Literary Challenge #7 : The Best and Brightest
Hello and welcome to our writers challenges!
Today we start the two-week run of the seventh Lit Challenge: The Best and Brightest
As you return back home from your last exhausting space commission; you are being hailed by the Academy. The High Command has selected a group of Cadets to get hands-on experience on board your fine ship.
This one is very open:
This is the writer's thread.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an index page of previous stories HERE.
The rules may change from one to the other, but I'd like to give a quick recap each time. These may grow as we move on, so feel free to also give feedback!
Vice Admiral's Personal Log
Location: USS Huntsville
The cadets have departed after a two-month training exercise. What started out as having them do basic intern work turned into an interesting ordeal. One of them, Fodar, about lost it when the ship went to warp the first time. I'd never met someone who joined Starfleet and was afraid of space travel. That Bolian will have to get over that if he is going to have a successful career. He was a great medic and knew his material well. It's no wonder Starfleet wants to expanded their EMH program. None of their doctors actually like being in space.
Another of the cadets, a Vulcan named Sobek, was as professional as they come. Although I think there may be an underlying mental issue with him. When we first encountered the Remans, he had an almost bigoted attitude concerning them. He kept questioning my support of a "lesser species." I recommend Starfleet do a little more investigative work on him. The Vulcans aren't the only species with pointed ears and green blood.
The third an final cadet that was sent to my ship was an Aenar named Liloh D'shov. She was brilliant in the engine room. She could almost tell ahead of time when a problem would crop up. She was also very capable during the field exercises. She was always the fastest when it came to deploying turrets and support drones. I'm so impressed with her I have asked her to join the crew. I gave her a field commission and she will take her final classes here on board. I'm glad Ensign D'shov was part of the group. She has a great career ahead of her.
Overall, I am glad the ordeal is over. This is an Admiral's ship and my crew is hand chosen by me. I'm not fond of having novices on board.
Soriedem entered the conference room, walked over to his seat at the head of the large table, and sat down. He was silent for several moments as he collected his thoughts and prepared to give his bridge crew our latest orders.
The officers onboard the Debris Cloud watched their Captain in anticipation. He seemed apprehensive and concerned. It was a look that they were unaccustomed to seeing in their Commanding Officer. As the silence drew out, their nervousness increased exponentially. They shot glances at each other, as if prompting each other to say something.
Audria finally took the initiative to find out what is troubling her mate. “Soriedem, what is going on? What orders did Starfleet Command have for us?”
Soriedem looked up and felt the worry on Audria’s face. He cleared his throat, and said, “Alright. Starfleet has ordered us back to Earth.”
The room erupted in a quiet murmur. Getting called back to Earth for any reason was never a good thing. The low din quieted down, when Soriedem continued. “We are to report to Starfleet Academy to pick up a fresh batch of cadets.”
“Cadets!” Rymor cried out as he slammed his fist on the table.
Coujoyquu leaned back in his seat and sighed heavily.
Shmullus held his hand up to his face and shook his head.
Fausto rose from the table, walked to a nearby wall, and stopped. He stood there mumbling to himself.
Drem bowed her head and whispered a prayer to the prophets.
“I can see that you’re concerned about these orders. I am too.” Soriedem looked down at the Padd lying on the table. “We’re slated to pick up five cadets. Command assured me that the incident with the last batch of Cadets was a fluke and would not happen again. They have taken steps to prevent it from happening again.”
Audria looked around to the other officers in the room. She didn’t understand their reaction. “What’s going on? On Tobarrus, the addition of new cadets to the crew is an exciting time.”
“I remember those days. I got excited about taking on cadets as well.” Soriedem looked away and fought back the emotions that welled up within him. He turned back to his mate.
Fausto returned to his chair at the conference table.
She read the story in the lines of his face, as Soriedem began to describe the events that led to the crew and his dour attitudes.
“A few weeks before we rescued you from the Borg, we had received our orders to take on a fresh group of Cadets. We had already studied their Academy records and determined them to be raw and malleable; just the way we like them. We had assigned their duties and were already planning and plotting their initiation.”
A smile crossed Soriedem’s face at the thought of the initiation prank that they had planned for the cadets. The initiation prank was a Tobarri tradition that Soriedem carried over when he joined Starfleet. It provided an opportunity for the crew and cadet to create lasting bonds with one another.” Then, the smile was gone and a great sadness fell.
“When we reached Earth, I took a shuttle down to the Academy to inspect the cadets personally. We were picking up a Bolian, two Humans, and a Caitain. They stood at attention outside Building Two. With my hands clasped behind my back, I slowly paced back and forth as I scrutinized them, and gave them my welcome aboard speech.”
Audria laughed, “The same one you’ve told to every cadet that joined your crew for the last 20 years?”
Soriedem nodded and continued with the story. “Cadet Rotbar, the Bolian, was relaxed and I had to remind him what standing at attention meant. Cadets Linda and Bill Stempson were a pair of fraternal Human twins that came from a long line of Starfleet Officers. Sh’raz, the Caitain, was so stiff that even his tail stood at attention. I shook my head and had to tell him to relax before he sprang something and had to spend the rest of the voyage in sickbay.”
“I turned away from the cadets to speak with Commander Achloo, their former CO. We chatted quietly for a few minutes about nothing, while the cadets stood motionless behind us. I looked over my shoulder, dismissed them, and told them to report to my shuttle in one hour. I turned back to Achloo to continue our small talk, when I heard Rotbar begin a futile attempt to apologize. I swiftly raised a hand, cutting him off, and told him that he was dismissed. Achloo and I walked away to have a drink at the 602 Club.”
Soriedem swallowed the lump in his throat to no avail. His gaze sought the faces of his crew. He could tell that the story was difficult for them to sit there silently listening. He considered dismissing them for the time being, but decided against it. It was important. We needed to remember the cadets and the crewmen that we had lost.”
