Commander Rose Sharon
U.S.S. Robert April
OK, so I'll admit - I said some things at the conference I shouldn't have. I can understand why they put me on psych leave. Really, Doc, I'm not one of those people who are in denial about having problems. I know I have problems, sure. I am a human woman of the 24th, excuse me, 25th century. However angry I am, it's not appropriate to make disparaging comments about how my colleagues dress, or look, or act. If it was that bad, the Admiral wouldn't have asked for me back after a month, right?
But you've gotta admit, Doc, they were really testing me on this one. I mean here they were supposed to be showing us that new Oddy, the U.S.S. London, fighting the Klingons out at Starbase 24. So imagine my surprise when they flash a freaking Borg ship right there on the screen! Big, beautiful Odyssey class, just smeared all over with this glowing green puke, crusted up on the impulse engines, the shields, the deflector dish, firing these shipkiller plasma torpedoes like one of those Unimatrix ships. So I got up and I said a few things about how their ship looked, and then things escalated from there...
Yeah yeah yeah, I got started on an old Miranda doing the Alphacent run, believe me - I know it doesn't matter how pretty a ship is if it can get the job done. But don't you think it's just a little suspicious? All these ex-Borg, all these Four of Tens and Seven of Nines, just showing us how to strap Borg technology to our hulls? Just sticking it into our ships like so many nanites eating away at our brains? Am I the only person in Starfleet who thinks this is insane? For pity's sake, go get jacked up with those new antiproton big guns the new fleets have, or some of that Romulan or Reman tech - why in the name of space do we have to turn our ships into _their_ ships?
And another thing - why do they keep those names? Those Borg designations, those things just shoved into their brains by cyborg ghouls when they were kids, or with the Collective long enough to get changed all the way. It's suspicious, if you ask me, mighty suspicious. You know a lot of them didn't even go through the Academy? How many of them are just roaming around Federation starships, sticking their fingers and their nanoprobes into the heart of our fleet, looking to rip out our hearts and put a cybernetic fist where they used to be? And you know, maybe there _is_ a reason so many of them strut around like that - lot of captains, girls and boys alike, they have a thing for the pretty alien girl who just needs to be taught how to be human...
No, I don't think there's anything unhealthy about my feelings! I'm nothing like them! It is not my fault what happened to me! You think I would walk around like this if I had any choice?! Our sickbay got so trashed in the anomaly Doc had to just shove me in an isolation chamber till we got back to Federation space, and by the time I got back they couldn't fix my face or...or the eyes. I was lucky to get my brain back, they said. And I have my brain back, dammit. I don't long for the Collective, I don't secretly pine for order and purity and voices in my mind, I'm not some psycho freak! My name is not Five of Seven - my name is Commander Rose Sharon of the USS Robert April!
I just want them to be dead. All of them, dead, everywhere - every last drone, every last ship, every last planet. Better to wipe them all off the face of the galaxy than let one of them live another hour. Maybe then I won't hear them anymore.
What do you mean, you can see we have a long way to go?
Lieutenant Commander Jennifreuz
U.S.S. Robert April
Here's the thing.
The stories Orions tell outsiders change every couple of decades. Sometimes we're a gynocracy, a society run by evil sex queens who use their pheromones to make their men, and alien men, obey our every whim. Sometimes our women are just a bunch of stupid animals, better used as sex slaves on the seedier planets than anything else. Sometimes we're a syndicate with lots of aliens that secretly runs half the quadrant. Sometimes we have an Emerald Empress, oh yes, and we're so much in bed with the Klingons that you just can't stand it. Sometimes we're liberated Starfleet officers who are just so happy to sleep with all the hunky men we work with, don't you know?
You know what all those stories have in common? Exploitation. That's the reality of being Orion, man or woman, in any century. People more powerful than you can buy you and sell you at their leisure, even off to aliens, and there's not a verdant thing you can do about it without betraying what we are. I think that, more than anything else, is why my sisters are so eager to show their bodies in a galaxy that's mostly adopted human and Vulcan modesty in mixed company. Showing that this (I saw you looking, pal - trust me, this isn't coming off) is _yours_ is sometimes all we really have, however much money we might have or how many people we have working for us.
