Phillip Gilfus

"Counterpoints," Part Three by Charlynn Schmiedt

Part of the Continuing Earl Grey Fiction Mini-Series

by Phillip Gilfus, with contributions from Daniel Proulx and Darren Moser

Let’s do this, thought Ensign Hegg, as he stepped inside the ship’s main shuttlebay for the first time. I’m excited but scaredEver since I got that commendation, I never know how a new senior officer will treat me.

It was almost a year ago since Hegg had received the Pantares Ribbon of Commendation. The Bolian had hoped he could remain silent about the incident after leaving the U.S.S. Merrimac. On that fateful day, all of the flight deck officers (FDOs) had been injured on the Nebula-class ship, following a series of plasma explosions in the power grid and a coolant leak in the main engine. Hegg had single-handedly organized a shuttle evacuation of all civilians and non-essential personnel to safety. In the end, the ship’s chief engineer managed to eject the warp core and save the ship, before shortly dying from her injuries.

Hegg could still remember the screams of his injured shipmates, the smell of plasma burning flesh, and the look of fright on his friend’s children, as he directed them into shuttlecrafts. The flashing red alert klaxons, smoke everywhere, the faces of terror…

Hegg closed his eyes, shook away the memory, and told himself, You’re on the Enterprise now, you have a duty to do, ensign. Let’s get to it.

He instinctively made his way to the center of the shuttlebay and walked up the main stairwell to the deck three upper main shuttlebay. Hegg assumed he would find his new commanding officer in the flight control room. Hegg soon found himself looking slightly down at a Tellarite lieutenant. Hegg knew about the race’s argumentative and confrontational reputation, but decided to stick to protocol when it came to introductions.

Hegg straightened to a position of attention and said, “Ensign Hegg reporting for duty, sir.”

“Well, well, look who finally made it to his required place of duty,” retorted the lieutenant, making a series of snorts in displeasure, as he turned to face Hegg. “If it isn’t Ensign Commendation himself, well, let me take a look at the newest officer gracing us with his presence.”

Hegg didn’t know whether to relax or not from his stiff posture as the Tellarite slowly circled him.

“Evacuated a whole shuttlebay with one hand tied behind your back, huh? I’ve read your personnel file. That’s all right. Not bad,” said the lieutenant. He suddenly pointed his left hoof-like hand in Hegg’s face.

“But this is the Enterprise, not some backwater science ship. Let’s see what you know about shuttlecraft protocols. How many shuttles must be kept operational at all times?!” the Tellerite screamed the question out, following it with another series of snorts.

“Well, um, sir, it depends on the…” Hegg struggled for a moment, trying to remember the Galaxy-class specifications, unsure if he was mixing them up with his old ship’s regulations.

“Eleven! That’s the answer,” the Tellarite bellowed, appearing almost to spit on the floor in disgust. “How many shuttlecraft must be kept on immediate standby at all times, with as little as thirty minutes prep time?!”

Hegg looked him directly in the eye. “Four.”

“Wrong, it’s fo-…oh, uh, yes, that’s right, ensign.”

The Tellarite ceased his circling and, despite the fact that he was almost half a meter shorter than Hegg, he gave the Bolian his most piercing stare.

“Looks like we got a smart one here.” The lieutenant looked over his right shoulder. “Hear that, lieutenant? We’ve got a smart one.”

Hegg quickly stole a glance to his left and saw a female lieutenant junior grade who was squatting underneath a console conducting repairs. She gave him a wink and a smile. Hegg translated the Terran’s gestures as saying, Yep, that’s how he is, sorry.

“Well, since I’m stuck with you, ensign, you’ll remained assigned to the main shuttlebay as a FDO here. But if…!” the Tellarite poked Hegg in the chest with his left hand-hoof for emphasis. “If! If you prove your mettle, and I remain dubious, we’ll put you in charge of shuttlebay three. How does that sound?”

Hegg’s nervousness started changing to amusement. He had to fight himself from smiling over the lieutenant’s overdramatic behavior.

“I’m happy to serve wherever you need me, sir.”

“Happy to serve…well, Ensign Crusher reported some issues with the shuttlecraft Justman that he piloted you new officers in. Why don’t you go service it and see what the problem is. Unless that’s too menial of a task for such a highly-decorated officer as yourself?!”

“No, sir, I’ll get right on it. What bay is it in?”

“Bay three. Do I have to tell you everything?!” With that, the lieutenant turned around quickly and walked to a flight control station.

Hegg walked down to the flight deck, found a maintenance kit, and walked to bay three. He found theJustman, opened the shuttle’s rear door, and walked over to a diagnostic control panel. 

“Excuse me!”

Hegg almost dropped his tricorder at the sound of a woman’s voice. He looked up to see the lieutenant junior grade he had noticed earlier.

She was a blonde human who looked to be in her early 30s. She reached out her hand in greeting.

“I just wanted to give you the official welcome. New people don’t usually get one from Lt. Fwaaks. My name is Jenna.”

Hegg shook her hand, happy to see a friendly face.

“I’m Ensign Hegg. That’s Lt. Fwaaks? Well, it’s been an…interesting first day here.”

