Literary Challenge #40 : Redux
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Join Date: Nov 2012
WELCOME HOME (#21: Saying Hello)
03-09-2013, 02:36 PM
I've got my memories
They're always inside of me
But I can't go back
Back to how it was...
Belief over misery
I've seen the enemy
And I got my heart set on what happens next
I've got my eyes wide, it's not over yet...
This is home
Now I'm finally where I belong, where I belong
This is home
I've been searching for a place of my own
Now I've found it, maybe, this is home
And now after all my searching
After all my questions
I'm gonna call it home...
I've come too far
And I won't go back
Yeah, this is home
Jon Foreman of Switchfoot - "This is Home"
Approaching McKinley Station, Earth Orbit - Stardate 87068.3
The familiar dark gray shape loomed ahead, menacing and predatory even nestled in the McKinley Station spacedock. LCdr. LaRoca Rusty kept his eyes locked on the
-class warship as he reached for the comm panel. "
," he announced, "requesting instructions for manual docking."
," came the reply. "Ah, if you'll just set your autopilot sir, and we'll tractor you in."
Rusty looked over at his older brother, sitting at the helm of the runabout, and shrugged.
Jesu glared at the unseen flight deck officer aboard his ship, who was clearly unfamiliar with the Admiral's personal operating procedure. "This is Admiral LaRoca," he said calmly, but with a measured overtone of aggravation in his voice. "That's a negative,
be coming in manually. Please just tell which hole to aim for."
There was a long pause, and the officer came back with a shaking voice. LaRoca correctly imagined the conversation that had taken place between the flight deck officer and the bridge, and he smiled a little. "
. Apologies, Admiral. Please prepare to dock in shuttlebay three - that's the topmost-"
"I know where it is,
. I'll see you shortly."
Rusty chuckled as he closed the channel. "I doubt he'll make
Jesu didn't hear his adopted brother. The
had arrested his attention, as he raised his eyes from the instrument panel and saw his ship for the first time in over a quarter of a century. "
," he murmured reverently. "I'd forgotten how beautiful she was."
"I think she looks even better than before," Rusty remarked after a respectful moment's pause. "Since they've modified the saucer and nacelles."
Jesu nodded, eyeing the two pairs of phaser cannons flanking the deflector dish in the ship's bow, and the dual heavy phaser cannons just above, and the phaser beam array encircling the upper saucer, and the torpedo module perched atop the crossbar over the twin booms of the engineering hull, each mounting phaser turrets. "They've certainly sharpened her teeth." He angled the runabout down and ducked under the massive AEGIS deflector. "Ah, I see why we aren't wanted in the main hangar bay."
Rusty stared at the cavernous space on the
's underside, open to space and swarming with work bees. "I guess refitting her to be a proper carrier again - and a heavy escort - is taking longer than the boys at McKinley expected."
"They can take their time," Jesu said sarcastically. "It's not like we're fighting five wars at once out there." He killed the impulse engines and used the maneuvering thrusters to spin a tight one-eighty, and drifted backwards between the
's underslung warp nacelles. Modified, as Rusty had noted, to be compatible with the Federation's transwarp network and an onboard Quantum Slipstream drive. He angled up and pulsed the engines to coast toward shuttlebay three.
The door opened over a shimmering, pale-blue semi-permeable force field. Jesu LaRoca carefully steered into the center of the maw, and engaged the electromagnetic induction field as he crossed the threshold so he didn't immediately drop to the grav-plated deck. He looked for and found a green-vested traffic warden pointing him toward an empty docking space. He also saw several of his men standing near the far wall of the shuttlebay - he picked out his second officer among them. It wasn't difficult to identify the 2.1-meter Andorian. He killed the thrusters and coasted in using the EMI field for directional control. He made a 270-degree spin and backed into his assigned space and shut the
's systems down. He and Rusty left the runabout while it was still in its power-down cycle through the forward hatch and the fog produced by the thruster systems purging excess deuterium gas. Rusty as always led the way.
"Ah-ten-SHUN!" a deep voice shouted.
Jesu turned left toward the cluster of men standing at attention and addressed Cmdr. Ibear, his operations officer. "Permission to come aboard?"
