguely to the conversation, could not help 
but hear the discomfort in Joanna's voice. It really shouldn't be that
tough for an android to talk about something openly, he thought. But 
the circumstances were a bit tricky, and he wasn't entirely convinced 
that Joanna was without emotion...

"Well, he certainly chose a fine young lady to spend his time with. 
So, how well is it going between you two? Any marriage plans? Children

Joanna stopped and turned to face the captain. "Not yet. But Captain-"

"Call me Anne," was the response. "What is it?"

"I think you should know that I am in fact not human, despite my 

"Then you're..."

"An android," finished Joanna. "Created by Dr. Bruce Maddox, in a 
Starfleet laboratory. My design is very similar to the Soongh-type 
androids, but certain advances in technology enabled a greater 
likeness to humans."

Anne looked quite stunned by the news for a moment, but after a time 
she regained her composure and continued her discussion with Joanna.

"This is quite a shock. I had no idea... how is it that you make such 
a convincing portrayal?"

"I was trained in interactions with humans, for some years after my 
activation. Several top psychologists taught me various human 
mannerisms, and I only joined the Academy when they were satisfied 
with my progress."

                       Respectfully submitted:

                            Sam M. Edwards
               [LtCmdr] Joanna Houston, 2O/OPS FRONTIER

                     "Eat any good books lately?"

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