I wanted more than that, what can I say? Sure, I can take a deep breath and knock men (and women, too, come to think of it) off their feet, or maybe just make Vulcans puke, but what kind of life is that? I want people to admire _me_, not my genes. So I joined our military, and we do have a military, by the way - Nausicans and Remans and everybody else raid Orion worlds when they can get away with it, just like we do to them. Up on the bridge, or working down with the boys in engineering, you can get dirty, you can smell like crap, you can walk around in a jumpsuit all day and nobody cares. Then we were on the Klingons' side and I thought sure, why not?
Why did I defect? It was simple enough - we caught this ship outside Betazed, real old passenger liner, nothing that should have been in space without an escort. Beamed in knockout gas, seized the bridge, and started raiding the cargo holds. Klingons went straight for the booze in the hold, I'll give them this they know their stuff, and I was up on the bridge helping crack the mainframe when Denva reaches down and touches the captain, this really svelte Betazoid, you know the type. And says "She'll be thirty, forty Lobi at least!" And I think to myself "Is this where we are? Is this where we are after all these centuries, just buying and selling and _stealing_ more people? Just using them like we've used ourselves, over and over and over again?"
So I tell Denva to get her hands off her, and she tells me where I can stick my pompous attitude, that if I want one there are plenty around, and when I look at her I see my father telling me that he didn't own himself anymore, that he had to go work for the Gorn who had bought all his debts from the Syndicate, and so I pull out my disruptor and I blow off her head. The Klingons down below hear that, they come up the corridor, and hit the chrono-mines I beamed in there. Boom.
And so when the April flies in, right after they got through with their big refit, there I am on the bridge, the big hero turncoat who rescued this ship full of people from the Klingons, and the admiral offers me a place on his crew. Says they can make it work with the exile government, the little remnant 'democracy' that the Federation still recognizes, that I'll be on his ship for an officer exchange program. So I can be an inspiration for other Orion that they don't have to fight for the Klingons anymore.
So I do it, sure, but it's not for why they think. I do want the Federation to win the war. I want to keep my friends safe, and help my fellow Starfleeters keep their ship from blowing up. And I do want my people free of the Klingons. But that doesn't mean I want them in the Federation, or with the Romulans or following any other star but Alnitak.
I want my people, man and woman, Empress and slave, to own themselves. It's time for us to be free.
Commander Abe Silver
USS Robert April
Look, I took three disruptor bolts to the chest the other day and I walked it off in about five seconds. Now don't get me wrong. I lost a lot coming through the anomaly. We all did. But it is a lot easier to do my job in an era of personal forcefields, portable cloaks, and sensors that let you see right through walls. Missions that would have taken two dozen men, half my security division, and probably sent them home in a body bag, can be done by just two or three security guards tagging along with the captain and me. Don't get me wrong - the job is still dangerous. I've lost some brave men and women since we got here. But man, I will take one death when it might have been ten any day! My only regret is that it wasn't me, but that's what happens with chiefs. We spend our lives in the most dangerous part of the service, fighting in the front lines of Starfleet, and then when we get a little rank we have to send young men and women out to do the fighting for us. Least I'm not the admiral.
Hey, I wasn't on the bridge when we went through the anomaly. Lhyla's a damn fine tac officer, and I don't regret leaving her in my place for a minute. The admiral made a judgement call and we followed it. That's part of the service. I was down in the armory doing checks on our rifles - the Type 3s were getting rotated out of the service even back then, but I just love those big clunky nadion-blasting boys! So when the call came out to board an alien ship in EV suits, I grabbed some, grabbed four of my deputies, and went over there.
Jesus, what a place that was. These cyber-zombies plugged in everywhere, some of them on fire from the fried electrical systems, plasma coolant in the air. Our armored suits protected us, but we couldn't even leave the room we were in. I saw one still moving, flailing around with its big grappling arm, so I stunned it and we beamed it back onboard for the engineering team to look over. Commander Sharon was so happy to get her hands on that thing, I remember she was smiling and sure we'd use it to figure out how we got here and how we could get back. She used to smile a lot, back then.