"Granted, sir, of course!'
"As you were, thank you."
Rusty spoke up, and jerked a clawed thumb toward the
. "We have some luggage back there, if a couple of you wouldn't mind-"
The five crewmen standing with Fozz Ibear immediately sprang forward, emerging from the runabout a moment later carrying duffels, garment bags and boxes of personal effects.
"I can show you guys to your quarters, if you'd like. Or if you'd rather tour the ship?"
"I think we'd rather look around the old girl first," Jesu said. "And I think we'd rather find our own way around, Fozz." He looked back at his brother for conformation. Rusty nodded.
The Andorian crossed his arms. "As you wish. I have a lot of work to do, anyway."
"Yes, I could see the progress of the main hangar conversion on my way in. Or rather, the lack thereof," Jesu noted dryly.
"That's... partially my fault," Fozz admitted. "Mine and Barrister's. We looked over the specs and Barrister figured out a way to make the refueling and rearming stations twenty-three-percent more efficient, and I ordered the design changes. It shouldn't delay us by more than thirty-six hours. Barrister's down there now overseeing the assembly teams and trying to get us out of here as soon as possible."
Jesu forced a small frown but he really wanted to smile. Lt. Barrister (he had chosen that name over his original designation, Yankee-Six-Eight) was a fourth-generation Soong-type positronic android, and Admiral LaRoca's deputy ops officer. He and Fozz worked extremely well together. LaRoca's last crew had started calling the pair "The Icemen." But the Icemen often worked behind their CO's back, making tweaks and improvements to various systems. LaRoca feigned disapproval, but he really didn't mind. After all, besides having three - now four ships to look after, Vice Admiral Jesus Lorenzo San Gregorio LaRoca was the diplomatic liaison to Starfleet Security. And with his recent promotion, he had more responsibility than ever. He was far too busy to keep track of everything that went on aboard his current flagship, especially a ship undergoing a complete refit. "Very well," he said with a small sigh. "Carry on."
"Yessir." Cmdr. Ibear turned around, stepped through a door, and sprinted off down the corridor.
Jesu and Rusty followed at a leisurely pace. Jesu inhaled deeply. "We're home," he said. They had grown up together on this ship. Rusty had been born on board. It truly was home to them. "What do you want to see first?"
"Is the med lab still in the same place?" Rusty wondered. He wanted to his birthplace again.
"Let's find out." Jesu pulled a PADD from a pocket in his duty uniform pants. He called up the original design schematics of USS
-class, spaceframe built 2372. He found the deckplan and overlayed their combadge signals. "Should be deck five."
Rusty found a turbolift. "Deck five," he ordered, once his brother had stepped inside. The turbolift whisked them deeper within the ship and deposited them twenty meters up the corridor from sick bay.
They walked in and were greeted by LCdr. Dr. Maria Espinoza. "Good morning boys. Don't tell me one of you bumped your heads already?"
"Just looking around, Maria," Jesu assured her. After Carlos LaRoca - their father - had retired from Starfleet, he and Maria had dated for a while. They had considered marriage, but Maria was fascinated by Carlos' tales of adventure and decided to apply to Starfleet Medical Academy. Now, some twenty years later, she served with her would-be stepsons as chief medical officer.
Rusty walked straight into the medical laboratory. The equipment had all been updated, and the furniture was rearranged, but the room was still there. And the workbench in the middle remained the same. "This is it. This is where I hatched."
Rusty was the product of a Dominion genetic experiment. During their war with the Federation, they had managed to capture a handful of female Deinons - reptilian mercenary super-soldiers that had so far slaughtered the Jem'Hadar in every engagement. The Dominion scientists had harvested egg cells from the Deinons and infused them with Cardassian, Vorta and Jem'Hadar DNA in hopes of breeding a more docile and faster-growing race of Deinons for themselves. The
had been assigned to transport the Deinons to wherever they were needed most, and when Captain Sander learned that several of the soldiers had been captured, he dispatched an away team to recover them. Lt. Carlos LaRoca had led the rescue party. They discovered the Deinons all dead, and their genetically altered progeny stillborn. All but one. Rusty had somehow not received any Jem'Hadar genes, and was still viable. Carlos LaRoca had brought the lone survivor back to the
The Deinon society is patriarchal, and a child without a known father has no status. The leader of the Deinons recommended that the egg be destroyed. Carlos decided instead to adopt the hatchling. And so he and Jesu had stood together in the medical lab and watched the altered baby Deinon push its way free of his egg. They named him LaRoca Rusty, in Deinon tradition, after the color of his scaly skin.