“Oh, I bet! But, don’t mind Fwaaks. He can be a, well, typical Tellarite, but he can also be a real sweetheart at times, too,” said Jenna, in an almost sing-song voice. “If you need a tour of the ship or anything, let me know. Jeff always says we need to look out for each other on this ship.”

“Is Jeff another FDO here?”

“Huh? Oh, no, he’s my boyfriend,” she said, giving a small laugh. “Oh, I know Fwaaks assigned you to repair this shuttle. I wanted to let you know that Ensign Crusher said he thought the problem was in the thruster assembly. But I have a feeling it could also be a problem with the conn computer system. Do you need any help?”

“Sure, I don’t mind an extra hand.”

Jenna walked over to the shuttle’s conn and powered it up. “I remember the first day I came onboard, I was so nervous! I didn’t know anyone and kept getting lost! I think my first friend was the ship’s computer, since I kept having to ask it how to get everywhere. Then there ended up being a mix-up in my quarters assignment, and then I ended up making Fwaaks mad when I turned over an entire…oh no! Here I am babbling when you’re trying to get your first mission done. I’m sorry, I just tend to babble sometimes. I’ll go access the EPS control panel on the exterior nacelles, you can keep doing your diagnostic.”

Jenna walked out of the shuttle, leaving Hegg alone in the cabin. The diagnostic revealed four fused EPS conduits on the port thruster assembly. The Bolian knew he would have to replace them. He told Jenna what he had found, and she showed him where to replicate four new conduits from the shuttlebay’s stores.

“Here, I have to go report to cargo bay four and help supervise a mission over there. Will you be all right on your own?” asked Lt. (jg) D’Sora.

“Oh, yes. Thanks. And thanks for the help,” said Hegg, giving her a grateful nod.

“Sure, anytime!” She smiled. “Just look me up if you need anything.”

Hegg gave her a small wave and began to work. He had to admit that it had been awhile since he had worked on a Type VI thruster assembly. Maybe I should have asked for help after all, he thought. Oh well, it’s the Enterprise, I need to prove myself. Hegg managed to install two conduits quickly, but was struggling with the third when Lt. Fwaaks walked into the shuttle cabin.

“Aren’t you done yet with this, I might add, very simple assignment?” barked the Tellarite.

“I was able to diagnose the problem and was just installing these replacements,” answered Hegg.

“You know, perhaps I’ve given you too much to do on your first day. Either that or I need to think about reassigning you to captain’s yacht duty. How about you let a more experienced officer get this done and you can go about redecorating your quarters for the rest of the day?” he snarled.

Hegg thought about arguing, but decided that on his first day, as humans say, discretion was the better part of valor. He put down the conduits, said, “Yes, sir,” and exited the bay.

Not a great first impression, Hegg thought, as he walked the ship’s corridors on deck four. But I’m sure things will get better.

Any more thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of the ship going to red alert. 

"Counterpoints," Part Two by Charlynn Schmiedt

Part of the Continuing Earl Grey Fiction Mini-Series

by Phillip Gilfus, with contributions from Daniel Proulx and Darren Moser

Ensign Thovin walked the corridors of deck nine, full of determination. It was nice having his quarters on the same deck as his new duty station, the ship’s astrometrics lab.

It’s going to be a change going from Starfleet Academy instructor to junior science officer on a starship, thought Thovin. I’m used to giving the orders, not taking them.

He arrived at the entry to the lab and paused. Thovin’s antenna stood up straight as he took a moment to clear his head and attempted to look imposing. He took a step forward, the doors opened, and, as he looked around his surroundings, he instantly tried not to look disappointed.

Thovin had imagined that the Federation’s flagship astrometrics lab would be more impressive. The lab, which was poorly lit, looked to be no more than 10 by 30 meters, with only six computer access consoles and chairs. At first it looked to be empty, but then he noticed another science officer hunched over a far console, his back to Thovin.

Thovin cleared his throat, as only an Andorian could, and said, “Excuse me.”

The only response Thovin received was that the officer began to mumble to himself. Thovin’s antennae caught the phrases, “I think I need to carry the five and use the Throcian Energy Assumption Theory…” and “Twenty cochranes just to ensure a proper course vector…”

“I said, excuse me,” repeated Thovin, with an impatient tone.

The officer’s face did not move away from the screen. He merely waved his left hand and said, “I’ll be with you later. If you’re here to fix the microntelescope…”

Thovin interrupted him. “No, I’m not here to fix anything. In fact, I’m reporting for duty for the first time, if you care to pay attention.”

The officer quickly turned around. He was a human lieutenant, who looked to be in his early 30s. His expression went from pensive to friendly, and he reached out his hand to greet Thovin.

“Oh yeah, yeah, you’re Ensign…um….Ensign…” the lieutenant’s face went blank, and he started to fumble with a pile of PADDs that were next to his console.

Thovin thought, This is my new commanding officer? I see me taking over this place by next week.

“Thovin. The name is Thovin.”

“Oh, yes, Ensign Thovin. Of course. Yes, wonderful, great. I’m Colin. Colin Jones. It’s good to meet you,” responded Jones, blushing slightly with embarrassment.

