The Midas Touch

by Cheryl Petterson

Standard Year 2254

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Sulu put the ship on yellow alert as soon as the boarding party beamed back, then called another briefing.

"Yellow," Lian commented. "How appropriate."

"Captain," Courtland said, "I've been able to obtain no readings indicating that the Enterprise and the planet, and everything and everyone on them, have ever been anything other than pure gold."

"I found no trace of life support functions," Salok added, "and no explanation for their absence. If we assume the transformation occurred in the ship and the crew simultaneously, the atmosphere should have remained stable."

"Mechanically the ship appears sound," Jilla reported tonelessly, "taking into account the substitution of all the components required for ship's utility. With the proper replacements and the time to regenerate power, there should be no reason the Enterprise cannot be rendered functional." She paused. "Providing enough insulating material might prove difficult," she continued, her voice nearly inaudible. "Gold is an excellent conductor..."

She trailed off and, seated next to her, Jeremy placed a hand on her arm.

Sulu swallowed, then glanced at the officers in the briefing room. "Does anyone have any ideas as to how this happened, or might have happened?"

Jerel shook his head with a soft whickering sound. "There is no known natural or sentient-made phenomenon that has this as a result, either intended or not, in any records I have access to," he replied. "If some unknown species has developed some kind of transmutation wave or effect..." He shrugged helplessly.

"Sentient life cannot develop on a nomad planet," Salok put in.

"And the nomad is golden too," Jeremy said. "That implies that if there were such a wave possible, it would have had to have caught the planet and the Enterprise at the same time."

"Unless it somehow got caught in its own beam," Lian muttered.

"Doctor, in order for what you are suggesting to have occurred," Salok argued, "there would have to have been an advanced species on the nomad in the first place, which, as I pointed out, is not possible."

"Couldn't some advanced species have colonized the nomad?"

"There would be evidence of such colonization," the Vulcan returned, then glanced at his Section Chief. "Commander Courtland, did your scans of the nomad reveal any such evidence?"

"No, nothing that would indicate any sentient life," the Chief of Science said. "In fact, nothing that would indicate any life-forms at all."

"What about an underground installation?" Jeremy asked. "Would our sensors detect that?"

"Yes, Commander, and there are no structures to be found beneath the surface of the golden crust, nor between it and the golden mantle," Courtland answered.

"So much for a need to explore the planet," Sulu said. He stood, rubbing his fingers over his forehead. "All right, our next order of business, then, is to find out what's wrong with our long-range communications, since short-range is clearly functional. And if we have tractor capability, I think we need to tow the Enterprise home. Tristan, Jerel, Jilla - get on it."

The officers rose, and Jilla moved next to him.

"Sulu, I must... I feel the need to..." she began.

He smiled sadly, giving her a quick embrace. "Go check on Jenni, hon, and let me know how she's doing." He bent down, kissing the top of her head. "I love you."

"And I you," she replied.

As she began to pull away, Sulu was seized with sudden fear and pulled her back to him.

"Celletyea!" he whispered fiercely.

She clung to him just as ardently. "Cortayel," she murmured.

I love you!

For eternity.


Jenshahn was asleep when Jilla reached the Nest. Nurse Blake said she'd been upset, but fell asleep after a few lullabies. Jilla watched her daughter sleeping for a few moments, filling her mind with peaceful memories, knowing how Jenshahn would react were she to let her sorrow get the better or her. She thought of the last time she had seen Ruth and Spock, at the zil-arin, the Indiian ceremony of acceptance of a newborn child.

She and Sulu had knelt before her sculpture of Aema, turned to face the room for the ritual. They each acknowledged their parentage. She claimed the title of ama, mother. Sulu, who held their child in his arms, stated that he was Jenshahn's father, rosh, and held her out toward the representation of Indi's Goddess.

Jilla held her breath through the memory of the sharp pain that seared through both her and Sulu as Aema's essence deigned to manifest before telmnori to accept Jenshahn as one of Her children...

Jenshahn stirred a little, and Jilla quickly forced her thoughts back to joy and peace.

Ruth and Spock had stepped forward, Sulu placing Jenshahn into Spock's arms. The simulated light of Indi's moons, Mnori and Mirana, had blessed the week-old child, and Jilla had given her name:

"In the Court of Aema, you will ever be Jenshahn Ruth Takeda." She had turned to Ruth placing her hand over the Antari's heart. "Ruth Maxwell Valley ani Ramy, do you consent to the acceptance of this child as your own should Beggar's Court claim her mother before the time of the affirmation?"

