INTAR SYSTEM — Starfleet and Intaran military personnel have foiled a Tzenkethi attempt to use an asteroid as a weapon against the planet Intar.
It was only a matter of luck that the latest attack by the Tzenkethi was seen for what it was, rather than the natural disaster it was intended to look like.
“When it didn’t show up on sensors…”
The discovery came during a training flight by Intaran Land Forces General An Rentoshi, the commander of Gwalior Base.
“I was out with Commander Richards, Starfleet’s senior flight officer in the system, familiarizing myself with their Type 9 shuttlecraft,” the general later reported. “We were headed for a small platform that simulated a starship’s hangar deck when I noticed something unusual out the left window.”
“When it didn’t show up on sensors,” Richards added, “we knew it was something that needed to be looked at.”
Using a focused sensor beam and an expert-level short hop at warp, the two officers quickly determined that the object was an asteroid similar in size and mass to the Chicxulub impactor responsible for the extinction of Earth’s dinosaurs. The focused beam also determined that it was being hidden from general sensors by a stealth field generator which mixed Breen and Tzenkethi technology.
Upon learning of the find, both USS Kumari and USS Ernst Ruska ran projection plots on the asteroid’s speed and trajectory, quickly coming to the same conclusion: the asteroid could not be stopped by conventional means.
“It had too much mass to tow, and it would have laughed at phasers,” said Captain Ritan th’Nar, the recently-relieved commander of the Gwalior Flotilla, in an interview shortly before leaving the Intar system. “We’d expended our torpedo magazines fighting off the Tzenkethi, and even though we’re not that far from planets like Trill and Denobula, resupply wasn’t a top priority with Starfleet. [Starbase 128 commander] Mecum did his best, but that’s a repair facility, not a resupply base.”
With conventional means eliminated, the call went out to the Federation merchant ships in the system.
“We even sent a call to the Fesarian First Federation,” Captain Yineth Nikara, th’Nar’s successor as Gwalior Flotilla commander, related. “After all, those gigantic ships of theirs are built for this sort of thing. They did eventually get back to us, but only to say they were sorry they couldn’t help. So we called in everybody.”
However, the solution came not from a team of engineers but from a schoolteacher who had just arrived on the planet.
The Wrong Side of the Equation
“I thought it was just another temporary duty relocation,” Kara Mundi, wife of USS Espero first officer Lt. Andrew Mundi, said during an interview about the opening of a school on Gwalior Base. “Andrew and I spent time together during Espero’s repairs, of course, but we’ve always had this thing about living where the ship is based, so when the Intaran government authorized us to relocate, we booked passage on the first transport headed this direction.”
The realization might not have been reached, however, were it not for a need for family housing.
“We were talking with Commander Wilcox, the base XO, when I just happened to lament the fact that full impulse was only one quarter the speed of light. Suddenly, both he and Andrew were looking at me as if their universal translators had malfunctioned.”
“And then it dawned on me,” Commander Jeff Wilcox answered, when asked about the incident. “We’d been trying to solve the problem from the wrong end of the equation. We’re so used to preventing relativistic effects that we forget that they can be useful.”
“I remember Mrs. Mundi asking what happens when you accelerate a small mass to close to the speed of light. That’s when it hit me. That’s why starship arrivals are so easy to detect, once a culture reaches a sufficient tech level. Even a runabout will, just for a second as it drops from warp, have the mass of a small planet.”
Specialists aboard the construction vessel USS Blount Island quickly validated the idea, which was then presented to the engineers, both Starfleet and civilian, who were working on the problem.
However, when one of them gave voice to the one drawback of the plan, Captain Yineth stepped in.
“Not If We Go Really Old School!”
“Some people read to relax,” Captain Dominic Baier of USS Blount Island remarked during the interview he granted for this report. “Some paint. Some listen to music or find relaxation through physical activity. Me, I design improvements on obsolete weapons. I especially enjoy building replicas of atomic and thermonuclear devices. So, when Yineth called and asked for one, reminding me that the Intaran military had exhausted their own stockpiles, I knew I’d be able to put one together in a few days. There was just one thing missing.”
That thing was fissionable materials. Fortunately, the Tzenkethi had ignored the Kyarin Government Laboratory, where Intar’s stockpiles of nuclear material are kept. A quantity of enriched uranium and plutonium was quickly transferred to the Blount Island, and modifications to a shuttlecraft and both Defiant-class vessels began in earnest.
Six days later, the preparations were complete.
Popping It Like a Party Balloon
Twelve days ago, the plan was put into action, with General Rentoshi and Captain Yineth in command from the shuttlecraft that had been modified for the purpose of turning Espero and her sister, USS Hammersley, into what amounted to a single vehicle capable of towing the weapon at a speed estimated at 99.4% that of light, while maintaining static warp fields to prevent temporal dilation.
“It was spectacular,” said Dr. Jodh Undarum of Citadel University, who observed the event from his research outpost on Merama, Intar’s moon. “The weapon detonated a picosecond before impact, and by the time the pressure wave was generated, it was almost dead-center. They popped it like a children’s party balloon!”
In recognition of this feat, all involved Starfleet and Intaran military personnel have been awarded the Order of the Three Peoples, Intar’s highest military honor.
The Federation government has lodged a formal protest with the Tzenkethi.
This is a reader-submitted article and the third in a series based on the Star Trek: Citadel continuity. A fan-fiction project by John H. Harris, Star Trek: Citadel explores contemporary themes through the idea of a world where nearly everyone is what we would consider overweight.