Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,390
# 11
09-22-2013, 01:06 PM
Literary Challenge # 45 - Freestyle

BROTHERS IN ARMS

Vulcan, 2349

As he entered the austere apartment, Selek felt the chill of the environmental controls which kept the temperature at a constant 23 celsius. As always, his eyes were drawn to the massive oil painting on the north wall -- an original Lynch sea-scape of Caladan titled Storm. At certain times of day, sunlight would fall on the painting, imbuing it with an almost lifelike quality. He tried to imagine the world, where an over-saturation of nucleogenic particles in the atmosphere meant that it rained constantly, but despite the churning green ocean and streaked torrential rain in the painting, he was unable to visualise being in such an environment.

The main living area was deserted, but ambient, electronic music drifted from the speakers, so Selek knew that the domicile was not deserted. Placing his rucksack by a sofa, and turning away from Storm, he headed down the corridor towards the bedrooms.

Reaching the first of the bedrooms, he looked round the open arch, and saw his best friend, Marcus Kane, leaning over a workbench set up in the corner of the room, with enough tools and equipment to put an engineering lab to shame. Remaining focussed on the project before him, he nevertheless acknowledged Selek's presence.

"Nashaut, Selek," he said, not looking up from the work which occupied his attention.

"Nashaut, Marc, are you ready?" Selek enquired in Vuhlkansu, stepping across the threshold.

"Nearly..." Marcus replied in the same language. After three years on Vulcan, he now not only read, spoke and wrote the language fluently, but due to his lessons and ongoing mental re-training with Master Sovak, frequently thought in Vuhlkansu as well.

Selek noted the climbing and camping equipment already packed in a rucksack on the bed, and stood closer to his friend. Clasping his hands behind his back, he peered over Marcus' shoulder.

"What are you doing?" he eventually enquired.

"I was going over that map of the Sas-a-shar desert last night, and I thought the Plain of Blood looked an ideal place to do some hoverboarding," Marcus replied, not lifting his eyes from the upturned meter-long form of a Margera Slingshot as he deftly manipulated two sonic screwdrivers on either side of one of the anti-grav discs. "This hasn't been out of storage since we got here, and I needed to adjust the graviton output to compensate for the local gravity."

Selek raised an eyebrow.

"An interesting proposal," he admitted. "I anticipate it would be an exhilarating experience, but I do not possess a hoverboard."

"No problem, I've got you covered," Marcus replied, sitting back on the stool. "Ali!"

He paused a moment, but there was no reply, so he shouted louder:

"ALI!"

"What?" came a shout from another room.

Switching to Federation Standard, Marcus yelled:

"Selek needs your hoverboard!"

"Fine!"

Marcus looked to Selek and raised his eyebrow, before leaning back over the workstation and repositioning his tools.

"Just one more tweak of the power cells, and it'll be good to go," he said, reverting back to Vuhlkansu, as behind him, he heard the slap-slap slap-slap of his twin sister's bare feet on the heated marble floor as she entered the room.

"Hey, Selek, try not to break it," she said, slapping the deck of the pink and green Mattel Classic against the Vulcan's midriff.

Unlike Marcus and Selek, who wore locally produced lightweight hiking clothes, Alix wore a faded grey Lantic City Raptors T-shirt, and high-cut black denim shorts which left her willowy legs bare. She made a show of glancing at the chunky black bracelet of the Rolex Star-Dweller on her wrist and sighed. "It's nearly lunchtime, and I'm not doing extras, when're you f*gs leaving?"

"We are not homosexuals, we are friends," Selek stated.

"Two guys going out into the desert by themselves -- sounds pretty gay to me," Alix countered.

"She's just yanking your chain," Marcus told Selek. "She thinks she's being funny. Isn't that right, Ali?"

"Gramma Lieselle thinks I'm funny..." Alix replied, with the sullen pout that warned she was on the verge of becoming spiteful.

"Gramma Lieselle thought she was sitting on a commode the last time we saw her," Marcus recalled. "Now that was funny..."

"D**k!" Alix snapped, shoving her brother as he adjusted the gravitic compensator of her hoverboard, before turning her unnerving glare on Selek: "And you can stop laughing too!"

"I am not laughing," Selek pointed out, although he was inwardly amused by the mental image.

"Both of you can just f**k off!" Alix howled, storming out of the room, before yelling over her shoulder: "And don't break my board! It's f**king Vintage!"

"Thanks, Ali, love you!" Marcus called after her retreating form.

"F**k off!" Alix yelled back, before muttering. "Love you too..."

***

"I do not think your sister likes me," Selek said, as ShiKahr raced past the windows of the air-tram.

Both teenagers stood in the center isle of the air-tram, casually holding the overhead handrails, their rucksacks positioned between their feet so as not to inconvenience the other passengers. Marcus tilted his head contemplatively.

"Try not to take it personally, Alix does not like many people," he pointed out, realising that Selek deserved to know the truth behind Alix's hostility. "She gets jealous of others taking my time from her, but she can't help it. She was -- resequenced before we were born."

"Resequenced? Like an Augment?" Even with Selek's disciplined tone, his shock was clear in his voice.

"A similar procedure, but a very different outcome," Marcus replied. Aware that a few passengers had subtly shifted to better monitor their conversation, he specifically said: "Federation law allows for the treatment of genetic conditions. Alix suffered life-threatening genetic damage in-utero, which required resequencing to repair. She has none of the physical enhancements the Augments had, but she still experiences the same behavioural issues and social difficulties, albeit to a milder degree. If she truly disliked you, she would not have allowed you to take the hoverboard."

"I was not aware of that," Selek admitted. "I shall be mindful of that during our future interactions. Did you remember to pack the portable replicator?"

"I did, as well as two dozen Starfleet ration bars and a filtration canteen." Marcus said, before glancing at his own Star-Dweller as the air-tram slowed as it approached the next terminal. "We should reach Gateway within the hour."

The doors opened, and most of the passengers departed, to be replaced with a few new travellers.

"It is the Human weakling and his nursemaid..." a derisory voice said from the door, which made Marcus' blood run cold.

Turning, he saw Vonik, Stann and Serrak had entered the air-tram, and were aggressively observing him and Selek.

"I have nothing to say to you, Vonik," he said, focussing to keep his breathing even, and deliberately turning his back to the bullies.

"Only because you know I speak the truth," Vonik insisted. "Or are you afraid that I will beat you again, as I did before?"

Marcus turned to face his antagonist, his hands before him at his waist, his fingertips steepled together, pointing to the floor.

"You were only able to beat me before, because I was over-exerted and unacclimatised, thus unable to defend myself," he said calmly. "That will not happen again. I am accustomed to Vulcan's climate now, and have studied the va'sumi."