Sulu had stepped toward Spock, placing his hand on the lower left side of the Vulcan's torso. "Spock Sareklrn Xtmprosqzntwlfd, do you consent to the acceptance of this child as your own should Beggar's Court claim her father before the time of the affirmation?"

Ruth had smiled at the sleeping baby in her husband's arms, and placed her free hand over Jilla's. Spock likewise put his hand on top of Sulu's. They had answered together.

"This we do."

Jilla opened her eyes, realizing abruptly they had been closed. She wanted nothing more than to see Ruth's smile again, to hear Spock say her name, to watch Sarek chasing a butterfly in the Enterprise's garden.

She fled the Nest before her anguish woke her daughter, knowing she would have no comfort to give her.


Sulu sat in the con, pensive and impatient. Tristan was getting nowhere with Communications. He insisted there was no reason for long-range not to work when short-range did, and nothing he did was having any effect on the difference. Jilla had reported that Jen was asleep and the tractor beam was operable, but for some as yet unknown reason, it wasn't able to lock on to the Enterprise. Salok and Jerel were pouring over the anomalies in the data they'd managed to collect: where did the atmosphere that should have remained on the Enterprise go? Why was there gravity on the ship? Why was there a Karman Line shell around the nomad, but no discernable atmosphere to create a reason for that distinction? And always, what had happened, how had it happened - and could it happen to the D'Artagnan?

The comm signaled, and Sulu answered, aware that his voice sounded a little testy. "What is it?"

"Sulu, I was wondering," Dr. Rendell said, her own tone its usual Haven casual, "if the new Gorsini scanners could perform the equivalent of an autopsy on some of the golden Enterprise crewmembers. It might give us a beginning of an inking of a clue here."

The captain frowned, reluctant to disturb anything on the other ship, but not able to articulate, even to himself, why he should be.

"You think that's a good idea?" he said instead.

"Why? Is golden catching?" Lian retorted.

It might be, Sulu thought, but he said, "How the hell would I know?"

"Do we want to try to get more useful information or not?" the Haven insisted.

Sulu sighed. "Talk to Jerel. If he thinks it's safe, I'll okay it."

"Thanks, Heika."

Sulu sighed again. Her use of the Japanese honorific that translated 'majesty' was normally a mild irritation, an in-joke between them. But now it reminded him too strongly of Ruth calling Jim Kirk 'bwana,' and it stung.

He glanced up as the port lift door opened. Jeremy walked out of the lift and over to him.

"Captain, you can't do anything up here," he said, his voice pitched low. "Lettin' the same questions spin around in your head won't do you or anyone else any good. It's Third Watch, you should go home, get some sleep."

"I can't sleep, Jer," he returned, just as softly. "Jilla's working, Jen's in the Nest - the same questions will just spin around in my brain horizontally."

"I could distract you," Paget offered.

Sulu's lips twisted into a wry grin. "You are so obnoxious, Jeremy Maurice."

"Just doin' my duty, sir," the TerAfrican quipped.

"It's your duty to be obnoxious?"

"If it keeps you in good humor and helps ship's morale...."

"That's a counselor's job."

"And I'm your counselor, non?"

Sulu snorted. "You've been spending too much time with Del."

"I wish, but Calaya says 'ick!' nearly as much as Daffodil..." Jeremy's voice suddenly trailed off. "Damn," he said at last.

Sulu reached up, pulling the taller man's head down to his own, their foreheads touching.

"I know, babe," he murmured. "I know."

After a moment, Jeremy straightened. "So, since you can't sleep, let's head down to the gym. I can exhaust you there nearly as well as I could in bed."

Sulu shook his head. "Obnoxious," he said, but he rose and left the Bridge with his Security Chief.


"I'm not sure this is safe, Doctor," Jerel Courtland said from his deck in his ready room. He was studying the sensor readings, the communications schematics and had just added the tractor schematics then the call from Lian had interrupted him. She had requested authorization to bring one of the Enterprise crewmen to the D'Artagnan for a Gorsini scan.

"Why?" Rendell countered.

"We don't know..."

"Is there any indication that this state is contagious?"

"How can we possibly..."

"My point, Commander. I think it behooves us to find out."

"And MY point is, Doctor, that if it IS, bringing a body here will have us finding out too late."

Over the com, Jerel could hear Lian's impatient sigh. "If we aren't trying to find out what happened, why are we still here? If we're that worried about contamination, shouldn't we be vamoosing our little butts away from goldenland?"

