20090918

Maddox, DeCoursey and Chadwick were left in the holding cell. Events were now deteriorating.

"What did he mean by the Endurance experiencing 'technical difficulties'? Some kind of communications jam, perhaps?"

He'd had enough experience of being confined in cells to do a complete search of it: Looking for weak points, things to use and things to exploit if an escape opportunity presented itself. As Chadwick checked under the chairs, the back of the door and the small, slit window that was so thin no man could crawl through it, he spoke his thoughts out loud to the others.

"What I don't get is what Tinker thinks he's going to get away with. He knows we've got a well armed ship in orbit and he knows we're part of a larger organisation that won't take too kindly to its officers being held hostage so what's his game plan?"

Chadwick stopped searching the room and stood up, deep in thought. "He's playing for time...but what for?"

20090917

Prisoners?


"Are we your prisoners?" Leah asked wanting clarification of the situation.

"Prisoner is such an unpleasant word..." Tinker smiled as if for a camera, "I'm going to have the gentlemen escorted downstairs for a bit, and you and I can continue this conversation like civilized people Lieutenant Ashby."

Maddox lurched forward and was detained by several of the guards, "You won't get away with this Tinker... my ship'll be looking for us when we don't report in."

"Yes, well..." The network president pressed a button on his desktop console, "...I suspect that by now the Endurance has discovered that they are experiencing 'technical difficulties'. Take them away."

The guards took the male Endurance officers by the arms and removed them forcibly from the office.

The doors closed behind the men, and they were alone.

"Now my dear," Tinker licked his thin lips, "What shall we discuss?"

20090916

Diplomatic Relations


Leah's eyes grew wide as she looked at the pistols. They'd already shot someone, their own citizen even, so it was clear, to her, that these barbarians wouldn't think twice about killing again. The only leverage the crew seemed to have was their popularity. If Tinker killed them, he'd be without his little ratings darlings. That had to give them advantage. She also knew that she was of particular interest in regards to these ratings. That may give her a bit more leeway than the other three officers.

"Are we your prisoners?" Leah asked wanting clarification of the situation.

She already knew the answer, but given that this was an official diplomatic mission, she wanted an official answer. She wanted to see how Tinker would respond to such a straight forward question. If anyone would be able to sweet talk Tinker it'd be her.

20090914

"He's dead, Sam" said Chadwick, standing up and looking at the guard. "That was one accurate shot" he added.

"He was trying to break his contract." The guard said looking down at the body.

Tinker stepped through the crowd that was beginning to form, several cameras had showed up.

"I'm sorry you had to see this, Maddox." Tinker shook his head, knowing how hard it would be to fill Cameron's spot on the PBN hit program. "That young man beat out 20,000 applicants for this job. A job that fed his family and gave them full health care."

Captain Maddox angrily snatched up the guard by his collar, "He was only a kid! Look at him, what is he, eighteen?"

"Show business is a business Maddox." Tinker said as the cameras looked on without pity.

---------------------

"The alien Samuel Carter Maddox today railed against Viden social policies." The newscaster later announced.

"Maddox, Captain of the starship Endurance, Entered orbit earlier today, responding to Viden's PEACEFUL request for a cultural exchange with the United Federation of Planets."

"Public approval for Planetary Broadcasting Network, owner of the "Family Business" sitcom, fell FIVE points after the incident."

-------------------

"Your outburst has put me in a difficult position Maddox." Tinker sat behind his desk, arms folded in thought. "The other networks are using this incident to gain political leverage with our viewers."


"That's YOUR problem, President Tinker..." Maddox pointed angrily across the desktop, "... my job was to observe conditions and file a report with the Federation about your planet's suitability for a cultural exchange."

Captain Maddox pulled out the communicator from his mission belt and flipped it open, "I've seen EVERYTHING I need."

The four guards by the office door pulled their pistols.

"Unfortunately captain," Tinker smiled, "WE have not. Our audience wants to see more of you and your crew... and we always give the audience what it wants."

I've been waiting a long time to say this...

Chadwick instinctively pushed past Maddox, Tinker and the guard and rushed to the side of the fallen Cameron. One look at the chest wound told Chadwick that the situation was grim: The bullet had gone straight through the heart.

"He's dead, Sam" said Chadwick, standing up and looking at the guard. "That was one accurate shot" he added. Chadwick gave Maddox a look that said "this could have been avoided" but said nothing more, lest he jeopardised his Captain's diplomatic mission.

20090911

"Problem?" Cameron shouted, "I'll tell you the problem... slavery, forced labor, no rights."

Tinker put up his hands, "Now Cameron..."

"Well I won't take it anymore," Cameron cried out, "It won't be the first time you've had to write a character off this show. Or will you just hijack another 'actor' to take my place?"

"Perhaps we could all sit down and talk about this..." Maddox added.

"No! No never!" Cameron staggered a bit before making a run for it.

He shouldered his way past one of the nearby guards who made a desperate attempt to latch onto the young man. It all happened in a flash, the pistol was in the guard's hand and then the report of the weapon as it went off.

Cameron clutched his chest and fell to the pavement.

20090905

Chadwick looked at Cameron and noticed the sweating, the dilated pupils and the nervous movements of the young man. He couldn't believe that someone who is trained as a performer and who is the star of a top rated entertainment show could be suffering from mere stagefright.

"What is the problem, Cameron?" was his simple question.

20090903

In the alley

Tinker and the group made their way down an alley that ran behind the studio, it seemed to be a storage area for oversized flats, large set pieces that weren't currently in use.

The rear double door had a red light next to it that shone to indicate that the show was being broadcast live from within.

"Is this it?" President Tinker asked.

Maddox looked over deCoursey's shoulder at the tricorder screen, "Yes, he's just beyond those doors."

Tinker nodded to the studio guards that had converged on the location, "Well then, I guess I ought to go in and have a little talk with him before he's missed from the show..."

The studio president didn't have a chance, the back doors burst open and the young teenaged actor ran out into the middle of the alley. When he saw the studio guards and the PBN boss, he froze, eyes wide.

"You brought the visitors?" was all the panting young actor could muster when he spotted the Endurance crew.

"They helped us find you Cameron," Tinker said in a stern, fatherly tone, "Now let's get you back on set before you botch the whole show. You'll ruin everything for everyone boy, there's more at stake here than just what YOU want."

"NO!" Cameron shouted, "I won't go back..."

20090821

Running Wild

"Probably doesn't know what's that way himself..." commented de Coursey "... looks like the poor feller's running wild!"

Indeed, these were hardly the movements - or physiological readings - of a naughty teen actor sneaking out on his duties. More like those of a terrified antelope bounding away from a pride of lions!

"Yeah, stage fright. Terrible thing." de Coursey pontificated"Even suffered it myself once. School put on Coriolanus: I was the second spearman on the right. Just the one line in the entire thing, but I was nervous as Hell on the opening..."

He looked up and realised not only that no-one was listening to him, but that the others had all started off in the direction of the fugitive.

20090812

In pursuit

Chadwick's readings backed up those of DeCoursey's. "Commander, if we synchronise our tricorders and filter out the heart readings of the audience and crew, we can track Cameron faster" he said to the first officer.



Turning to Tinker, he said "What lies in that direction? Where could Cameron be heading"

20090809

After a long pause, DeCoursey's tricorder chirped and warbled as it ran through its scan cycle. He turned his body in the direction of the studio building itself, rocking back and forth a bit in an all too familiar dance that was performed by every Starfleet officer using such a device, in an attempt to get a more accurate reading.

DeCoursey showed the screen to Maddox who called Tinker over to have a look.

"Here's a large cluster of lifeforms inside the studio..." Maddox pointed.

"That'll be the live studio audience." He answered.

"Here are two smaller groupings of lifeforms behind and in front of the audience."

"The ones behind will be the producer and director and such in the booth, those in front are the actors on the set." Tinker said pointing out the thin lines of the sets.

Tinker could also account for the handful of individual readings scattered about the studio. Guards, ushers and other assorted behind the scenes folks.

"What about that one?" Tinker pointed near the back recesses of the studio building shown in the little schematic.

DeCoursey zoomed in on the reading and focused the scan for a closer look. Maddox and Tinker watched over his shoulder.

"Elevated heart rate, erratic movements..." Maddox said looking at the readings.

"I'd bet that's Cameron!" Tinker snapped his fingers.

"Come on." Maddox ordered, walking down the alley toward the correct side of the building.

20090731

Scan in progress

Whilst DeCoursey was keeping Tinker busy, Chadwick had opened up his tricorder and began scanning the area.