For all his apparent calm, Marcus' pulse raced as adrenaline coursed through his veins. He had indeed studied the Vulcan martial arts, but that did not change the fact that any one of the bullies had three times his strength, and could easily cripple, or even kill him, with a well placed blow.

"We accept your challenge!" Vonik declared, before launching himself forwards, his fists swinging.

Backing up, Marcus avoided the first two punches, but the third landed on his cheek, making lights flicker in his peripheral vision, and spinning him against the vertical handrail in the middle of the isle hard enough to knock the wind from him. Grabbing hold of the handrail and using it as a pivot, Marcus swung round and forwards, bringing his legs up and slamming the heel of his foot into Vonik's face. The Vulcan youth staggered back, tripping and crashing into a seat, where he then fell backwards onto the floor between the chairs.

Seeing Serrak grappling with Selek, Marcus moved to help his friend, when he felt pain flare in his lower left ribcage, as a hard blow landed from behind. His left leg went numb and he dropped to the floor of the air-tram, going down on one knee. In the periphery of his vision, Marcus saw Stann moving in behind him, and unable to regain his footing in time, he shifted sideways as Stann punched down at him, in a kneeling variant of the navorkot. Reaching out and grasping Stann's wrist, he stood, applying pressure to the back of Stann's elbow in an arm-bar technique, and using the Vulcan's own momentum to shift him off-balance. As Stann staggered forwards, Marcus' hand glided swiftly over Stann's triceps, up to his shoulder and neck, and he stiffened his fingers over the pressure points as Selek had taught him. After stiffening reflexively, Stann went limp, and he collapsed towards the floor of the air-tram unconscious. Marcus let him drop, and turned to face Vonik once more.

Using the seats to pull himself up from the floor, emerald blood streaming from his nose and mouth, Vonik stared aghast as Marcus stood firm, his fists still raised. He had never seen the to'tsu'k'hy employed by a non-Vulcan, and he began to realise Marcus was no longer the easy target he had been three years ago.

"There is another terminal in a few minutes," Marcus said, not lowering his guard. "Disembark with your unconscious lackey, and this need not go any further."

"That will not be possible," a stern voice said from behind Marcus.

Turning, he saw a dark-skinned Vulcan male rise from his seat, holding up a small PADD, clearly configured to provide a comm line.

"I have notified the authorities of this incident," Tuvok said. "You boys should be ashamed of yourselves for brawling publicly in this manner."

"Shame is an emotion," Vonik countered aggressively, attempting to draw himself straighter.

"On the contrary," Tuvok replied severely. "When one behaves unacceptably, one disgraces oneself. It is only a sense of dignity and self-respect which prevents one from repeating such acts. Do you respect your conduct this day?"

Vonik lowered his gaze.

"No, Master," he admitted, addressing the adult with the appropriate honorific for a teacher. "I apologise for my conduct."

"It is not I to whom you owe the apology," Tuvok observed.

"I apologise, Marcus," Vonik said.

"Forget about it," Marcus replied. "Just leave me alone from now on."

Vonik nodded silently, as the air-tram slowed and entered the terminal. He and Serrak stooped, and grabbed Stann under the arms, hauling him upright as the doors opened, and two security officers entered the carriage.

"Who precipitated the incident?" one of the officers enquired. The name on his uniform was Tonnek

"That boy," Tuvok said, indicating Vonik, who lowered his head.

"Has anyone been injured?" the other officer, Semok, asked.

"I am unharmed," Marcus replied. "The issue is resolved. Vonik has apologised, and I do not wish to press charges. I simply wish to continue my journey to Gateway with my friend."

"Why do you travel to Gateway?" Tonnek asked.

"I am a student of the Vulcan disciplines," Marcus explained. "My tutor, Master Sovak, suggested that I visit the Sas-a-shar desert. My friend, Selek, volunteered to accompany me as a guide."

"Is this correct?"

"It is," Selek vowed. "Marc is d'Vel'nahr -- he lives according to Surak's teachings."

Tonnek scrutinised the Human youth: He wore a student's robe over locally produced clothing which was well suited to hiking, and with his sleek, dark hair worn long in the style of Syrran, to cover the tops of his ears, he could easily be mistaken for a Vulcan at first glance. Tonnek nodded, satisfied with the explanations.

"Very well, you may continue on your journey," he said, before turning to face the three bullies. "As for yourselves, although no charges are being pursued, a reprimand will still appear on your files for disorderly conduct, and your parents will be notified."

***

Dusk had fallen, and Selek and Marcus were hiking through a gully with gently sloping sides.

"Are you still determined to join Starfleet?" Selek enquired. "Your grades would be enough to gain you entry to the science academy, and you would be able to study under some very prestigious engineers."

Marcus shook his head.

"Members of my family have served in Starfleet since the signing of the Federation Charter," he replied. "Engineers, scientists, medics, one even commanded an NX Class starship. I can't think of a better opportunity for a hands on engineering career, than keeping a starship operational."

"Unless you were to enter your father's business," Selek observed, but again, Marcus shook his head.

"It would be good to work with Dad," Marcus admitted. "He has always encouraged my projects. He didn't even object when I tried to increase the efficiency of the repulsors of his Ferraudi and corrupted the engine management system, but I think Starfleet represents the most rewarding opportunity for me. Working with Dad would be too theoretical, too corporate. Can you imagine me giving tours of the production facilities to his prospective clients?"

"Indeed, that might not be the best career for you," Selek conceded.

A high-pitched shriek tore through the deepening darkness.

"Sehlat!" Selek snapped, looking about in an attempt to locate the creature, which leapt over the crest of the gully. "We must reach higher ground!"

Rather than running, Marcus swiftly shrugged off his rucksack. His hands dove inside, and he pulled out his mother's Type II phaser pistol and a power cell. Slapping the power cell into the grip, he snapped the upper cowling forward and backward to prime it, as the sehlat bore down on them.

Raising the phaser, he snapped off a shot which brought the sehlat down.

"Is it dead?" Selek enquired.

"No, the phaser is set to stun," Marcus replied.

Selek turned to Marcus.

"We should leave swiftly, if the Sehlat recovers our scent, it will stalk us for the remainder of our hike.

"If we use the hoverboards, that might break the scent trail," Marcus suggested, removing the power cell from the phaser, returning it to his rucksack, and sliding his hoverboard from inside.

"I must admit, I have never ridden a hoverboard before," Selek admitted, taking Alix's hoverboard from his own rucksack.

"Nothing to it," Marcus replied, slipping his left foot through the throttle strap and fixing a flat rectangular clip to his belt and passing one to Selek, who examined it with a raised eyebrow.

