PART III - STARGAZER takes an unexpected detour on its return to Earth
"Status," Foxwell shouted as he hastily walked onto the bridge, Beta exiting behind him then quickly making a beeline for her science station.
"Unidentified vessels still closing at sub-light speed," the Navigator reported.
"70,000 kilometers Captain, Beta replied as she viewed sensors. "Their current course will allow for intercept in six minutes."
"Helmsman, disengage fusion light drive, make ready impulse engines."
"Aye Captain, decelerating to sub-light; impulse engines enabled; waiting your order to engage."
"Xuriya, hail the Weapons Officer and instruct him to report to the bridge," Foxwell directed.
"Helmsman, engage impulse engines, ahead one quarter impulse power."
"Aye sir, one quarter impulse power," the helmsman acknowledged.
"Navigator, enter new heading, bearing 355 mark 0. Since they seem eager to meet us, let's accommodate them head-on," the Captain asserted confidently.
"Aye sir, heading 355 mark 0."
"Beta, sensor update?"
"Four minutes to intercept; vessel ID and origin still unknown," Captain.
"Sir, I have the Weapons Officer on the companel; he's asking to speak with you," Xuriya said.
"Put him through."
"Captain, confirming you want me to change my 'CONDITION RED' station from weapons control central to the bridge?"
"That's affirmative, Lieutenant. I want you on the bridge for this one."
"Aye sir, on my way."
"Captain, unidentified vessels have come to a dead stop; distance 45,000 kilometers," Beta called out, re-confirming her findings as she reviewed the scanner results a second time.
Lieutenant Warwick exited the turbolift and immediately assumed his duties at the tactical weapons console.
"Helmsman," disengage impulse power; activate reverse thrusters; bring us to a dead stop," Foxwell ordered.
"Aye, Captain, all stop."
"Captain, sensors confirm unidentified vessels have not deployed shielding or charged weapons," Lieutenant Warwick announced.
"Put them on screen, extreme magnification.”
Foxwell and Beta both stood as they stared intensely at the magnified images of the two unidentified vessels appearing before them, Beta walking from her science station to stand next to the Captain as they studied the peculiarities of the starships that now filled the main viewing screen.
"They appear familiar," Beta opined.
"Captain, we're being hailed by the lead vessel," Xuriya announced.
"On screen," Foxwell replied, the viewing screen shifting from the exterior of the unidentified ships to what now appeared to be a familiar humanoid species. "This is Captain Jon Foxwell of the SS Stargazer representing Galactic Fleet Command of planet Earth. Please identify yourselves and explain the reason for your intercept trajectory."
"I am Captain Sorak from the planet Vulcan," the eloquently dressed speaker answered. "Our intentions are peaceful. We are aware of the situation occurring on Earth regarding current hostilities initiated by the Vorcians. We have deliberately intercepted your ship in order to offer assistance. As your data banks will confirm, first contact between Vulcans and humans occurred in your year 2063, although we have studied and researched your planet, star system, and species beginning with the launch of Sputnik I in 1957. We are monitoring communications with our envoys on your planet and request approval to proceed along side your ship to the rendezvous point on the far side of Jupiter."
"Standby Captain," Foxwell answered as he turned his head in the direction of his watchful Communication's Officer, simultaneously motioning his hand to cut the viewing screen's audio, Xuriya rendering a slight nod confirming she had muted the signal.
Foxwell turned to Beta. "We both knew moments after he appeared on screen he was Vulcan. As Science Officer, what's your initial evaluation regarding his sincerity and offer of assistance?"
"He is correct in reference to his assertion regarding first contact," she explained. "Low level, informal meetings and discussions between Galactic Fleet Command and various other Governments have continued in an effort to conclude and ratify a more formal scientific, cultural, and friendship treaty between our worlds. It would be the first in the history of our planet. Vulcan is at least a century ahead of Earth in reference to science and technology. On a personal and professional level, Vulcans are characterized by their drive to conduct themselves using logic and reason, yet they are sometimes seen to be arrogant and cold in their dealings with humans. They're very uncomfortable being untruthful. Based on my rationale, I have no reason to suspect insincerity regarding Captain Sorak's offer of assistance."
Captain Foxwell responded with a slight nod, then turned again in the direction of Xuriya. "Cancel, 'CONDITION RED,' re-engage audio.
"Aye sir," Xuriya acknowledged.
"Captain Sorak," Foxwell resumed, "my First Officer and I accept your offer and invite you and your ships to accompany us to our rendezvous point with designated Galactic Fleet combat vessels."
"Estimated time of arrival is 4 hours, 30 minutes," the Navigator quickly chimed in.
"Very well Captain; we can easily match your light speed," Sorak responded ingenuously.
"Uh, yeah, okay," Foxwell replied awkwardly, the Vulcan's unpretentious reply a reminder of their technical superiority.
"They employ warp drive technology, Captain," Beta clarified.
"I'm aware of that. I'm also aware of their history of reluctance to share their knowledge regarding our own warp drive research and development," Foxwell annoyingly retorted, forgetting for a moment he was still on-screen with the Vulcan.
"Perhaps we can reserve that conversation for another time," the Vulcan Captain cautiously proposed.
"Perhaps," Foxwell replied, a hint of uncomfortable cynicism in his voice. "Navigator, resume course for Jupiter, Helmsman, ahead, light factor 10."
"Aye Captain," both replied.