He surmised a number of things. First, the actor in question was young, so his heartbeat readings would be most likely strong. Second, he was also likely to be on the run and nervous, increasing his heart rate. So Chadwick set the scan parameters for a fast moving person with an increased heart rate. With help from Endurance, there was a good chance of tracking the fugitive.

20090724


"I'm not completely unfamiliar with the concept of 3D images." Tinker said, "There was a brief flirtation with the technology about a decade ago. People didn't like wearing the big funny visors."

"AH yes, well our 'dimensional projection' will work a little differently than that. But it's the same idea." Maddox replied.

"But where is your projection equipment?" Tinker looked confused, "And don't you need some sort of screen or something?"

"Not quite Mr. Tinker," Maddox smiled then nodded to de Coursey, "Step back and let my science officer do his thing."

Use the Tricorders

De Coursey glanced at Chadwick and, nodding, replied.

"Well, yes, I guess if we triangulated with the ship we could certainly detect all the bodies and movement in the building. If this feller is either running away or hiding somewhere unusual we'd be able to spot him, maybe..."

Jan's mind tried to see what he was about to describe from Tinker's less technologically advanced mind-set.

"Say, Mr Tinker, have you boys tried playing around with 3-D technology yet? I don't mean those goofy old red and green specs that give a static 3-D illusion, I'm talking about what we call "Holl-O-Grams." They really are a true three dimensional picture. We can scan this building and produce a complete image of it - in all dimensions - with any life forms lit up for all the world to see."

He hoped the worried looking TV Boss understood his meaning.

20090722

"Cameron's never caused any trouble before. He knows what an honor it is to be selected for a live program like 'Family Business'..." Tinker answered.

Maddox bristled a bit at the word 'honor', but Tinker was up and out the door with the Endurance team hot on his heels.

They were down near studio 47 in a matter of minutes, the lot was surrounded by a dozen blue uniformed PBN security guards. Each wore a dark blue silk jacket with a shiny gold badge on the lapel and the PBN logo on a patch on the sleeve. Each door to the great building was closed, a red light next to each door indicated "FILMING IN PROGRESS".

It was not lost on the party that each guard also carried some sort of firearm in a holster on their belts. Captain Maddox knew very little about ancient combustion weapons and their history, but the weapons appeared to be fed their ammunition via a small projectile-filled cylinder. A nasty looking customer, Maddox decided.

"We think he's still in the area Mr. Tinker." an older gent in uniform spoke up as they approached.

"You have a man at every exit?" Tinker demanded.

"Yes sir."

The disappearance was beginning to attract lots of attention from passers by on the lot. The gathering crowd consisted of no less that four cowboys, a dozen dainty pink ballerinas, a rather self important middle aged man in a suit with white tissue around his collar and a facefull of makeup, and a man in some sort of gorilla suit with the black ape head under his arm.

"Back now please, everyone stay back." one of the guards urged.

Maddox motioned to Chadwick and de Coursey discreetly, "I know it's a longshot, but do you think we might be able to help the search with our Tricorders?"

20090717

The Star Vanishes

"Interesting" thought Chadwick, out loud. "With you and your network busy with meeting and greeting us, your star seems to have chosen this point to go missing. Either he's playing a game to get your attention or........"

Chadwick had gotten Tinker's attention. The network chief stood up from behind his desk and glared at the doctor.

"Or what, Doctor?"

"Or someone else has made him vanish to get your attention. Tell me, does he have a history of causing trouble to your network?"

20090711

Studio 47


"Explore the galaxy?" Tinker gave a little chuckle, "Cost my dear, purely cost."

"Cost?" Maddox asked.

"Yes captain, do you have any idea what missions like that cost a company like mine? Sure the technology is possible. We've even developed it to the point of being a viable technology... but the cost of training the crew, building and fueling the ships and so forth. It got to the point where we couldn't even sell ad space on the launches. My network only has SO MUCH of a budget to throw at that sort of endeavor."

"How interesting." Captain Maddox muttered almost to himself, "So your space program is driven by ad sales and viewer numbers as well?"

"Now you're starting to get it captain." Tinker looked almost pleased that the crew of the Endurance was beginning to understand.

"For the time being, our space program has been limited to the launching and maintenance of our network of orbital broadcast satellites." Tinker said, then noticing the look on Maddox's face he added, "But things have developed that I believe will change all that."

"Mr. Tinker?" came his secretary's voice over the intercom unit on his desk.

"Virginia, I told you we were not to be disturbed." Tinker scolded as he thumbed the activation key.

"Yes sir, I'm sorry, but I have Lenny on the line... there's a problem at Studio 47."

"What is it?" Tinker demanded turning to look at his great wall of screens.

"They're missing one of their actors for the 'Family Business' program. It's Cameron, the 'goofy older brother'." Virginia answered.

Tinker adjusted a few buttons and in a moment he had all screens showing Studio 47. Each screen showed the view from a different camera trained on different areas of a set that looked like the interior of a modern home. Tinker scanned the screens.

"Is there a problem Mr. Tinker?" Maddox asked.

"'Family Business' is one of our programs that goes out to the public live. One of the actors has gone missing and from the looks of it, he's not on set."

"And that's bad?"

"Yes captain, that live broadcast is about to break down in the middle of a live planet-wide program. Cameron is one of the main characters! Virginia!" Tinker shouted into the intercom, "Get all available security down to Studio 47 and comb the area. Find that boy!"

"Yes sir!" Virginia closed the line.

"I'm very sorry captain, this isn't a normal day here at PBN. I really ought to get down there and help out." Tinker stood and grabbed his jacket as he made for the door.

"I understand Mr. Tinker," Maddox stood, "Perhaps we could be of some assistance?"

"Maybe so Captain, follow me then."

20090705

One question

After a momentary pause Leah spoke up with a question.

"Why do you choose not to explore the galaxy? You've developed warp drive, wouldn't the logical conclusion be to explore? I mean, you have such an amazing amount of communication technology, right? Aren't you interesting in see other races form of entertainment?"

20090627

Tinker's Office

click on image to enlarge

After a few minutes, and a brief drive across "Planetary City", they were back near the building they had beamed down in front of. The main PBN administration building.

Tinker's office was large and lush, almost like an apartment with an office area that was backed by a bank of small viewscreens. Each screen showed a different program either being broadcast live over the airwaves, or in the process of being recorded before a live studio audience.

The studio president took a seat behind his massive desk. He pressed a button on a small device on his desk.

"Yes Mr. Tinker?" came the voice of the secretary.

"I'm in here with the alien visitors, see to it that we're not disturbed would you please?"

"Yes sir."

Tinker turned off the intercom.

"Alright," he folded his hands in front of him on the desktop, "I believe in getting right to business Captain. What questions do you and your people have for me?"

20090625

Chadwick nodded. "It's possible: They may have the technology to receive subspace transmissions. If that's the case, then they've known a lot more about us than they're letting on."

Chadwick looked around the studio and it's quaint, late 20th Century stylings. There was something missing in this story so far and his mind wandered into the dark, suspicious territory that had been his past experience. Suddenly, an idea came to him.

"Sam...we do have one asset that we can use to get Tinker and his colleagues to drop their guards and open up to us." Chadwick paused deliberately whilst his captain looked curious.

"Commander Ashby..." continued the doctor. "...they can't get enough of 'space girl'. Maybe she can charm the locals better than you and I can. Certainly more than Mr. DeCoursey can"

20090623

"Yes, that's exactly it." Maddox snapped his fingers, "They DO know alot about our past... Webster called it 'Comet Upsilon'! We haven't mentioned that to anyone since our arrival. How could he have known that?"

"I suppose," he thought aloud, as they were ushered through the back of the studio, presumably toward Tinker's office, "They may have learned about it via some Federation News Service?"

20090622

A Private Word

As the show ended and the studio audience dispersed, Chadwick and Maddox found themselves momentarily on their own. Chadwick leaned in towards his commander.

"Sam, there's something bothering me about this set up; it all seems friendly on the surface but they sure know a lot about our past missions and I've realised we've been made to talk about all kinds of things and yet they've given us very little in return. My worry is that this is being turned from a diplomatic mission and into a public spectacle"

20090616

Goodnight everybody!



"Well this has been a fantastic evening, and a historic one as well gang! I hate that we're all out of time." Webster said, turning to speak right into the camera that was closest to him.

"We've learned alot this evening about these people from another world, but I feel like we've learned about ourselves in the process." the host said in a quieter tone, then, "Join us tomorrow night when our guest will be, actor David Gillespie as well as a visit from the Grant Minstrel Trio. Goodnight everybody!"