"It's an orientation sensor," Marcus explained. "It interfaces with the onboard processor, and gives a reference point for your center of gravity to act as an additional axis. Without one, the boards have a tendency to slide out from beneath the rider during extreme manoeuvres."

"Will it help me stay on the board?"

"Not exactly... It will help the board synchronise to your weight and movements, but it is only the throttle strap which is keeping the board under your feet. An abrupt change of direction, and you will still be thrown off. Rotate your dominant foot clockwise to open the throttle, anti-clockwise to slow down, and flex your ankles to change direction."

"Rotate clockwise, rotate anti-clockwise, flex ankles," Selek repeated, clipping the sensor to his belt. "I believe I am ready."

"Okay, let's go," Marcus said, putting his rucksack back on, and pulling the straps tight.

With a practiced flick of his foot, he launched the hoverboard forwards, gliding up and down the sides of the gully to avoid some of the larger boulders, the cool evening wind blowing through his long hair as he raced forwards.

Aiming towards a clear section, he looked over his shoulder to see that Selek was following, his Vulcan reflexes allowing him to control the unfamiliar device without difficulty, as he skimmed over the undulating terrain.

***

Selek awoke to a fizzing, snapping sound. Pulling his shirt over his head, he opened the front of his one person tent, and saw Marcus crouched by the fire, cooking food in various pans. He looked up as Selek shoved his feet into his hiking boots and resealed his tent.

"Nashaut, Selek," he said, raising his right hand in the ta'al, as his friend approached the warmth of the fire.

"Nashaut, Marc," Selek replied, returning the gesture. "You said you had packed a portable replicator."

"I did, it's right there," Marcus replied, nodding towards the unit, while using a wooden spatula to manipulate the streaks of bacon frying in the pan next to thick patties of reddish-brown meat. A second pan to the right, contained fluffy scrambled eggs, while in a third, beans simmered in a thick, orange sauce. "Whenever our mother took Alix and I camping, she would always replicate raw food to then cook in the traditional manner. She said it was important that we know how to cook without access to replicators."

"I have eaten your sister's offerings," Selek observed. "Even with a replicator, her culinary skills leave room for much improvement."

Marcus nodded, a glimmer of amusement in his eyes.

"This is why I prepare all the meals," he said. "Would you like some bacon? There are bread rolls ready beside you, along with the following sauces: red, brown, American mustard, English mustard and tiger."

Selek nodded, and picked up the red bottle.

"What is next to the bacon?" he enquired.

"Sausage meat patties," Marcus replied. "Would you like one with the bacon?"

"I think I shall," Selek decided. "Flesh of swine is clearly part of the traditional Human camping experience. It is a misconception that all Vulcans are vegetarians, and it would be illogical to not partake fully."

Marcus used the spatula to first drizzle some of the cooking oil onto the split roll, then laid strips of bacon into place, swiftly followed by one of the sausage patties.

Selek used another spatula to scoop some of the eggs onto the top of the mound, then covered it with the top half of the bread roll. He took a large bite, and inclined his head appreciatively.

"Excellent," he said. "You were clearly attentive of your mother's lessons. If you cannot become a Starfleet engineer, you could always enlist as a chef."

"I had never considered that possibility," Marcus admitted, amusement clear in his tone, despite his training, as he began to prepare his own breakfast roll, and reached for the bottle of tiger sauce.

After a second course of eggs and beans, the youths re-packed their gear and smothered the fire. Selek looked up at the vertical rock wall of the canyon, then looked back to Marcus.

"What do you think?" he enquired.

"Summit by lunch, back down by sunset," Marcus replied confidently, reaching back into his chalk pouch and dusting his fingers.

"I agree," Selek said, moving towards the rock face, driving a fusion piton into place and then tying off a support rope. "I shall ascend first, having climbed here before with my father, I am familiar with the route."

***

Two hours and over a hundred feet above the canyon floor later, wiping rock dust from his eyes, Selek reached out to take hold of an outcropping, but as he shifted his weight, it crumbled away beneath his grip, and as if in slow motion, he felt himself falling back, away from the rock face.

Looking up, Marcus saw Selek plummeting towards him, and reacted instinctively. Taking a firm grip on the rope with his right hand, with his left, he reached out and grabbed.

He felt his fingers close on something solid, nanoseconds before an almighty pain exploded in his arms and shoulders, nearly causing him to black out. A terrible pendulous force threatened to rip him from the rock face, but he maintained his grip on the rope. Gritting his teeth and ignoring the sound of blood rushing in his ears, Marcus looked down.

He saw his hand clamped round his friend's wrist, Selek's fingers gripping his own wrist. Pain flared again from wrist to elbow, and his shoulder felt like it was on fire.

Selek's eyes were wide with terror as he shouted up:

"Do not let go, Marc! Do not let me fall!"

"I won't," Marcus promised, feeling something in his elbow twinge, and pain shot from his fingers to his shoulder. "There is a two meter wide ledge, one point five meters below you," he said. "You have to drop down to it."

"I cannot," Selek shouted back. "Do not let me fall!"

"I won't let go," Marcus promised. "But my arm is injured, and I don't know how long I can maintain my grip. You must cut your drag line and drop the kit, or the weight will pull us both to our deaths. You must hurry and regain your footing."

"I cannot!" Selek insisted, before admitting: "I am afraid!"

"Calm your mind!" Marcus insisted. "Fear is a choice, a decision. You must control it so it does not control you. If you do not drop to the ledge, we will both fall. You must calm your mind. Focus on your breathing: On the expansion and contraction of your lungs. Feel the calm replacing your fear."

Selek nodded and closed his eyes. For what seemed like an eternity, he remained suspended by Marcus' vice-like, but rapidly weakening, grip.

"I am in control once more," he declared, pulling a forward-curving knife from his belt and severing the drag line. Immediately, some of the strain on Marcus' arm was gone as the equipment bag dropped lazily toward the canyon floor, bursting open on impact, and scattering the contents across what had been their campsite. "I see the ledge, and can safely drop to it."

Selek released his grip, and Marcus did likewise, before sliding down the rock face to the ledge.

Immediately, Marcus released his grip on the rope, but was unable to raise his arm again to regain purchase, and he was forced to drop clumsily to the ledge.

"Now we're really in trouble," he sighed, leaning against the canyon wall.

"How severely are you injured?" Selek enquired, noting how Marcus' left arm hung grotesquely, his fingers contorted, stiff and claw-like.

Reaching across his body with his right arm, Marcus fumbled clumsily in the thigh pocket of his shorts and pulled out his PADD.

"There's a rudimentary medical app on here," he said, passing the PADD to Selek. "It's not as good as a medical tricorder, but it will give you a simplified diagnosis."