Captain Foxwell used the time to securely update all Galactic Fleet Combat Vessels concerning involvement of the Vulcans as their two Cruisers flanked the Stargazer until arrival at the rendezvous point. The Vulcans used their transporter technology to beam all Galactic Ship Captains aboard their larger Starship for a briefing regarding their offer of assistance as discussed with Captain Foxwell earlier.
Captain Sorak, accompanied by several of his staff, greeted the convened Galactic Fleet Officers impassively as he began the briefing. "As I discussed with Captain Foxwell, we are aware of the attack by Vorcia on your planet. They are a savage and hostile species. We have engaged in hostilities with the Vorcians over the last several decades regarding repeated encroachments into our territory. Unfortunately, there is no formal treaty of any kind between Earth and Vulcan which would allow us to directly intervene on behalf of your planet, but to allow the Vorcians to conquer Earth while our two worlds continue to engage in peaceful discussions would not be... logical. We do, however, possess the technology to neutralize their shielding. Once that is accomplished, their attack vessels will be vulnerable to your weapons. Although their weaponry is superior to yours, you still have cloaking technology which can be incorporated with tactical and operational strategies of which you and Captain Foxwell will decide. Regretfully, I must inform you I was made aware just a short time ago the neutron bomb attack against the Vorcians carried out by Earth Defense Command was unsuccessful." Captain Sorak paused briefly, scanning his audience impassively before continuing, "as they say on your planet... good luck," the Vulcan Captain ending the briefing as stone faced as he began.
The Strategic plan subsequently agreed upon involved both Vulcan Combat Cruisers proceeding ahead of the cloaked Galactic Fleet Starships. Assuming high altitude geosynchronous orbits over Earth and out of sensor range of the Vorcians, the Vulcan ships would then neutralize the Vorcian shielding followed by offensive operations initiated by the Galactic Fleet Starships as they de-cloaked. Captain Foxwell and SS Stargazer will lead the attack against lower orbiting Vorcian ships while simultaneously notifying Galactic Fleet and Earth Defense Command the Vorcian shielding was no longer effective, allowing Earth to redirect counter-offensive operations as necessary to search out and destroy Vorcian attack vessels within Earth's atmosphere. The Vulcans beamed Captain Foxwell and all senior officers back to their respective Battle Cruisers, but not before Captain Sorak informed Foxwell of one additional tactical advantage. "Your Engineers will be provided specifications which will allow reconfiguration of the electromagnetic field of each starship. This change will make it possible to alter the polarization matrix in the armored hull. Your starships will then have the ability to polarize the hull plating which in turn will result in a hull several magnitudes of strength harder than its non-polarized state. Bear in mind, however, repeated attacks will weaken, and eventually depolarize the matrix, but you'll have that added protection against their disrupter weaponry."
"Understood, and thanks, Captain, for everything," Foxwell acknowledged, rendering a cordial smile as he placed his hand on the shoulder of the older Vulcan Captain.
Beta stood at her science console on the bridge and turned in the direction of Foxwell. "Captain, Galactic Fleet Starships have confirmed polarization shielding successfully configured; all ships are battle ready and waiting your orders. The Vulcan Combat Cruisers are proceeding ahead at one quarter impulse power."
"Very well," Foxwell answered, turning his attention to his Communication's Officer.
"Xuriya, open a secure channel to all Galactic Fleet and Vulcan Vessels. Tie-in with the Ships' Public Address system."
"Aye Captain, secure channel opened to all vessels - PA systems linked."
"This is Captain Jon L. Foxwell of the Galactic Ship Stargazer," he began, addressing the entire ships' company. We will proceed behind the Vulcan Combat Cruisers at a pre-determined light speed which will result in our arrival to earth in one hour, fifteen minutes. In exactly one hour all Galactic Fleet Combat Vessels will engage cloaking and go to 'CONDITION RED.' Exactly fifteen minutes later the Vulcan Ships will disable the Vorcian shielding; Stargazer will initiate and lead the attack on Vorcian Ships in earth orbit. Each Galactic Ship Captain will seek out and engage enemy ships at their discretion. All Channels are to remain open to provide updates, report damage and casualties, and requests for assistance. Good luck, and may the winds be with you all. Foxwell out."
The Vulcan Combat Cruisers engaged warp drive to time their arrival and placement in geosynchronous earth orbit ahead of the Galactic Fleet Starships who followed. Fifteen minutes later the Galactic Fleet Battle Cruisers arrived; each Starship engaged their cloaking device, polarized their hull plating, and sounded 'CONDITION RED.' Captain Sorak transmitted a secure code confirming the Vorcian shielding was neutralized.
"Captain, all weapons charged and ready." Lieutenant Warwick reported.
Captain Foxwell managed a smile. "Xuriya, put those Vorcian devils onscreen."
"Aye sir, onscreen."
"Navigator, plot an intercept course for the closest Vorcian attack vessel."
"Aye Captain, course entered."
"Helmsman, ahead one half impulse power."
"Aye, Captain, one half impulse power."
"Xuriya, open a secure channel to all starships."
"Aye Sir, secure channel open."
"This is Captain Foxwell to all Starships; concealment successful; dis-engage cloaking devices; commence attack on Vorcian Ships."
"Captain, distance to the Vorcian Vessel is 10,000 kilometers and closing," Beta reported.
Foxwell quickly swiveled his command chair in the direction of his Weapons Officer. "Lieutenant, lock Starboard Laser Cannons onto the Vorcian ship, maximum power."
"Starboard Laser Cannons locked, sir"
Captain Foxwell turned his chair back in the direction of the main viewing screen.