Subject: FRONTIER: And for my next trick...

SD 70825

Lt.Cmdr Houston stepped up onto the transporter pad wearing the white 
jumpsuit which was the trademark of Mr. Maren's invisibilty device. It
fit snugly, and was very comfortable. It covered the body from head to
toe, leaving gaps for the eyes mouth and nose. According to the Trill,
these gaps would be readily made up for by the device.

"Ready when you are sir," suggested Braun.

"Energise," replied Joanna. She was instantly locked in the 
transporter beam, the familiar cycle of glittering white energy 
depositing her as close as possible to the base.

Without a seconds hesitation, she activated the cloak. After a few 
seconds of scanning the area for life-signs, she headed toward the 
base, noting carefully to choose a different entry point (the device 
couldn't mask footprints very well, but the tearing wind had nearly 
obliterated Keanu's).

Houston waited patiently; there was a patrol emerging from the 
doorway, she could get in after it had passed.

The Trill had warned her not to brush too close to anything; the 
device would shut down and produce unpredictable effects. The system 
was primitive and would try to encompass two forms with its effect if 
they came into contact with the suit. Unfortunately the output wasn't 
great enough to accomplish that and the device would have to reset and

Smoothly she passed through the doorway just after the patrol left it.
The door registered no more than a slight stammer in closing.

Joanna took in as much visual detail as she could while setting her 
tricorder to scan for structures she could not see. After a few 
minutes of careful wandering, she came across a terminal. It was a 
simple matter to raise its security clearance a few rungs of the 
ladder. She read the base layout and blueprints rapidly, and 
ascertained the location of the two priority locations - the detention
cells, and the hangar housing the stolen vessels.

Unfortunately time was running out for Joanna. A guard had noticed the
flashing display and was cautiously approaching. As he contacted the 
cloak effect, a gargantuan sonic boom issued, and the device shut

Now, with ears as sensitive as the Kzinti... the guard lay sprawled 
on the floor, writhing in agony. Joanna made a run for the exit 
corridor, passing other deafened soldiers enroute. Unfortunately, as 
she reached the home straight, some of them were beginning to recover.
Phaser shots lanced wildly to her left and right.

Just as the device reactivated, Houston was caught square in the 
chest. She staggered but continued on to the doorway, the cloak now 
fully engaged. It compensated for the smoking, charred gap in the 
front of the suit.

Damage reports screamed for attention inside her skull. She couldn't 
afford to divert any power to her auto-repair systems; it was
imperative that she reached the boundary of the subspace dampening
field as fast as possible.

The doors were closed. No problem. The guards on either side of the 
doorway looked on shocked as the doors parted with a horrificly 
piercing metallic screech. Houston had made her escape.

Her systems were starting to go off-line as the organic fluids escaped
and caused burnouts. She made an effort to close off the damaged 
sections, seal off the fluid. It was fairly successful, but she was 
going to be in a sorry state when she got back.

Another seventy metres, the tricorder indicated. Or was it seven 
hundred? Her vision swam; Joanna saw nothing more than shapes and 

The Kzinti were pursuing intently, but she still had a speed 
advantage. She didn't look back to check what else was out with the 
guards. They were big, but had four legs, by the sound of it.

Ten metres, and suddenly her legs tensed, stiffened. She couldn't move
them. Joanna toppled forward with her arms out to catch her. They were
close now...

She crawled quickly, her powerful arms digging into the sand and 
pushing her forward without much help from her paralysed legs. Her 
mind was electric with the screams of pain, except it was only an 
equivalent to warn her she was damaged. Still, very unpleasant.

Outside the field now. She brought her hand down on the wristcom, and 
deactivated the cloak.

"Houston to Frontier. One to beam up," she sounded as frazzled as her 

As the transporter locked on and the white glitter swirled, she got 
the vaguest impression of a very *big* dog.

Transporter Room

As Braun watched Houston's crumpled form materialise on the pad, she 
knew what to do.

"Engineering team to the transporter room. Lt.Cmdr Houston has been 
injured." She walked over to the android, helped her into a sitting 
position with a bit of effort.

Festore led the engineers in with a gravstretcher, and rushed over to 
Joanna's side. He pulled off the balaclava and took her hand in his. 
Her face was pale, as if exhausted or shocked. She could barely talk.

"H-how bad?" her voice was a pinprick whisper.

He passed a tricorder over her form. "You'll make it. Just put 
everything you've got into auto-repair. We'll get busy with some 
replacement parts which you can integrate into your system." His tone 
was concerned, but a touch relieved by his readings.

She nodded and closed her eyes as the engineers hefted her onto the 

They headed for Sickbay, there was a bed already set up for her. Neil 
had never needed to adjust a biobed for an android, but he did know 

Her injuries were fairly extensive, but not as bad as Dr. Maddox's 
infamous holographic android patient. That had suffered phaser burns, 
heavy blows from solid metal objects, and lacerations which had split 
it nearly in two. The important thing that Neil had learned from it 
was that it wasn't always possible to save the patient's life.

But in this case, he knew he could deal with it. And if he couldn't...
he looked down at Joanna and knew that he wouldn't quit until there 
was absolutely no doubt.

He pulled the top half of the suit off, and removed the damaged skin 
segment, handed it to McVyker for cosmetic replication. Then he sent 
two engineers to replicate replacement parts, while he started to 
remove fused components. The toughest part was always getting rid of 
the burned-out stuff, while making sure he wasn't severing some 
essential if tenuous connection.

The Betazoid doctor looked on with something like concern mixed with 
bewilderment. She stayed out of their way, tending to the remaining 

*This is exhausting work* thought Festore as he started to bypass and 
replace the damaged components with freshly-replicated material. His 
determination to finish the operation saw him through right to the 
end, and he breathed a sigh of relief as he put the new skin 
section in place.

"Okay, people, we've done all we can. Go grab some sleep." He gazed at
Joanna's still form, and was almost fooled into thinking she was 

Ramsay entered. "How is she?" he asked.

"She needs a few hours to re-integrate her systems. After that, she'll
be pretty much back to normal."

"I see. Good work," smiled Ramsay, his tone conveying relief. "I hope 
she found out something useful down there, because we haven't heard 
from Mr. Maren." He sounded a little bitter again.

"You think he's run into some kind of trouble?"

"Possibly. I hope to hell not." He left Sickbay, his mind awash with 
anger. Several security officers had been badly injured, his Second 
Officer would be out of action for a few hours yet, and his Chief 
Engineer was missing.

What more could go wrong?

                       Respectfully submitted:

                            Sam M. Edwards
                  [Captain] Will Ramsay, CO FRONTIER
               [LtCmdr] Joanna Houston, tCMO FRONTIER

                     "Eat any good books lately?"

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