Scrolling through the apps, Selek activated the correct one, and held the PADD close to Marcus' torso.

"Your left shoulder is not only dislocated, but the muscles of the rotator cuff are torn," he announced. "The ligaments in your elbow have separated from the humorous, and there is damage to the tendons in your wrist. You have similar damage to your right wrist, but your right elbow and shoulder are merely sprained. I apologise for having caused you such harm."

Marcus shook his head, dismissing the apology as unnecessary.

"I couldn't let you fall."

"Your oxygen saturation is at ninety percent, you require tri-ox."

"I've not had a shot of that in -- how long have we been friends?"

"It has been nine hundred and eighty five days, since I intervened in your beating from Vonik," Selek replied. "I believe that would constitute the beginning of our friendship."

Marcus nodded.

"Then that is how long it has been since my last shot," he replied. "And even if we had any tri-ox, it would not enable me to climb down to ground level, my shoulder is too severely damaged. Use the PADD's communication app to send an emergency beacon."

Selek lowered his gaze to the status icons at the top of the PADD's screen, then looked back to Marcus.

"It has no data net connection," he said. "The geomagnetic instabilities in the region are notorious for interfering with technology at ground level. It is indeed an irony that the device functions, but is blocked from accessing communications frequencies."

"Every problem has a solution," Marcus rationalised. "Do you know how high the range of the interference extends above the ground."

Selek shook his head.

"Observation craft overfly the region, but at considerable altitude," he said.

"So we need to get a beacon off the ground," Marcus mused, looking to where his hoverboard had fallen from his rucksack onto the ledge.

"Could you modify the hoverboard to reach a higher altitude?" Selek asked, following his friend's gaze. "It could lift the PADD above the interference."

"We need to keep the PADD with us, to provide a visual beacon," Marcus replied. "But we can certainly raise a beacon above the interference."

Selek raised an eyebrow.

"What did you have in mind?" he enquired. "My PADD was in my pack, it was probably damaged beyond use in the fall.

"My watch is synchronised to a timing pulse from a beacon in the city," Marcus explained. "If you can reverse the polarity of the transceiver, we can use that to act as our beacon."

"You are the engineer, Marc," Selek said. "I cannot perform such modifications."

"You're going to have to," Marcus replied, pulling his sonic screwdrivers from his belt pouch with observable difficulty. "I can't use these with my hands messed up like this, but I can talk you through the procedures."

Selek nodded.

"Where do I begin?" he asked.

"Compress the sides of my watch, at the three and nine o clock positions, for three seconds," Marcus said, raising his right arm toward Selek.

With a nod, Selek took hold of the seamless black bracelet, and depressed the sides as instructed, counting silently. As he counted three, the turquoise hands and markers of the digital dial flashed twice, and the bracelet separated above the twelve marker. Selek took the watch from Marcus' wrist.

"You'll need to adjust the oscillating aperture of the sonic screwdriver to point four microns to open the casing," said Marcus, as Selek picked up one of the slender tools. "Then recalibrate again to point one micron, to reverse the polarity of the timing transceiver."

Selek nodded, and began to rotate the control collar of the sonic screwdriver.

***

Opening his eyes from his meditation, Sovak glanced about him. T'Reya was changing the oil in the torches which provided light in the rough-hewn rock walls of his sanctum, which allowed Sovak to know the time.

"Is Marcus outside in the monestary?" he enquired.

The slender priestess initiate turned to face Sovak, her head lowered deferentially to the kohlinar master.

"He is not, Master, nor have I seen him today," she replied. "His punctuality is usually impeccable."

Although he did not experience the emotion of concern, Sovak appreciated the gravity of the situation."

"Go to his home and ascertain the nature of his delay," he said. "He would not be late for a lesson without good reason. It is only proper to offer assistance."

T'Reya dipped her head in assent.

"Yes, Master," she said. "I shall leave for ShiKahr immediately."

As she left the meditation chamber, T'Reya experienced a pang of worry. In the three years she had known him, Marcus had proved to be a worthy pupil, absorbing Surak's wisdom through Sovak's teachings, like a sponge absorbing and retaining water. That he appreciated T'Reya's company was clear. He treated her attentively and with respect, never ogling her body, despite the diaphanous gown her position required her to wear. He was always willing to accompany and assist her as she performed her duties, both in the monestary, and in ShiKahr, frequently, and illogically, offering to perform deeds of heavy lifting, which with her superior Vulcan strength, she was not only more than capable of performing herself, but indeed better able to perform than the Human boy. Nevertheless, his sincere offers to assist T'Reya were endearing, and as she began the mile long hike across the desert from the monestary to ShiKahr, she found herself hoping that no misfortune had befallen her young admirer.

***

At the sound of the door chime, Alix got up from the sofa in the lounge, and made her way to the appartment's door. Reaching out, she tapped the control pad, and the door slid aside to reveal a Vulcan priestess standing in the hallway.

"Yes?" she said in Federation Standard. "What do you want?"

"I am T'Reya, of the Folu monastery," T'Reya replied in the same language. "Marcus has failed to attend his lesson with Master Sovak, and I have been tasked with locating him and discovering the reason for his absence. Is your father present? May I speak with him?"

Alix scrutinized the Vulcan woman before her -- She was slim and toned, considerably taller than Alix, with long limbs, and firm breasts which seemed almost over-sized for her slender frame. She was incredibly beautiful, but carried herself with a serene dignity completely oblivious of the fact.

"Dad's been working away, but should be home soon," she said. Her stomach knotted at the idea of Marcus being in trouble, but there was something soothing about the priestess' demeanour which Alix found strangely reassuring, and she made a sudden decision. "I like you, you can wait for him inside if you like?"

T'Reya dipped her head in acknowledgement of the hospitality.

"That would be most agreeable, thank you," she said, following Alix into the apartment.

When we have a guest, we offer them a beverage... Mama's voice echoed from her memory, firmly imparting simple but fundamental social niceties which Alix would otherwise have been incapable of considering.

"Would you like something to drink?" she asked. "We have loads of non-replicated stuff: Mountain Dew, Pepsi, RedTarg, Sprunk, uh, various blends of coffee, teas, bourbon, vodka, Dad even has a stash of Romulan Ale in his study."

"Mountain dew sounds quite acceptable," T'Reya assured Alix.

"Okay, I'll have that too," she said, opening a large bottle which hissed viciously with released carbon dioxide. She filled two highball glasses of the effervescent fluid and handed one to T'Reya, who took a sip, then inclined her head.

"Most refreshing," the Vulcan said, before taking a longer swallow, and another and another, rapidly draining the glass.

Alix smiled and raised the bottle.