"That's the captain's decision," Courtland muttered, his tone making it clear that he would be deciding differently.

"Kam being a bit too 'my god these were my friends!' for you, Jerel?"

The Equian snorted. "No. He's being not enough 'my god this is my crew!' for me."

"Have you given your recommendation that we get the hell out of here?" the doctor asked, and Courtland could almost see the cynical pursing of her lips.

"His orders were...."

"Ah, it's you who's being a bit too 'these were the captain's friends'," Lian said knowingly.

"Not to mention one of the Fleet's three most valuable ships and crews," Jerel tried to sidestep.

"You keep tellin' yourself that, son, as the CMO of that ship would've said," was her faux-blasé response.

"Doctor..." the First Officer began, then sighed wearily. "Lian, how exactly do you suggest I 'recommend' to him that he abandon his daughter's godparents before we've made every attempt to...."

"Then grant my request," the Haven interrupted. "Let me see if we can find out more - or maybe even a way to reverse this."

"If it does turn out to be contagious...." Jerel cautioned.

"Then we'll all have a golden eternity to berate ourselves, won't we?"

The Equian took a deep breath, then let it out in a soft groan.

"All right, Doctor," he said. "Permission granted."


Jeremy gave a deep grunt as he landed on his back on the wrestling mat. Sulu stood over him, breathing heavily, but grinning.

"Damn if you haven't remembered every inch of your Security training," Paget grumbled.

"Damn if you haven't made sure of it every week since you've been my Chief of Security," Sulu countered.

Jeremy sat up extending his hand. Sulu looked at it suspiciously.

"I know better than to fall for that one," he said.

Paget chuckled, then said, "Truce, babe. I promise."

Still wary, Sulu reached down, grasping the TerAfrican by the wrist, not the hand.

"Just in case," he muttered.

"I said truce," the Security Chief reminded, but he sprang up to his feet more energetically than was strictly necessary.

Sulu moved a step back, pulling Jeremy with him, so that they ended up with the taller man nearly falling into his arms.

"You playin' dirty, now?" Paget whispered, his lips centimeters from his captain's.

Sulu stared into the dark brown eyes he knew so well. His heart was racing, from more, he knew, than the exercise. It was both terribly easy and frighteningly difficult to live and work every day with Jeremy. Their relationship had grown closer in the past two years, despite the fact that neither one of them would have believed that possible without resuming the sexual aspect of it. But the feelings between them had steadily deepened until Sulu could no longer refuse the only word that truly encompassed all he felt. He was well aware that he had denied it since the very first night they'd become intimate, so many long years ago. And of how much that denial had hurt Jeremy. Yet if he tried to actually vocalize it - except in the most casual of ways - something inside him froze. But his mind no longer rejected it. That, he supposed, was something - although he didn't know what - except that it was wondrous and dangerous and hopeless.

I love you, he thought. And just as if he had said it out loud, Jeremy smiled.

"Come on, let's shower, then go see if Jilla's home."

"Now who's playin' dirty?" Sulu grinned.

"Did I say together?" Paget challenged teasingly.

"Did you have to?" Sulu retorted

"With a mind like yours?"


Jeremy laughed, and they walked together, bumping each other's shoulders, to the locker room.


For some reason the transporter couldn't get a fix on anything on the Enterprise.

Lian scowled, and turned to the man standing at the controls. "The transporters were working fine an hour ago," she reminded.

"They still are, ma'am," Geoff Redford replied, patiently. "There are no life signs to locate, and everything there reads as gold."

"Saford's hell," the Haven sighed. "I suppose I'll have to go over there and grab someone."

"Um... I'll need authorization for that. Ma'am."

"Courtland told you he okayed..."

"Retrieval, not returning someone to the Enterprise," Redford stated.

"Oh for the love of Devri..." Lian sighed again, and activated the comm on the control panel.

"Courtland," came the swift reply."

"Jerel, will you please tell Mr. Redford that I can beam over to the Enterprise and get a body to autopsy? Pretty please with a lump of sugar on top?"

"What do Haven primitives eat instead of bananas?" the Equian returned dryly.

"Chemicals," the doctor responded in kind.

"Why did I ask?" Jerel said, and the sound of a soft whickering could be heard from the com. "Why do you need to beam over?"

"Because there are no life signs and everything is gold," Lian responded in a creditable imitation of the engineer.

"Ah, of course," Courtland sighed. "And you want to go over there and grab someone, is that it?"