The thing was down and in restraints, but I still should have stayed in the lab. And it wasn't Kowalski's fault either. Everybody has to take a leak, and it wasn't her fault the thing got up and went for Commander Sharon the minute the doors closed behind her. Rose has guts. She hit the security alarm and sealed the place, then went for a phaser while Kowalski was hammering on the door to try and get in. Between her hand phaser, and Kowalski's Type 3, they took the thing down fast. But it had already gotten to Sharon, and that stuff just erupted out of her skin and she went for Kowalski, and luckily she didn't try to be a hero. She got out of there and sealed the doors again while Sharon was pounding on the door and yelling that she was Five of Seven and she was going to assimilate us all into the Collective.
(Remember, we had no idea what any of that meant back then!)
And you know what we could do about it? Bupkis. I put guards on the door 24/7 while Sharon's deputy, that Rigelian kid who took early retirement when we got home, got the warp drive running again, and I went in myself to subdue Sharon (couldn't phaser her by then, so I had to beat her down with the butt of my rifle) and get her to the medical lab for Kaav to do his thing. But that was it, no fights, no bad guys I had to deal with, nothing I could really hurt till it stopped being a problem. No Tholians to go mano-a-mano with here, no Gorn to punch in the cloaca. Just a sector full of monster ships, and my friend that got turned into a monster too.
But hey, we made it back through just in time to help save the Vega colony, so good for us! We lost a dozen people going in and out, not bad out of 700 people, and they even fixed up the ship so we're mostly all still together. I've still got my friends and my job. And the job is a lot easier than it used to be. I fight two or three Klingons at once, and I can take hits that would have killed me fast and not even drop out of the fight. We get new guys rotating in from off-ship, 25th century boys, and you're damn right I make them do drills with no shields and no emergency beam out, just so they know what it used to be like for security guards!
I just wish I could have done more. Solved more. Been more than just a guy in red with a gun. You can't punch an anomaly.
Commander Ljyhala Yltytaph
U.S.S. Robert April
Sixty Earth years gone. My parents died believing I'd been lost in the depths of space. My little sister, a zhen who was just a little slip of a thing the last time I saw her, is an admiral now. She wears science-blue, the same color as her skin, and says she went off into the service looking for me. She moved off-world when our chan died and left our family house to the government, who promptly used the land to build an expansion to the High Mountain Park. Nowadays there's a vending station in the place where I was born. I've been there - they sell that Cardassian swill, kanar, for cheap.
And yet with all that, I fixate on the ship. Maybe it's easier to do that, maybe it's easier to be angry about the Ambassador class, about our whole era and everything we meant, than it is to think about all the people and places that I've lost. The Ambassador was bad luck, you see - first Rachel Garrett's ship, then us, just five years later. Maybe there was something wrong with the design, maybe if they were going to send families, civilians out into space aboard starships, they needed something bigger, something stronger, something that could really take on the Galaxy.
You know, I heard somebody call our era the "Lost Era" when I was trying to catch up on all the history I'd missed. All the good, happy years between the two big bookends, Tomed and the Borg raiding those colonies on the Neutral Zone back before Picard fought them the first time. People on the comms, they talk about it as some kind of missed opportunity. Maybe if the Federation had kept pushing for military development, they said, they could have won Wolf 359, maybe they could have scared the Borg off. And maybe if they'd beaten the Cardassians for real the first time, instead of just squabbling over a bunch of irrelevant border systems, there wouldn't have been a Dominion War. And maybe if they'd won all that, maybe things wouldn't be like they are today.
You know what our era was? Our era was a golden age compared to this. Think about the 2340s for a minute - peace with the Klingons, a real, lasting peace, won by one of the greatest captains in Starfleet history, the Romulans in one piece _and_ neutral. The Borg on the other side of the galaxy, the Dominion some place nobody had ever heard of it. We called our ships Ambassador-class because we were supposed to go out into the galaxy and look for new life and new civilizations, to greet them as our partners in discovering the universe together. Maybe some of us had to be the tough ones, the warriors, the fighters so that the diplomats could do their jobs and stay safe.