"More?"

"Please,"

***

Allowing the autopilot to maintain his position in the air traffic, Paul Kane tapped his fingers against the steering wheel of his mid-22nd Century open-top air-speeder, in time to the syncopated beat of Take Five.

After two weeks on Storm Station, he was glad to be back on Vulcan, and looking forward to a quiet evening with his children -- not that they could truly be considered children anymore. Alix had started using cosmetics, and Marcus now had the demeanour of a two hundred year old Vulcan. Either way, they were still his babies, and while he had been off-planet, he had missed them immensely. He had attended the design briefing as a favour to his closest friend, Admiral Wesley Cooper, who had wanted Paul's input on a new torpedo system. The STS Program Manager, William Sander, had been convinced that a 'quantum' torpedo was merely an exercise in theoretical intellectualism, but Paul's equations and simulations had proven otherwise. Even though the Kane family had left Earth in the early 22nd Century for Caladan, their roots were from Boston high society. Sander, despite his position, was still very much the Seattle hipster, and an immediate East Coast-West Coast rivalry sprang up between the two engineers. Paul knew that Kane Industries had been a professional thorn in the side of Star Enterprises for decades, but now, that rivalry had become personal. To have an outsider come to his home field and make him look like a grade-schooler, had definitely not sat well with Bill Sander, especially not when Admiral Cooper had supported Paul's proposals...

The chirping of the onboard comm unit caught Paul's attention, and he reached out to tap the screen of the comm. A section of the forward windshield projected a translucent hologram of an attractive, but sharply-featured Vulcan woman.

"T'Jenn, what can I do for you?" he asked, immediately recognising Selek's mother.

"Sotek and I wondered if Selek was with you and Marcus," she said. "He has not returned from their camping trip to the Sas-a-shar desert."

"I'm not home yet myself," Paul admitted. "I've only been back on planet half an hour. I haven't had any messages from Alix, but I am on my way to the apartment. I'll contact you as soon as I'm home and know what's going on."

"That would be much appreciated, Paul, thank you," T'Jenn replied, before cutting the comm line.

"Call Marcus," Paul said with a mild frown. Almost immediately, the comm unit bleeped disconcertingly.

"Unable to make connection," the synthesised voice said. "Receiving unit is not connected to data net."

Could still be in the Forge, could have his PADD on charge... Paul told himself.

"Call home," he said.

This time, the comm unit was able to make a connection, but the call went unanswered. After thirty seconds of the link chirping, Paul reached out, cutting the autopilot and assuming manual control of the speeder. Gliding out of the commuting lane, he opened the throttle and with a roar of power from the central turbine in the forward hood, the aluminum-shelled air-speeder raced forward toward downtown ShiKahr.

***

When he entered the apartment, Paul saw something he could never have imagined seeing.

Bottles of Mountain Dew were strewn across the floor, while Alix and a Vulcan priestess were jumping around and yelling into a karaoke machine.

"One way, or a-notha! I'm gon-na find ya! I'm gonna getcha getcha getchagetcha!" they screamed in a strangely perfect harmony.

"What the hell's going on?" he demanded, trying not to laugh out loud.

At once, they stopped singing, and spun to face Paul. Alix grinned broadly, and ran towards her father, while T'Reya attempted to regain her dignity and hold herself straighter, as the backing music continued.

"Mister Kane, my name is T'Reya. Master Sovak charged me with ascertaining the reason for Marcus' absence from his lesson," she said. "Your daughter was good enough to entertain me while we waited for your arrival," she said, attempting to overcome the sugar intoxication.

"We've had the best time," Alix said, throwing her arms round Paul's waist.

"So I see," Paul said, smoothing his daughter's hair. "Go to your room, Kid, we'll talk later."

"Okay, Dad," Alix agreed happily, before heading down the corridor, not thinking to give her leave to T'Reya.

"So you're T'Reya," Paul said, as if experiencing a realisation. "I've heard a lot about you."

"Marcus is an attentive student, I am gratified to have made an impression on him," T'Reya said.

"Oh you made an impression on him alright," Paul said wryly, deactivating the karaoke machine

T'Reya's cheeks flushed a deep bronze, and she was momentarily taken aback, realising that Marcus clearly spoke of her frequently.

"I did not realise he was so -- enamoured," she admitted, somewhat taken aback, but not offended by the revelation. "I must also say that Alix was an excellent hostess. I am sure she did not intend me to become intoxicated."

"Well, we've all been there before," Paul admitted. "I see no reason to make Master Sovak aware of this. It's nice to see Alix interacting well with people other than family. I've really gotta find out what's happened to Marcus. You're more than welcome to stay while I make enquiries. It'll give you time for your head to clear before reporting to Master Sovak."

"Marcus has frequently assisted me," T'Reya said. "I will assist you in locating him."

Paul nodded, and headed to the comm unit.

"Call emergency services," he said. A moment later, the screen filled with the head and shoulders of an elegant Vulcan female.

"I am Investigator T'Mell," she said. "How may I assist you."

"My name is Paul Kane, my son, Marcus, has failed to return home from a camping expedition to the Forge. He was accompanied by his friend Selek, son of Sotek, who has also failed to return home."

"Thank you for your report, Mister Kane, I shall despatch a shuttle to investigate," T'Mell said. "Please remember that the Sas-a-shar desert is vast, and locating your son and his friend may take some time. I would request that you remain at home incase he should return, and of course, notify me if he does so, or otherwise makes contact."

***

Marcus was floating. At least, it felt like he was floating. He could feel his mother's arms around him, see her face smiling down on him as she sang.

"Don't eh-ver, be lone-ly, re-mem-ber, I'll all-ways care. Where-ever, you may be, re-mem-ber, I will be there."

He may have been able to control his thoughts and emotions whilst conscious, but his unconscious mind still refused to be bound by the Vulcan techniques he had learned, and as always, there was a shift from being cradled, to the rocking motion of lying on the shattered trimaran, watching helplessly as the raptor sharks tore his mother to pieces -- sacrificing herself, that she may sate their hunger enough to save her son's life...

---

Selek looked up from his meditations as he heard Marcus moan fretfully. He had been asleep in a foetal position for hours, the adrenaline having finally worn off, and fatigue taking over. His eyes twitched beneath his eyelids, and tears rolled from his eyes. Unsure of what else to do, Selek reached out and pushed Marcus' knee, using just enough force to wake him.

"You appeared to be in discomfort," he said, attempting to spare his friend's dignity by not pointing out that he had been crying.

"I was dreaming about my mother," Marcus replied, rubbing his wrist across his eyes, before looking about and realising that night had fallen. "How long was I out?"

