Between the Rock and a Hard Place (Columbia)
- Location: Piktar II
- Stardates: 239202.10 - 239204.24
- Mission Summary:
Upon arrival in the Piktar system, the Columbia was contacted by Captain Goxac, a Ferengi, who insisted on receiving some compensation after having lost an away team on Outpost Alpha. In order to get more information from Goxac Captain Benjamin Livingston invited him, and some of his officers onboard.
They were received in the diplomatic lounge, where the senior staff tried to make their guests talk about their intentions regarding Outpost Alpha. The scheme looked like it would work when First Officer Troloc, a woman, revealed how much she disliked what her people were doing in the Piktar sector.
During those events, LtCmdr. Brek, Cmdr. Karynn Brice, Lt. Johanna MacLaren, along with a squad of Marines led by 2nd Lt. Dorian Grand went to explore Outpost Alpha. The away team encountered no difficulties entering the science station. However, as soon as they ventured into a corridor, they met a group of scientists who, in no uncertain terms, asked them to leave. The way all their movements were coordinated and their constant references to a 'complete or incomplete circle', convinced the team that this group had somehow been subjugated by Alpha's A.I.
An away team then met Lt. T'Sai who turned out to be at the head of the A.I. project. This unique project used a seven year old girl, whose dead body had been donated to the Outpost, to be subsequently connected to their computers.
The A.I., called Providence, managed to partially control the Columbia, using a musical cipher, inadvertently played by LtCmdr. Vitor Silveira. This code had been sold to him by a Ferengi. However, during his diplomatic ventures, Ambassador MacLaren had also come across the same sort of file. Thankfully, upon discovering that Providence was meant to be united to a destructive program called Mercy, the crew managed to reason with it. While doing so, they interrupted the merging process, which unfortunately badly impacted Providence's program.
On the outpost, T'Sai made a desperate attempt at reuniting Providence with Mercy, but while this was happening, a mysterious woman contacted LtCmdr. Brek, giving him an ultimatum: If T'Sai couldn't be stopped, then the Outpost would self-destruct within minutes. With so much at stake, Brek fired at the scientist, and then stopped her program. Unfortunately, this damaged Providence's matrix even more.
When everything looked settled, Sons of Ferenginar fired on Columbia. The Ferengis had better weapons than the Columbia crew had surmised, and they managed to cause substantial damage to the Federation ship. It took the ingenuity of Captain Benjamin Livingston, along with the tactical, science and engineering departments to put into action a plan that wrecked the Ferengi Marauder.
Unbeknown to the Columbia crew, 'the woman' discovered that those Ferengis had been in the pay of the Tal Shiar.
Once everyone was back on board, Ensign Tatash questioned the scientists from Alpha. When it became clear that none of them where entirely aware of the ramifications of Project Providence, Tatash requested the help of Ambassador Gavin MacLaren to devise a protection plan for them.
A few days later, with the ship repaired thanks to the diligence of Ensigns Theo Whittaker and Nuvia Oori, the crew was invited to a holodeck barbecue. While the food was being served by two impromptu chefs: Captain Livingston and Ensign Tatash, the crew discovered that their Chief Counsellor, Cmdr. Karynn Brice, had given birth to a healthy baby girl.