But it didn't turn out that way. First they sent the big ships, then the warships when they got stomped on by some B'rel that was old when _our_ ship was new, then they sent the warships. Do you know the average starship these days is in more battles in its first five years than most of our ships were in twenty? And people act like it's nothing, like there's nothing strange about blasting a half-dozen warbirds out of the sky every other mission. Starfleet is colder than it used to be. Meaner. You'd think a tac officer, especially a daughter of Andor who grew up with an ice ax in her hand, would love it.
After we limped back to Starbase 234 and realized exactly what had happened, I came this close to leaving the service, I really did. Maybe if the Admiral hadn't kept us all together, maybe if he hadn't gotten the April refurbished, maybe I would have. But people wanted a symbol of a real victory, of some sign that we were the 'burning brand pulled from the fire' (to use one of Abe's phrases) But this is my ship, my home now, more than any place back on Andor. I'm more at home in a burning-hot human starship, bright lights in my eyes and my antennae twitching, than I am anywhere else.
The way I see it, we have to make this count for something. We have to _matter_ - and the way to do that is to go out into space with the idea that we're meeting new life and new civilizations, that Starfleet doesn't have to mean war, war, and more war. I'll help the diplomats, the scientists, the engineers here convince the Federation of that, even if I have to phaser every Undine in the Milky Way to do it. I come in peace, but I am prepared for war. That's what being a tactical officer is all about.
Rose Sharon reacted to her assimilation more like Picard than Hansen or Icheb - she was an adult when she was changed and it was a nightmarish experience that she is eager to purge from her mind. Seeing ships covered in Borg technology is an unsettling experience for her.
Jinni was my attempt to square the many versions of Orion society we've seen in Enterprise, TOS, DS9, and even the Abrahmsverse - maybe they're nothing so complex as a patriarchy or gynocracy, but just a brutal society where people exploit each other and sell each other into slavery. Some generations there are more women in power, some generations there are more men, but there's never a time when it's really that great to be Orion.
Abe likes the 25th century fine - it's a lot safer to be a redshirt in STO than it was back in the 24th century!
And Ljyhala Yltytaph has a bit of a chip on her shoulder about how her era is viewed by Trek history.
I agree with psychoticvulcan, these are really well-written so far! All of your characters have depth and personality, especially Rose-- I find myself agreeing with a lot of her sentiments, re: the use of strange weaponry and Borg crew/technology by the Federation in Star Trek Online, and just how odd all of that is. And as someone who semi-regularly writes an Orion chracter for a literary challenge, I really liked Jennifrauz's perspective.
Please keep them coming. I'm all the more interested now in the adventures of the temporally-displaced Robert April in a strange and scary new timeline.
Dr. Karatek, Commander
Chief Medical Officer
USS Robert April
I met Obisek for the first time when he came aboard our ship in the Haakona system. We are not a gregarious people by nature, but he put his arms around me and said in our language, ?Welcome home, lost uncle. I wish we could give you the greeting you deserve.? Looking back, I can see objectively the charisma that makes him such a leader of men, how a man born a slave could rise to co-ruler of a nascent civilization. But at the time, remembering my recommendation for his arrest only a few weeks earlier, I felt shame as cold and burning as raw dilithium in my breast.
I was the first Reman in Starfleet, indeed, I was the first Reman most of my fellow Starfleet officers had ever encountered. My people are insular by nature and were restricted to the Homeworlds by imperial policy for most of the era humans call the 23rd century. When Tomed came, we were kept even further from galactic civilization, and for much of the 24th century the ?shame of S?task? was so great, and our existence so restricted, that for much of the galaxy we might not have existed at all. The Senate must have been desperate indeed, in the long-gone days of the war against the Dominion, to press disruptor rifles into our hands and make us soldiers.
But I was long gone then. I am the son of a lost world that I never saw. Ch?Havran, S?task?s shame, Remus, the once-harsh but fertile world that became a cold, barren hellhole after centuries of overmining, the hearthworld of my mother and father - I never set foot on it. My parents were bodyservants to Admiral Kintok, who had the dishonor of serving as border commander during the Tomed Incident. They were the first to find his body afterwards - they simply took his shuttle, gave his passcodes to all Neutral Zone stations, and were in Federation space before the warbirds could chase them down.