"Nearly eight hours," Selek replied. "I completed the recalibration of the hoverboard's gravitic compensator and graviton generator three hours ago, and it is now maybe a thousand feet above our location. I also tied your rucksack to the base of the hoverboard with a climbing rope to act as a rudimentary anchor to keep it drifting too far from our location. The PADD has been set to flash every one point five seconds, which should be visible for several miles at this time of night.

"Good thinking," Marcus said, adjusting his position to sit with his back to the canyon wall. "Perhaps I'll make an engineer of you after all."

***

Sitting in the back of the med-shuttle, Selek turned to the medic.

"Will he be alright?" he enquired.

"His injuries will respond well to regeneration therapy," T'Lami replied. "He should recover fully."

"You saved our lives, Selek," Marcus said, rising up on his elbows. Raising his right hand, he attempted to make the ta'al, but the damage to his ligaments made his fingers tremble and flex randomly, unable to correctly position.

"Ti pla' t'hy'la," Selek said, reaching across to take hold of Marcus' hand with both of his own, separating his fingers into the correct position, then making the ta'al himself. Lay back, brother.

Last edited by marcusdkane; 09-24-2013 at 01:16 PM. Reason: Final Revision
Ensign
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 23
# 12
09-25-2013, 04:38 PM
Part 1 - Part 2 - Literary Challenge #41 - Call to Arms

x

After the briefing was over, Joanne made her way to her office. There was a call she had to make before they reached Deep Space X05. Sitting down at her desk, she requested a direct line to the U.S.S. Payne, impatiently tapping her fingers on the table until a stressed-looking diplomatic aide appeared on the screen.

"Get me the ambassador." Joanne said, not bothering with pleasantries.

The aide sighed. "I'm afraid that's not possible, Admiral. The ambassador is in a very important meeting and─"

Joanne leaned forward. "That was an order, Lieutenant."

The aide frowned, but nodded and walked out of the picture. A couple of minutes later, during which Joanne buried her face in her hands and tried to calm herself down, she heard someone say "It's your daughter, ma'am" and a middle-aged Trill woman in the white and gold of the Diplomatic Corps appeared on screen.

Joanne choked down a sob of relief. It had been silly and irrational of course to think that anything could have happened to Ambassador Eizann Roslyn so many light years away, but it still took a huge weight off her shoulders to know that her other mother was safe.

"Hey, mama." she said quietly.

"Love, what's wrong? What happened?" her mother asked straight away, looking for all the world as if she wanted to reach through the screen and put her arms around her daughter. "You are so pale."

Joanne's hands automatically went up to the spots on her neck and temple, a nervous habit that she'd been trying to lose since her academy days. Feeling all of ten years old and not much like a Starfleet Admiral at all, she shook her head. "I'm fine, mama. But I need to ask you something. It might be important."

"Go ahead."

"Do you know what Im is working on at the moment?"

Eizann frowned. "You know she can't talk about her work. Why?" When Joanne didn't answer, her mother moved closer to the screen, her face anxious. "What is going on, darling? Is Imberia alright?"

For a moment, Joanne was tempted to tell Eizann everything, but then decided against it. She didn't want her mother to worry, and most of all, she didn't want to make a promise that she might not be able to keep.

"Yes, yes." she answered quickly, knowing that her mother probably wouldn't believe her but would also understand enough to refrain from asking more questions. "I'm just... in a bit of a tight spot. I feel like I might be making a mistake, although I know that I'm doing the right thing. It's like... I wish somebody would tell me what to do!"

Eizann's eyes widened. "You're not going against orders, are you?"

Joanne almost laughed. That was the least of her problems right now. "No, no. But only because Admiral Holland is such a complete pushover, really." she said.

Her mother decided to let that slide. "And Corspa is with you? You can always trust her judgement." Eizann said.

Joanne looked away. It was true that she could always rely on her first officer, and Corspa had often enough given her a piece of her mind in a way that, on any other ship, would have gotten her thrown in the brig, even if she was usually right. But this time... Joanne was half-consciously aware that at the moment, Corspa was acting more on what she perceived as her duty to her friend rather than the ship she served on. Joanne refused to think about that too hard, afraid that acknowledging it would somehow make Corspa change her mind.

"We're good." Joanne said finally, giving her mother a weak smile. "Thanks, mama. I'll let you get back to work now."

Eizann nodded. "Alright. Please call me again as soon as you can."

"I will." Joanne said, then the screen went black.

x

Fifteen minutes out from Deep Space X05, Joanne, Corspa and ten of Corspa's best strike force members assembled in the transporter room. Doctor Siluur was going around from person to person, handing out immunosupport nanite hypos and stern advice. Corspa was personally checking everyone's armour and shield, and Joanne managed not to drop any of her equipment as she was putting it on. Her backpack was heavier than usual, containing, like everyone else's, a set of transporter enhancers, enough grenades and mines to make the team's combat technician a tiny bit nervous, and enough energy cells to power her phaser rifle for 8 entire hours, should that become necessary. She was still checking her kit and supplies when Corspa stepped on the transporter platform.

"Listen up, everyone!" She took a quick look at her wrist computer. "In thirteen minutes, we will emerge from behind the planet and beam over to the station as soon as we are in range. You all know what your jobs are. I'm your team leader today, and the Admiral will be our medic, as usual." Nobody batted an eyelid at this, since it was pretty much standard procedure for Joanne to stay in the rear and get hollered at for hypos whenever the Borg were involved.

"You've all read Admiral Holland's mission briefing. Forget it. We will only try to salvage the station's research when we have made sure that everyone on the station is safe and can be kept safe." This was met with a chorus of "aye, Commander", and nobody showed any qualms about ignoring the Admiral's orders like that.

Joanne was only half listening to Corspa when Siluur came to stand next to her and slipped two unmarked hyposprays into a spare slot on the Admiral's belt, accompanied by a profoundly disapproving glance. Joanne mouthed "thank you" at the Doctor, who just shook her head and left the transporter room.

And then, everyone got in position on the transporters and waited. It took Joanne all she had to keep from starting to pace and make everyone else nervous too. She almost jumped when the voice of Commander Taallir, who was in command of the ship while she and Corspa were gone, came in through the comm.

"We are now approaching the station, prepare for transport." There was a pause in which they could hear him giving orders, and then "Be careful."

x

The first thing that Joanne noticed when they materialized on the station was how dark it was. Not the green-grey darkness of Borg occupation or the quiet, comfortable twilight of the station's night cycle, but the total, heavy black of a complete systems shutdown. The temperature had already gone up as well, either from the Borg adapting the environmental controls to their liking or the station's dormant systems failing to pump excess heat into space, Joanne couldn't tell. She did, however, just catch the blue light of the Mutabor warping away through one of the windows. Turning away from the comforting sight of the stars and the limb of the planet moving beneath them, she tugged down her night vision goggles and got into position behind Corspa.

