Literary Challenge #48 : The Long Road
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:
Today we start the two-week run of the forty-eighth Literary Challenge: The Long Road
It's been a long road, getting from there to here...This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.
The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
TO: Frank Ocasio, Deputy Commander of Orion Cygnus subdivision, Starfleet Command
FROM: Vice Admiral Zolaria, CO of USS Kaiser Tesadora
It is with great sadness that I transmit my personal report to you concerning the mission assigned to my ship and the USS Omega Imperius, under the command of Vice Admiral Azlera, in which we were to investigate the disappearance of several freighters and their escorts in the Zeta Andromedae Sector.
Upon arriving in the sector, we received a distress call from the Orias system. Upon arriving, we encountered the True Way, as we were expecting, but not in the way we had expected.
We had encountered one of the Cardassian's most powerful ships ever built, the Hutet-class Dreadnaught. We engaged the dreadnaught in a long and protracted battle, but the ship's massive size and armament was just as deadly as it was during the Dominion War.
During the engagement, the Omega Imperius was badly hit by the Hutet, and began suffering from a Core Breach. VA Azlera evacuated the crew, and rammed the fatally wounded Excelsior into the side of the dreadnaught. Her sacrafice allowed us to use the Kaiser Tesadora's Quantum Phaser to damage the Hutet internally, destroying it.
I am formally recommending that Azlera be posthumously promoted, and awarded for her sacrifice.
Vice Admiral Zolaria, Orion Cygnus Chief Intel Officer
The Long Way Home
Captains Log - Stardate 91240.09
It has been 17 long, punishing years since the IGV Kumachi was thrown into unknown space by the spacial eddie known only as "The Void". Over these 17 years this vessel has become part of the crew, part of this family. This "Worthy of the founder's blessing" ship (as Commander James U'Tak) described it has done more for us and then some, in the numerous battles against the borg and even the queen herself (at least one of them) she has sustained heavy damage but has still kept going for us. We have finally entered the Alpha Quadrant again, after what seems like decades of battle, and surprise surprise they sent us a welcome gift, the federation is at war again, the whole galaxy is in chaos and the borg are making a return... Hopefully we can find some way of getting this new information to starfleet before the borg intercept us with another cube again, we managed to hold off the last one, but with very...very severe consequences... I miss Emerald, she was a good member of this crew... Of this family. I feel like I have lost a daughter, I would give anything to have her and the 32 others back. I just hope the journey wasn't in V- [Explosion] [ Alarms] (over Comms "all hands to battle stations, Red Alert, 2 Borg Tactical Cubes closing fast!" )
This is Teranis Commander of the Kumachi, possible last log entry, the information... The information key to defeating the borg once and for all (laughs under breath) [Explosion] it's so simple [Explosion] it's - [Explosion]
----------------------------------------Transmission Failure----------------------------------------------------------------------------------TIME RECIVED 01:13 Hrs----------------------------------------
Starfleet Data Logs Archive
Captain's Log-Date: 2413
Missions like this make me remember that we are mortal. That we aren't invincible in these ships. That some people can't be saved no matter what you do. Yesterday we received a transmission from a Starfleet Science Vessel that was disabled by a ship of unknown origin. My fellow captain and brother Ryan Clark and I were sent to investigate.
Upon our arrival We could not find any Science Vessel or wreckage for that matter. All we could find was a intimidating black mass of a ship. We tried to hail them, all we got back was hostility. We tried fighting but, it was like no ship I had ever seen, its weapons ripped through my brother's ship like a tree in a relentless storm.
My brother soon realized that only one of us could make it out alive. He ordered me to flee and promised that he would buy me a drink back on Earth, I wish I could have believed. him before we left I saw him flying his battered ship in one last burst of glory into the unknown hostility. It was a beautiful sight, Their sacrifice had allowed us to escape.