He continued. “When I returned to the shuttle, the cadets were lounging around the shuttle awaiting my return. They snapped to attention when they saw me draw closer. I ordered them to stand down. Cadet Linda Stimpson took the helm and began piloting the shuttle towards the Debris Cloud in orbit. Her sibling, Bill, took the second seat. Sh’raz manned the science station, while Rotbar took tactical. I stood at the doorway to the aft compartment and observed the crew of hopeful cadets perform their duties with enthusiasm and vigor. After a few minutes, the Debris Cloud was coming into view through the shuttle’s panoramic window.”
“I contacted the shuttle bay and ordered them to disable the automatic docking procedures. I wanted Linda to fly the bird on manual control. She expertly lined up the shuttle bay doors through the shuttle’s window. As the blast doors opened, she reduced speed and adjusted her angle of approach. The shuttle glided into the shuttle bay. She reversed thrusters, coming to a complete stop, and gingerly set the small craft down on the deck in one of the smoothest landings I have ever experienced.”
“We disembarked the shuttle craft, where a few of my officers were waiting for us. I approached Lt. Commander Vox, a Ferengi Officer, and ordered him to give the cadets a tour of the ship and show them to their quarters. Vox nodded and led the Cadets away. Standing with the rest of my officers, I watched them leave. Little did I know that it would be the last time I would see any of them alive.”
“We still don’t fully understand what happened. But from internal sensor logs and eye witness reports, we have an idea of what had occurred.” Soriedem looked down at his hands and released his white knuckled grip on the Padd. He had not realized that he even picked it up.
Concern distorted the sweet features of Audria’s face, as she prodded him for more information. “Sori, tell me what happened to them?”
“Vox led the cadets on the tour of the ship. They started in the lower decks of the ship and made their way towards the bridge. They had stopped by Engineering and sickbay. Drem had her hands full taking inventory of the new medical equipment that was being installed and postponed their crew physicals.”
Soriedem looked over to his doctor. “I know you still blame yourself for what happened. I know how you feel, but you shouldn’t blame yourself.“
Drem objected to his words of reassurance, “If only I had followed protocol and gave them their physicals right then and there, those cadets and 20 members of our crew would still be alive. Instead, I was fiddling with a new toy rather than doing my job.”
Soriedem cut her off. “There’s nothing you or anyone could have done. Besides, ultimately, it was my responsibility.”
An expression of shock and disbelief warped Audria’s face. “20 crewmen and the cadets died? Why haven’t you told me this before? What happened next?”
Turning back to his mate, “I still haven’t fully come to terms with it. It was too difficult to remember,” Soriedem replied softly.
He cleared his throat and continued with the story. “Vox took them to the mess hall. At that particular time, it was crowded with off-duty crewman. That’s when Rotbar stepped towards the center of the room, spoke the words ‘DaHjaj jIH Hegh tlhej quv vaD tlhIngan wo’’ in Klingon, and detonated a high yield explosive that had been implanted within him. Rymor translated the phrase as “Today, I die with honor for the Empire…”
Rotbar had been one of several Klingon agents that had been surgically altered to infiltrate Starfleet Academy. Luckily, he was the only one that was able to complete his mission. After the incident, all cadets were rescreened, and dozens of Klingon agents were apprehended. Apparently, it was an attempt by the Klingon High Council to create chaos within the Federation by casting doubt on the Academy’s ability to resupply our ships with crew while striking at the heart of our fleets.”
“The Debris Cloud spent the next three weeks in space dock undergoing repairs. Once, they had been completed, you had notified me through the t’O that the Borg vessel you were assigned to had entered the Alpha Quadrant and was en route to Cestus.”
Audria didn’t say a word. She rose from her seat, approached her husband, and softly touched his hand. Soriedem stared at her hand on his. He took a deep breath, and looked back to his officers. “Alright. We’re getting five of the Academy’s best and brightest. Any ideas for their initiation?”
The U.S.S. Yorktown was in Earth spacedock, shuttles were constantly on the go. Repair equipment was being moved. The left nacelle was being taken apart. Signifigant damage was seen along the pylon, and damaged plates were being hauled away to make room for new replacements. Disruptor scarring was seen over the saucer and hull, portions of the hull were missing from torpedo explosions, and repair crews were seen diligently working to return the ship to operational standards as quickly as possible.
Captain Tarrak sat in the lounge, looking out the window and watching Work Bees and crews in EV suits outside. He reached into his pocket to check his watch, it was nearing that time. Commander Andretti would approach him, the woman had served by his side for over two years now as his first officer, and she had a PADD in her hand.
"Well, Captain... the new recruits are on their way here." She said almost nervously, looking at the vulcan who seemed lost in his own little world.
He'd turn to her and give a small sigh, "I don't like this, Maria." He said simply.
She offered a small, comforting reply, "You were a cadet once, too. Tarrak, I know you don't like this... but this is what these cadets have been training for. We lost a lot of good men and women in the Neutral Zone, I know... these people won't be able to replace them. But they do have the certifications that make them capable. Combined with the survivors of the Ardent, and the transfers from Earth Spacedock... I think we'll be fine, sir." She offered a reassuring smile.
Tarrak was ready to reply, until five men and women in their cadet uniforms walked through the door and approached the two commanding officers. They stood up straight in perfect posture and saluted.
He gave them a nod of acknowledgement, "At ease. You know who I am. I am Captain Tarrak, this is Commander Maria Andretti. Let's start with introductions, shall we? Tell me a little about yourselves."
He nodded to the end of the line. "Let's start with you, miss."
The young andorian woman nodded, "Ensign Vehl, sir. I'm supposed to, um, be one of your gunnery officers. I don't know what to say, sir. It's an honor to be given this assignment." She smiled enthusiastically.
Tarrak nodded in approval, then looked to the next man after her. He was a short bolian, not looking any older than 17 years.
"Ensign Gell, um, sir. Just, um... a junior science officer. I'm, um... a botanist, and -- um... um..." Tarrak waved a hand.
"Relax, Ensign. You're a botanist, that's fine. Our botanical lab could use some careful attention. I'm pleased you'll be joining us." He nodded. Then looked next to him. Another, much larger man.
