Subject: FRONTIER: The second escape route

SD 80224

Timeframe: Just before Keanu makes his escape, beaming Riker and Houston  
           out of the nearby room.
Location:  The very same nearby room.

The group could hear muffled sirens from down the corridor, guards rushing 
past outside.  As everyone moved to the open door for a better look,
Houston and Riker were frozen in their tracks by transporter beams.  In the
few moments it took for the cycle to be completed, they were gone... not
too far away.

"What is going on?!" was the first response, from m-Keanu.

The rest had no answer to that question.  m-Houston finally said, "If you 
ask me, you picked a lousy hotel to book into.  Shall we go?"

"Now that you mention it, the room service is terrible," added Ishara.

They left the confines of the room, threading their way down the corridor 
where all the commotion seemed to have been centred.  A few guards gave
them wary glances, but they seemed to be more concerned with something

Further down the corridor they spotted guardsmen pouring into a room.  
m-Houston said, "I'll try to find out what's going on, and meet you at the 
next intersection.

She padded down the corridor, trying to be discreet, ducking behind pillars 
to escape attention.  Finally she caught a glimpse of what was inside the 

A ship, pretty big too.  Ferengi Marauder if she wasn't mistaken.  There
was no way she was going to get to it, never mind inside it, let alone
steal it and get out of here.  She took in the rest of the room, and
noticed a jagged hole in the roof of the hangar.  Given that it was
directly above the ship, there was a fair chance the hole had been made by
an escape pod - it wasn't the only explanation, but the most likely one
given all the evidence she could gather.

Her spying was cut short by a guard who had noticed her interest in the 
room's contents.  m-Houston sensed the sudden presence and belted the poor 
bloke into the wall without looking, then ran off down the corridor to
catch up with the others.

She heard shots behind her, moments later damage registered as arrows 
embedded themselves in her back.  It wasn't serious, but she'd need to fix 
that when she got back to the ship.  As she weaved down the corridor to try 
and avoid any more hits, she met m-Keanu and the others and warned them to 
run across the intersection fast to avoid the fire.

"Picked up some company did we?" grinned m-Keanu.  He flinched as an arrow 
skimmed past his head.

After a few more minutes they found themselves in the gatehouse.  m-Houston 
rapidly subdued the guard and set about operating the drawbridge.

The bridge swung down and the portcullis cranked slowly up, everyone 
scrambled underneath as the sound of pursuit grew nearer.  With the 
additional weight the bridge hit the far side of the moat with an almighty 
, and they ran off into the forest.

With relief, it seemed they were no longer pursued, the sounds of the
guards growing more distant.  A new sound attracted their attention, and
abruptly most of the group glanced around, looking for the source.

Ishara pointed it out, a tiny but significant dot in the sky, moving fairly 
rapidly and closer to the ground with each passing second.

m-Houston said, "I think that's an escape pod, with our friends on board.  
It'll crash pretty hard if they don't pull up fast enough."

"Where, roughly?" asked m-Keanu.

"If they keep going as they are, about forty-seven kilometres in that 
direction," she pointed at a far portion of forest partly obscured by haze.

"If they manage to make a smooth landing, could be a little further away."

"That's at least two days walking," commented m-Teri.

"We've got three options," suggested m-Houston.  "We can go back to the 
castle, and likely as not get taken prisoner.  Or, we can follow the escape 
pod to its crash site.  Or, we can find out where the majority of our crew 

"Well, you can scrub the first one," added m-Keanu.  "Personally, I say we
go to the crash site.  They might need our help."

"They might not survive the crash," said m-Teri.  "I'm all for the third 
option, personally."

"Same here," replied both Isharas.

"I say the same.  You coming with us Keanu?" replied m-Houston.

"Sure, I can take being outvoted.  That's going to be more than forty-seven 
kilometres by the way, back the way we came."  He pointed in a different 

"Look, if they survive the crash, where do you think they're going to go?" 
said m-Teri.

m-Keanu faltered then added, "I see your point.  They might just come to
the same conclusion we have and start heading to the others.  What if they
try and find us?"

"If they come to the same conclusion we have, and it's a fair assumption 
given that three of our doubles are in that escape pod, they'll assume
we're heading back to the big group," commented m-Houston.  "Anything
else?"  When there was no reply she added, "Let's get moving then, we have
a long haul ahead of us."

They set off in the last known direction of the main group, their journey 
punctuated early on by the distant reverberating sound which swept through 
the forest.

"Do you think they made it?" Ishara asked her double.

m-Ishara stopped and looked over to where the dot had sunk below the 
tree-lined horizon. A faint, barely noticable plume of smoke rose upward, 
carried off almost instantly by the bitter wind.  After considering the 
question a moment, she turned to Ishara and replied, "Let's hope so."

Ishara stood for a moment, gazing at the same location.  A few seconds 
passed.  She turned and strode after the rest of the group.

47 km away

Riker came round in the smoke-filled escape pod, and winced as the smoke 
stung his eyes, nose and lungs simultaneously.  He released the seatbelt
and looked around.

Houston, in the seat opposite his in the pod, was staring straight ahead.
Her limbs were slack, suggesting some sort of shutdown.  Next he caught
sight of Ensign Blake, and had to stifle a wave of nausea.  She had been
impaled in her seat by a collapsing safety beam.  He turned to the cockpit,
which was thicker with smoke, and tried to discern the status of Keanu and

They weren't there.  He checked all over the pod rapidly, his lungs slowly 
being poisoned with the smoke.  Eventually deciding they had to be
somewhere else, he hefted Houston as best he could and stumbled toward the

The panel to the left of the door was dark, and as he stabbed at the dead 
controls he felt his chest tighten with the thick smoke.  He groped blindly 
for the explosive override, tugged at it, then sucked in fresh air as the 
hatch flew outwards.  Resting for a second, he surveyed the devastation the 
landing had caused.  It looked as if they had touched down pretty hard, but 
it could have been worse.