I was born on Earth two years later in Reykjavik, where my parents had opened the first Reman restaurant in the Federation. We had good years there - my parents were prosperous and our home secure, and our faces strange enough to be merely novel to human eyes. The genetic engineering that had made us fit to live and work in the grimmest places of Remus, that had made us a subject of such fear and loathing among the Romulans who had once been our brothers...well, humans have strange prejudices. We let them see the faces that had inspired such shame among our brethren, but were silent on the changes that had wrought them.
I joined Starfleet to see the stars that had been denied my brothers and sisters across the Neutral Zone for so long, and so I did. I was a nurse aboard the Excelsior just before Captain Sulu?s retirement, served my first term as a doctor aboard the stalwart old Saratoga, and became chief medical officer of the U.S.S. Robert April five years ago. Well, five of my years - sixty-five of yours. I had what I wanted - a posting to a ship of the line, ever-changing stars outside my window, and a home of my own.
And then came the Azure Nebula, and the anomaly. Though I could have let a nurse do it, I tended to those rescued from Deck 14 after the hull breach. It was vanity - I wanted to do the work because I felt helpless, because we were adrift in the depths of space and I could do nothing about it. If I had left sooner, could I have saved Commander Sharon from the Borg drone before it infected her? Our psychologist would have it that we both might have been taken, and between the two of us been impossible to contain.
I cannot say. I contained Sharon as best I could behind medical force fields and bulkheads once Commander Silver brought her unconscious and altered to my sickbay, pumping in new anesthetic gases at every turn to keep her unconscious, to keep her from clawing at the walls to try and get at those of us outside. And, if I am honest, to silence her howls. I am told that some drones experience satisfaction from their connection to the Collective, that it is what passes for a spiritual experience for them. Isolated, her last memories of terror and pain, Five of Seven knew no such joy in its brief existence aboard our vessel.
And then we returned to the Tau Dewa sector and returned to Starbase 234 - and then the disaster. All of my crewmates lost so much in the anomaly - sixty years is half the normal lifespan of a Terran, much less some of the younger races, and so much had changed in the interim. The Federation seared by the fires of war in deep, painful scars, their families aged or gone, their worlds changed...
And my own dead. I did not feel like a Reman until I saw that world's pitiful remains floating in the depths of space, broken and forgotten, abandoned even before its destruction. The home that was ours, our world, is gone, and my people left scattered through the broken remains of the Romulan Star Empire. The news that our one champion was a mad terrorist wielding the same thalaron weapons whose construction had once scorched our sky and poisoned our air was not a blow so much as a final weight across my shoulders - the shame of S'task still burning hot even with our world gone.
But something new happened. Peace, cooperation, friendship - a Romulan republic where my people can live in peace with their brothers and sisters. Where we can all one day be Romulans again. Perhaps this future, for all its horrors, can have its victories after all. With the admiral's permission, I have donned the old costume of my people on-duty for the first time, wearing the colors and cape with pride instead of an ancient and barely remembered shame. It is a strange feeling. But I like it.
I wanted my Reman BOFF to be a time-traveler too, since otherwise it's a bit weird if there are too many 25th century types aboard. I liked the idea of somebody who had actually been accepted in the 24th century, only to fall out of the history books when his ship disappeared.
I also wanted to figure out where the Remans were in the 23rd and early-to-mid 24th centuries; specifying a particularly paranoid, restrictive Romulan government seemed like the best way to go. (When of course we know it's because Remans weren't thought of yet!)
A lost Reman Starfleet officer might be a figure that somebody like Obisek would (at least in theory) embrace, albeit still oppose if he was serving on a potentially enemy ship. No doubt the two actors would have had a lot of scenes together in an actual series!
Once I get all the BOFFs written up, I may start on the Robert April's version of the game, as when their attempted refit at the Vega colony got the Borg showing up _there_ too, and how then what was supposed to be a nice, easy mission for an old ship (ferrying a Vulcan diplomat from Vulcan to P'Jem) got out of hand really fast.
I must say, of this crew, to me Dr. Karatek comes across as the most sane and relatable. It's clear he's suffered from the stigmatization of the Remans--but I know that if introduced to this bunch, he's the one I would gravitate towards. I wonder if he's used to considering that he--who he personally is--is worth something?