Porter stared at the computer screen in his ready room. He tried to focus on his daily tasks, but no matter how many department reports and communications from Starfleet that he looked over, Porter couldn’t take his mind off Ensign Harrison. One month into his career as a ship commander and Porter already feels like he’s failed one of his crew members, something that he promised to never do.
The doorbell chimed. “Enter,” he said. Porter heard the door open but didn’t turn to see who it was.
“Sir,” T’Mel said from just inside the doorway.
Porter sighed. “Yes, commander, what is it?”
“I wanted to let you know that I have received several inquiries from crew members regarding the Hullman and Ensign Harrison. Some are wondering why such a powerful ship is helping us with our…research mission, and others have asked about how to get an opportunity like Ensign Harrison was given.” T’Mel referred to the stories that she and Porter have had to make up to cover for the Omega Directive.
“The crew will just have to trust us. I know the whole situation is…unique to them, to all of us…but we can’t risk anyone knowing about the directive. The last thing we need is for someone else to get taken away by Vargas’s crew.” Porter stood up and walked to the window. “T’Mel, we need to get Harrison back. God only knows what she’s going through over there.”
T’Mel walked up next to Porter. “I want her back as much as you so, sir, but given how prepared Vargas is for everything, I doubt there are any ways for us to get her back without them knowing.”
Porter turned to face T’Mel. “What if I went over as a distraction? Maybe to talk with Vargas to negotiate her release, but send a team over to get her back?”
T’Mel thought about it for a moment. “I think that idea has merit, but the possibility of Vargas finding out about the ruse and holding you in custody is too great a risk for us to take.”
“Not if we use portable transporters.” Porter walked over to his computer and brought up the specs for the miniature transporter device that was originally used by the android Data aboard the Enterprise-E. “We would just need to make sure each team member has one, including one for Harrison. We find her, beam her out, and I find a way to leave the ship at the right time.”
The idea made sense to T’Mel. She even thought that it had a fair chance at working. “That idea does sound much better. However, I still don’t think it is prudent to challenge the Omega Directive. From the way is has been described to us, it sounds like Admiral Vargas would be very willing to use any, and all, means necessary to stop us, as the directive states. And as much as I would like to have a ship of my own someday, I wouldn’t like it to be at the expense of a failed plan to rescue one crewmember, even if she is one of our own. To quote Ambassador Spock, ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few’, sir.”
“I understand that very well, commander.” Porter spun the computer back around and placed his hands on the desk, accompanied by a loud sigh. “I’m not leaving Harrison over there. I will contact Vargas and let him know that I want to speak with him about this. Have a small security team assemble to be ready to beam over. Provide them with as little pertinent details as possible to avoid breaking the Omega Directive with them. You will keep an open comm line to me, and when I get the location of Harrison, you will instruct the team to beam over and extract her.”
T’Mel sighed. “Very well, sir. I would like it noted that while I fully support you, I do not think that this course of action is very logical.”
“Duly noted, commander. Now, if you will, please go assemble the team and await my departure. Dismissed.” T’Mel left the room to attend to her duties. Porter pushed a couple buttons on his computer to open a comm line to the Hullman. “Solstice to Hullman, this is Commander Jackson Porter. Please inform Admiral Vargas that I wish to speak with him and that I will be beaming over shortly to meet with him about our mission.”
There was a pause. “Hullman to Solstice, roger. Admiral Vargas will await your arrival.”
Porter tightened his phaser holster as he walked into the transporter room. T’Mel was there along with three security officers. “I know Commander T’Mel wasn’t able to provide you with very much information, but trust me, it’s for your own best interest. You will be listening in to my comm line for the location of one of our own, Ensign Leeanne Harrison. Once you hear the location, T’Mel will send you to beam in as close to the location as possible. Since you will be encountering Starfleet personnel, keep your weapons on a stun setting.” He pulled a small item out of his pocket that looked like a rank pip.