"In a nutshell, yes."

"Solid gold is heavy, Lian. Bring someone from Security to help you carry the - uh - body."

"I can get her a set of anti-grav units," Redford offered. "That way, we needn't expose anyone else to..."

"But exposing me is all right with you?" the doctor interrupted.

The Human blushed. "You were already over there, ma'am." he apologized.

"He has a point," Courtland's voice noted.

"Yes, he does," Lian agreed. "Maybe we can borrow the anti-gravs Jilla uses to keep her milk-filled and therefore larger-than-normal -- though how that's possible I certainly don't know -- breasts from causing her to fall on her face when she tries to walk." And she grinned as Redford's flush deepened until his face was almost purple.

"Not nice, Lian," Courtland chided.

"I'm not," the Haven replied. "Now can we get this show on the road?"

"Mr. Redford, get some anti-gravs and beam them and Dr. Rendell to the Enterprise."

"Aye, sir," the engineer acknowledged.


Even with the anti-gravity units, it was difficult to maneuver the golden body of Daffy Gollub to the correct position on the bed of the Gorsini scanner. For one thing, her golden skirt didn't fold flat against her rear-end, making the lower half of her body stick up off the scanner. Neither would her golden arms lower to rest on the scanning platform. Nor would her hair compress at the back of her head.

"This is impossible," the D'Artagnan's Head Nurse, Gianna Rossini, muttered. "Whose bright idea was it anyway?"

"Mine, Gia," Rendell replied as she tried to manipulate the scanning controls to compensate for the awkward placement. "Do you have a problem with that?"

"Other than you're out of your little Haven mind?" The pretty TerItalian woman grinned at her superior. "Not that that's anything unusual."

"Taking snippy lessons from the Exec, are you?" Lian asked.

"You mean I couldn't learn that from you?" Gia quipped.

"I'm obviously far too clever for my own good," the doctor replied. "Can you turn her a little to the left?"

"Onto her left side or toward the left of the scanner?"


Rossini laboriously maneuvered the anti-grav units. "There?"

"I suppose so," Lian sighed, taking a step back from the scanner controls. "I'm still reading pure gold - organs, arteries, bones, muscles, skin.... nothing but gold, gold, and more gold."

The nurse swept a tendril of her upswept long, dark hair away from her light brown eyes. "So what do we do now?"

"Do you think," Lian began speculatively, "that anyone on the Enterprise would mind if we melted some of this gold gold gold down - for expenses?"

"Well, if you're talking about Commander Gollub, here...." Gia returned, equally speculatively, then frowned. "Nah, I think Fleet would have a hissy." She paused. "Especially if the Enterprise stopped being golden and we'd already melted off a part. Then we'd have to listen to Russian scolding."

"You're probably right," the Haven agreed. "Not to mention Vulcan lectures and Antari bitching." She shook her head. "We'll put Groupie back in her place and tell the captain we know absolutely nothing."

"Isn't that what we knew before?"

"You know what I like about you?" Lian stated as she turned off the Gorsini scanner.

"I think like a Haven?"

"There, see?"


Jilla was studying the latest diagnostics from both the tractor beam and communications when Sulu and Jeremy entered the captain's cabin.

"Where's Jenni?" Sulu asked.

"She was sleeping," Jilla replied. "I did not want to wake her."

"Havin' trouble gettin' used to her not bein' attached to one or the other of you twenty-four hours a day?" Jeremy grinned as he went to sit on the long couch opposite the curving desk-space that covered one wall of the captain's quarters.

"It was a little strange at first," Sulu admitted. He moved to Jilla, giving her a kiss on the top of her head. "But after three months, it's good to be able to have time to ourselves again."

"That a hint?" the TerAfrican asked.

Jilla silvered as Sulu chuckled.

"Not tonight," he returned easily. He stepped over to the replicator that protruded slightly from the wall adjacent to the divider that separated the living area from the bedroom. "Want some coffee?"

"Don't intend to sleep at all tonight, huh?" the Security Chief answered.

"Considering the odds..." the captain said, then shrugged. "Besides, Jilla will be working all night, won't you, hon?"

"It makes no sense," the Indiian stated by way of an answer. "There is nothing wrong with the Communications systems nor with the tractor beam. There is, according to the diagnostics, no reason we should be unable to hail Starfleet or lock onto the Enterprise." She shook her head, her burgundy hair shifting around her face.

"So, no sleep for you either, Lady?" Jeremy put in sympathetically.