The applause started up again as the stage lights died down and darkened the set.

Maddox tried his best to look pleasant, knowing the eyes of Viden might still be upon him via the cameras all over the studio, but something was wrong here.

Nick Tinker was waiting in the wings for the Endurance team when the interview was over.

"Fantastic you guys, Absolutely fantastic!" He said as he clapped.

"President Tinker, I really would like for us to have a few quiet moments where we might discuss..." Maddox was interrupted.

"Oh right, right of course captain." Tinker said, "Let's head back to my office and I can answer any and ALL additional questions you might have."

"Yes thank you. That would be great." Maddox sighed.

20090615

Getting too personal

De Coursey chuckled at Chadwick's reply - mistaking the doctor's reluctance to talk as mere camera-shyness - as the suave TV presenter posited a question in his direction.

"And tell me, just how does a sex-doctor become the first officer of a starship?"

The pockmarked Science Officer laughed out loud at this.

"Ha! Well Will, your researchers surely have done their work there - you've nailed me with that one! But, I've got to tell you folks..." he grinned, scanning the studio audience "..., they missed the good part! I wasn't just your run of the mill sex-doctor, I was an ALIEN SEX DOCTOR!"

He waved his hands, laughing.

"But don't worry Will, I'm not going to be beaming down any Bug Eyed Monsters or Green Skinned Aliens to consort with the beautiful ladies in the audience here. We left all the greenies behind when we shipped out of port."

De Coursey was enjoying being to use such terms without the Politically Correct brigade at Fleet HQ getting on his back. The BEM-phrase and the G-word were banned by Federation Code 5944 - Speciesist Language Clause.

He scanned the audience again.

"Mind you, this lady on the front row looks quite interested! She's heard that saying... oh oh! My Captain's giving me that look!" he grinned impossibly widely and made a zipping motion across his lips, but couldn't resist a final comment.

"You nearly found out how a First Officer gets demoted back to being a sex doctor!"

20090608

Getting too personal

Chadwick smiled wryly at DeCoursey being called a 'sex doctor', that should get him squirming. But Chadwick noticed something else in the questions. He'd mentioned that he cheated death but nothing about an explosion. This guy had done his research, and was probing the Endurance officers for information. Was this a harmless bit of entertainment for the masses or something more covert and ulterior?

"Well, William" he said, answering the question. "I don't know how much you know about time travel, but we encountered a species called 'The Eternals' who...to cut a long story short...manipulated time itself so that the explosion never happened."

More interview...

Maddox felt a little uncomfortable by Webster's question to Ashby, but wasn't sure why. It just struck him wrong.

The Navigator seemed to be floundering with her answer, so the captain chimed in.

"It's a performance like that that gets you an advancement in rank and reassigned to a bigger ship." Maddox smiled, trying to mask his unease.

"And did she get an advancement in rank?" Webster asked.

"Yes she did, she advanced to Lieutenant Commander and became the chief Navigator on the Endurance."

"Wow, that's amazing Captain." Webster turned his attentions to Chadwick and de Coursey.

"Tell me Doctor Chadwick, you mentioned cheating death recently, tell us about how you avoided the explosion?"

Then Webster posed the question to de Coursey, "And tell me, just how does a sex-doctor become the first officer of a starship?"

20090607

Maybe if it was someone else....

"Oh where to start?" Leah paused thinking. "Well I made a single Nacelle starship surf a sub-space wave created by a comet that used wormholes as a method of travel." Leah laugh as she knew no one in the audience would understand any of that. "So, yeah, pretty complex stuff. And before that I was operating both the helm and navigation at the same time..."

She could tell that no one in the crowd was following her. She didn't have the flare that de Coursey did to have the crowd eating out of her hand by her words alone. They seemed to like her because of her appearance, not by her words. While her story was technically impressive it didn't really connect. She knew it was pointless to continue the story. They didn't want that type of story from the one they called "Space-Girl".

20090604

Group interview

After the last advertising break had concluded, Willam Webster looked right into the cameras again.

"I tell you gang, tonight's show has been really interesting! Getting to know people from another world right here on our stage!" Webster clapped his hands together, "Let's bring them all back out together for a few more questions huh?"

The audience roared its approval.

The entire landing party went back out on stage and sat together on the long orange sofa. Webster took the nearby matching orange chair.

"I'm very interested in learning more about you all, and so is our audience here in the studio and at home."


"Miss Ashby," Webster started out, "You mentioned when you were aboard the Hannibal helping to save the ship and Starbase 11 from Comet Upsilon... what exactly went on there? How did you accomplish that?"

"And if I may..." he continued before Ashby could respond, "Captain Maddox, did her service on the Hannibal influence her placement on the Endurance?"

Stage 243 part 4

After the Doctor had been taken off stage during a break, it was Captain Maddox's turn.

Webster greeted the captain as he had the others, they sat on the long orange sofa.

"Tell me a little about where you're from originally, and your formative, childhood years." Webster began.

"I was born on Earth in a small village in, what is referred to as the 'southern' region of the North American continent. My mother died when I was ten years old and I was raised by my father who is a spiritual leader at a house of worship near my boy-hood home."

"What occupation did you have before becoming the captain of a starship?"

"I always had a job of some sort growing up, managing the local ball field, serving at the neighborhood eatery, all fairly typical occupations for teenagers on my world."

"What prompted you to enter into this space-faring branch of the service?"

"I would be lying if I didn't say it was the romantic idea of adventure and the lure of visiting, strange and far away places. I knew when I saw my first images of a Federation Starship, I had to set foot on one."


"Tell me a little more about this Starfleet?"

Maddox still had the old speech memorized, "Starfleet is the defense, research, diplomacy, and exploration force of the United Federation of Planets. The United Federation of Planets is an interstellar nation composed of planetary governments and colonies that spans 8,000 light years and over a thousand worlds. The various members of the Federation are organized under the unifying goals of universal liberty, equality, peaceful coexistence, trade, science, exploration, and mutual defense."


"What are your goals and aspirations for your career? Where do you see yourself in five years in the service?"

"I love being the captain of the Endurance, a fine ship with a proud history. In five years? Oh well... heh, it's a funny thing time... I have this strange relationship with it. You see, oh forget it. I suspect I'll be an Admiral at some point in the future. Not that I'm certain of that mind you." Maddox adjusted his collar with some of his time-traveling misadventures in mind.

"How long have you served on the Endurance?"

"I transfered to the Endurance from the USS Republic two years ago."

"What are some of the highlights of your time and adventures aboard the Endurance that you can share with our audience?"

"Well, the Endurance's primary mission is patrol and exploration of the frontier... we've visited strange new worlds, contacted new life and civilisations. It's what we do.

If I could summarize our missions in the two years I've been captain, how would I do it? Let's see, we visited a planet that was being used as a covert staging ground for a Klingon invasion. We had officers taken from the ship by a race of beings and subjected to a series of tests before they could escape. The Endurance was the test-bed ship for a new type of Warp-engine. We made first contact with a planet full of women with some rather painful results. Battled Tholans. I stumbled through a portal in time and was sent to the future. We visited a world ruled over by people with god-like powers. Then we stumbled across an ancient intergalactic race between the various 'god-like' beings of the cosmos and were forced to participate, and I time traveled again about five years into the future or so.

It's been a fairly wild ride so far."

20090603

Stage 243 part 3

After Ashby, it was Dr. Chadwick's turn in the spotlight.

"Ladies and gentlemen, up next, he's the ship's surgeon on the Endurance, please welcome Doctor Clive Chadwick!" Webster announced.

And so it went...

"Tell me a little about where you're from originally, and your formative, childhood years."
 
"I was born in London, on the planet Earth.  My childhood years are a bit of a blur; my parents travelled around a lot when I was a child so I didn't settle down until they died in a climbing accident and I was in the care of my aunt from that point until I left school.  I was a very studios boy and would spend a lot of my time doing science experiments...and almost getting thrown out of school when one of them would go disatrously wrong."

"What occupation did you have before this one?"
 
"I went to medical school but I didn't think about what kind of medicine...or where I would be practicing it...whilst I was there.  In my last year I applied for about 75 jobs for when I graduated and Star Fleet were the first to respond.  Besides, I wanted to travel by that stage and get away."

"What prompted you to enter Starfleet?"
 
"Like I said, I applied for dozens of jobs and Star Fleet were the first to reply; it seemed as good a place as any to practice medicine and it had the benefit of travel.  I'm not like your usual gung-ho Star Fleet type; I'm not in it for the glamour, it does provide me with an excellent way to practice medicine though."