The Rouge ship is still intact, still roaming, preying on the unfortunate. One day I will find it again, and I will hunt it down and destroy it avenging my brother and his crew. This I promise
Signed, Jace Clark, Captain USS Liberator
Starfleet Data Logs CLASSIFIED
Admiral Brun is on his way to fight the Borg again after 17 years of fighting an waiting for the borg he has lost everything an the ship he has is so CLASSIFIED that the U.S.S. PROMETHEUS Weapons, Shield are not in the Starfleet's Data records at all let's hope he can do it he has lost 85 crew an friends to the borg including his mom an dad so this fight is personal now an he will stand ground an he is heading to the borg's [ Alarms] (over Comms "all hands to battle stations, Red Alert, 150,000 Borg Tactical Cubes closing fast!" )
----------------------------------------Transmission Failure----------------------------------------------------------------------------------TIME RECIVED 17:48 Hrs----------------------------------------
-------------------------------------------SHIP WENT TO WARP---------------------------------------
------Starfleet Im going to defeat the borg------------- Received in subspace-------------------------------
Captain's Log, stardate 47619.4:
It is with a heavy heart that I must make this report. Seven weeks ago the Aquarius was ordered to the Grenthar system. It was a routine scientific survey that was vital to the Federation Colonization Corps. Starfleet wanted us to bring back some soil samples as well as atmospheric conditions on Grenthar four. A standard away team had beamed down being led by my chief of security and second officer, lieutenant Ch'Bok. I was in my ready room when I got a call over the com from my first officer Tozra Oshrem. She informed me that a Hirogen hunting vessel had entered the system and began scanning. As I walked onto the bridge, our away team called for emergency beam out because they were under attack from a hunting party on the surface. Unfortunately the ship had began it's attack and we were forced to raise our shields. We returned fire and after a heated battle we were able to force the ship to retreat. We beamed up the away team and that's when we found out. During the fight ensign Horad had been hit with a Hirogen weapon, killing him. He was a tactical officer that filled in during gamma shift and I had the pleasure of instructing him during my time on the shift. There will be an empty chair on gamma shift without him. He was a promising young officer and the Aquarius will miss him. The ship otherwise suffered minor damage in the battle and our port nacelle was damaged in a plasma storm. We will reach station Ticonderoga in thirteen hours. We will be ordered to sector 21505 immediately after repairs.
Captain Foley Commanding
Captain's log, Stardate 88883.18
The crew of the Stuttgart returns to Deep Space 9 after a four month survey of Sector 21305 that was only scheduled for three months. Our mission was a success, though perhaps a futile effort, and not without great cost.
The first month, during a geological survey of a previously undiscovered planet, we lost a promising, young lieutenant to unstable seismic activity. A rockslide trapped Lieutenant junior grade Harnon's leg under nearly a meter of magnesite. Unable to cut him out with phasers or beam him out, he sacrificed himself so the rest of the team could return to the ship. His personal belongings will be returned to his family on Psi Upsilon IV.
The second month, we ran afoul of a plasma storm. I needed to keep a half dozen crewmen restricted to quarters for bedrest to heal plasma burns and broken bones.
The third week of the third month, we discovered Cardassians. Remnants of the True Way. Three Galor-class starships appeared out of a plasma storm. Unshielded, the Stuttgart suffered heavy damage and was nearly destroyed. Fortunately, our ablative armor helped diffuse the damage. However, we lost a handful of crew members despite the best efforts of Dr. Sikez and her medical staff. I recommended Starfleet Command give them all commendations.
Using our cloaking device, we hid in the orbit of a nearby asteroid. Lieutenant Commander Moraine's engineering crew worked around the clock to repair the damaged systems.
The Stuttgart left the safety of the asteroid two weeks later. Almost as soon as we dropped our cloak, because of strain on the deflector dish, the three Galor-class ships returned. The True Way must have a way to exploit the Badlands. Or, perhaps the very nature of the Badlands makes hit-and-fade tactics successful. Quickly raising our shields, we were able to destroy two of the Cardassian ships with our quad phaser cannons. The third retreated.
We did not encounter any further resistance to our survey mission. Fortunate, since we were running on a skeleton crew.
The Badlands, however, remain a continually changing phenomenon. An accurate map of the region may prove to be impossible. At least for any useful length of time.
