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Part of Challenger: Birds Of A Feather

PROLOGUE

S.S. Mayflower BF-21, en route to Archer IV
Friday, February 28th, 2155
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Amita Choudhary slowly walked the corridors of the Mayflower late at night. She knew that her mind was playing games on her, but there was always an eerie atmosphere when the ship was engaged in night mode. Nearly all of their passengers would be asleep now and the night shift crew were on duty. As such, most systems that weren’t needed were powered down, including a reduction in the lightning. Even with knowing all of that she still found herself feeling wary of her surroundings, the odd creak and moan from the gravity plates or the odd hum from the EPS network made her feel tense.

As leader of this expedition to Archer IV she was looking forward to their chance to actually be on solid ground and begin building a new home world. This expedition was one she was extremely happy to be involved with. Already Starfleet had sent two ships ahead, filled with a number of researchers, scientists and engineers to Archer IV. Their primary goal was to set up a temporary base of operations and to begin identifying locations for colonisation. It would be Amita’s job to work with the civilians who would be building a new life for themselves on Archer IV. She would temporarily hold the powers of a governor as she was the senior civilian expedition leader. Many of those she would be leading would be workers assigned to help with the construction of the colony and others who would support them including doctors, nurses, teachers (children were also part of her expedition), skilled labourers, etc. All of them volunteered for the chance to immigrate to this new world and now their hopes and dreams were only days away from becoming a reality. Actually thinking about walking on the surface of a new planet was a buzz in itself that helped her forget her fears about the ship in night mode. 

Over five years had passed since Earth had established a deep space colony, as such Archer IV would be one of the first. It had been discovered by Enterprise four years ago and had been named in honour of Captain Jonathan Archer.  Since its discovery, the United Earth Parliament and Starfleet Command have been eager to return to the planet and make something of it. Archer IV was too valuable for Earth not to declare it as part of its Commonwealth. High deposits of valuable alloys and deuterium had been found on the planet as well as trace amounts of dilithium crystals. Starfleet was keen to lay claim to the planet and prevent others from doing so. However Captain Archer and his crew had discovered the local flora and fauna would give off toxic hallucinogenic pollen that was deadly to most humanoids. Currently it would take too long to completely eradicate the pollen and no one knew what impact that would have on the planet’s ecosystem. As such Starfleet Medical and the Interspecies Medical Exchange Program had been able to devise an antidote that would last up to twenty-four hours for most humanoids. Even with this barrier, Humanity wasn’t prepared to give up such a valuable world.

Right now as she moved down the corridor back to her quarters she smiled at the idea of being on a strange new world in only a couple of weeks’ time. The Mayflower and her sister ship the Haig were Conestoga-class colony ships and were outfitted with warp three engines. Since leaving Earth they had been travelling at a steady pace of warp two point six to reach the Archer system by the middle of March. In a few days’ time, once they reached their new home, the two magnificent vessels would be pulled apart to be used as part of the new colony. She was slightly sad at the prospect of losing the Mayflower; she had become fond of the vessel and had decided that both ships would be remembered in some way. She was considering naming the first settlements after them. Who knows, she thought, maybe one day they would become great cities on the planet?

She squeezed the mug she held in her hands, which contained hot chocolate in it and in the other hand she carried a plate of chocolate digestive biscuits.  They were a luxury treat and naughty habit she had picked up from her husband when they had first met. She approached the door to her cabin and started to think about her husband, whom she had left on Earth. He would be joining her in two months’ time with their eight-year-old daughter. She pushed the door open with her right elbow and walked in to her private sanctuary. Slowly she put her treats down on the bedside cabinet before dropping herself on to her bunk and followed it with a long sigh, she was pleased to finally be able relax. She pulled out the data-tablet she had stored under her pillow and switched it on, loading up the e-book she had started to read the night before. This long trip did have its advantages, as a keen bookworm she was able to catch up on all the books she wanted to read. Tonight she was reading the next chapter of the sleazy romantic novel entitled: Indescribable. As she began to delve into her book she reached out to grab her mug and get one of the biscuits however she soon stopped herself from doing so when she felt the ship drop out of warp. Automatically she put her tablet down with the mug on the bedside cabinet and rushed towards the communications panel by her door. “Bridge report.” She said after hitting the button.

Captain the Haig has just been hit by weapon’s fire from an unknown enemy. They just took a shot at us too and have destabilised our warp field.” The duty officer responded with.

“Damn it!” She cursed. “Take us to Emergency Condition One and prepare to engage all bulkheads. I’m on my way up!” Choudhary quickly picked up one of the chocolate digestives and stuffed it into her mouth before leaving her cabin; there was no way whoever was attacking them would deprive her of having at least one of them.