"Tell me a little more about this Starfleet... what are its purposes and ideals?" 
 
"Well, there's the official line...to explore strange new worlds and new civilisations but for me it's about keeping the peace and protecting its citizens.  Not everyone out there has noble intentions."

"What are your goals and aspirations for your career? Where do you see yourself in five years in the service?"
 
"Well, this year has been a time of change for me in the job.  I spent many years in a department back home on Earth or on one the other core worlds and viewing the Federation and Star Fleet from a lab and that creates one impression and one set of goals, now I'm on the front line and seeing new things first hand and my perspective has changed.  So I'm keen to see where this leads me.  I literally cheated death a few months ago so now I take things one bit at a time without setting long term goals."

"How long have you served on the Endurance?"
 
"A year.  I think I'm the 4th longest serving officer on the ship."

"What are some of the highlights of your time and adventures aboard the Endurance that you can share with our audience?"

"Hmmm, let's think.  Ah, I know, there was this planet...which I won't name because you may find yourself on it one day...and it was populated entirely by women.  At first, it looked like paradise with beautiful scenery, perfect weather and very amiable hosts but we were lucky to make it out of there alive because the women there weren't entirely honest about how they went about their society.  What made it a happy experience for me at the end was that I solved their reproductive problems...don't ask me the details...so as a scientist I was very pleased at that achievement.  Plus I made a friend there as well."

20090602

Stage 243 continued

After DeCoursey had left the stage, Webster stood and addressed the audience again.

"Ladies and Gents, our next guest created quite a sensation upon her arrival today, I hope that her short skirt fashion trend catches up to us here on Viden! The press has dubbed her 'space girl', but we know her as the Chief Navigator of the Endurance, please welcome Lieutenant Commander Leah Ashby!"

The crowd burst with enthusiastic applause. Webster helped her find her seat on the end of the overstuffed couch.



"Hey welcome, thanks for joining us this evening. Tell me a little about where you're from originally, and your formative, childhood years.

"I was born in a city called Nashville on the planet Earth. The city is pretty much the typical big city on Earth. I suppose Nashville is a bit more tourist centric because it was once the capital of an old form of music called country. But beyond that I wouldn't say it was too different from any other city. Maybe a bit more human dominated than San Fransisco or Paris as we didn't have too many aliens, or I guess non human, residents. I never really interacted with any visitors."

"I have four older brothers. And because I had four older brothers I pretty much was a tomboy who wanted to be just like them. And let me tell you, my mother absolutely hated that! She finally got a daughter and her daughter turns out to be a fifth son! That didn't stop her from torturing me trying to make me into her perfect daughter!"

"But aside from that I had a pretty normal childhood I guess. Eventually I kind of grew to accept my femininity and my mother and I bonded. But I still have a love of sports that continues to this day."



"What occupation did you have before this one?"

"This is my first 'occupation' I guess. Before I went to the Academy I was just a mere high school student."

"What prompted you to enter into this space-faring branch of the service... 'Starfleet'?"

"Something different, something away from Earth I guess. As a family we didn't really take many off world vacations, we went to Vulcan once but I only remember it being really hot there. But really, most of our trips as a family consisted of staying on Earth. My parents weren't really big on space flight, and given how large our family was, that just made long trips even more difficult. So, while many of my friends got to travel to different worlds, I was stuck on Earth dreaming of seeing new places. So I pretty much decided that learning how to fly a Starship would give me the freedom to see whatever I wanted. And Starfleet training would give me the ability to fly pretty much anything."

"What are your goals and aspirations for your career? Where do you see yourself in five years in the service?"

"In five years? Oh geez," she paused a moment to laugh before she continued, "I never expected to be where I am now! I've made Lt. Commander faster than anyone in the fleet, so where will I be in five years? I have no idea! If you asked me that question five years ago I thought I'd still be an ensign helm officer! And as for long term goals? I really have no idea. That really depends on if I plan on starting a family or not."

"How long have you served on the Endurance?

"Not long. I'm one of the newer officers on the ship. So my adventures with this crew have been limited."

"What are some of the highlights of your time and adventures aboard the Endurance that you can share with our audience?"

"Since my time on the Endurance has been limited, and some things are classified, I cannot go into as much detail as you'd probably like. The greatest moment of my career, thus far, was actually on my previous assignment the USS Hannibal. Not only did I save the Hannibal but I also saved the residents of Starbase 11! I got a huge promotion because of my actions and as a result ended up on the Endurance."

STAGE 243


A short while later:

The studio audience was abuzz with excitement as the lights went low and the applause lights began to flash. The crowd didn't need much prompting tonight, they were about to see the 'visitors from space' up close and in person!

"Live from the Ernest and Bertram Studio in sunny Planetary City, it's THE WILLAM WEBSTER SHOOOOOOOOW!" came the voice of the announcer through the building. The audience roared.

"Tonight Will brings you the very first, exclusive one-on-one interviews with the recently arrived visitors from another planet! All four of the alien visitors will be live and in person right here on the stage with Viden's favorite host..."

"WILLAM WEBSTER!" the audience shouted on cue.

Webster jogged out to the spotlight at center stage and took a bow, "Hey gang, big show for you tonight and I'm really excited about it! I know you've all heard about the visitors from space that arrived today... it's been burning up the news channels all afternoon."

The audience responded with the appropriate "Ooooh..."

"Well, with the help of our President of Programming here at PBN, we've secured the very FIRST interviews with all FOUR of the alien visitors, can you believe that?!"

The crowd went wild again. When they finally died down, he continued.

"I'm going to dispense with my monologue and get right to it folks! First up, he's the First Officer aboard the strange alien craft in orbit above our heads right now, please help me give a warm Viden welcome to COMMANDER JAN DE COURSEY!"


Webster shook de Coursey's hand and offered him a seat on the long orange couch. Once the host had taken his seat and adjusted his jacket, he went right into it.

"So, Commander de Coursey, tell me a little about where you're from originally, and your formative, childhood years."

"Well, I hail from a patch of dry veldt South East of Mbabane - that's the Middle of Nowhere, even to other Earthmen. It's hot, dry and covered in cow sh.. er.. cow pats. I grew up - or was dragged up - on that patch of scrub by a vet, that's a veterinary surgeon - you know, looks after animals. He was one half mad and the other half drunk. Went by the name of Dad. He'd beat the living *BLEEP* - can I say *BLEEP* on here? - beat the living *BLEEP* out of you for looking at him cross eyed. But, er... Greatest man that ever lived."

"What occupation did you have before this one?" Webster asked.

"I've always been a scientist - medical scientist. I've practiced as a doctor. But I've always been Fleet. That was never... there was never a time when I wasn't going to be Fleet. I guess when I was old enough to help, I helped Dad out a lot, specially when he got old, worn out, you know. You could say I was an assistant vet before I joined up."

"What prompted you to enter into this space-faring branch of the service? I believe I heard it referred to as "Starfleet'?" Webster glanced at his cue cards to ensure he was saying it correctly.

"You heard right. Fleet. Well..." de Coursey continued, "the choice between the whole Universe or a patch of scrub coved in cow pats? You work it out. It wasn't a hard choice. I had to leave the old *BLEEP*, and, I suppose. Well, I suppose it was easier for something big, you know, something... it had to be bigger than that man, and bigger than my hate for him... or my love for him. It had to be that big, big as the Universe, you know what I'm saying." de Coursey was tearing up a bit now.

"Tell me a little more about this Starfleet... what are its purposes and ideals?" Webster leaned in and really expressed interest in his guest, it was part of what made the viewers love him.

"Oh I don't know - there's a big spiel about it all in the handouts we beamed down. The Captain can give you the official line, but you know to me... it's the idea that we are all equal. I mean look at you, look at me. We're from different planets, different cultures, possibly different physiologies. But here we are, talking like this and you know I'm telling you things I never told anybody else, because you're a good interviewer, see? You're a talented interviewer, that's a talent, not everybody could do your job. You'll... you'll be getting StarFleet secrets out of me soon, you know, I'll be in big trouble up there when I go back." de Coursey rambled, getting off the point.

"What are your goals and aspirations for your career? Where do you see yourself in five years in the service?"

"Well now, I'm getting a little old for this, you know, they'll have packed me off by then. Early retirement. I'll go for the early retirement before I let them kick me upstairs to a desk job. Might come and settle here, why not? I could - you know you've got a great planet here. Great scenery, great Vid shows, yeah, great interviewers!" de Coursey gave the interviewer a Twinkly wink.

"How long have you served on the Endurance?" Webster asked.