~Captain Devlin Ebinyarmin
Captain's Log, Stardate 91241.03
Fourteen months after beginning our mission in Borg space, we have finally returned to Federation space. However, I cannot say that our mission was easy or free of danger. In those fourteen months, the USS Thunderer and USS Dampier have lost over half of their combined crew compliment, the USS Retribution had lost her main bridge, and the USS Yamakaze was destroyed with all hands. Aboard the Salamanca, we lost nine decks, around two-thirds of our crew, and took severe damage to main engineering.
As commanding officer of this vessel and task force, I hereby present a state funeral for those who cannot be with us today, namely Chief Medical Officer of the USS Dampier Commander Starr Colclough, Captain of the USS Yamakaze Linwood Luxton, also the countless junior officers whose lives were cut drastically short by these encounters. As Admiral, and commanding officer of this task force, I will be writing letters of condolence to their families.
Their deaths however, have not been in vain - we have defeated two Borg tactical cubes, at least 30 Borg spheres, and a significant amount of Borg probes. These engagements are also drawing the new Borg Queen out, so rest assured we will be ready for her and the rest of the Borg by the time she arrives.
Personal Log of Adm. George William Aubrey (Access Denied subdivision - Starfleet Operations and Command)
#9 An Admirals Reflection and Hopes
Captain?s Log Stardate: 91240.92
The U.S.S. Mattaguchi, a Galaxy class starship, has finally returned from its 12 month voyage aiding warships in the Gamma Orionis Sector Block and investigating rumors of a race known as the Elachi terrorizing our Romulan Republic Allies. The Voyage was hard on the ship, especially the crew. I lost many fine crewmen who fought off the borg when they boarded the ship in hopes of assimilating the Mattaguchi. Other times members of my crew dissappeard during investigations of the Elachi, never to be seen or heard from again even after I ordered all batterys of sensor equipment on the ship to find them.
The hardest loss to all of us aboard the ship was my second in command Da?karra Futantos Johannus. She died in the assault of Unimatris 001, when Starfleet ordered the Mattaguchi to join a joint taskforce Klingon and Federation ships to cover as task group that wanted to personally kill the Borg Queen. Da?karra kept us all together happy during thoughs turbulent times of borg attacks, the long list of ships and crew dead, she was instrumental in helping me negotiate many ceasefire engagements with the Klingons. In 0200 hours the Crew of the Mattaguchi will be holding a memorial in ten forward to salute thoughs that died for us to return home, to Earth.
I personally spoke to Admiral Quinn about Da?karra and requested that in honor of her sacrifice for the Mattaguchi, A ship be named after her and that she be posthumously promoted. It has been a long road, getting from here to there but hopefully we will once again be able to explore the galaxy more with less sacrificing of brilliant officers like Da?karra for the sake of war and peace.
Soon the Mattaguchi will be joining the Romulan Republic?s Federation Liason, SubCommander Elise in learning more about the Elachi and their connection to a Dyson Sphere. I fear more men will be lost in this venture but we are Starfleet and we all must do our duty as explores and upholders of justice and peace.
Vice Admiral Angolius Balthos, Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Mattaguchi
6 years ago...
"Brace for impact!"
There was a brief pause after I cried that out...just long enough to hope that we'd avoid the collision.
But that hope disappeared a moment later as the deck heaved up and to the right. Metal groaned...screamed, more like it...as the rear bulkhead dissolved into a shower of blinding light.
The roar was deafening...but mercifully short. A cross between a crackle and a loud hum filled the air as the emergency force field covered the hole where the bridge's head used to be.
Sparks shot through the air from the overhead, from the edges of the bulkhead, from every computer system on the bridge. At least, I thought that's where they came from....I couldn't see clearly. I used my sleeve to wipe the sweat from my eyes...and the red command stripe near the hem doubled in width.
I looked up from the deck where I had landed, the center seat mocking me as the restraints chose that moment to deploy.
I bit down a curse, and instead croaked out, "Status?"
Sotek stood at the auxiliary engineering station. How the hell did he manage to keep upright after that collision, but still couldn't master a 3 foot swell? That Vulcan is going to drive me insane trying to figure him out...
"We have multiple hull breaches on decks 1 through 8. Port nacelle has suffered catastrophic damage... we will lose reactor containment if it backflows," Sotek calmly spoke. His hands played over the console like a master pianist, tapping controls with precision.
