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Career Officer
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,312
Keep this on your mind
Keep it within your eyelids...

We have ascended countless stairs
Perhaps it has interrupted our thoughts
Regret is an inception
Regret is a beginning

Miles and miles of wires
Build the apparatus
But don't mistake
Power lines for shelter
I forgot
And it will more than likely
Happen again...

Drink and binge the waters of the sea

Don't climb for a lifetime
Only to fall short of infinity
Everything is left with faith
Some minds are sand but I
I prefer concrete

This is what is going to separate us from them

Time for the next chapter...


Mike Hranica and Jeremy DePoyster of The Devil Wears Prada - "Gimme Half"




PREAMBLE: REGRET IS A BEGINNING




Personal Log, Vice Admiral Jesu LaRoca, Stardate 88188.11


With a temporary cease-fire in place following the rather... interesting results of the Risa summit, the Tiburon is patrolling the neutral zone to assess the strength and loyalty of the border colonies. Our objectives are to determine the risk of another Moab-type system-wide defection, and to take steps to mitigate such risks. On a side note, Cmdr. Traa'cee remains in a coma following her encounter with a Romulan neuroprobe. She is being treated at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital in K'Lan-ne, on Vulcan. Acting Lt. K'Jetsk is with her, working with doctors and researchers to devise a treatment. Though unhappy about leaving her behind, Hacksaw Miller has agreed to accompany our patrol to provide strategic support for our objectives. Traa'cee's replacement meanwhile is having a difficult time assimilating with the crew. Lt. H'mL'n is a cultural exchange officer from the decidedly isolationist planet of Pentaxia. She is friendly enough, but has shown a marked disregard for the chain of command. While I must confess I have not had time to study her culture, she has made little if any effort to embrace ours. Alpha shift gets off in an hour. I plan to have a discussion with her then. Perhaps Marq could-


Jesu LaRoca looked up from his desk. The lighting flashed red, and the intercom simulated a klaxon to announce this was a real red alert and not a drill. He jumped for the door and stepped on the bridge.

"Admiral to the-" Cmdr. Marq Sander had started to call, when he spotted LaRoca approaching his seat. "Nevermind."

"What do we have, Marq?"

The first officer pointed to the viewscreen. "I've never seen one before, but I believe those are Fek'Ihri ships approaching on an attack vector."

"I have six contacts, unknown power signature," H'mL'n reported from TacOps. "They do correspond in shape, composition and EM emissivity to Fek'Ihri vessels such as those previously encountered by the USS Smedley Butler on Stardate-"

"Thank you, Hamlin," LaRoca interupted. "We get the idea."

"Sir, this battle group threatens multiple nearby inhabited systems," Marq observed, "including Ajilon, Moab, Seedea and Trimble. What are your orders?"

LaRoca sat in his command chair. "They are on an intercept course, are they not?"

"Correct, sir," H'mL'n confirmed. "Time to intercept, forty-seven seconds."

"Drop out of warp, raise shields, deploy fighter squadrons and shift reserve power to weapons," the Admiral ordered. I've already beaten the living dead, he thought, his mind drifting briefly toward Defera. He focused on the evil-looking ships on his viewscreen. "Let's see what these ghosts are made of."

* * *

Floating somewhere nearby, as silent and dark and cold as space itself, a little ship watched.

Enemy-Infrared contacts, course deviation, now heading oh-three-two-mark-plus-four...

She plotted seven hundred and sixteen possible targets along that new heading with a variability of plus-or-minus three degrees and isolated the most likely candidate.

Contact Enemy-White, squawking standard Federation transponder signals, identifying NCC-68636 USS Tiburon... targeted by Enemy-Infrared contact group with a probability of 93.9751%...

She called up memory files on the Tiburon, her commanding officer and senior staff and ran forty thousand combat simulations in the span of a microsecond, accounting for all known variables. She didn't like the results.

Survival probability of the Tiburon is 85.76%, but projected casualties are estimated at 36.24% of total crew with a 28.93% probability that V.Adm. Jesus L. LaRoca will be among the fatalities. That is unacceptable. Engaging.

While she waited for her warp drives to warm up, she allowed herself to consider about a hundred and sixty thousand different ways the fate of the galaxy would play out if Admiral LaRoca was removed from the equation. The results were negative in 98.9284% of the simulations.

No, that is completely unacceptable.

* * *

Oh, that big ship in the middle of the formation that looked like a hideous apartment building with fins certainly looked scary enough, but it was out of range for the time being. And the four smaller ships that looked like hell's version of box kites were annoying, but not too intimidating. The only thing that really scared LaRoca at the moment was the fangy little attack ship that was spraying cohesive anti-proton pulses all over the place. It had already taken out two of his fighters. The crews had beamed back aboard safely, but he did not want to take chances. He recalled the fighters and tucked them into the sheltered space between the Tiburon's warp nacelles. The evil Klingon demon warship responded with a withering barrage from its anti-proton cannons, reducing the Tib's forward shield strength by half with some minor bleed-through damage.