Their advance towards the centre of the station passed in a blur. They encountered the first drones two decks below where they had beamed in, and found the first station crew member five minutes after that. Every time they spotted a drone still wearing the white and blue uniform of the research staff, Joanne's heart skipped a beat, but none of them wore her mother's face. The grey station walls quickly gave way to the black, twisted pipes and consoles of the Borg, but it looked like they had been working their way up from the bottom of the station.

Two decks down further, the Borg modifications became impenetrable and they retreated until they reached a much quieter area, where they first found two researchers hiding in a maintenance shaft and then one of the two emergency doors leading to the panic rooms. It took Joanne two attempts to get the computer to accept her access code and open the plating over the door, and then they entered the airlock leading into the safe areas. While waiting for the lock to cycle through, everyone took off their goggles, blinking to get their eyes used to the yellow light after the green dim, and took deep breaths of the freshly recycled air, trying to get the stale taste of Borg infestation out of their lungs. Corspa talked quietly to the station staff they had picked up earlier, who turned out to have basically no idea about what exactly had happened and if anyone had made it to safety.

When the airlock door opened, Joanne was the first out. They stepped into a huge, multi-level area riddled with free-standing consoles, lab equipment, containers, labelled partitions, rows of vats covered with milky glass - and about forty station staff working everywhere. Apart from their tense gestures and exhausted faces, it was as if nothing bad had even happened. Then someone a level below them cheered, Corspa motioned the security teams around the room, and Joanne, barely keeping her voice from cracking, started calling for her mother. "Where is the director? Where is Doctor Roslyn?"

"I'm here, I'm here!" A Trill woman in a lab coat, clearly taken by surprise by the sudden commotion in her lab, climbed down a ladder to the level on which the team from the Mutabor had entered. Joanne thought her legs were going to give out when she spotted her mother, safe and unharmed.

"Jonna, how did you-" Imberia didn't get to finish her sentence as Joanne strode over to her mother and pulled her into a tight embrace, ignoring her kit painfully digging into her chest and everyone around them politely turning away.

"I was so scared, mum, I just kept thinking - what if - what if you'd been assimila- assimi- and it took so long to get here and- and-" Joanne's whispers faded as her voice failed. She felt the dread pour out of her with every breath, and the tiredness that came after an adrenaline rush and hours of being wound up so tightly settling into her bones.

Imberia took her daughter's face in her hands when she finally stepped back, smiling at Joanne. "I'm safe, everything's fine, Jonna, you made it, nothing happened to me."

Joanne nodded, taking long, deep breaths. She straightened her back and squared her shoulders as she felt the dignity and confidence of her rank return. Her mother waited until she could see that Joanne was herself again, and asked, "Now that you're here, Admiral, what is the plan?"

"We're going to get everyone out of here. The Mutabor is in system, and another ship is coming." Joanne said, waving Corspa over.

"How many Borg are outside? Can we make it to the escape pods?" Imberia asked, looking at her daughter and Commander Eide, who shook her head. "They have us surrounded completely. I would suggest that we shut off a route using emergency bulkheads and forcefields, flood everything with coolant and that way only have to deal with a limited number of drones but we can't do that with the power out and..." Corspa stopped when she noticed the look on Doctor Roslyn's face.

"Did you say the power was out?" she asked, paling.

Corspa nodded. "From what we could tell, they either shut it off completely or have rerouted it to suit their own needs. Why?"

Imberia rubbed her hand over her face, looking exhausted. "The armour has its own power source, but because it's so energy-intensive, that lasts only about six hours. The station's main supply is supposed to work as a back-up, just in case. We've already been in here for almost 4 hours..."

The silence that followed was broken by the sound of an explosion reverberating through the room. Everyone stopped what they were doing to look around, waiting anxiously. Less than a minute later, the sound was repeated, louder this time. An ensign from the Mutabor who'd been monitoring the defences at a wall panel called over: "Armour integrity has just gone down 4%, Admiral!"

"We weren't careful enough." Corspa said quietly. "We led them straight here."

"Open the coolant valves!" Joanne ordered. "That way we can at least get them off our backs for a while." The ensign nodded and turned back to the panel. The dull thudding of the Borg weakening the ablative armour was becoming more and more regular now, instead of cutting off.

Imberia swore under her breath. "They must have vented the tanks into space."

Corspa's face hardened. "Right. Let's get a move on, people!" She took Joanne's and her own backpack and, with the help of other officers and lab staff, started putting up the transporter enhancers. Joanne gave orders to use the emergency beacon to contact the Mutabor, and then started to rally lab staff towards the middle of the room. All of them seemed to be carrying some piece of equipment, a container or even whole memory cores, which were starting to take up the majority of space within the small circle of transporter enhancers. Joanne spotted her mother delegating people to take equipment with them and quickly walked over to her.

"We cannot possibly take all of this, mum." she said. "There are so many people here, it's going to be tight as it is."

"We have to take it. This research is invaluable, do you understand?" Imberia answered.

"It's not as important as everyone's lives!" Joanne almost had to yell by now, the noise of the armour slowly breaking down under the continuous assault filling the room. "Research can be repeated─"

"It took us years to get this far! If we lose it to the Borg now ─ at least beam it up after us! We can split into groups─"

Joanne shook her head. "We don't have the time. Get everyone in transporter range now, Doctor. That is an order."

Imberia just stared at her daughter for a moment, angry and unbelieving. Then her face closed off, and she did as she was told.

By the time everyone was in position, the station crew inside a protective ring of Corspa's team, their weapons raised, the lights had started flickering, and there was still no word from the Mutabor. Joanne refused to even entertain the thought that they had been attacked by Borg cube on their way back towards the station, and kept working on the emergency beacon, trying all known frequencies and comm protocols.

With a sudden finality, the noise of explosions stopped. It was followed by the distinctive, frightening whirring of the ablative armour retracting. The sight of the first drone breaking through the laboratory walls was thankfully clouded by the cool light of the transporters engaging.

They materialized in a cargo bay that clearly did not belong to the Mutabor, surrounded by security and medical personnel. The ship swerved as if riding a shockwave, making everyone hold onto each other, then stabilized. The captain's tense voice came in over the comm:

"Welcome aboard the U.S.S. Holloway. We burnt out our transwarp drive getting here in time and just had to chuck our core at the Borg cube. It took out the station as well, so it better not have been for nothing. Roslyn, you can start cleaning up this mess by towing us home."

x

Epilogue - three weeks later

"Hey mama."