"Too Long! I want off there and come down and settle down here, on Viden. This place is great. I'll have me some of them... what did you call them? - those green drinks with the..." de Coursey couldn't finish, the crowd erupted at the idea of having the space man settle down on their planet.

When the applause died down, Webster continued.

"What are some of the highlights of your time and adventures aboard the Endurance that you can share with our audience?"

"Well, you know Will, I can call you Will can't I? You know, we scoot round the ol' Universe in that little ship of ours doing every conceivable kind of impressive thing imaginable. We'll be having laser fights with invading Romulans and Klingons one week, we'll be searching for lost scientists the next week, then we'll be getting taken over by mind invading parasites the next. Then it's back to the Klingons. But you know, there's all that. There's all that. But about three months ago we hit on a little colony of, er, of Federation colonists. Nothing spectacular, they were just out on some rock somewhere, surviving, raising a little buckwheat, a few farm animals. And we beamed down with a few much needed tools, not much, a few supplies. And... you know? - the look on their faces! Specially this one little kid with a puppy. We were there, out in Space - there for him. For all of them. They weren't alone. I think that touched me more than anything. We are there, for millions of people, millions of beings, we are there... so they aren't alone."

De Coursey had the crowd in the palm of his hand... and was loving it.

20090528

checks and balances


"You seem to have an interesting twist on democracy, Mr. Tinker" he began. "Give the people what they want, make sure you're doing your best to keep them happy but what about the drudgery of actual government? How do you keep the infrastructure of your world going if you're an entertainment network? How do you make laws and regulate industry?"

"Running a country, continent or planet is just like running a business... you contend with all the same things. When you get right down to it, it's about taking care of your employees... or in the larger sense, your citizens."

"As far as the laws and such are concerned, my senior executives and I do all that. It was all laid out a long time ago with a very careful set of checks and balances to avoid power-mongering and so on."

Tinker turned his attention to the captain, "Maddox, I think the people of Viden will be hungry to learn more about you and your crew... AND your Federation. If I may, I'd like to schedule you and your team here for exclusive, one-on-one interviews on the 'Willam Webster' program."

Maddox was formulating his response when Tinker cut in again.

"Will's got the highest rated live interview program of his sort, he's a real celebrity in his own right and a heckuva great guy. You'll have a huge audience! Whadda ya say Captain?"

"Well, in the spirit of the 'Cultural Exchange', I say we'll do it." Maddox smiled, "What better way to get to know the Federation and its people than an interview broadcast to the citizens of Viden?"

"Fantastic!" Tinker exclaimed, "There's just enough time to get you over to stage 243 and into makeup."

"Makeup?" Maddox queried, his face suddenly less cheerful.

"Oh of course, I forget you're not in the business." Tinker smiled and passed off a small plastic card with the PBN logo on it to the waitress, "You'll all need to have a little makeup applied so your faces'll show up better on camera."

"Oh... of course." the captain sounded a little confused by the entire process.

Ahem

Chadwick noticed that President Tinker's interest in Ashby was a little more than just being cordial so he interrupted him to divert his attention.

"You seem to have an interesting twist on democracy, Mr. Tinker" he began. "Give the people what they want, make sure you're doing your best to keep them happy but what about the drudgery of actual government? How do you keep the infrastructure of your world going if you're an entertainment network? How do you make laws and regulate industry?"

Chadwick had another thought, one he dared not raise at this point for the sake of diplomacy: Who did his network ultimately serve? The people or the sponsors?

20090527

"What about your actors and actresses? I mean surely you must have popular ones, right?" She asked curious about their role. "They, no doubt, are the ones that bring you the ratings and keep you in power."

"Oh sure we have actors, tons of them." Tinker patted Ashby on the hand as he spoke, it was unclear if he was coming onto her or not, "They ARE a key ingredient in getting and keeping viewers. We even have programs that involve regular people, hidden camera-type shows, you know."

"There was the big entertainment backlash of the last decade, where the viewers rebelled against the more professional, network actors and demanded more 'real' programming with 'real' people. PBN was one of the key networks to research and develop the modern hidden camera and 'real' programs." He felt a little bolder and patted Ashby's hand again, this time letting it linger a bit longer.

Long enough that even Maddox noticed.

What about the actors?

What a weird and unusual system Leah thought to herself. The entertainers running the world instead of the educated. And yet these people had somehow discovered warp drive?

And with de Coursey's question Leah's mind began to feel a bit worried. Due to these ratings spikes, the crew was great interest towards this planets population. Of course that raised some obvious dangers. And perhaps de Coursey was hinting at this with his question? Was the crew of the Endurance nothing more than a big ratings ploy with no actual interest in a Cultural Exchange?

Leah felt a bit afraid to connect the dots, and she didn't want to ask THAT question either. Not on this type assignment. Instead she played it safe.

"What about your actors and actresses? I mean surely you must have popular ones, right?" She asked curious about their role. "They, no doubt, are the ones that bring you the ratings and keep you in power."

Poli-tainment

"Say, it's not all about money though, is it Mr Tinker? You said something to us up on the ship that implied that there's a political angle to this racket, too. Am I right?"

"You've picked your officers well Captain Maddox. They ask good questions!" Tinker gestured to the others at the table with his heavy amber glass.

"Yes, Commander de Coursey, there is a bit more to it than mere money... allow me to explain. Entertainment and politics are one and the same here on Viden. In our development as a civilization, the line between entertainers and politicians became so weak and blurred, we finally gave up and just embraced the next logical step in the evolution of both professions."

"Eventually, the big studios and networks became political power houses like our old political parties once were. I just happen to be the head of the biggest and most successful network on Viden." Tinker continued.

"Our planetary constitution states that the man in control of the most successful studio or network is the duly elected 'president' of the planetary government. In this case the voice of the people has been translated into 'viewership' and network numbers, the people of our world make their voices heard daily by tuning into the programming of their choice."

"I've been the president of programming at PBN for the last ten years, but only the president of Viden for the last eight." Tinker explained, "When I took over at PBN, our numbers were down and our programming was weak, the old fella who been in the position before me had NO idea what it was the people wanted and so people tuned out and watched other things."

"But I had a vision of the future for the network... and it took some time, but I finally turned it around and got PBN back on track and at the top of the market again." Tinker beamed with a certain amount of pride.

"I suppose when I get older and out of touch with what the people want, I'll fall to the wayside, and some young buck with a head full of new ideas will swoop in and replace me. I hope it's from within the network, but it could be from anywhere really, there are hundreds of studios and networks for the people to choose from."
"I'll try not to feel mildly insulted Mr. Tinker." Maddox smiled.

De Coursey was enough of a natural show-off not to have been too fazed by the unexpected - and meticulously planned - attention that their landing had attracted. Also, he was realistic enough not to be too disgruntled at the unimpressive size of his "spike" compared to his more dashing looking male companions or their pretty space-lady.

However, something was making him frown.

"Say, it's not all about money though, is it Mr Tinker? You said something to us up on the ship that implied that there's a political angle to this racket, too. Am I right?" he asked between sips of something half bitter, half sweet, and incredibly alcoholic.

It was one thing appearing on a few vid casts and maybe making a few extra bucks for a private company (although there were rules and regulations on that buried deep within some dusty Starfleet manual) - but if their "spikes" meant rocking the political balance of a civilization, even that of a non-federated planet, then they were straying into waters not entirely safe.

20090526

The Numbers Game


"Tell me, Mr. President", he said. "Why is it important for you to know how many people were watching the broadcast?"

"Ratings my dear Doctor, ratings." Tinker smiled and took a sip of his drink from a short, stubby, amber colored glass, "Numbers of viewers mean advertisers will line up and pay virtually anything we ask for ad time during our programs. The higher rated the better. It's what helps to drive our economy here on Viden."

"More specifically, I want to know about YOUR numbers so I'll know what to charge my advertisers during your one-on-one interviews."

"For example," Tinker pointed to the zig-zag on the paper, "The spikes seem to indicate more public interest in you and Miss Ashby here... so I know that my advertisers will pay a little more to place there ads during the interview segments that feature the two of you versus the Captain or Mr. de Coursey."

"I'll try not to feel mildly insulted Mr. Tinker." Maddox smiled.

What's with the "spike"?

Chadwick wasn't liking this one bit; what was supposed to be lunch with a planetary official was turning into a spectator show...something a man with a covert agent past wasn't comfortable with at all.

However, a bit of attention from one of the comely waitresses was a welcome relief. Chadwick smiled at her and smirked at the comment that the viewing public considered him "ruggedly handsome". But he quickly snapped back into business.

