A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

Indistinguishable from Magic, Part I

In attendance: Admiral Mitchell, Commander Bom, Commander Arnet, Commander Jordan, Commander Fuller, First Lt. Terrell, Ensign Aklar, Citizen Drosan

After a frustrating nine days waiting for the USS Potemkin to be repaired in dry dock, the Potemkin crew was finally back on the hunt for the person who put it there. Following the violent and dramatic death of former Orion Syndicate leader Thadial Bokar, Starfleet Intelligence believed the pirate organization was now being fronted by Bokars former second in command: an Orion named Ard Jarikar. Whether Jarikar was responsible for the blast in San Fransisco Bay that killed 13 people, injured 47 more, and did significant damage to Federation and city infrastructure (TEM: "Ringing in, or Bowing Out") was unclear, but Admiral Mitchell and his crew certainly wanted to ask him about it.

Under the command of Mitchell, the Potemkin, the Steamrunner-class USS Appalachia, the Excelsior-class USS Farragut, and the New Orleans-class USS Thomas Paine--sister ship of the still heavily damaged USS Rutledge--had been assigned by Starfleet to discover and apprehend whoever was responsible (Starfleet takes attacks on its headquarters VERY seriously.)

Pursued by Admiral Mitchell's special fleet of pirate hunters, Ard Jarikar abandoned his casino headquarters on Farius Prime and “went to ground” in the Orion Interceptor-class “Triple Over,” hiding among the caves of the notorious smuggler's planet Targ's Arse. The interior of Targ's Arse was series of intertwining, booby-trapped tunnels in which smugglers and pirates had been known to disappear for months, even years, while being pursued.

Rather than let their quarry settle in, Admiral Mitchell ordered runabouts and shuttles from the Potemkin, the Farragut, and the Thomas Paine to enter the caves in pursuit of the Triple Over. Leaving the Farragut's captain, Emily Hardinger, to watch over the “fox holes,” the Admiral took personal command of the Potemkin runabout Tiber, with Commander Bom and his team commanding the shuttlecraft Implacable.

As the two shuttlecraft entered Targ's Arse, Lt. Melina, at the helm of the Tiber, couldn't help wondering if they would need toilet paper. What they needed was a map, of course, but sensor readings proved unreliable--no doubt due to jamming devices placed throughout the planet's interior by generations of smugglers. In the Implacable, Commander Jordan begrudgingly took the helm, while Varric Drosan volunteered to take tactical. Ensign Aklar, though a science officer by choice, grumbled as he took the sensor station. On the Tiber, Doctor Arnet and Commander Fuller rounded out the admiral's team.

Farther into the cave, the cavern split into two directions--up, and down. Figuring there was safety in numbers, the two ships remained together, choosing to take the high road. That decision proved wise when the Tiber, in the lead, became caught in a modified Tholian web. As the web was woven around them, the two ships worked together to identify and destroy the web bots--the Tiber doing the identifying, and the Implacable doing the destroying. The Implacable's phasers had to shoot through rock though, and before the last of the Tholian webs could be destroyed the cavern caved in. The Tiber's shields held as it escaped, but the passage was effectively closed. It was time to take the low road.

With the Implacable now in the lead, the two-ship convoy backtracked to the Y in the cave and steered down. This time, the team let a probe do the dangerous work of trailblazing for them, and around a corner it detected an old but still functional plasma cannon. Sensors on the Tiber picked up the presence of Ard Jarikar's ship, the Triple Over, in the passage beyond.

Oddly, the cannon guarding the corridor didn't fire on the probe, and it was only when the probe was remotely programmed to emit false evidence that it was shielded that the plasma cannon erupted. Reckoning that the cannon was rigged to fire only if a ship raised its shields against it, the crews of the Implacable and the Tiber girded their loins and moved--shieldless in the face of the plasma cannon--down the corridor and through to safety.

The two crews donned EVA suits and met outside on the platform where the unoccupied Triple Over was tethered, and together they turned to a large, sealed blast door. Before they could decide how to proceed, however, Captain Hardinger of the Farragut's voice came over the scratchy comm--the Potemkin had disappeared! Not been destroyed, not warped away--according to Captain Hardinger, the USS Potemkin was there one minute and gone the next.

Not sure how to handle this information, particularly as the away teams were on the verge of storming what was, potentially, the stronghold of the pirate Ard Jarikar, the Potemkin crew was surprised to be addressed by a tall, thin, human man with a boyish face, wearing a Starfleet uniform with an ensign's pip. And, most alarmingly, no EVA suit. He introduced himself as a traveler--an explorer--and told the crew he had found their ship. Scans proved he was telling the truth about being human, but the real evidence was when Varric Drosan read what he could of the stranger's mind.

"He's...not Q," Drosan told the others. "He's Beverly Crusher's son, Wesley."

Crusher assured the crew he would return them to this exact moment when their adventures were through, but in the meantime advised that they go to where he had found their ship, right away. The admiral agreed, and Crusher began by creating glamors for them that made them look, oddly enough, as though they were wearing ancient Earth European court clothing, circa 18th century. Their phaser rifles, though still phaser rifles, were made to look like swords. Their handheld phasers looked like pistols. Their EVA suits looked like...suits and dresses with ruffles.

Telling the Potemkin away team he "just had to do some math," Wesley Crusher bent space and time around them, pulling them with him back to an elegant dance party in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The year was 1764. Admiral Mitchell immediately questioned the potential impact of the Potemkin away team's presence in Earth's history, but Crusher assured him that far greater damage was already being done. He ushered them to the other side of the room where he introduced them to Grigory Potemkin, a member of Catherine the Great's court and, of course, the namesake of the USS Potemkin.

His awe at actually meeting the man for whom his beloved ship was named overwhelmed the admiral, and he shook hands and struggled to make pleasant conversation in his surprise. Crusher, meanwhile, encouraged Arnet to scan Potemkin, and what he learned wrinkled his brain:

"That man," Arnet told the rest of the crew, "the real Potemkin--he has a warp signature. And not just a run-of-the-mill warp signature, as if that wasnt' odd enough. He has the Potemkin's warp signature!"

While the crew stood slack-jawed at this announcement, Crusher smiled and bounced on the balls of his feet. "I know! I couldn't believe it when I smelled it. But it's there. Ladies and gentlemen, that man, Grigory Potemkin, is THE POTEMKIN."

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