"Sir. Ensign Gessh." The caitian nodded with a bit of a purr. "Security Officer. I've been trained in investigations for three years now. I've received third-grade certification in Type 3 Phaser Rif--..." Trailing off when the vulcan waved his hand.
"That'll do, Ensign. It'll be interesting to follow your career, I'm sure." He looked quickly over to the other two, a young man andwoman who were trying not to laugh, but failing.
"Is there something amusing, you two?" He replied dryly. Clearly not amused.
The man spoke up, "Heh... heh... no, no sir..." Clearly feeling guilty for laughing. Tarrak only shook his head, "You two were clearly laughing about something. Please inform me. Now." He seemed to order.
"Um, sir... just. Ensign Gessh, sir... just thought he was taking the introduction a little too seriously, uh, sir..." He gulped afterwards. The woman likewise straightened up.
The caitian growled at them both, "It is an honor to serve on the Yorktown, you fools. You are disrespecting not only me, but everyone el--..." He found himself cut off again by Tarrak, "Enough."
The vulcan stood up from his chair and approached the five cadets. All of them standing at attention.
"You should take this seriously." Looking to the two humans who were laughing. And looking to the Caitian with a nod of respect.
"Why are you here, if not to take your duties seriously? This is no passenger liner... this is not a pleasure cruise. I lost thirty men in the Neutral Zone four days ago." He watched the fear rush through the faces.
"We're at war, here. The sooner you recognize that, the sooner we will be able to proceed. What do you think we will be doing when we return to the Neutral Zone, ensigns...?" Looking to the two humans.
"Rodriguez." Said the woman. "Fields." Said the man. Each of them speaking it as if they were back in the academy.
"Sir. Killing some klingons and spacing some nausicaans, sir." Fields replied cooly.
Tarrak raised an eyebrow curiously. "Eager to go to war, ensign?" The vulcan replied.
"Just wanting to get some payback for everything they've done so far, sir." He licked his teeth. Tarrak only shook his head.
"Noone should want to go to war... people die. Families are devastated. The Federation is a faction of peace. We only go to war if we have no other options. Remember that. The next person who dies on this ship could be one of your friends. Or you." He pointed a finger at him, then moved to the rest.
"All of you. Now... your days at the academy are over. We're going back to the Neutral Zone once our repairs are complete. Commander Andretti, how long will that be?" He spoke aloud, not even looking at the woman.
"Nine days, sir." She spoke up.
"You have nine days to get your acts together. I'm not your instructor, I'm your captain. You'll learn by observing and taking the cues of the other officers on board this ship. In nine days we're returning to the Neutral Zone and we're going to hunt down the IKS Gha'tarv. If you can't take this seriously, I recommend you put in your transfers now. Just remember, there's not going to be any safe postings. If you think you'll be safe on a starbase, I recommend you read the details regarding the fate of Starbase 24."
The ensigns looked very worried, very afraid.
"You'll report to your superior officers. Commander Andretti will read those reports several times a day. I'm keeping an eye on you. You may be acting ensigns... but once we're through with the Gha'tarv, we're returning here. You five cadets can either work as part of this ship, as part of a team... or you can return to the academy with negative notations."
He turned to Maria and gave her a nod, before looking back to them.
"I recommend getting acquainted with the workings of a Sovereign-class starship, and getting to know who you'll be working with for your hands-on experience. As the ship is undergoing repairs, I will be appreciative of any extra help you can offer the crew. Dismissed. All of you." He said coldly before turning back to the Commander, hearing the cadets walk off out of the lounge.
"I think you scared them, Tarrak." She replied a bit sadly.
"They should be scared, Maria. This is no place for cadets. Acting ensigns or not... they're going to be in danger. Try and make sure they understand that. They're in your hands now." He put a hand on her shoulder before turning back to the window, to look back out toward the repair crews -- while Maria would take her PADD and walk off to deal with the rosters.
Title: "Above and Beyond"
Well, no, I haven’t yet been back to the Academy since I was a cadet. I believe, owing to the trouble that Grace and I raised while in attendance, there’s a standing order to incarcerate me if I ever set foot there again. Still, I’ve been getting curious about the old place, and the brig is as good a spot as any to start reminiscing.
Speaking of cadets, that puts me in mind of a story.
This happened aboard the USS Alliance, which was my third command. We’d lost the Ardent to the Klingons. Even though we managed to coax her back to a starbase after the fight, she was never fully spaceworthy again. Currently, she’s a museum ship in orbit around Mars. I’ve visited a few times, and said hello to my old friends down among the deuterium storage tanks.
The de Valera met a less happy end. We had to scuttle her after a punch up with a few Romulans, though she gave as good as she got.
So, sure due to some bureaucratic mistake, they gave me another ship. The Alliance was one of those four-nacelle starship that seemed to be in vogue once upon a time. The extra nacelles were, I was told, supposed to make them faster and easier to manoeuvre, but, in fact, keeping those four sets of warp coils synchronised was like balancing a bucket of water on your head while jumping up and down in a shuttle that just hit a patch of turbulence. Far from being nimble, she turned so slow that I considered making the captain’s chair recline, so I could nap while we came about.
A few weeks after taking command, I encountered what I could only interpret as another lapse in judgment at Starfleet Command. We were ordered to take a group of cadets with us on our first mission back into Romulan space.
Now these were not your ordinary cadets. They had elected to delay graduation—which already made their sanity suspect—to attend the Advanced Tactical Training programme. They’d all expressed a particular interest in intelligence work—again, ironic considering their decision to remain in school.
Now, I’m not in Starfleet Intelligence, though I suppose I’d be telling you that even if I were. No, but, early on in my career, I did find that I had a special talent for…oh, let’s say, situations that required some discretion. It’s true, we had to sometimes associate with some unsavory characters and occasionally bend the rules, but we always did what we had to do.
At first, they seemed like a promising batch, the cadets that came aboard, if still a little undercooked. There were seven of them in all, from all three departments. They were all bright and curious and seemed to be impressed by us all. And four were lasses that were prettier than any captain had a right to expect from his crew.