The two shook hands. Lt. Jones immediately returned to his console and began pressing buttons on his console. Colin’s eyes did not leave the screen as he spoke to Thovin.

“Sorry I was distracted; I’ve been working on this problem,” said Jones, “but I’m so glad you finally arrived, I’ve been waiting for someone to be assigned here for awhile. You don’t know how much work I’ve had to deal with alone in the two years I’ve been here. And now with the mapping mission we’re starting in the Arteline Sector, I don’t know how it’s expected for me to process that data by myself.”

Thovin arched his left eyebrow in answer; however, Jones still had his back to him and continued speaking.

“Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but working by yourself for a long time can really get to someone. Which, I do have a question for you, and please be honest.”

“I will,” said Thovin, expecting a scientific inquiry or a question about his credentials.

Jones turned his chair and looked directly at the Andorian. “You’re not just here to move on to stellar cartography are you? Those guys over there think they run this deck.”

“I’m here right now to get as much experience as I can in this duty position,” answered Thovin, who began questioning whether he had entered someone’s Holodeck program.

Jones smiled, let out a breath he had been holding, and turned back to his console. “Good, I’m glad. Man, stellar cartography. They do great work, don’t get me wrong. But they really think they are … oh, wait! Now that I have you here, you can help me with my special project.”

Jones motioned for Thovin to examine his console. Thovin had no idea what to think about what this absent-minded lieutenant’s idea of a “special project” was, but he stepped closer in curiosity.

“A lot of people studying the Borg want to know how to improve our shielding and weapons, but they are missing the most important element,” said Jones, pausing a moment. “Their propulsion! How did they get here from the Delta Quadrant? Look at this, I’ve been calculating the position of the Borg cube encountered by the Enterprise in System J-25 on stardate 42761.9 and comparing it to the position of the cube encountered on stardate 43993.5. Nobody is asking how they got there. I think it’s fascinating. Would you be interested in helping?”

Thovin’s antennae began to slowly twirl in slow concentric circles. “I think your premise is flawed,” said the ensign. “You are assuming that it was the same Borg vessel encountered at both times. The Borg may be located closer than the Delta Quadrant. We do not have enough information at this time.”

“Hmm, maybe,” said Jones, disappointment visible on his face. “Well, I suppose we should get to work. You should be able to access the long-range sensors. I’ll save you the grand tour of the lab, since I know it’s not your first time in one. See if you can do any long-range scans of the Baselad system in the Arteline Sector. It’s the first system on our mapping mission itinerary.”

Thovin walked to a console on the other side of the lab, sat down, and began accessing the appropriate science sensor systems. The scanners soon informed him that the Baselad sector contained five planetary bodies, with an asteroid belt separating the third and fourth planets. The only habitable planets appeared to be Baselad II and Baselad III, Class M and H respectively. However, no life forms had ever been detected on either planet. Thovin was surprised to see an unknown radiation signature in the vicinity of Baselad II. He readjusted the long-range sensors to focus on the radioactive anomaly near the Class M planet.

Thovin moved his face closer to the console and studied the readings. The ship’s computer was unable to properly classify the composition and nature of the radiation, however it was perfectly capable to showing him that twelve ships were near the planet, all with Romulan-type ship signatures.

Thovin opened his mouth to report to Jones, and then, thinking that his commanding officer did not seem quite capable, stopped himself, and instead he activated his comm badge.

“Ensign Thovin to…Lieutenant Commander Data,” said Thovin. The ship’s second officer seemed the logical person to contact. The Andorian knew of the android’s reputation as a scientist, engineer, and decorated senior officer.

“Data here,” came the emotionless reply.

“Sir, I know you don’t know me. I just transferred aboard. But I found some readings in preparation for our mapping mission that I think you should be aware of.”

“What are the precise nature of those readings?”

“I don’t know if I should describe them openly on the channel but-“


Thovin looked up to see Colin leaning over the Andorian’s console. The lieutenant accessed a few additional ship scanners. “Mr. Data, this is Lt. Jones. We have twelve Romulan signals coming from the Baselad system that we are approaching.”

“Thank you, lieutenant. I will confirm those findings here on the bridge and act appropriately.”

The lieutenant looked down at Thovin. He looked uncomfortable and shifted his weight from one foot to another. “Look, ensign, I know you’re new here. But you report all findings to me first before anyone else, is that understood?”

Thovin wanted to point out that Lt. Jones’ attention span didn’t seem to be the most encouraging for reporting a ship emergency. But instead the ensign answered, “Yes, sir.”

The red alert klaxons and lights began to sound on the ship.

Jones looked again at the console. “Good sensor work, though. From what I can tell, there are three scout ships, seven transports, and two freighters. What are Romulans doing in Federation space?”

"Counterpoints," Part One by Charlynn Schmiedt

by Phillip Gilfus, with contributions from Daniel Proulx and Darren Moser

Rating: K+

Synopsis: This is an ongoing mini-series written by’s Earl Grey podcasters that follows a handful of “lower decks” crew members newly appointed to the Enterprise-D.

Chronology: Several weeks after the battle of Wolf 359.

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