"Lock all weapons on Edward Scissorhands over there and let him have it," LaRoca ordered his tactical team.

Lt. "Numbers" Marsolek responded to Scissorhands in kind, concentrating the combined firepower of the Tiburon's quad phaser pulse cannons, dual heavy cannons, and twin turrets to strip away the enemy's shields. He followed the barrage with an overloaded shot from the phaser beam array, punching a hole clean through the Fek'Ihri cruiser's superstructure. Lt. jg. Mitani Zain capped it off with a quantum torpedo right down that hole. A good chunk of the vessel disappeared in a white flash, and ugly red flames burned it from the inside out.

"Sir!" H'mL'n spoke up. "The Smedley Butler's after-action report indicated that Fek'Ihri vessels carry tricobalt devices, which could explode when-"

LaRoca only heard the words "Tricobalt" and "Explode." He snapped at his helmsman. "Sticks! Back us up, full reverse! And pitch the nose down sixty degrees."

Lt. Stikvaa had already started the evasive maneuver. "If somebody could please divert auxiliary power to the inertial dampeners, that would be very helpful," the Gorn requested.

"On it!" called LCdr. Yumi from the engineering console.

While the Tiburon underwent a twenty-three-G rapid vector change, LaRoca used his HUD command interface to place his Peregrine-type fighters in the protected zone under the saucer, with plenty of space cushion so they wouldn't be pancaked into the ship when the shockwave struck. "All hands, brace for impact!"

The unholy fires that raged through the Fek'Ihri cruiser inevitably reached whatever that thing used as a power source. It went up in a fairly sizeable explosion, but that was just a primer charge for the tricobalt devices that followed with a staggered sympathetic detonation. The shockwave hammered the Tiburon, but the shields, structural integrity field, auto-polarized hull and inertial dampeners all worked to hold the ship together and protect her crew. And the fighters were tucked in soundly under the saucer's shadow. One of the box kites had gotten too close to its bigger, uglier cousin and had been vaporized.

"Damage report?" La Roca demanded.

"Minimal," LCdr. Yoann Teena reported from her station.

"Target the box kites, prepare to-"

"Sir!" H'mL'n cut the Admiral off. "Look!"

LaRoca would have let Marq give the exchange officer a strongly worded lecture on proper bridge etiquette but he and the rest of the bridge crew were mesmerized by what they saw on the screen. The finned apartment building was launching streams of... things at them. Some could have resembled fightercraft from a neo-cubist frame of reference, but the others... "What the hell are those things?"

"Whatever they are, they're coming in fast," Marq observed.

LaRoca looked over at Lt. Marsolek. "Don't just sit there, shoot them!"

Numbers sprayed the enemy craft with phaser fire. The fighter-things were shot down in droves, but the glowing red things with faces and claws were unaffected. They passed right through the shields and started assaulting the hull, ripping at it like cats attacking a paper bag.

"Hull breach! Deck E three port!" Yumi reported. "Another one, deck four, section twenty-"

"Sticks, get us away from theses damned things!" LaRoca ordered. "Zain, drop a mine trail. And Boris, try reversing the shield polarity - see if that keeps them off our backs."

"I can't get away from them sir, they're everywhere!" Stikvaa exclaimed.

"There's still a bunch of them clinging to the hull, sir!" Yoann reported.

LaRoca noted that Zain's quantum mines had destroyed a number of the red ghouls. He instructed his fighters to set their quantum torpedo warheads to minimum yield, and then very carefully pick the nasty things off Tiburon's back. The ship was rocked by the near-hits.

"What the - our own ships are shooting at us!"

"It's okay, Hamlin," LaRoca assured his tactical officer. "Teena, are they gone?"

"That did it. They're breaking off from us and going after the Peregrines."

LaRoca ordered his fighters to warp a short distance away. "Miss Zain, press The Button right... now."

"But I was saving that for-"

"Now ******mit, NOW!!"

Lt. jg. Mitani Zain pressed the button that deployed the Torpedo Point Defense System. A moment later, no fewer than forty-eight concentrated antimatter reactions split the sky, annihilating the red demon-things, and anything else that happened to be within 10km of the Tiburon at that moment.

Marq exhaled a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding.

"Alright." LaRoca checked the HUD and issued his next orders. "Turn us back towards that carrier, and prepare-"

"Uh, sir?" Hamlin interrupted again.

Again LaRoca was again too distracted to enforce discipline. Because the Fek'Ihri carrier had just launched another stream of fighters and ephemeral beings at his ship, from behind him, and this time there was also a massive tricobalt device on its way. "Now that's just not playing fair," he said.

* * *

The little ship observed the battle with her long-range sensors. The Tiburon had performed well so far, better than over 93% of her simulations predicted. But the Starfleet warship was ill-equipped to deal with the enormous carrier vessel the Klingons called a Drek'Hi and what she classified as an Infrared-Dreadnought. The massive carrier launched its second wave seconds before she dropped out of warp. Seconds to prepare her response. Seconds that seemed like millennia.