He lifted Houston again, slowly moved off away from the pod.  After an 
exhausting minute, he figured they were safe from any explosion that might 
occur.  Five seconds later he wished he'd gone a little further, as the pod 
was incinerated by a furious explosion, flinging huge chunks of duranium 
high into the air.  Fortunately nothing nasty landed in their vicinity.

Riker turned his attention to the android, wondering what was wrong and how 
he could fix it.  Sometimes he wished he'd paid a little more attention
when Geordi had been explaining some intricacy of Data's physical make-up.
He could sure use some cybernetics expertise right now.

There didn't seem to be any external damage, so he figured the trauma of
the landing must have caused a shutdown.  Now, if it had been Data, the 
activation switch would have been the answer.  He had no idea if Houston
had an activation switch.  If she did, he could only guess where it was.

He tried the location that had been used for Data's switch.  Nothing there,
not even the slightest bump.  Riker sighed and tried to think where it
could be.

Well, this certainly wasn't the best of days.  He was stuck here with a 
shell-shocked android, and there were two people unaccounted for.  And he
had no idea where the rest of the crew of the Frontier were.

Riker looked round as he heard a noise, then saw Houston's left hand
moving, exploring the ground it touched.  She blinked a few times, then her
head turned to take in the surroundings.  After a few seconds, she pushed
herself off the ground into an awkward sitting position.

"How are you, Houston?" inquired Riker.

"Several of my systems were badly traumatised by the-" she broke off and 
amended, "I am a little shaken up, sir."  Houston noticed a stray lock of 
hair and brushed it back into her hairline with her fingers.

"Right.  Ensign Blake didn't survive the crash... Keanu and Joanne weren't
in the pod when I came round, but they didn't leave by way of the door. 

Houston paused a moment, still trying to straighten out a few glitches in
her system, then suggested, "They could have been beamed out.  However, if
that was the case, why were we not taken with them?"

"Maybe there was some kind of interference, or maybe they just didn't want 
*us*.  Either way, there's someone on or near this planet with transporter 
technology.  There's no other way they could have left the pod."  Riker 
frowned, then asked, "Houston, where were the rest of your crew headed
before you got split up?"

She scanned the terrain, spotting at a distance the castle they had escaped 
from.  After computing the path of Keanu's group, and her own, she
estimated the path of the main party and the probable distance they could
have covered in the time that had passed.  Given all this data, she pointed
into the forest and said, "Between thirty and forty kilometres in that

"Thirty or forty kilometres? Ouch!" was all Riker could say.

"I believe that there is an eighty-five point one percent probability that 
the others have attempted to escape the castle.  If they were successful, I 
estimate an eighty-four point nine percent probability that they will head 
for the main group instead of searching for us," commented Houston.

"You certainly have a head for figures," mused Riker dryly.  "Well, there's 
no time like the present."

"Pardon, sir?"

"We'd better get moving.  And stop calling me 'sir', you'll drive me nuts.  
Call me Will."

Houston nodded and replied, "I apologise.  And I might add... I prefer my 
first name."

"Ah, I thought there was something amiss."

"I do not understand."

"Perhaps you haven't noticed, but when people use your last name, you tend
to be deadly-accurate with your statements, and when they use your first
name, you speak almost the same way as a regular human."

"I had not noticed."  She frowned slightly, then suggested, "Generally, my 
last name is used by superior officers, and then usually alongside my rank.
And my first name is reserved for people who are at least fairly
well-acquainted with me.  This would tend to suggest an association is
formed with the two halves of a person's name-" She noticed Riker's
expression and stopped.  "Is something wrong, Will?"

Riker couldn't help but smile.  The android had just explained one of the
many points that had been made on humanoid psychology, something which Data 
had done with unerring regularity.  "No, nothing wrong.  It's just that,
when you think about it, most humans react the same way."

"That is... interesting.  I had not realised that I could pick up human 
traits without noticing it.  In fact, my inability to notice them could
also be classed as another human-like quality," Houston replied, her
expression almost one of elation.

"You're quite like Data, in some ways.  It's good to see that he's not as 
dead as people would seem to believe."

"I am not quite sure what you mean," replied Houston.

"Even if he himself is gone, there are still those like him, androids with 
some of the qualities he possessed.  His family."

"I see.  In a way, I find the presence of other androids like myself to be
a comfort.  Very much like... family."

"How many, besides yourself?"

"I know of two others that are serving in Starfleet - Link and Shelter.
And of course, there is my double from the mirror universe."

"I'm sure that there'll be more as time goes by."

She didn't answer, but he didn't make anything of it until he noticed her 
preoccupied expression.  Even then Riker couldn't bring himself to ask what 
was the matter, it seemed a bit intrusive.  They continued onward, the sky 
growing darker as night fell.

                          Respectfully submitted:

                              Sam M. Edwards
                    [Captain] Will Ramsay, CO FRONTIER
                  [Cmdr] Caroline Ramsay, rodXO FRONTIER
                   [LtCmdr] Joanna Houston, aXO FRONTIER

    "The next time you go over my head, I'll have yours on a platter."
                         Commander Benjamin Sisko

Frontier Logs