Lost & Found is the working title of a novel I wrote and submitted for publication in August 1993, and was rejected at the end of August 1994 (why it took the editors at Pocket Books a full year to say a word so small as no, I will never understand.) Now you would think full ownership of the manuscript reverts to the author, but there is a little-known ‘third’ category. Since Pocket Books (and by extension, the CBS/Paramount megacorp) hold all rights to all things Star Trek, I cannot peddle my own book; but I can give it away.
In the prevailing years I have personally spiral bound over a dozen copies of this tale. They have been Christmas gifts, birthday presents, and offerings to any and all who enjoy good science fiction. Aside from Pocket Books, only once has a copy been returned or refused. Someone on Oprah’s staff misunderstood the gesture, and returned her copy with a rude note; that book was successfully re-gifted.
However I’m sure you realize printing copies (I’ll pause to allow those of you who wish to do your Rob Schnider “makin’ copies” impression…) is expensive. Oh I will continue making books but here, free of charge, for your entertainment…
Lost & Found,
a Star Trek: the Next Generation
W. E. Doritty
Enterprise Captain’s Log: By Starfleet order we have abandoned our survey of the Norrami Cluster, and proceeded at maximum warp to Starbase one forty-seven. I certainly hope there is an explanation waiting for our arrival.
Captain Picard shifted in the big chair, obviously annoyed. As a man who prided himself on the tight control of his emotions, Picard was doing his best---but still slipping, from time to time---to keep from snapping at his bridge officers. It wasn't their fault he was being led about, and perhaps up the garden path; his staff was simply a convenient target of opportunity.
The Enterprise Bridge crew had done everything in their power to help him resolve this mysterious change of orders, but to no avail. Picard despised the cloak of secrecy draping itself over this assignment. As of late, the Captain had seen such measures employed for the most trivial of operations, and had grown weary of being ordered about like an errant schoolboy.
Even worse, his shortened temper had his staff, with the exception of Mr. Data, walking on eggshells around him. Captain Picard preferred a free flow of information from his crew, and was known for weighing opinions offered by freshly commissioned ensigns. However, for the last few hours the Captain had been deafened by the silence around him and wanted to break it, but wasn't sure he could open his mouth without barking.
With readily apparent trepidation, the ensign at helm announced, "We've established standard orbit, sir." The Captain's attention passed over the nervous young helmsman like a searchlight, intense but brief. Picard acknowledged him with a curt nod, as he ground his teeth to hold a coarsely phrased reply in check.
Lieutenant Worf's report put him in the spotlight. The Klingon's voice boomed from the tactical station, "Message from Starbase, Captain. 'An officer is waiting to beam aboard.' That is the entire message, sir."
This was just too much. Picard launched himself from his seat, and strode toward his ready room as he snapped, "Commander Riker, go to transporter room three and escort our guest to my ready room." As Picard stormed into his office, he took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down. He seated himself at his desk, and told himself the answers he demanded would be his, soon enough.
Riker wasted no time either. Anyone could see the captain had reached the limit of his patience and in the first officer's opinion, rightly so. Picard, perhaps a bit more than the next person, enjoyed a good mystery; however recent events, in Riker's mind, had everyone walking around blindfolded. Sooner or later, someone was bound to stub a toe; but what troubled him most, was the eerie feeling he'd be the first.
Commander Riker's quickened pace was clear evidence his patience had worn thin. He was no first year cadet; but while he understood and accepted the reality of blind orders, he didn't have to like them. Knowing why they had been pulled away from a highly anticipated assignment, would make swallowing disappointment easier for the entire crew. Riker could wrangle his own emotions; but edgy personnel were inefficient and to the first officer, nothing was more important than the welfare of the crew.
As with all things, being tall had its advantages and drawbacks. Commander Riker's long legs gave him a stride, which generally meant he had to hurry nowhere. Conversely, the explanation for their abrupt change of orders was waiting to be beamed aboard. Were it not for the carefully groomed command image 'Number One' preferred to project, Riker would have jogged to the transporter room.
As he entered, Will Riker found Chief Hidaka's friendly face behind the console, waiting only for his order. Will merely glanced at the tall, willowy Asian woman, barely acknowledging her presence. He knew the chief was following protocol by waiting for the first officer's arrival but for once, Riker wished Hidaka had started without him.
"Energize, Chief," were Commander Riker's only words. From the lack of an exchange of pleasantries, Hidaka assumed something was afoot, and so deftly worked the controls in silence. Once the cycle was engaged, Chief Hidaka turned her attention to the transporter chamber, where a person was materializing on pad two. Riker and Hidaka watched the swirling, silvery light fade, and were pleased to see who the beam had brought them.
The officer in the transporter chamber stood an even one hundred and seventy-four centimeters tall. She wore her flaxen hair up, French braided to keep it off her collar and within uniform regulations. Bright blue eyes scanned the faces of the commander and transporter chief, before she stepped down from the transporter dais.
Even through the visitor's red and black Starfleet uniform, Riker and Hidaka could discern the lean, hard muscles of her trim, athletic build. Riker's gaze moved quickly from her eyes to the porcelain white skin of her smooth, even features, then to the four metal spots on her uniform's collar.
Seeing his old friend and former shipmate removed some of the starch from the first officer's demeanor. Riker took a deep breath and said casually, "Congratulations on your promotion, Captain Matthews. Welcome back to the Enterprise."
The happy reunion with her former superior and shipmate was not mutual. Matthews stared through Will as she growled, "Where's the Captain?"
A startled Riker managed, "Waiting for you in his ready room," but suddenly found himself talking to the back of Matthews' head, and then to the closed transporter room door. He suddenly felt invisible, and turned to the equally befuddled transporter chief.
Brenda Hidaka stared at the exit and quipped, "She looked like you did when you came in, Commander."
Riker found himself in an unusual position: speechless. He offered the Chief a shrug, then turned and followed the officer he'd been ordered to escort.
Picard was drumming his fingers on his desk when Matthews blew in, marched smoothly to Picard's desk then dropped a computer chip at his fingertips. Picard looked up, and recognized the face of a former crewmember. It was good to see Matthews again, but she was also part of the reason he'd been ordered away from a mission; his anger would be satisfied first.
The Captain picked up the isolinear chip and stared it as he spoke. "I sent Commander Riker to escort you, Commodore." His gruff tone made the sentence a question.
Matthews' bearing was cold and sharp, completely ignoring what she saw as the Captain's attempt at civility. In the last few days, she'd been called 'Commodore' by too many other ship captains to suit her.
The honorary, temporary bump up in rank was an ancient courtesy extended to visiting vessel masters. The term was commonly applied to avoid confusion, as a ship could have but one Captain. Captain Picard was almost certainly attempting to put her in her place by pointing out the difference; but it was of no consequence to Commodore Matthews.
Pointing at the chip, Matthews responded, "He couldn't keep up. Just as well; that thing is coded our eyes only."
As Picard inserted the chip in his computer terminal, he quipped, "Then you've been kept in the dark as well?" The Captain swallowed a lump of anger; it must never have occurred to him that she could be merely a courier. He entered his authorization, then swiveled the display to face her. He paused to wonder, "What could be so important, that a starship captain had to carry it?"
Matthews' long, thin fingers stabbed at the touchpad. As she entered her code, the Commodore stated in a flat, rigidly controlled tone, "Now we find out." She turned the screen back to the Captain, then stepped around his desk and read their orders over his shoulder. The mission details she had brought aboard, cracked her enforced icy calm.
Matthews straightened up, clearly astonished. "No," she insisted, "this can't be right."