"Hence the coffee," Sulu rejoined. "So, Jer, do you want a cup?"

"Ever know a redshirt to turn down coffee?" Paget joked.

"Nor have you ever known Sulu to turn down a cup," Jilla offered.

Jeremy grinned. "True enough, Jilla."

"How about you, hon?" Sulu asked as he ordered a pot from the replicator.

"Yes, please," she replied, and stood, carrying the cup that had been sitting beside her on the desk. She stepped up to Sulu, taking the pot from him, filling her cup, then the two which Sulu had requested.

He didn't tell her she didn't have to wait on him, and she didn't reply that it was her duty as his wife. When she brought Jeremy his cup, he thanked her, but didn't add that she didn't have to serve him; and she didn't retort that since he was a guest in her home, it was only proper that she did. They had all had that conversation many times in the past two years. Sulu took a seat on the couch, and Jilla went back to the desk.

After downing half the cup in one long gulp, Sulu set the cup down on the shelf behind the couch and stood.

"Pacing," Jeremy commented. "There's a good sign."

"It's better than the alternatives," Sulu replied.

"Which are?"

"Yelling at my crew every five minutes because they aren't telling me things I want to hear." Sulu grimaced. "Or collapsing into a paralyzed heap because there's nothing I can do. Or collapsing into an anguished heap because my best friends are...." He stopped, swallowing hard. "And until I figure this out and make sure the rest of the galaxy is safe from turning gold, I don't have time for that."

Jilla rose again, moving toward her husband, enfolding him in a sorrow-filled embrace.

Jeremy drank his coffee, promising himself that he'd make certain Sulu AND Jilla eventually had time for that grieving collapse.

Then I'd better plan for a test-drive with N.C., he thought sadly.


"There is no outside interference, at least none that our equipment can detect," Jerel said for the third time. "It must be something with the equipment."

"I've told you, sir," Tristan Vale's voice said from under the communications' board, "I've checked it a dozen different ways. There is nothing - nothing - wrong with my instruments! The jamming IS coming from outside the ship!

"Why, then is it only affecting long-range communications?" the First Officer countered patiently.

"Maybe it's coming from somewhere long-range?" the Communications Chief snapped.

"It doesn't work that way, Lieutenant. Check your equipment again."

"Why don't you fall into...!" the Indiian began heatedly, and there was a flash from under the comm console that didn't come from any of the wiring.

"Novas aren't permitted on the Bridge, Mr. Vale," Courtland reminded smoothly. "Calm yourself."

Tristan fell to muttering to himself, and Courtland caught, "Maybe something's wrong with the sensors, did you ever think of that?"

Jerel sighed, then turned to his own panel, beginning a diagnostic run on the sensors. The intercom next to his Exec station signaled, and he moved from the Sciences chair to that reserved for the First Officer.

"Courtland," he answered.

"Not that I want to scare the holy shit out of anyone," Lian Rendell's nonchalant voice said, "but I thought it might be a good thing to tell someone that our Gorsini scanner is now a very pretty, very useless elaborate sculpture of pure gold."


Jerel immediately called the captain.

"Damnit!" Sulu spat. "Evacuate and quarantine Sickbay, on the double. And call for General quarters. Now!"

Jeremy immediately got up, downing the rest of his coffee.

"Jilla," Sulu said as he followed the Chief of Security out the door, "get to Engineering and give us everything she's got. We've got to get the hell out of here."

"Aye, sir," she responded, and the door closed on an empty cabin.


Nurse Rossini glanced up from the report she was filing as Dylan Paine walked into the Sickbay, his hand up to his forehead, which was dripping with blood.

"Lieutenant, aren't you supposed to be asleep?" she asked.

"With all the tension, how could I?" the young man grinned.

"So you cut yourself in the forehead for a little excitement?"

No, Ramon couldn't sleep either, and we were continuing my fencing lessons."

"Let me guess. No masks because you read Ordona's mind and the only fair chance he has is to be able to see those tells in your baby blues."

"I do not!" Dylan protested.

"You can't help yourself," Gia returned. "Dr. Rendell says it's a part of your 'save the gifted, save the galaxy' complex."

"But Ramon's not gifted."

"But you are." At Paine's puzzled expression, the nurse shook her head. "Never mind." She rose from the duty-desk and went to the instrument cabinet, returning with a spray applicator. "Couldn't you at least use the electronic epées?"

Dylan grinned again. "Where's the challenge in that?"