"How much do you remember?" Rusty asked his adopted brother.
"I remember everything," Jesu told him. "I remember being startled by the first crack you made. I remember the cry you made after you took your first breath. I remember Dr. Christie picking eggshell off your face. I remember Nurse Sharma scrubbing you in a towel, worried that your skin color was actually blood. I remember dad holding you - he was so worried for you. I remember reaching in to pet you, and you grabbed my finger. I remember how strong your grip was. And I knew then that as you grew up, that you would always be there to protect me. And so far you always have."
The chief security officer nodded. "And I always will." Rusty turned away and announced "I'm done here. What do you want to see?"
Instead of answering, Jesu looked at the PADD, and led the way back to the turbolift. "Deck eight," he ordered. When the turbolift opened again three decks lower, Jesu walked around the corridor too the forward starboard quarter. He stared at his PADD, walked up to a bulkhead, and stopped. "This is it," he said softly.
"Where are we?" Rusty asked.
"My old room," Jesu told him, showing him the PADD which displayed a stateroom suite in place of the corridor and the phaser relay beyond the bulkhead. "I'm standing where my mother died."
Actually, the deck plate where his mother had died had been blown out into space, along with Christina LaRoca, twenty-six other people, and a good chunk of the underside of the
's saucer, as a result of the ship striking a Jem'Hadar subspace mine. They were the first victims of the Dominion War. Jesu had been walking home from school when suddenly empty space replaced his home. He was nearly sucked out, but was saved by an emergency forcefield. He was four years old.
Jesu tapped at the PADD to display the
's current design configuration. With her larger saucer, the staterooms on deck eight were all pushed to the outer corridor, fifty meters from where the LaRocas were standing. Jesu sighed and walked to the nearest turbolift.
Rusty followed, but kept his distance until they reached the lift.
"Bridge," Jesu ordered.
"Do you want to... talk about it?" Rusty asked, sensing his brother's tormented emotional state.
Jesu shook his head. "I barely remember it. Or her," he lied. "Thirty-five years is... a long time."
The turbolift opened onto a scene of controlled chaos. The lights had been dimmed, display panels glowed red, officers at their stations barked orders and repeated orders and tapped furiously at their LCARS interface panels. The viewscreen showed the reason for the frantic activity and the red alert - a Borg Cube was trading fire with
. The exploded remains of a second Cube drifted nearby, and Type-16 Peregrine fighters darted everywhere, adding volleys from their phaser pulse cannons and quantum torpedoes to the brutal onslaught from the
Standing in the middle of the bridge, directing the battle, was the Klingon first officer, Cmdr. Marq son of Breq Sander. Technically he was only 9/16ths Klingon, but that was enough so that when he told a bridge officer to jump they would try to hit the ceiling. Marq was also the grandson of the
's first captain. That made her "his ship" too.
Marq glanced at the turbolift as its doors hissed open and nodded to the Admiral. LaRoca signaled him to continue the exercise. Marq did. "Shield status?"
"Seventy-six-point-eight percent forward, sir," replied Ensign Boris Erebia from the shield distribution station. "Redistributing to compensate."
"Engineering, stand by to transfer emergency power to shields," Marq ordered. "Damage control, report!"
"Hazard emitters are keeping the plasma fires in check," replied the Bajoran science officer, LCdr. Yoann Teena. "The hull plating has autopolarized and structural integrity is at ninety-two percent."
"Alert me if it drops below seventy-five. Target status?"
"Target's shields are weakening," Cmdr. Traa'cee responded. "I estimate they will be down in eighteen seconds."
"Prepare high-yield torpedoes, lock on the main energy node, and fire on my mark," the Klingon commanded.