I wonder how an ant feels when it's staring up through a magnifying glass? she pondered as she launched the slowest of her countermeasures - a sensor-scrambling probe. In five excruciatingly long seconds it would impact the dreadnought, causing it to target its own escort craft, and visa-versa. She ran a cross-referenced search on the words "ant" and "glass" through her library databank while she used a carefully modulated graviton pulse to create an artificial gravity well at a specific point in space. That point was directly in the path of the wave of death and mutilation rushing towards the Tiburon. S'kul-type fighters, the anomalous contacts that the Klingons supposed were the tortured souls of the dishonored and one high-yield tricobalt torpedo all fell into the gravity well together and died in a neatly contained little cataclysm. Her search returned numerous hits on the 19th-Century English author Lewis Carroll. She studied his novel "Through the Looking Glass" with great interest while she watched the dreadnought rip its Fer'Jai frigate-escorts apart with anti-proton beams and chroniton torpedoes. She was disappointed to discover no reference to her question about the ant.

The dreadnought finally took notice of her and its guiding intelligence sent her a nasty screaming worm of a program. She intercepted it, suspended it, dissected it, repurposed it, enhanced it, and sent it back the way it came, to chew its creator up from the inside out. She waited until the malicious program disrupted the dreadnought's shield grid, and then she fired her weapons. All of them. As she watched the spread of quantum torpedoes impact her target, she decided that however the ant might feel under a magnifying glass, it must be very similar to how whatever commanded that Fek'Ihri ship must feel now.

She left the Infrared-Dreadnought to die and turned her attention toward the White-Heavy-Escort-Carrier. It had survived the engagement with surprisingly little damage. She felt its sensors probing at her hull. I'm afraid I can't allow that, she thought. I was never here. I exist only as a figment of your imagination. She prepared her deflector array to fire a subnucleonic beam. You're only dreaming me here, O Red King. The moment you wake up, I shall cease to be...

* * *

"Oh my holy God on fire," LaRoca muttered. He stood up and demanded "Did that just happen? Did that little Miranda just-"

"Sir!" H'mL'n interrupted, yet again. "It's targeting us!"

A beam of blue light from the Miranda's deflector lanced out at the Tiburon's bridge and then... LaRoca found himself slumped his chair, the bridge dimly illuminated by emergency lighting and flickering consoles. Gradually he became aware of his bridge officers shouting things at him. Things like:

"Shield distribution is down, hell, scratch that - shields are totally down..." - Boris.

"We've lost sensors, weapons power, shield power now, auxiliary's not giving me anything..." - Hamlin.

"...No helm control! I don't even have thrusters. We're drifting..." - Sticks.

"...No sensors, no target lock. No target lock, no explosions..." - Zain.

"...I can't get through to engineering, or anyone..." - Yumi.

"...Damn virus is just eating through our systems like our firewalls are made of paper..." - Teena.

LaRoca leaped to his feet waved his hands and yelled "SHUT UP! Everybody just shut up for a minute." They did. The Admiral walked right up to the viewscreen, which had been depolarized and was now functioning as a mere window. But since Human senses appeared to the only functional sensors aboard his ship, it offered the best way for him to get a look at his nemesis.

It was definitely a Miranda-class frigate. But it had clearly been subjected to a thoroughly modern retrofitting program. The oversized warp nacelles looked like they'd be better-matched to his ship than a century-old light cruiser. He'd seen the Miranda's weapons in action - clearly a massive upgrade over the original systems. And the utter havoc it had wrought with both the Fek'Ihri and the Tiburon... And yet the frigate looked like it should be falling out of the sky. It showed several hull breaches and most of its veiwports were unlit. Its paint had at one point been a bright glossy white, but that had been covered up with a layer of matte black. Its paint had been burned off in streaks on the saucer and crossbar. He could see part of a name and registry number under the black paint. Cyr__o__al... NC__18__1. Elsewhere he saw a new designation stenciled in light gray over the black paintjob: NX-86. This was the ship that held his at mercy.

"Hail them," he ordered.

"Sir, I can't!" Hamlin replied. "Comms are down too."

"Well then crack open a window and wave a white flag."

The lights came back on. LaRoca heard and felt power surging through his ship to the consoles.

"Admiral, all systems are normal!" Yumi announced.

"Raise shields, lock all weapons on that ship, and-" NX-86 backed up and turned away from the Tiburon, formed a slipstream bubble around itself, and disappeared from normal space. LaRoca sighed. "Nevermind." He turned around to face his bridge crew, pointed with his thumb back at the empty view screen and asked "Can anyone please tell just what the **** was that?"

* * * * *

Continued . . .


"I won't try to hide behind the Law if what I stand for is what's Right."

The Masterverse Timeline / Ten Forward Fanfics

Last edited by sander233; 09-08-2013 at 06:39 PM. Reason: timeline