Here in the Enterprise, we have nearly arrived at Staros, so that we can sign an important Treaty.
However, my mind is on other things...and it's not when my next cup of Earl Grey is going to arrive.
Data was abducted by a small vessel just as we set off from Staros, but due to the insistance of the Starovians that the Enterprise senior staff be present, and that the Treaty meant a big difference in the future of Federation border controls, we had to go. However, Data's girlfriend, Jennifer Baxter has gone on an unofficial mission to rescue him, although I approved it.
"Have you heard anything, yet, Captain?" Riker asks me as he walks into my Ready Room.
"No, Number One." I reply, "My Earl Grey could be a while yet, as the replicator is being a little troublesome."
"I meant Ensign Baxter." he explains, "We haven't heard from her since she left in the Orion shuttlecraft.
"She is a most resiliant female." adds Worf, who was standing behind Riker, "I found her a formidable adversary in the holodeck martial arts program."
"You mean she beat you!" Riker adds quickly.
"There is no need to speak of that." Worf replies, "The important thing is that we are able to locate Commander Data and Ensign Baxter."
"Agreed." I tell them, "Let's get this Treaty over with so we can find them."
The three of us go to the Bridge where the other staff are gathered. The ship is coming out of Warp.
T'Pol and Britney are both near the back, and are standing with Seven of Nine.
"You should have sent the three of us, Locutus." Seven insists, "We would have brought Data back without a problem."
"I could not do that, Seven." I reply, "You three were deemed necessary to the Treaty, though I can't think why."
It might have made it too easy for us, come to think, with those three going along as well!
"Open a hail to Staros." I command in my best Captain's voice.
"Planet Staros speaking!" comes the reply from a man wearing a weird toupee and looking like he's from a call centre, "I'm Bruca, how may I help you?"
"I'm Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise." I inform him, "We are here for the signing of the Treaty with the Starovian President."
"You must be mistaken." Bruca replies, "We are expecting no visitors. In fact, the President is on vacation for the next week."
I start to get annoyed, but Deanna breaks in. She is better at diplomacy than I am.
"Perhaps it is a secret meeting, Bruca?" she asks, "Please check with your supervisor to see the details, and you can send us the co-ordinates for beaming down."
"I AM my superior, young lady." he replies, "I am the Secretary for the President here on Staros, and if he had to meet anyone important, I would know about it. Now kindly leave."
The link promptly switches off, and we all look at each other blankly before the truth dawns.
"There never was a Treaty!" Deanna exclaims, "All this was a ruse to get us here."
"...and to prevent us rescuing Data." I continue, "Faked messages that insisted the whole crew be present."
"The only thing that the message did not allow for was Jennifer Baxter going by herself..." Beverly surmises.
Swiftly, like someone who has been caught out by an April Fool gag, I say, "Turn the ship round, and go Warp Nine. We might not be able to follow the original ion trail of the abductor's ship, but the Orion shuttlecraft might have one. If Jennifer Baxter has set up a distress beacon on the ship, it will take us right there.
Let's hope we're in time!
To be continued...