"Aye sir," Ens. Mitiani Zain acknowledged, with a malicious grin on her face. The Cardassian enjoyed her job perhaps a little too much.
"Sir, they are attempting to lock on with a tractor beam!" Traa'cee called out from TacOps. The Vulcan tapped her panel. "Reversing shield polarity."
"Confirmed," Erebia and Lt. Yumi, the Ferengi engineer reported in chorus.
"Helm, engage attack pattern omega-one, and get us a clean shot on that energy node."
"Easier done than said," Lt. jg. Stikvaa replied with a smirk. His clawed fingers danced over the conn panel and the Gorn defector rolled the ship into a tight corkscrew.
"Target's facing shields are down!" Traa'cee announced.
Zain had already keyed the command. Half a dozen bluish orbs streaked toward the Cube, joining the continuous phaser fire, and detonated deep inside Borg vessel's structure. The zero-point energy inversions wrought untold havoc within the massive geometric form. To those on the
the only evidence that they'd exploded at all was white light shining through the black-and-green body. But then plasma relays and energy infusers started to blow out all over the huge shape. A staggered chain reaction of explosions rocked the Cube, building toward an inevitable climax.
"Recall the fighters and brace for impact!" Marq shouted, gripping the bridge rail in front of him. On the viewscreen, one of the Cube's parallel warp cores went nova, annihilating the huge ship with a multi-gigaton antimatter explosion.
Jesu had to forcibly restrain himself from laughing with giddy, childlike delight. He reminded himself that it was only a simulation - that the
was still in spacedock and had not actually just completely demolished a pair of Borg Cubes with almost casual effort. Still, simulation or not, it resulted in a beautiful explosion. Jesu loved explosions.
Marq sighed with satisfaction. "Secure from combat drill. Well done, people. Admiral on the deck!"
The bridge officers started to rise to attention, but LaRoca waved them back. "As you were, please. And thank you for the show."
Marq sat in his chair and checked his readout display. "Very good work, beta shift. You showed six percent improvement in combat effectiveness over the last excercise, and were two percent more effective than alpha shift. However, Ensign Zain, you did hear me say 'Fire on my mark' did you not?"
"I believe you jumped the gun by half a second."
"I... anticipated your command. Sir."
"Unless you somehow develop telepathy I expect you to hold your fire until it's called for. Understood?"
"That is all. Gamma shift, your turn!"
Officers left their seats and were quickly replaced. Traa'cee and Stikvaa were replaced at TacOps and the Conn by Lt. Pakray and Ens. Dusty Massimino. Pakray greeted the man taking the seat to his right in traditional Tellarite fashion - by complaining and trying to provoke an argument. "Your hair is too shiny, and you smell funny."
"That's probably because I took a shower recently. You should try it sometime," Dusty retorted. "Seriously, you stink up the entire bridge."
Pakray laughed loudly and slapped his human colleague's back. "Very good!"
Jesu looked on with a feeling of immense pride.
A ship is nothing without a crew,
and I have a fantastic crew.
He spoke aloud "Well, Marq, I think I will leave you to conduct battle drills while I settle into my quarters."
"Very well, sir."
"I'll expect an operational readiness report by no later than twenty-two-hundred hours."
"You'll have it sir."
Jesu LaRoca returned to the turbolift.
"Deck two," Rusty ordered, and the lift hummed quietly down its track.
They adjourned to their adjacent cabins. Jesu found that the crewmen from the shuttlebay had already unpacked his belongings. He rearranged a few items, pulled a book off a shelf and placed it on the bedside table, and sat down on the end of his bed. He stared at a painting on the opposite wall. Painted by William Trost Richards in 1884 and titled simply
; it was a huge seascape nearly four meters across, featureless apart from tossing waves, boiling clouds, and in the center of the vast canvas, straddling the horizon, a very tiny spec of a three-masted warship. LaRoca stared at the ship. It was his not-so-subtle reminder that no matter how lost at sea he felt, his ship was his home.
It's good to be home.
"Freedom is just a pretty idea unless it's backed by Force."
The Masterverse Timeline
Ten Forward Fanfics
Last edited by sander233; 04-18-2013 at
. Reason: Added lyrics