And yes, before you ask, I gave in to enjoying a little of their idolisation. I’ll admit it—I’m a sucker for an easy, lilting laugh at one of my jokes. I’m only human, now.
The troubles started our third day out. We’d just begun gathering some data of a sensitive nature and a Romulan ship had started shadowing us, flickering on and off our sensors. It uncloaked just long enough for us to know they were there. But it took no action against us, so we went on about our business, though a little more cautiously.
I suppose I believed that, day by day, the pressure of the situation might have worn on our cadets. It’s one thing to face a tense situation in the gentle embrace of a holodeck, but another to do it out in the real cold of space, staring down an actual plasma torpedo tube. I think we were all waiting for them to crack.
But they didn’t.
Instead, I started to hear angry murmuring about their cheery helpfulness. One of them found a way to improve the protocols governing the four-fold warp field integration that actually did make us a bit more nimble. Another diagnosed a stubborn case that my CMO had been puzzling over for days. A third proposed tweaking the phaser targeting subroutines that improved our accuracy by a couple of percent.
When the Romulan finally did make a move, two of the brightest of them found a way to disable their ship without them knowing we had a hand in it.
I could sense the horrified realization among the crew that these cadets did our jobs better than we could. And, of course, we handled it in the way you’d expect of highly trained, seasoned, and professional Starfleet officers.
That night, while they were asleep, we beamed them into the holodeck, where we’d simulated an all-out Borg attack, just to scare the wits out of them.
Naturally, it didn’t work. Within a few hours, they’d found a way to neutralize the Borg and discontinue the programme. But then, I’d seen that coming.
I’d set up a series of 13 nested programmes that began with the Borg simulation and ended with a variation on an ancient video production I’d provisionally called “Survivor: Rura Penthe.” It was all originally meant for my Chief Engineer, but I’d been convinced that desperate times required appropriate measures.
We set up a screen in the lounge that displayed a feed from the holodeck. The crew dropped by to visit and watch our cadets in increasingly ridiculous situations. It took them nearly 24 hours to get out, after which time, we began to show highlights of their more entertaining adventures.
Well, yes, I suppose that wasn’t the kindest thing we could have done. And I’m not happy to admit it, though I take some measure of pride in the holodeck simulation. To be sure, it was among the least cruel suggestions regarding their fate that came up in conversation.
And, I like to think that they did learn a few valuable lessons. Something about teamwork, I suppose, though that’s not one of my strengths and I shouldn’t be instructing anyone on its finer points.
Instead, I’ll say that they discovered that skill will only take you so far, that the real world doesn’t always respect the refined, precise talent you’re so highly praised for by your professors. Sometimes it’s the blunt instrument that does the most work, particularly the dirty work that’s often left to people like us. What matters is that the job gets finished, whether you go above and beyond or under and out.
It’s unfair, I know, like so much else in the universe. And I’m saying all this as someone who goes out of his way to put a little flourish into everything he does, which makes it even more unjust. Maybe that’s the real lesson. Or I maybe I’m just trying too hard to justify a mean-spirited indulgence.
Now, why do all my stories seem to end so ambiguously? Clearly, I still have too many of my wits about me and am thinking a little too deeply. Luckily, there’s a simple solution to that.
So, what do you have in mind for the next round?
The Future of The Federation: Part 1.
Krovennan had just relayed the news to his senior staff, the collective annoyances of the fourteen men and women seated in front of him in the Conference Room weighed upon Krovennan, they had been given the most nightmarish job for a Deep Space Warship.
The crew had different external symptoms, but the exasperation was all the same. Dorryd, the only Bajoran and the ship's Helmsman was the first to speak.
"Does one of the Admirals hate us or something? Or did someone hang a daycare sign on the outside of our ship?"
Kel, the Breen refugee, muttered something short in his mechanical voice, it was not known what exactly was being said, but Krovennan knew from it's tone it was not something family friendly. Tallasa was the next to speak.
"So what do we do? We can't fight other ships and babysit a bunch of Cadets at the same time. Most of them probably havent even seen a space abttle outside of tests."
Krovennan thought silently for a moment, no options came out immediately, but a minute or two later, Krovennan had an idea. A few taps on the wall console in the Conference Room and a map showing a route appeared on the screen, this route showed seven different waypoints that crwould make them cross fifteen star systems.
"This route is a patrol route that we were asked to undertake if we could, the jouney will take one week and conflict, though expected, should be of little threat, what does everyone say to a little trip to test out our new guests?"
There ws a look between the officers before hands started being raised as a sign of agreement, before long, all hands were raised.
Two days later, Krovennan stood in the Shuttlebay of his vessel, Tallasa and Kri'gak were to his left, Drehera and Gyzit to his right. A Runabout approached the forcefield seperating the party from space and passed through it with barely a whisper, as the small craft came to rest in the Shuttlebay, Krovennan tensed for a moment, he had to scrutinize everything about these Cadets to gain insight into how fit they were for Starfleet duty.
It was going to be a long week.
The Runabout's doors opened and out stepped a female Ferengi, Gruturu, one of Krovennan's senior staff and widely regarded as the best small craft pilot onboard the ship. Gruturu stepped down the walkway from the Runabout and stood to attention by the walkway, Gruturu looked to Krovennan, who nodded as a sign for her to carry on, Gruturu nodded back and faced forward before speaking.
"Cadets, front and center!"
Five Cadets walked out of the Runabout, the first was a male Vulcan, Krovennan had read the files of the five they would be working with, this was Sormek, a possible future Medical Officer, he would be working with Drehera, Sormek stood to attention as Gruturu's call demanded, but Krovennan noticed him seeming to glance about the ship with an almost unapproving glance.
Next to arrive was Melissa White, a young Human Female who was interested in Engineering, she would work with Gyzit, she seemed the opposite of Sormek, swaggering down the walkway to stand far too casually to not stick out in contrast to Sormek and Gruturu behind them, she also seemed to have a grin plastered on her face, records had shown she seemed more focused on flirting with whomever caught her eye than the job in hand. Gyzit would have to keep a very close eye on her.
