"Where are we going exactly, Captain?" asks Riker as I sit in my Ready Room, drinking my mid-morning cup of Earl Grey and eating my biccy.
"As I said before, Number One." I reply, "We are going to Staros. You should have listened properly in the briefing instead of eating those three donuts. This could be one of the most important assignments we've ever had as it could bring peace across the Federation borders."
"Why's that?" he asks.
I sigh. Why do I have to repeat these things for the benefit of those not listening?
"The Starovians sent a message to Starfleet saying they agree to police the Neutral Zone between the Federation and Romulan Star Empire. They have specifically requested that the Enterprise be present to sign the Treaty, and that all staff be present at the time designated."
"It all sounds rather suspicious, Captain." Riker comments.
"Number One." say irritatingly, "Why are you always so negative? If we can pull this off, the Romulans won't be able to get through to our borders ever again. It will be a great fillip for the Enterprise and the Federation. Look on the bright side."
We both go on to the Bridge.
"The Enterprise is on course for Staros, Captain." Data declares, "Proceeding at this speed, we should arrive at our destination in..."
Nothing else is heard, as Data vanishes into thin air.
Everybody goes into major panic as we try to figure out what is going on, as if we are turkeys who have just realised it's Thanksgiving.
"What's going on?" I ask, "Where did Data go?"
"Sensors show a small vessel has gone into Warp in the direction of 184.6." states Worf.
"Let's turn the ship round and follow it." I exclaim.
"Captain." Deanna reminds me, "The Staros meeting will not happen if we try and pursue the vessel. Starfleet informed us how important it was to attend. We may have to find him afterwards."
Grudgingly, I concede, and we continue on our way to Staros.
A few moments later, as I rest in my Ready Room, the door bursts open.
It's Ensign Jennifer Baxter, Data's girlfriend. She is livid.
"Why have you not gone after Data, Captain?" she demands to know. There's nothing so angry as an incensed woman.
I explain about the Summit meeting, but it's falling on deaf ears.
"So you don't care about him any more, then?" she comments, "Very well, I'LL go after him!"
"Ensign, the Starovians want everybody present, and..."
"DATA won't be present." Jennifer reminds me. She has a point.
"I can't risk losing another crewmember." I say pathetically.
"Captain." she says, rolling her eyes in impatience, "Check your records. I'm the fittest, toughest and most agile person on the ship, according to holodeck notes. I managed to beat both Jadzia and Lieutenant Worf in the martial arts."
I check and it's all true.
"Lieutenant Worf never mentioned it." I comment.
"He wouldn't, would he?" Jennifer replies drily.
"Very well, Ensign." I say, "Take a shuttle and follow the ion trial that the vessel took. This is strictly an unofficial mission that Starfleet know nothing about. If you are caught or killed, I will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Jennifer."
I get the idea that a recorded tape should burn and fizzle out at this point.
As Ensign Baxter leaves in her shuttle, Deanna, Riker and Beverly see it disappear into the distance.
"Do you think she will make it, Jean-Luc?" Beverly asks.
"I hope so, Beverly." I reply, "Jennifer Baxter is Data's only hope."
To be continued...