"Tell me, Mr. President", he said. "Why is it important for you to know how many people were watching the broadcast?"

20090524

What an arrival!


After the announcer made his remark about 'being right back', some of the bright lights were turned off and the men operating the big boxy cameras relaxed a bit.

Maddox finally recognized someone in the crowd, Planetary President Tinker stepped out of the throng and approached, hand already extended.

He grasped the captain's hand, and shook it, then shook the hands of the other members of the landing party.

"Fantastic! What an arrival!" He beamed, "My money was on a little flying saucer, but that light show was something else! I smell ratings captain..."

"Uh thank you President Tinker, as a repre..." Maddox was interrupted.

"Ten seconds Mr. Tinker." came a prompt from a young man wearing heavy black glasses, and holding a wooden clipboard under his arm.

"Right, right... Listen Maddox, I'm going to step back over here and we'll do the intro live for the viewers at home okay?" Tinker said as he moved back to the crowd.

Maddox didn't get the opportunity to answer. Before he could speak, the young man in the thick black glasses was counting down from three, fingers extended.

The lights came back up and the announcer spoke again through the microphone, "Welcome back ladies and gentlemen to this historic first meeting between PBN President Nicholas Tinker and the crew of a craft from a far away world! Let's watch now as President Tinker approaches these visitors from space..."

Tinker stepped forward right on cue and extended his hand again, this time in a much more formal manner.

"Greetings Captain, I'm Nicholas Tinker of the Planetary Broadcasting Network. As president of programming at PBN, I speak on behalf of all the people of this world when I say 'welcome to Viden'."

Maddox glanced at de Coursey in a manner which said, 'didn't we just do this?'

"I'm Captain Samuel Maddox of the Starship Endurance. I bear greetings from the United Federation of Planets. This is my first officer Commander de Coursey, ship's surgeon Doctor Chadwick and my chief navigator Lieutenant Commander Leah Ashby."

With the mention of Ashby's name there was another flurry of flashbulbs from the throng of reporters. More shots of 'space-girl'.

Tinker shook hands with each again in turn, pausing briefly to ensure good photops with each member of the Endurance crew. When he was done, he waited until his sound man moved in close with the boom mic before he spoke again.

"Tell me Captain, what brings you to our world?" Tinker asked, purely for the benefit of the cameras and the viewers at home.

"We've been sent here to observe conditions on Viden and to gauge your suitability for a mutually-beneficial 'Cultural Exchange' between our societies."

"Cultural exchange?" Tinker asked, "Does that mean an exchange of technologies?"

"Well, that's only one small aspect of it."

"Fantastic!" Tinker threw his arm around the captain's shoulder as if they had been life-long friends.

The reporters nearby began to shout questions at the Endurance crew and more flashbulbs popped.

"Now, now," Tinker schemed, "There will be plenty of time for questions after our meeting. There's business to be discussed."

"And there you have it ladies and gentlemen," the amplified announcer spoke up again, "Viden's first contact with an alien race! Stay tuned to the Planetary Broadcast Network for more exclusive coverage of the visitors from space!"

"Aaaand we're off the air Mr. Tinker." called out the fellow in the black glasses.

"Alright Captain, let me treat you and your men here to some of the finest food that Viden has to offer." Nick Tinker took Maddox by the arm, "We've got this place... and it's right here on the lot, reserved for the stars and execs here at the network, you're gonna love it!"

"Virginia sweetheart," Tinker called out over his shoulder as they left, "get me the viewership numbers for the last thirty minutes would you? I want to know how our 'visit from space' ranked."

__________________

After a brief ride in the back of a blue motorized ground car, Tinker and the Endurance landing party were escorted into a two-story building not far from the beam down point. The glowing neon tube above the double door entry was twisted into the word "Canteen".

An attractive young woman in a form-fitting silver jumpsuit met them at the door, "Your table is ready Mr. Tinker... welcome back."

The group was seated in a large booth in the far corner. Maddox could see why Tinker might like this spot, it afforded him a view of the entire place.

The restaurant was lit in shades of blue and purple, and was populated by men and women in professional attire who looked to be conducting business while they took their meals.

Tinker took Ashby by the arm, "Don't worry sweetheart, there'll be none of that 'space-girl' nonsense in here. No cameras allowed."

The waitress passed around a series of slick, printed menus to everyone at the table.

"Can I get you something to start off with? Something to drink?" The silver clad young woman asked. Maddox noted that curvaceous ladies in silver garb seemed to be a running theme throughout the establishment. A fact that was also not lost on his first officer.

"My usual Ruby." Tinker didn't even look away from his party.

"Listen, I know my viewers are gonna want to know ALL about you folks, and I'd like permission to the first dibs at exclusive interviews with each of you." Tinker was very smooth.

"Interviews?" Maddox asked, "Well, what sort of information will the people of Viden want to know?"

"Human interest stuff you know... about your home planet, where you grew up, how you got where you are today, the action and adventure of working in space, that sorta stuff." Tinker's eyes were aglow with the possibilities.

Maddox looked from Tinker to the other members of his party, "Well, working in space isn't all danger and excitement, there's also..."

"Now now Captain, save it for the interviews." Tinker smiled just as his secretary Virginia came up to the table with a yellow folder in hand.

"The print outs of the numbers from the last half-hour Mr. Tinker." she said, passing it across the table. He thumbed through it.

"Ye gods!" he gasped, "I can barely believe it! The highest I've ever seen." he gestured at a simple paper printout of a red line that spiked up and down along a simple grid, it meant little to Maddox, "Look here, the spike when they show your Ashby, the public is nuts for 'space-girl'... and again here. What is this spike here Virginia?"

"That was when they showed Doctor Chadwick." Virginia practically sighed with delight at the speaking of the name. She was batting her eyelashes at the doctor across the table.

"Of of course!" Tinker replied, "The uniform, the rugged good looks... and of course the red hair, shows up GREAT on screen."

"You and your people are a hit captain." the president of programming beamed as his drink arrived.

20090523

A "star" is born?

Space-Girl? Oh isn't that a lovely nickname Leah thought to herself mockingly.

However she did notice a lot of attention being paid to her over the other landing party members.

"Space-girl is beautiful!"

"Are you single Space-Girl?"

"Marry me!"

"Can I have your autograph Space-Girl?"

"Take a picture with me!"

Were some of the random things the Leah could pick out of the crowd shouting at her. All of the flashing bulbs of their cameras made the scene look even more chaotic. She already had many questions but felt it was best to leave it to the captain for the moment.

20090522

Energize

At 1259 hours, the landing party was in the transporter room, ready for departure.

"I have the coordinates they sent us sir," the transporter technician called out, "locked in and ready captain."

"Energize." Captain Maddox ordered from the platform.


An instant later, the landing party from the Endurance materialized in front of a tall gray building. The first thing Maddox and his crew noticed were the bright lights and mob of people surrounding them.

They pushed at each other, all in an attempt to get a better shot or to take a better picture. Cameras and their accompanying flashes were everywhere.

"Over here!" They shouted in an attempt to capture the attention of the Endurance crew, "Look over HERE space-man!"

The Captain held up a hand to shield his eyes from the bright lights being shone on him.

"Look! They brought a space-woman with them!" One cried out.

"Who are you wearing space-girl?!" called out another with the flash of a camera.

A voice came from the crowd, amplified by some artificial means.

"And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, the spectacular first appearance of men from another world here on Viden soil! Brought to you exclusively by PBN! We'll be back with their first words to PBN President of Programming Nicholas Tinker after these messages from our sponsor!"

20090520

Warp-Capable


"Warp-Capable for the last five years, although they seem to have chosen not to do anything with the technology other than to launch a series of powerful broadcast and transmission satellites." Maddox answered Doctor Chadwick, "Starfleet's never been to the Viden system other than our presence here now. Long range probes and scans are all we have to go on."

"All our scans seem to indicate an Earth-like planet in a stage of development not unlike our home-world's twentieth century in terms of industry and culture." Maddox continued.

"We've been sent here to observe conditions on their world and to gauge its suitability for a mutually-beneficial 'Cultural Exchange' between our societies."

"Will you be beaming down with a security detachment sir?" asked Lt. Gamelson, who had taken over security after the departure of Talik.

"No, this is a peaceful mission..." Maddox replied, "but, Type 1 phasers to everyone in the landing party just in case. I don't want to look like we're armed to the teeth on the front end of this."

"Very good sir." Gamelson returned to his security panel to make arrangements to have four Type 1 phasers charged and ready for the team when they arrived in the transporter room.