Third came a Trill Male, Jomar, showing aptitude in Security applications, he would be working with Kri'gak, Jomar seemed nervous, too nervous in fact, he stood to attention so stiff Krovennan was beginning to wonder if he was going to strain something, Kri'gak would not be happy to have such a nervous wreck under his command.
Next came an Andorian Female, Shliin, she stood to attention normally, but Krovennan saw a small curl of an arrogant grin of self superiority on her lips, she was regarded as a possible MACO Commander, Tallasa would be working with her, though Krovennan wondered if these two would come to blows, Tallasa hated arrogance and according to her records, Shliin had plenty of that to go around.
Lastly, an extremely bored looking Human male stepped off almost reluctantly, walking towards the others like a Borg Drone, all echanical necessity, no real want to do anything, this was Krovennan's responsibility, Jeffery Kalinzi, studying to be a Commanding Officer.
Krovennan saw an extreme reluctance to be here in Jeffery's gaze at him, Krovennan knew he would be tough.
Krovennan dismissed Gruturu and inspected the five Cadets, listing what would make them difficult, one wascondescending, another was an easily distracted flirt, another looking ready to have a heart attack, another was arrogant, and the last one seemed like he would be unwilling to do anything of remote use. The five Cadets stood in front o f the five batle hardened veterans as if they were prepared to face off against their new mentors right there.
Krovennan knew this was going to be a difficult week.
A Bright Future
...Cadet M’run, a caitian female stood to attention as the admiral walked by. She had heard tales of Vice Admiral Tanar and the acts he had performed in his short but illustrious career. Many an admiral had walked past here on the grounds of Starfleet academy but none seemed as majestic as the young Cardassian man that now passed within a metre of her. She found herself at a loss of whether to speak or not, before her mind had made its decision, her mouth had decided to take action.
The Future of The Federation: Part 2
Three days had passed since the Blacksabre-E took on five Cadets, there mission so far had been uneventful, filled with sensor readings of nothing and analysis of rocks and nebulae as they passed, Krovennan, Tallasa, Gyzit, Drehera and Kri'gak each had worked with their Cadets to the best of their abilities, showing them what their stations demanded of them and how best to achieve the most efficient and best result.
Krovennan had called in the four others to the Conference Room, he wanted to see what the others had discovered about their new apprentices over the past week, he coud see from the tired eyes of his senior officers as they sat down that it would not be overwhelmingly positive. He decided to start from the end of the table and work his way in.
"Kri'gak, how is Jomar doing in Security?"
Kri'gak sighed weightily before speaking, being a Klingon, Kri'gak was not incredibly patient, even when he was patient by Klingon standards.
"The boy is ready to panic at the drop of a hydrospanner, on the first day I gave him a stunning Phaser in case he required to use it, he drew it seven times in the space of a few hours over nothing, at one point he shot an Engineer who was rushing over to talk to me, apparently, Jomar thought he was about to attack with a dangerous weapon."
"I'm guessing it was not a dangerous weapon?"
"No sir, it was a Flux Coupler."
"And the Engineer?"
Kri'gak seemed unwilling to answer, so Drehera piped in.
"When he fell he hit his head against the floor, he has a concussion and lost a lot of blood, he will be off work for the rest of this mission, at least."
Krovennan could not see Drehera's normally blind eyes thanks to her Omni-Visor, but he could see her slumped shoulders and slightly tilted head, she was just as exhausted as the rest of them.
"So Drehera, what about Sormek?"
At the mention of Sormek, Drehera slumped even more before she replied.
"In terms of qualification and knowledge he is gifted, but he is insufferable."
"I have found him scrutinizing every part of the Sickbay, especially the staff, if he sees anyone make the slightest deviation from perfection, he is on them with a conceited rant on Starfleet protocol."
"How bad is he?"
"Terribly, I hardly think coming into the Sickbay with a slighlty ruffled shirt warrants what he gave the crewman, especially since he had been in surgery all night with only half an hour for a rushed sonic shower. And his bedside manner is even worse, he is condescending to my patients and has no sense of tact."
"I see, thank you Doctor, what about you Gyzit How is Melissa White faring?"
Krovennan looked over to Gyzit when he got no answer, to see Gyzit had fallen asleep in exhaustion, a mild slap of the table from Krovennan jerked Gyzit awake, who apologised before talking.
"Cadet White definitely knows her way around the Engine Room, but it seems her reputation precedes her. Let's just say I don't trust her in a Jeffries tube with someone."
"That is it?"
"Well no, she also has a tendency to let her "behaviour" impede her performance, she nearly caused an EPS Conduit she was working on with me to explode because she could not keep her eyes off Crewman Cooper when she should have been keeping the flow stable."
"I see, thank you Gyzit."
"Sir, may I be excused, I fear that the trials of the past few days are going to cause me to collapse without sufficient rest, which I will not get before my next shift otherwise."
"Very well, you are excused."
As Gyzit walked slowly out of the Conference Room, all eyes fell on Tallasa, she had been silent this whole time, and she knew she was next, Krovennan was the first to break the silence.
"Tallasa, how is Shliin shaping up as a MACO Commander?"
Tallasa seemed to tense up, everyone knew Sliin's aparent arrogant streak would annoy Tallasa the most, the tension was almost palpable before Tallasa spoke.
"Shliin has shown marksmanship, but that is nowhere near as remarkable as her attitude, she seems to believe she is the best at everything she sets her eyes upon, and makes sure everyone knows it. On the firing range she completely demoralized a nearby Crewman who missed one shot, I swear I saw the young man flinch under it."
"She was that bad?"
"I'm amazed she isn't worse, she constantly questions the aptitude of senior officers, including me, for the most minor of things. If she is going to lead, she's gong to have to learn humility and to not rip everyone around her a new one every time the slightest hiccup is made."
"I think it's safe to assume Starfleet gave us these Cadets to get them away from them. On file they are excellent, in real life though..."
Drehera interjected Krovennan before he could complete his sentence.