“You have been given these personal transporter devices. Once you have the target, place these on you and activate them to beam back to the Solstice.” He placed it back his pocket. “Simple enough. Any questions?”
One of the officers raised their hand. “Sir, what exactly is going on? Not what we’re about to do, but I mean…the reason why the Hullman is here with us. I mean, it’s not exactly like our mission was a critical one, yet Starfleet felt like sending one of the most advanced ships in the fleet to assist us?”
“I can’t tell you any more than I’ve told you, lieuteuant. You just need to trust me on this, it’s better for your safety. Anything else?” None of the others spoke up. Porter looked over to T’Mel. “Keep the ship safe, commander. Your orders are to do whatever it takes to keep the ship and crew safe, understood?”
T’Mel nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Porter nodded back and walked up onto the transporter pad. “Porter to Hullman, one to beam over. Energize.” After a couple seconds of the usually fuzzy feeling, Porter appeared on a new transporter pad to the view of Admiral Vargas and a couple security officers pointing phaser rifles at him. “Well then…permission to come aboard, sir?” Porter said.
“Granted, commander. Stand down,” Vargas replied, gesturing to the security detail. “I must admit, I wasn’t expecting to hear back from you so soon.”
Porter stepped down from the platform and walked alongside Vargas, unsure of where they were going but letting the admiral lead the way. “Our mission is too big to ignore, sir, but I also can’t ignore what happened to my officer. Before we go on about the omega mission, I would like to see Ensign Harrison.”
Vargas chuckled. “Porter, you know why she’s being held, and you know that I’m not treating her poorly. She’s still a Starfleet officer and Federation citizen, and she will be treated as such.”
“Perhaps, sir, but can you say that your crew will treat her the same way that you would?”
“Careful Porter,” Vargas said as he turned and stopped to face Porter. “It’s not wise to question the loyalty of MY crew.”
“With all due respect, sir, you claim they will follow your orders, but you’re holding one of my officers for acts that you claim are against Starfleet’s regulations. If you think that MY crew is willing to break orders, then why should I think that YOUR crew isn’t capable of the same?” Porter paused to catch his breath. “Sir,” he added, not wanting to go too out of line.
Vargas paused for a moment to think about what Porter said. He turned to the lead security officer. “Leave us.”
“But…sir, I think-”
“I said leave us, lieutenant.”
Vargas waited until the two security officers were far enough down the hall to not be in earshot before he spoke. “What are you really here for, Porter?”
“I told you why I’m here, sir,” Porter replied. “I want to see my crewmember for myself, and I’m not leaving until I see her. We both know that if the roles were reversed, you’d be doing the same thing as me.”
Vargas nodded. “You’re probably right.” Another pause while Vargas pondered. “Fine. I’ll let you go see her, but once you do, I want you back on the Solstice and awaiting my orders, is that understood?”
The two walked down to the end of the hall and took the turbolift down a couple decks to where the brig was. When they walked in, Porter saw Ensign Harrison in one of the cells with the security force field activated. Seeing Porter walk in, Harrison stood up from lying down on the bed and walked to the force field. “Commander!” she exclaimed.
“Ensign, are you alright?” Porter asked.
“I-I’m doing as well as I can be expected, sir. Why? Why am I being held? What did I do, sir?” The young officer was clearly scared with what she’s going through.
Porter stepped closer to the force field. “Easy, ensign, everything will be ok.” He glanced back at Admiral Vargas. “The admiral and his crew are holding you because you might have overheard some extremely classified information.”
“What? What information? I barely heard anything you were talking about!”
“I know, I know.” Porter held up his hands to try and calm Harrison down. “I’m trying to get you back, but unfortunately, protocol, more than rank, is making it very difficult for me to have the admiral release you at this time.”
Harrison put her face in her hands, nearly crying. “Sir, I’m so scared.”
“Don’t worry, Harrison, they won’t harm you, and I promise you that I’m doing my best to get you out of here. And I will.” Porter made a move as if he was adjusting his cuff and pushed a button on the inside of the cuff to send a quick signal to the Solstice.