STAR TREK: Both Hands Full--Fourth Edition
the Romulans would have been concerned about the Federation “borrowing” Klingon
technology, but the reverse, the Klingon’s “appropriating” Federation technology
wouldn’t have been seen as troubling. And that was what Pressman wanted to exploit,
for, as Pressman was always so willing to point out, even though the Romulans were a
paranoid lot, the Romulans relied too heavily on the Federation always following through
on their agreements.
“Should I set the self-destruct sequence?” Alber asked
“Are you crazy?” Pressman asked. “And lose all the valuable time and effort we
put into this research?”
Alber wasn’t blind to the fact that he was expendable in Pressman’s eyes, but he
was still hopeful that Pressman had a solution to his present crisis. After all, finding and
soliciting the kind of allegiance Alber was providing was a bit risky to one’s career. It
was in Pressman’s best interest to protect him.
“Did you install the equipment I sent you?” Pressman asked.
“I installed it per your instructions,” Alber said. “But not knowing what it is or
how it works, I don’t see the relevance. It’s not hooked to anything important and it
doesn’t seem to be a self-destruct device, but then again, it’s impervious to scans…”
“Activate the security protocol routine I gave you,” Pressman said.
Alber nodded and removed what appeared to be a gold coin from his pocket. He set this
down, heads up, on the computer terminal in front of him. Its proximity triggered
something in the console. The coin self-illuminated. Command pathways began to
appear on several of the monitors, branching off, forcing each page to scroll. The
instructions and codes flew by so fast that Alber couldn’t make them out. Pressman’s
Behind Alber, beyond his sight, a cube illuminated. He had never noticed it
before, as it blended in perfectly with the ceiling protrusions in Auxiliary Control.
Further, it was likely no one had ever noticed the cube before, minus the person who had
installed it, blindly following the blue prints and accompanied instructions. Now it had
his full attention and he racked his brain trying to remember where he had seen it, or
anything similar before. Something from a history lesson, it seemed. The cube produced
a strange pattern of lights, causing his shadow on the terminal interface to shift and fade.
He turned and looked up at the cube and the psychedelic swirling of colors that filled the
box like a soothing night light.
A female appeared before him. She appeared as a point, grew into a line, grew
into a two dimensional image of a female, and then filled out into three dimensions as if
she had been a picture of a person that had suddenly inflated. It happened so fast that he
barely registered the “phase in” part of her manifestation, but it happened sufficiently
slow that his mind had interpreted her sudden materialization to mean she was a
hologram, not a living person.
“State your name and purpose,” she said.
“Captain Alber,” he answered.
“What’s the password?” the hologram asked.
“Um, I don’t know,” Alber stammered. Maybe she meant his personal computer
access code. “Cherry Apple Red.”
“Captain Alber,” she said.