"Wait, what about Jeffery Kalinzi? How is he faring as a Commanding Officer?"
Krovennan lowered his head at the mention of the young Human, he stood up and breathed in before speaking.
"Jeffery does not have arrogance or confidence issues, he simply refuses to do anything required of Command, when he finally gives an order, it is one that requires the least amount of work from him and is usually vague and as such those under his command are confused as to what to do, I put him through the Kobayashi Maru test, he just sat there, he said that he deduced the whole ship was dead anyway, so why fight it?"
"He is that bad?"
"Yes Drehera, to make matters worse, if someone comes to him with news, he merely shrugs and dismisses it, he has no drive to command, or any drive for anything, the problem is I can see from his test scores there is a huge intelligence behind that thick skull of his, but he refuses to try."
The four in the Conference room all collectively sighed and sat in silence for a second, krovennan stood up and paced the room, thinking of what to do next. These Cadets were the future? If so the future was bleak, none of them had ever been in a real combat situation, and the Federation was to entrust their legacy to these people?
"We'll continue as normal as we can for the rest of the mission, four more days, the Cadets we will have to live with, Starfleet wants our recommendations, if I see no improvement, my recommendations will be to send them back until their disposition approves. Dismissed."
Krovennan watched as the three others left, probably to do the same as Gyzit, he doubted he would see change, but things would have to unravel themselves as time went on, what these Cadets did in the next four days would determine their future with Starfleet.
The Future of the Federation: Part 3 (First Half)
The five Cadets had been on the Blacksabre-E for a week now, despite being reminded of their position if they did not improve by their respective mentors, they continued as usual. It was now the end of the final day of their tour, the Blacksabre-E would be heading back to Earth to drop off the Cadets, who were being sent to their quarters, due to a lack of guest quarters on the warship, the two women and three men were put in two room adjacent to each other.
"So we head back to Earth tomorrow? I wonder if some of the crewmen will remember me."
Shliin rolled her eyes at Melissa's comment, the Andorian was by far the tallest of the group, dwarfing the Blond Human, Shliin removed her boots in preparation to sleep as she replied.
"They say we'll be sent back to the Academy until we get an attitude adjustment, They'll be holding back one of their best, I can outperform any of these so called "Elites of the Federation" the Vice Admiral scrounged together in anything."
Shliin walked over to the bathroom and pulled out the sink to splash water on her face, Melissa was busy posing in the mirror.
"Melissa, no-ones going to see you in your sleep, is the preening necessary?"
"It makes the preparation in the morning easier."
"You keep telling yourself that, I'll probably be asleep by the time you are done anyway."
"I wonder how the boys are dealing with this."
"Will you stop thinking about men for two minutes? Besides, if they have any sense they won't care, even Jomar will wise up to it eventually, hes not that big an idiot."
Meanwhile, next door to Shliin and Melissa, the three male Cadets were winding down for the night as well, Sormek was meditating on the floor, Jomar was pacing around the room nervously, and Jeffery Kalinzi was reading a novel on a PADD.
"Jomar, you are interfereing with my meditation, I would ask you to stop pacing around this room."
"How can I Sormek? The Vice Admiral is going to recommend we all get sent back to the Academy, I'll be lucky if I don't get thrown out."
"How do you arrive at that conclusion?"
"I doubt Commander Kri'gak is impressed with my performance."
"Well you did severely injure a crewman, and have proven to be easily intimidated and prone to fits of illogicvcal panic, I would not be suprised."
"Oh yeah, you are a real help, you ever consider training to be the ship's counsellor?"
"Sarcasm does nothing to alleviate the situation, the same can be said of pacing the room. I was merely telling you the facts of your situation."
"Facts or not, what do we do if we are sent back?"
Jeffery looked up from his PADD at the two, apparently he found the conversation more interesting than the novel.
"So what? We'll just do the tests again and get sent to another ship until one of them passes us, I found the test easy."
"Well I didn't Jeffery, I found the tests difficult, I couldn't focus."
"Could have your tendency to panic at the slightest amount of pressure have anything to do with it?"
"Your not helping Sormek!"
"Jomar, Sormek, stop already, we should get to bed, can't be tired for our group scolding with Melissa and Shliin from the Vice Admiral."
The trio headed to their beds, the three males were roughly the same size with a inch or two of difference either way, Jomar being the tallest and Sormek being shortest, though even Sormek was half a head taller than Melissa.
Three hours later, a shaking awoke all five Cadets, for a moment each Cadet thought they had imagined it, until a second, more violent shake jarred the Cadets out of their drowsiness, Jomar's first reaction was to grasp the sides of his bad in panic, the other four simply clambered out of their beds and found something to grab hold of as a third shake resounded, this time accompanied by an explosion.
"Sormek, what is happening?"
"I do not know Jomar, it would be best to stay where you are for the time being however."
"No Sormek, Jomar, get up, we need to find out what this is."
After Jomar pried himself from his bed the three Cadets made their way to the door of their quarters, as soon as it opened a group of heavily armed crewmen ran past, moments later the door to their left opened and Shliin an Melissa poked their heads out, the two groups made eye contact before Jefferey spoke.
"Shliin, what is happening?"
"I don't have a clue, but it doesn't look good, we should get dressed and find out."
The two groups returned to their rooms and swiftly dressed, just as they both came out Krovennan's voice rang out over the intercom.
"Attention all decks, an Orion Raider taskforce has attacked this ship and are preparing boarding parties, our shields cannot hold out forever, assume battle stations!"
The group looked to each othr in shock, they were told that there would be little to no conflict on this journey, why were a force of Orions poised to overwhelm them? Shliin was the first to speak.
"We need to get out of here, our quarters would be a priority target and just standing in this corridor isn;t going to be all that safe either."
"Then what would you suggest we do?"
"I'm thinking Sormek, give me a minute...The Jeffries Tubes, we can hide in them."