"Next time, challenge someone you can beat," she suggested, then raised the instrument she held to his forehead. It felt heavy, and didn't emit the fine spray of antiseptic covering it was supposed to. She frowned, glancing at it to make sure she'd grabbed the right one.

It gleamed dully, a deep yellow color.

Gia dropped it as if it had suddenly bitten her. "Oh no," she murmured.

Dylan glanced down.

"Gold," he whispered.

"Shit!" they exclaimed together and Gia hit the intercom just as Tristan Vale's voice sounded over the shipwide comm:

"Evacuate Sickbay, repeat; evacuate Sickbay and begin a full quarantine. All hands, General Quarters until further notice. This is not a drill. Evacuate Sickbay, begin quarantine procedures immediately, all hands, General Quarters."

Dylan ran for the door, Gia to the one bed that was occupied to help her patient out of Sickbay. Lian came racing from her office and grabbed Ensign Halil's other arm, rushing both he and the Head Nurse toward the door. Once there, she quickly activated the Security unit next to it, triggering all the required procedures for lock-down and quarantine.


Sulu reached the Bridge and immediately gave coordinates to the Third Watch Helmsman and Navigator.

"Ensign Shapiro, Ensign Heiss, heading 101.37, warp factor nine, now!"

"Aye, sir," came the dual response. Before the captain even sat down, the lift opened again, a bleeding Dylan Paine rushing onto the Bridge.

"Captain...!" he began breathlessly.

"I ordered General Quarters, Paine," Sulu broke in. "What the hell are you doing here? And what happened to your head?"

"I'll explain later, sir," the young man replied. "I was just in Sickbay and..."

"I know about the scanner..."

"No, sir, the applicator Nurse Rossini was going to use on my forehead..." Dylan gulped for more oxygen. "... it was gold, sir. When we heard the announcement I thought..."

"Shitfuckhelldamn!" Sulu spat. He turned to the Helm/Nav station. "Get us the hell out of here!"

"Captain, the engines aren't responding," Shapiro answered helplessly as her fingers flew over her controls.

And the Bridge went dark.


Jilla raced toward the Engineering section, not consciously aware that she'd been listening to the engines until she no longer heard them. Then the corridor lights went out. She made her way to the door by memory, felt for the manual control panel and opened the door just as the ambient light that signaled a switch to auxiliary battery power began to glow from the deck around her.

Geoff Redford was climbing down from the upper level as she stepped into the engine room.

"What's wrong?" she demanded.

"I don't know, ma'am, everything just stopped," her assistant answered. "I switched to impulse and battery power."

The intercom shouted in Sulu's voice. "Jilla, what's going on down there!"

"I do not know as yet, Captain," she returned. "We have impulse and auxiliary power, I will give you a full report as soon as I inspect the engines." She turned to Redford.

"Mr. Redford, if you will begin a diagnostic, I will examine the conversion pods."

"Yes, ma'am," the Terran replied and went to the main control board.

Jilla climbed the gangway stairs to the monitor for the matrix converter. It was perhaps the most important piece of equipment on a starship, for it converted the energy created by the matter/anti-matter engines to that usable by all ship's functions.

It took only one look at the readings to understand what had happened.


Sulu was drumming his fingers on the arm of the con as he waited for Jilla's report. Tristan was at his board, fielding inquiries from every section with variations of "If it's not critical, shut up and deal, we're running on batteries here!"

Jerel was at the Exec's station, logging in each report from Security, confirming General Quarters secured, as every deck was checked.

"Captain, should we continue on course under impulse power?" the navigator, Ensign Heiss, asked.

"Yes," Sulu replied, with a sinking feeling that it wouldn't matter.

"Security reports GQ secured," Jerel said. "All personnel accounted for."

"And nobody's golden that shouldn't be?" Sulu asked, dark humor rising within him, as it always did when he was stressed.

"We only have one Haven on board, sir," Courtland returned, "and no Antaris."

"So we're good," Sulu muttered, and heard the Equian's soft:

"There are a few bananas in the Mess, if that counts."

"Only if the straw in your mattress does."

"How can you joke at a time like this!" Tristan demanded.

"Because it's better than screaming hysterically, Mr. Vale," Sulu responded. The intercom signaled and he punched it.


"Majiir here," came Jilla's voice, sounding just a little thin and halting. "The reason we no longer have main power, sir, is that our dylithium crystals are..."

"Solid gold," Sulu finished with her, and he realized he'd been expecting it. He turned to face his First Officer, his expression one of inevitability and dread. "It's happening to us," he said.


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