20090519

Lunch sounds fine

"Lunch sounds fine to me" said Chadwick, nonchalantly. "It makes a change for a new civilisation to offer us a warm welcome instead of threatening us or abducting one of us from the ship". Chadwick thought about that last one...too many times he'd been whisked off Endurance at the whim of some powerful energy being.

"Other than their desire for mealtime meetings, what do we know of these people?" he asked the command crew.

De Coursey Chimes in

"So, 1 o'clock would be 1300 hours by our time system."

“Hmm, in that case we might be given lunch!” muttered de Coursey happily. He was getting tired of the ship’s reconstituted fare.

She paused for a beat before she smiled again."Haven't you ever been in a history museum or gone to one of the old 20th century reenactment villages? They even have ones for the 19th and 18th century with mock battles! You should check one out!"

De Coursey grunted at the idea.

“Well, I took place in a re-enactment of a 20th Century Petrolium-car race once, and the damned thing was full of ‘farbies’ on hover sleds. I was the only feller on four wheels.”

Maddox cocked an eyebrow in the direction of Ashby, as Doctor Chadwick joined them on the bridge, "I'm not completely unfamiliar with the old style time keeping methods, but I just agreed to 'A one-oh-clock'... Does that mean I agreed to meet with Tinker at 1300?"

De Coursey didn’t answer, just muttered something about coming last and ‘popping his chute’ – whatever that meant.

"I wonder if communication with the Videns will prove to be this difficult for the duration of the mission?" Maddox thought aloud, "Perhaps we should carry a universal translator with us just in case?"

“Ah, we’ll be fine!” beamed the Commander, returning to the here and now “Ashby and I will translate better than one of those little whirring dervishes. I don’t trust a word they say anyway. Did I ever tell you about the time …” But his anecdote about the Android and the Translation Device was cut short by Chadwick’s appearance.

“You willing for a One-o-clock with the President of this rock, Doctor?” he chirped.

"So what strange, new world are we visiting this time?" he said to the group of senior officers.

20090518

LINEAGE of the ENDURANCE


“By endurance we conquer.”

In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton recruited men and support for his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, intent on crossing the continent of ANTARCTICA on foot. Shakelton's very name evokes images of hardship and survival under the most desperate circumstances, as does the name of his shipderived from his familys motto, Fortitudine Vincimus (by endurance we conquer) the Endurance.

For a ship that he could trust in extreme conditions, he chose the 300-ton 144-ft. wood-hull barkentine Polaris, which had been built at Norways Framnaes shipyard, whose extreme-strength ships were favored for polar exploration.

The Endurance, as he renamed her, was built of oak and fir and sheathed in greenhearta wood so tough that special methods were needed to work it.

Sailing south as World War I broke out in August 1914 after the Royal Navy asked him to proceed rather than accept his services the Endurance became icebound at 74 south latitude, short of the Antarctic coast, then frozen fast as the ice became tightly packed by several days of high winds from the northeast. Immobilized for ten months, including Antarctic winter, the crew abandoned her as she was crushed and finally lost on October 27, 1915.

Stranded on the ice, Shackleton and the Endurance crew of 28 made their way with their lifeboats to barren Elephant Island, which offered neither shelter, food, nor the prospect of rescue.

On April 24, 1916, Shackleton chose five crewmen and embarked in the 22-foot James Caird on one of historys most fantastic voyages: despite being able to take only four star sightings, they made 800 miles over 17 days through seas up to 70 feet and miraculously in the words of their logreached their objective, South Georgia Island.

Still 150 sea miles short of Stromness Bay on the other side of the mountainous island, and with only rags for clothing, Shackleton and two of his men struck out againthis time trekking 22 miles over uncharted alpine terrainand stumbled into the whaling station 36 hours later, to the absolute astonishment of those present.

On August 30, 1916, the trawler Yelcho finally retrieved the remaining crewmembers from Elephant Island.

Amazingly, Shackleton lost no men on this 22-month odyssey, the last fantastic expedition of the heroic age.

------------------

USS Endurance (AMc-77) was an Accentor-class minesweeper acquired by the U.S. Navy for the dangerous task of removing mines from minefields laid in the water to prevent ships from passing.

Endurance was launched on 19 June 1941 by Gibbs Gas Engine Co., Jacksonville, Florida. Placed in service on 11 October 1941, she served in a noncommissioned status throughout the war in the 10th Naval District.

She was placed out of service on 6 December 1945 and transferred to the Maritime Administration on 7 July 1947 for disposal.

___________________

The Endurance (AM-435) was launched August 1952 by J. M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp., Tacoma, Wash., and commissioned 19 May 1954, Lieutenant L. E. Martin in command. She was reclassified MSO-435 on 7 February 1955.

On 21 April 1954, Endurance arrived at Long Beach, Calif., her homeport, and began training operations along the southern coast of California. In July 1955 she made a good will cruise to Acapulco, Mexico, returning to local duty on exercises, drills, and operations with ships of other types.

Endurance made her first cruise to the Far East between August 1957 and February 1958, during which she exercised with ships of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and the navy of the Republic of China.

Her second tour of duty in the Far East, from January through July 1960, included minesweeping exercises at Okinawa, and another period of assistance to the Chinese navy in developing their modern mine warfare techniques. Arriving at Long Beach on 19 July, the remainder of the year was given to operations and ship overhaul.

--------------------

HMS Endurance was a Royal Navy ice patrol vessel that served from 1967 to 1991. She came to public notice when she was involved in the Falklands War of 1982.

On 19 March 1982 while the ship was at Stanley, South Georgia was occupied by Argentinian civilians. The Endurance, commanded by Captain Nick Barker, was sent to order the Argentinians off the island. Endurance had a small Royal Marines detachment and took further Marines from NP (Naval Party) 8901, and sailed on 21 March for South Georgia. Arriving on 25 March, she encountered the Argentinian transport Bahia Buen Suceso, which had landed 100 troops, and Endurance landed her marines before returning to the Falklands on 30 March. She joined up with the British task force in April and landed SBS soldiers at Hound Bay on South Georgia on 22 April. With the threat of a submarine presence, other vessels moved into deeper waters but Endurance moved into sea ice near the shore. On 25 April two Wasp ASW helicopters flying from Endurance assisted in attacks on the submarine Santa Fe, which was later abandoned by her crew. When the Argentinian forces surrendered on the 26th the Endurance remained in the vicinity of the island as a guard.

Toward the end of her life she acquired the nickname HMS Encumbrance due to reliability problems.

In 1989 she struck an iceberg and although she was repaired, a survey in 1991 declared that the hull was not sound enough for a return to Antarctica and she was finally decommissioned.

______________________

HMS Endurance was the Royal Navy's Antarctic ice patrol ship. She was a class 1A1 icebreaker, with pennant number A171.

HMS Endurance was built in Norway in 1990 by Ulstein Hatlo for Rieber Shipping as MV Polar Circle. The Navy chartered her for eight months as HMS Polar Circle from 21 November 1991. She was bought outright and renamed HMS Endurance on 9 October 1992.

Endurance provided a sovereign presence in polar waters, performed hydrographic surveys and supported the British Antarctic Survey in Antarctica. Her usual deployment was in the South Atlantic and returned to the UK through tropical waters each year.

_____________________

Federation starship, Mann-class cruiser. The Endurance was constructed in 2206 and was employed primarily for strategic purposes by Starfleet command. It provided much needed defense and security within the ever-growing Federation jurisdiction. Having an advanced 3rd generation warp drive that used pure matter/antimatter annihilation, the Endurance became the first Federation designed craft to surpass warp 6.

In 2217, under the command of Admiral Okuru Nelson, the Endurance was the flagship of a massive space-lift operation to evacuate the 10 million inhabitants of Bayard's Planet before the Phi Puma supernova shockwave ignited a cascade nova in the Bayard's star system. The USS Endurance was retired from service in 2244.

20090517

1300?

Maddox cocked an eyebrow in the direction of Ashby, as Doctor Chadwick joined them on the bridge, "I'm not completely unfamiliar with the old style time keeping methods, but I just agreed to 'A one-oh-clock'... Does that mean I agreed to meet with Tinker at 1300?"

"I wonder if communication with the Videns will prove to be this difficult for the duration of the mission?" Maddox thought aloud, "Perhaps we should carry a universal translator with us just in case?"

20090516

Ashby responds

Maddox stood up from the captain's chair as if to leave the bridge then stopped suddenly, "Can... anyone tell me what a 'one-oh-clock' is?"

Leah gave a slight chuckle. "It's a an old unit of measurement Earth used. Since a day lasted 24 hours our ancestors divided the day in two 12 hour time periods. AM and PM. So an old clock would only have 12 numbers. So o'clock was shortened form of "On the clock"!