"God, no!" screamed Sara. "Where on 8? Damn it Sotek...is my lab in one piece?"
L'naa ran to her side, copper blood smeared across the left side of her face from a nasty gash over her eyebrow. She punched open a compartment on the bulkhead and grabbed a medkit. "Sara...hold still...you're burned...sweetie....please....hold still."
Sara didn't hear a word, and apparently felt no pain. She again screamed, "Sotek? Sotek? Sotek! My lab?!?! My lab????"
I got to my feet, wobbling a couple of times. "Casualties?"
Sotek was the master of multitasking. He looked over to ensure that Ensign Chang had manned the Secondary Damage Control station, and continued to work his console. "Captain...reports are still coming in...so far all good, but that nacelle." He frowned as he reviewed the system fault page. "There is an ninety-nine point seven percent chance we will lose containment if the plasma backflows. The backflow prevention safeguard is offline. The purge valve is damaged...." He continued to tap away. "Sara, primary life sciences lab is undamaged."
On hearing that, Sara dropped to her knees. She spent the last two months cooped up in that lab, running experiment after experiment on this odd microflora that bloomed in the Badlands. I know enough about science to know that I know *nothing* about *this* science. But she's the expert...and if she says that the last sixty days have been worth it to prevent some pathogen from spreading, or replicating, or whatever that pathogen did, I won't argue. At the very least...it's brought her and the Doc closer together.
The computer squealed when it usually would have chirped. "Bridge, Engineering. Don't cut the nacelle loose...give me some time."
Sotek studied the readings, closed his eyes, and shook his head. This was bad news.
The channel to engineering was already open, so I called out, "Arky...it's showing that we're close to a backflow. That would be bad. Cut the nacelle."
I heard the strain in his voice. "Captain...please. Just a minute. I need a minute."
"No. Cut it loose." We needed to stop the imminent threat, and I didn't want pride to get in the way. I didn't care if we had to have three tugs tow us home. I looked through the shimmering force field, amazed at how much plasma was venting from the ruptured nacelle. The green cloud was expanding fast, indicating just how much pressure was building up. "We don't have a minute...jettison it now."
"Thals is still in the port nacelle...he didn't get out of the Jefferies Tube."
I turned to L'naa, my mind going over everything we could do to delay cutting the nacelle before it would backflow. "Get Thals out of there."
Before she could respond, Ensign Chang's voice cut like a knife. "Sir...transporters are offline." He hesitated, his voice a whisper, "...and primary shuttlebay has suffered a major radiation leak. We can't get to the runabout to use it's transporter..."
The kid was sharp. I'd have to remember to ask him how he immediately came up with a solution that so many senior officers throughout Starfleet history have failed to think of when faced with a similar situation. If only we had somebody in the shuttlebay when not in an alert situation...if only. I knew he was still trying to figure a way out of this horror...he and Thals played Dom-Jot every time they could snag the table away from Arky and Sara.
I gave Sotek a pleading look, hoping that he could alter the laws of nature and prevent what I had to do next. Again, he shook his head, and muttered, "Thirty seconds to backflow."
The computer squealed again. "Captain..." I could hear the desperation in Arky's voice. "Please. Give me time. Help me."
I wanted to scream out. "I can't. We...you know what has to be done."
"Damn it pinkskin...I'm begging you...just a little more time...please...do not do this!"
Sotek whispered, "Ten seconds to backflow."
I reached over Sotek's arm and punched the jettison button for the port nacelle.
"NNNOOOOOO!!!!!" came the rage filled scream over the intercom.
Tripler Starfleet Medical Center, Oahu.
The common room felt a bit too stuffy, and I motioned to L'naa that we should take a walk. I opened the double door and stepped outside into the Memorial Garden. The sun was setting, making the walls glow a peaceful pink. I could see off in the distance as the waves and the wind conspired to make a series of beautiful sweeping swells. L'naa and I walked over to a stone bench, sat down, and watched in silence as the skies darkened.
The click of the double doors opening made me glance over to see who was disturbing our quiet moment. It was Sotek, carefully balancing three containers on one hand.