Shliin walked towards a Jeffries Tube next to them and opened the panel, she ushered everyone in before closing the door behind them. The Jeffries Tubes were dimly lit, all available power was going to weapons and shields to maximise combat efficiency, so the grouo made do, all around them the sound of Orion transporters and weapons fire from both sides wer e heard, as well as a couple of cries from those who weren't so lucky, Jomar was a sickly white colour now a the group reached a junction, just before they rounded the corner they heard Orion transporters, Shliin signaled to be quiet as she heard a mixture of male and female voices, a female apparently the leader of this group.
"Are the rest of our forces distracting the crew?"
"They report they are engaging the Federation on every deck, they have no idea we are here."
"Good, lets get started, you take the charges and plant them in the Engine Room, you two go Sabotage their weaponry, you three come with me, we are going after the Commanding Officer, they can't stop all three groups from doing their job. The rest of you go and help out our forces, you have the heavy weaponry."
There was a string of "Yes Ma'ams" as the Orions were given their jobs and began crawling through the Jeffries Tubes, thankfully missing the Cadets, who waited to make sure they were gone before crawling into the junction and standing. Jomar looked ready to faint, the others were silent until Melissa broke the silence.
"Now what? They are going to destroy the ship in three different ways and the crew won't be able to stop them."
"Logic dictates that, armed with the knowledge we have of their plans, we should split up and tackle these problems simultaneously."
"Good idea Sormek, ok, Melissa, go to the Engine Room and stop those charges, Jeffery, you should go to the bridge and back up the Vice Admiral, Sormek and Jomar, go out and stop those heavy weapons and tend to the wounded, I'll stop them sabotaging our weapons."
As the group began to split up, Sormek noticed Jomar standing still, face as white as the walls and looking like he was about to vomit and faint, Sormek approached him.
"Jomar, we have a mission to do, we must carry it out."
"I can't do it, I'm too afraid, if I go out there, it is one false move and I die."
"Jomar, I should not have to remind you that if even one of the Orion's plans succeeds we will all die, I realise that I may not be a...supportive individual, but I cannot do this alone, can you be brave for this occasion Jomar?"
Jomar shuddered for a minute before looking up at the Vulcan.
"Ok Sormek, I'll do it."
"Good, let us get moving."
As Jomar and Sormek went in pursuit of the heavy weapons, In the Engine Room, a firefight was currently in progress between the Engineering staff and the Orion taskforce, the leader, a female, held the charges, she needed to plant them around the Warp Core because of their low yield, or they would be less than useless.
An Orion fell to a Phaser Blast while two more were frozen in place with Gyzit's Breen CRM 200, until the female had an idea, she removed a charg, set it for three seconds, and lobbed it through the doorway the group was using as cover, the charge bounced once before detonating in the midst of the group, Gyzit was thrown against the wall with most of the staff, no-one seemed dead but many were injured or unconcious.
The last few standing were picked off by the Orions before the female walked casually into the Engine Room, Melissa finaly arrived and peeked around the corner to se the Orion alying the charges. Gyzit, who had kept consious, hefte his weapon and pointed it at the group, the Orion Female spotted Gyzit and leapt out of the way before he fired, the three Orions with her were frozen in place, hyzit dropped his weapon as soon as it stopped firing, his strength run out, the female Orion kicked the weapon away from him before goin to a console to deactivate the blast shield that had been erected around the warp core.
As she accessed the console, she found she needed a code, she walked over to Gyzit, releasing her Orion pheremones to try and make him more suggestible.
"Would a strong man such as yourself be a dear and tell me the code for shutting off the blast shield?"
"Madam, I would rather shoot that core myself than help you in any way."
The Orion female pouted, she knew she had the upper hand in this, she failed to notice Melissa crawling out silently as the Orion continued to try and persuade Gyzit, Melisaa grabbed a depleted Phaser Rifle, wielding it like a club, she charged the Orion, yelling at the top of her lungs. The Orion was initially startled, but found it easy with her pheremones negative effect on Melissa to grab the rifle from her grip and toss it aside. The Orion proceeded to reach out and grab Melissa's throat.
"Come now silly girl, did you really think that would work?"
The Orion threw Melissa aside, the Cadet slamming against a wall and lying on the floor in pain.
"Now where were we?"
The Future of The Federation: Part 3 (Second Half)
Meanwhile, The second group of Orions, this time only two males, had snuck by th Federation crews to reach a maintenance shaft for the weapon's systems, one orion pulled out more charges, if detonated, the ship would lose weapons, two charges were placed on the steely pipes that covered one of the walls.
"Ok, that should be it, get ready to detonate."
"I wouldn't bother, you two aren't going anywhere."
The Orions looked to the source of the voice, Shliin stood in front of them, a look of steely determination on her face, the Orions were not amused.
"A Cadet? Your sure of yourself aren't you?"
"Think you can take on the world do you?"
"No, I used to think i could, but I've realised I have limits thanks to this little wake up call you and your friends provided, you two however, I can definitely take on."
The two Orions engaged Shliin, the cramped space there was only room for one at a time, the first Orion producd a cruel looking knife and atempted to stab Shliin, but Shliin was strong, and took a hold of the Orion's wrist before he could bring the knife down on her. Shliin slammed the Orion's hand into the wall twice before he dropped the dagger, she then proceded to punch the Orion in the gut before delivering a right cross to his jaw, the Orion spun round to fall on his face, allowing the second Orion to come in.
This Orion was better in combat, and brawled with Shliin for a good half a minute, the first Orion managed to grab his knife, waited for Shliin to come close enough, and then stabbed her in her left leg, Shliin grunted in pain beofre the second Orion took a hold of her right arm and pulled it out straight, slamming his free arm's elbow into the bone, breaking it almost instantly, Shliin howled out in pain and fell to one knee, thinking fast, Shliin punched the first Orion unconcious, and reached for the knife in her leg.
the knife's removal was agony, but she got it out quickly, before the Orion could react she stabbed him in the neck with the weapon, as Shliin collapsed beside the two Orions she grasped her arm in pain, the other would not wake up for some time, so for now, she was safe and proceeded to clutch her arm in pain. After a minute she began to chuckle.
"They don't prepare you for this when youre visiting a ship for a week."