Leah smiled at her own answer.

"So, 1 o'clock would be 1300 hours by our time system."

She paused for a beat before she smiled again.

"Haven't you ever been in a history museum or gone to one of the old 20th century reenactment villages? They even have ones for the 19th and 18th century with mock battles! You should check one out!"

20090515

Sickbay

Chadwick had just started his shift in sickbay when the call came in: "Doctor Chadwick to the bridge".

"Oh well, the sick and needy on this ship will have to do without me for a while" he said to his staff. Fortunately there was only Ensign Griffiths with a dislocated shoulder who needed attention and Nurse Penney was more than capable of dealing with that.

Chadwick made his way to the bridge where he saw Maddox, DeCoursey and Ashby all conversing about some new development. He also noticed that the Endurance was orbiting a Class M planet.

"So what strange, new world are we visiting this time?" he said to the group of senior officers.

20090513

Tinker's Office

"Anything new that I should know before we attempt to make contact?" The captain asked.

A look from Chief Science Officer de Coursey told the young science ensign that it was alright to proceed. He took another look over his instruments.

"A fairly typical Class M world sir. Nitrorgen/Oxygen atmosphere, gravity, industrialization all close to levels that might be expected of Earth in the mid Twentieth Century. Most of the pollution is centered around the larger cities and areas of industry."

"Do you detect any sort of military structure?"

"There IS..." he looked once more through the scanner, "but very little. Technology on par with mid-to-late Twentieth Century Earth."

"Interesting." Maddox mumbled, "Alright then, it's no good observing in a vacuum, let's contact them. Lieutenant?"

The red headed communications officer was already at her controls, "I believe I have them now sir."

"On screen."

What appeared on the forward viewer looked to be the the interior of the office of an entertainment executive. Framed, autographed pictures hung on every wall, plaques and trophies lined several shelves off to one side. In the back was a great window that looked out over a vast series of studio buildings and exterior setpieces.

The older man at the desk in the center wore a slick, smoke gray suit with a nehru collar and a huge white smile. He was a man who had the look of someone in charge, and who always got his way with a wink, a smile and a firm handshake.

Captain Maddox leaned toward the viewer as he began, "I'm Captain Samuel Maddox of the USS Endurance, representing the United Federation of Planets. We've been sent here to observe conditions on your world to gauge its suitability for a mutually-beneficial 'Cultural Exchange' between our societies."

The man in the gray suit looked surprised and excited, he straightened visibly in his high backed, leather chair, "Hey that's fantastic Captain! I'm Nick Tinker, president of programming here at the Planetary Broadcast Network."

"President of programming? Oh I'm sorry Mr. Tinker... I needed to speak with your planetary governing body." Maddox said.

"Oh, the board of directors and I here at Planetary Television ARE the governing body for the planet," He smiled, then leaned in and put on his 'reassuring' face, "...at least until our numbers fall lower than Harlington-Straker Studios across the street."

Tinker gave a laugh that seemed timed perfectly to the 'punchline' of his own joke.

Maddox shifted in the captain's chair, "So you and your people there at Planetary Television..."

"Yes Captain, we're the governing body here on Viden. I can see that this must be very confusing to you. Why don't you and your people come down for a visit. We can have lunch and talk all about it."

Maddox looked over at de Coursey with a raised eyebrow, then back again toward the viewer.

"Fantastic," Tinker didn't wait for an answer, "I'll transfer you to Virginia who'll schedule you in... see you soon captain!"

The viewer flashed over and an image of a woman the captain could only assume was 'Virginia', Tinker's secretary, filled the screen.


"Are you available for a one-o'clock captain?" Virginia said in a pleasant, professional tone of a woman who is accustomed to talking to people for a living.

Maddox looked befuddled, then to de Coursey for confirmation, "Are WE available for a 'one-oh-clock'?"

de Coursey, off screen, nodded.

Maddox looked back wide-eyed to Virginia on the viewer, "We ARE available for a 'one-oh-clock'."

"Thank you captain I'll pencil you in." She said making a note on her desktop machine, "We'll see you then, buh-bye."

The viewer returned to the orbital view of Viden II.

Maddox stood up from the captain's chair as if to leave the bridge then stopped suddenly, "Can... anyone tell me what a 'one-oh-clock' is?"

20090506

Crew Medals and Awards

Captain Samuel Maddox

Career Service Citation:: 1 Year
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded to Starfleet officers after ONE consecutive year of service aboard a starship.
Awarded Stardate 4220

Career Service Citation:: 2 Years
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded to Starfleet officers after TWO consecutive years of service aboard a starship.
Awarded Reason: For joining in Jan/Feb of 2005. Thank you for your valuable and continued service!

Founder's Mark:: Azure
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded to users who have recruited TWO or more new players.
Awarded Reason: Awarded for the recruiting of new user "Relon"

Founder's Mark:: Gold
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Reserved for the Board Founders and users who have recruited TEN or more new players.
Awarded Reason: Awarded 0526.20 (old Stardate system) as founding member of forum.

Founder's Mark:: Silver
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded to users who have recruited FIVE or more new players or Moderators.
Awarded Reason: Moderator of USS Endurance forums

Founder's Mark:: Umber
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded to users who have recruited ONE new player.
Awarded Reason: Awarded for the recruiting of new user "Linus"

Joint-Mission Participation Deocration
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Joint-Mission Participation Decoration
Awarded Reason: Active participation in “The Counterpoint Catastrophe” Board wide Joint Mission that began Stardate 4421.2. This medal will be awarded to those players that participated in the game and contributed to the story itself.

Player of the Year
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded through a peer voting process, this award represents one of the highest honors available-- the appreciation and commendation of fellow players
Awarded Reason: Voted Player of the Year 2005 - Awarded 4212.7

Purple Heart
Amount: 2
Medal Description: Issued to characters that are injured during combat missions.
Awarded Reason: first contact mission to Toma Major, awarded 2258
Awarded Reason: Injury inflicted by Klingons during mission to Verian Two, (4161.22)

Service Pin:: Endurance
Amount: 5
Medal Description: Given to players who have successfully run an adventure for the USS Endurance players. 
Awarded Reason: Awarded 4814.1 as GM of "Manifest Destiny"
Awarded Reason: GM of "Cage of Freedom"
Awarded Reason: GM of "Blood Lust"
Awarded Reason: GM of Endurance game "That Which Paradise Ensnares"
Awarded Reason: GM of Endurance game "Time's Arrow"

Silver Star
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Given to players who work to make sure that their posts are well written. This includes, but is not limited to: Spelling/Grammar, Punctuation & Overall Quality.
Awarded Reason: Awarded 0555.19 (old Stardate system) for quality and characterization

Commander Jan de Coursey

Public Relations Cluster
Awarded 2006

Silver Star
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Given to players who work to make sure that their posts are well written. This includes, but is not limited to: Spelling/Grammar, Punctuation & Overall Quality.

Service Pin:: Starbase 11
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Given to players who have successfully run an adventure for SB 11 players. 
Awarded Reason: For sticking with SB 11 and helping out when no one else would.

Career Service Citation:: 1 Year
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded to Starfleet officers after ONE consecutive year of service aboard a starship.

Lt. Commander Clive Chadwick

The STARFLEET SURGEON'S DECORATION is given to those in the medical field who work the hardest to create posts of medical import to our community. Awarded 2006

Silver Star
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Given to players who work to make sure that their posts are well written. This includes, but is not limited to: Spelling/Grammar, Punctuation & Overall Quality.

Joint-Mission Participation Deocration
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Joint-Mission Participation Decoration
Awarded Reason: Active participation in “The Counterpoint Catastrophe” Board wide Joint Mission that began Stardate 4421.2. This medal will be awarded to those players that participated in the game and contributed to the story itself.

Career Service Citation:: 1 Year
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded to Starfleet officers after ONE consecutive year of service aboard a starship.

Purple Heart
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Issued to characters that are injured during combat missions.
Awarded Reason: Injury sustained during mission to Verian Two, (4161.22)

Lt. Commander Leah Ashby

Silver Star
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Given to players who work to make sure that their posts are well written. This includes, but is not limited to: Spelling/Grammar, Punctuation & Overall Quality.

Career Service Citation:: 1 Year
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Awarded to Starfleet officers after ONE consecutive year of service aboard a starship.

Service Pin:: Endurance
Amount: 1
Medal Description: Given to players who have successfully run an adventure for the USS Endurance players.
Awarded Reason: GM of "To Repel Ghosts"