"I thought you would be tired of the stuff they try to pass off as food ...so I took the long way here and made a few stops. Oh...and Waimea pumpin, brah."
My friend knew what buttons to push to get a grin...and what food to get that, even if I wasn't hungry, the smell of which would make me want to dig in. Shrimp from Giovanni's, Loco Moco from Tropics, and malasadas from Leonard's.
I hadn't eaten in the four days that we've been home.
But it still hurt so much that I couldn't bear to eat a single bite.
The sun was now fully set, and again the click of the double doors got our attention. Sara limped over to us, supported by Doctor Irve, sporting bandages across half her small frame, various monitors stuck to her temples and spine. Turns out that the Badlands microflora we were exposed to affected our systems, and we'd be here at the Medical Center for quite some time while we healed up. I never realized how dependent we had become on dermal regenerators...now we had to let nature heal our wounds without modern medicine.
"Mmmm....smells yummy!" Sara chirped, popping down with a wince.
Doctor Irve gave one of his patented dirty looks to Sotek for bringing in contraband food. "Look here, youngun....I've said that they're on nutritional supplement 3 Alpha until the initial wounds are closed...do you have any idea of the stress that junk is going to put on their digestive systems!" Sotek just shot him a shaka, knowing that it enraged the doctor. Doc tried to hide his anger, and motioned towards Sara, "Here... give me that..." he said, trying to close the container before Sara's hand grabbed another shrimp.
She scowled at him, "Mine, you! No ack!"
Before Doc could say anything else, we heard a cough from the garden entrance. Arky tried to walk normally, but the loss of his right antenna meant the loss of his normal gait until it grew back. If it could, given the problems the microflora has been causing. He didn't say a single word, but just glowered at us while he sat next to Sara.
She gave him her best smile. "Hey, blue boo. Wanna shrimpy?"
The tension went up an order of magnitude as he suddenly got up and squared off towards me. He hadn't said a word in a week...nothing while we waiting for recovery in the Badlands, nothing on the way home, and nothing since we checked into Tripler.
"Why?," he spat out.
I couldn't look at him in the eyes. There was so much pain there.
Doc Irve came to my rescue. "You know damn well why. You know what space is. What it does. That it is *not* a forgiving place . That it is a harsh place to make a living."
"Living?!?", Arky howled. "Is that some kind of pinkskin joke? What next...are you going to tell me that 'everything is going to be alright' as well?"
Sara tried to stand, but couldn't. "Blue boo...no...c'mon..."
Arky continued, a tear running down his cheek, "Because everything is not going to be alright. I asked you for help. Begged you. Begged, damn it. And you flushed my nephew out into vacuum." He pulled a PADD from a pocket on his robe. "Here is my final report, Captain."
He threw the PADD down on the ground at my feet.
"And consider this my resignation from Starfleet," he said, grabbing his communicator and ripping it off his robe. He threw it down on the PADD with such force it cracked the surface.
He glared at Sotek, Doc, and me. Hard. "Let this be the last time I ever see any of you."
He limped off faster than he should have been able to.
Sara looked at us, mouth agape. She didn't know what to say.
L'naa took Sara's arm, helping her up. "Come on. We'll be ok. Your husband needs you."
Tears were streaming from Sara's eyes. She whispered, "Things are gonna be all right, aren't they cap'n?"
I looked down. I didn't know what to say.
A muffled tone squeaked from the speaker, indicating a priority message that automatically overwrote what was on screen.
The words were still visible through the cracked surface of the PADD:
From: Starfleet Command - Medical Division - Commander L. Varstok, Department of Disease Control
To: All hands, USS Yorktown
Subject: Multiphasic Prion Inhibitor - Initial Success
Bravo Zulu, Yorktown! It appears that your hard work has paid off...the first actual trials of the inhibitor have saved the lives of at least seven very grateful patients! We can now boldly go into any area like the Badlands without fearing contagion! We will be sending the replicator patterns for this "Thalsonite" as soon as the Admiralty approves it.
This is a great day for Starfleet Medical, and it wouldn't be possible without the crew of the Yorktown!
Drinks are on us next time you're in port!
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