Elsewhere, Sormek and Jomar arrived on the scene of a brutal fight, the crew were being decimated by some kind of mobile hover turret, the Orions laughing as the crew were pinned down or mowed down by the weapon's covering fire.
The two Cadets quickly rushed to the crew hiding behind a table from the adjacent room , thankfully the table was strong and was holding against the Orion weapon, Sormek immediately started tending to the wounded, he had no time to chastise anyone for mistakes, he had to focus.
Jomar took a hand phaser from a weapons crate next to him and began firing, his shots were wide, his hnads were tembling and fear stpped him from looking beond cover long enough to take proper aim.
"Sormek, what do we do?"
"We have to incapacitate the Orion weapon, and then the Orions themselves. Find it's weakness Jomar."
Jomar saw a reflective pillar and used it to see around the cover, the weapon itself was rock solid, but it was controlled by an operator standing behind it, if he could destroy that, the weapon would be useless. Jomar thought and thought as the Orions got closer, then he had an idea.
"Everyone, move back, I have an idea."
Sormek looked sceptical as Jomar hid behind a pillar, but nodded and with the help of the remaining crew that could stand, began dragging the wounded back, a couple of crew dragged the cover back as well, the Orions laughed ever harder at their enemy and their apparent retreat, the Orions pushed forward ever harder, but faile dto notice Jomar wa left behind.
Jomar clutched his Phaser tightly, he knew he could die with this move, but he was out of options, he waited until the Orions started to pas him before he ramped his Phaser to full power, turned around and fired, screaming at the top of his lungs he vaporised the operator of the weapon, not waiting a second, Jomar began sweeping the weapon outwards, catching three other Orions.
When the Phaser brunt itself out, Jomar relaxed for a moment, but was brought back to fear when one remaining Orion charged his rifle and aimed it at Jomar's hea, just as Jomar though he was about to die, the sound of a Phaser rushed past his ears, as he looked, he was the Orion on the floor, dead, as he looked back, he saw Sormek with a Phaser pointed at where the Orion once was.
"S-S-Sormek, I-Idon't know-"
"Your welcome Jomar, now help me with these wounded in case more Orions appear."
Jomar nodded and begun doing what he could to help, he felt a smile appear on is face, perhaps there was no point in worrying so much.
Meanwhile, in the Engine Room, the Orion female had finally managed to break Gyzit through pheremones and torture, causing him to spill the code for the blast shield, as the blue field dropped with an audible sound Melissa awoke, saw what had happened, and tried to see what she could do, she felt a Rifle behind her, thinking quick, she strained to turn over and gra the weapon, just as the Orion was ready to detonate the charges.
The Orion lifted her head to see Melissa with a Phaser Rifle pointed to her, the Orion could not react before Melissa blasted a hole in the Orion's chest, the Orion died instantly, unable to detonate the explosives, they were harmless now.
"...Don't call me "Girl"."
Gyzit was barely concious, Melissa simply dropped the rifle and drifted into sleep with the hum of the Warp Core as her lullaby, the last thing she thought before going unconcious, was how much time could be saved if she stopped her evening make up sessions and went to sleep eairlier.
Back on the Bridge, Krovennan and his crew struggled to fend off the Orion vessels, they had encirlced the Blacksabre with the larger ships, while the smaller ships moved in for the kill, but Krovennan would have none of it and continued to outmaneuvre them.
Krovennan heard the Turbolift approaching and turned around in time to see a group of Orions lead by a female, obviously high in rank because of her extravagant garments, Krovennan shouted an order to fire, but the group of Orions quickly fired with stun weapons, incapacitating the Bridge crew before they could react.
Krovennan pulled out his Manna'gahr and charged the leader, Krovennan raised his weapon to shield him from the shots of the Orions before charging the female, swiping at her only to catch one of her guards as he leapt in front of her instead, before Krovennan could strike again the Female lashed out with her nails, scraping Krovennan's face, Krovennan fell to his knees, feeling weak and drowsy, the Orion's nails were obviously laced with some form of poison.
"This is it? This is the skill of the Blacksabre-E's crew and their mighty Vilscaran leader? It is laughable, but I suppose you will all make good slaves on our markets, except you Krovennan, no, I'm not giving you any chance to escape, you are going to die today."
"Heh, if you want to kill me, why not just do it and spare me your inane prattling?"
The Female grinned before slapping Krovennan hard, Krovennan barel moved and proceded to spit blood on her garments, which she took particular offense to. The female held out her hand and she was given a pistol by her soldiers, the Orion pointed the weapon at Krovennan. ensuring he would not be vaporised, this woman wanted a trophy.
Just as the female was about to fire, Jeffery Kalinzi appeared from the second Turbolift, wielding a Phaser Rifle, Not wasting a moment, Jefferey fired at the group of Orions, the group was close together, and could not bring their guns to bear on the Cadet in time, in one volley of shots, the Orions fell, the female turned her pistol from Krovennan to strike Jeffery, then Krovenna surged upwards, roaring as he slammed his Manna'gahr into the Orion.
The weapon bit deep into the Orion's stomach, as she dropped her pistol, shocked and in agony, Krovennan ripped the weapon from her before swiping higher, decapitating her in a single swipe, the Orion's ody fell instantly, and Krovennan fell to one knee from the poison. Jeffery dropped his weapon and inspected the Vice Admiral before tapping his combadge.
"Medical team to the Bridge, Emergency."
Jeffery felt the ship shudder, the Orions were still firing, without any other options, Jefferey sat in the Captain's chair and wuickly punched in an automated attack patern and course, the ship lurched forward and banked around the vessels, sending weapons fire at whatever it could hit, soon after, a fleet of Federation ships warped into the area, the Orion ships scattered in the wake of the overwhelming force and went to warp, the remaining boarding parties surrendered.
As a Medical team arrived to attend to the Bridge crew and reinforcments and repair teams beamed in from the new ships, Jefferey looked down to the chair he was sitting in, he looked to krovennan, who nodded in approval at him, Jefferey grinned, turns out being in the big chair wasn't so bad after all.
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