"Hello, love. How are you?"

"Alright, I guess. Bit bored, really. Has Im told you what happened?"

"Yes, although she didn't seem very impressed with your punishment."

"We're stuck in the Khazan cluster with planetary surveys for the next two months!"

"You're lucky, you know that. It's a miracle you didn't lose your rank and ship."

"... I know. Admiral Quinn called me a 'well-intentioned idiot', and the rest of the board couldn't really decide whether they wanted to be happy that we got so many people out or angry that we lost mum's research... whatever it was."

"Judging by how cross Im is with you, it must've been very important."

"Yeah, yeah... I just... compared to how disappointed she is in me, justifying my actions in front of the board was a picnic!"

"Be grateful they were so lenient with you. You can't have everything."

"They're not done yet, though. There's going to be an investigation and another hearing to which Corspa, Commander Taallir and Doctor Siluur have been summoned. Something about neglecting their duties with regard to, and I quote, 'an obvious and worrying abuse of power and trust by the commanding officer in a situation requiring objective and careful action' and so on and so forth. I'm surprised they've even got time for this, what with the war and everything."

"Especially with the war going on, Starfleet Command needs to know that they can rely on their captains and crews! Just... try not to make it worse, darling, promise me that."

"I'll try, mama. Let me know when mum looks like she'll talk to me again."

"Will do. Good night, Jonna."

"Night."

x

fin.

Last edited by jonnaroslyn; 09-26-2013 at 10:42 AM.
Republic Veteran
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 31
# 13
09-26-2013, 12:45 AM
Literary Challenge #45: Freestyle. (Writer's choice! Write a short story, Captain's Log entry, ETC., with a background story of your choice that is set in the Star Trek or STO universe.)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Jolan Tru, Admiral"

The perfunctory greeting came from a rather innocuous man, small and slight for his age, sitting behind a gigantic desk that seemed far too big for him. He motioned to the free chair in front of his desk, and Admiral Ly'nia did her best to suppress a grin. The ex-General had a flair for the unusual, and she really didn't know where he had managed to obtain a command chair from one of the old D7 class ships.

Ly'nia sank into it, savouring the sharp edges of its Klingon ancestry, as well as the smooth roundness of the distinctly Romulan design. As always, the mere thought brought the pain forward again.

"I need to know it. I need to hear it from you, Velal. Is it true?"

The man nodded slowly, aware of what the gesture truly meant.

"Romulus, and Remus with it. Gone to the folly of the Tal Shiar."

"Do we know that?" Ly'nia asked painfully. The very thought that Romulans could turn against their own in such a hideous fashion was - revolting would never fully describe it.

"Whom else could it be? The Federation is too weak-willed to undertake something of this scale, and they would never sacrifice their precious Ambassador Spock. Not that it did him much good in the end. The Klingons are barbarians. They have neither the technology nor the ability to carry off such an attack. I admit the Tholian presence growing in the Tau Dewa sector is concerning, but no, this is not their way either."

General Velal pushed explosively out of his chair and began pacing, clearly agitated.

"Breen? Too weakened, despite the facile similarity to their attack on Sol. Cardassia? Still reeling from the Dominion occupation. They could never capitalize on it. No. This attack involved subspace weapons of exactly the sort that the Fleet 'lost' to a Tal Shiar operation."

"Could it have been the reunificationists?"

"They want Romulus re-united, not in ashes" came the dismissive rejoinder.

Velal sat heavily back into his chair.

"No. It was the Tal Shiar, but we can at least take comfort from the efficacy of our purges. Very few who actually were involved have gotten out. Although, that said, the surviving rank and file will remain a problem for some time to come. Unfortunate.
The Federation may be an annoyance, but their Intelligence was good in this case?.too good. I doubt we have found all the spies - from both sides. Anyhow, agonizing over the past and possible motives is not a productive use of our limited time. Onto the reason for this meeting. Your Report, Admiral?"

"Certainly. General" Admiral Ly'nia settled comfortably and began speaking.

"The I.R.W Vellius departed the Rator shipyards on 64538.36, and began a long term assignment. We successfully monitored the Celes system patrols for a six Federation months. It was about that time we began hearing the rumors about?about Romulus.
The crew wanted to turn back, to go home. But if it was a Federation ploy? A despicable trick? What if they suspected our presence and were simply trying to flush us out? And if it was true that Hobus had gone nova, then the Homeworld would have had years of time, not mere days. We judged the transmissions a concerted Federation deception.
The Vellius then departed for the system called Memory Alpha. Some of the intercepted transmissions proved most?enlightening about Federation technology, although the story about the Hobus event continued. It culminated on 65088.81 when Subcommander Vena was confined to her quarters for attempting to access the communication array without authorization."

"You believe the subcommander was attempting to betray your location?"

"It seemed reasonable at first, until I learnt that the subcommander was from the slums of Romulus. I believe her loyalty to her family temporarily outweighed her loyalty to the Romulan Star Empire."

"So her actions were forgiven?"

"Not at all. Subcommander Vena was charged with treason to the service on 65116.13. As we were on a deep space covert assignment, we were not equipped or manned for prisoner interrogation. Under Regulation 14, I found her guilty of treason and executed her."

Velal looked up, one eyebrow raised in an almost-vulcan fashion. "I see. Proceed"

"On 65780.06, the Vellius continued to Resupply Depot 92 along the Neutral Zone."

"And you received the orders to return home?"

"We did, General, but they lacked your authorization. They commanded us to come home in the name of Empress Sela. That is how we knew it was a trap. There was no Empress, far less one called Sela. The station was obviously compromised. We dumped the supplies into the star and proceeded to a covert depot inside the Arucanis Arm.
After resupplying, we moved onto our final patrol station. Sol itself. The heart of the Federation. We spent seven of their local days creeping along under cloak at sublight speeds to the observation point in the debris ring surrounding the Federation system."

"And you did not find it suspicious that the Loval was missing? That they had left before you arrived, without handover?"

"We were a few days late, and procedure for the Sol station is quite rigid. Any deviation might betray our presence. The Loval had obviously left precisely when it was supposed to. So we proceeded in and remained under cloak."

"But Sol procedure dictates that you should still be on station, does it not?"

"Regulation 53 covers unusual events. When we saw the Federation Task Force under their Admiral Janeway depart, and transmissions indicated they were heading for Romulus itself, I judged the danger to Homeworld was sufficient to authorize an early departure."

"And you made excellent time. Sol to the Neutral Zone well ahead of Janeway and her fleet. Your ship is commended for its speed."

"Thank you General. As you know, we took station near Agrama and decloaked as the fleet crossed the border. Clearly they were in violation of Romulan territory. We targeted the lead ship - U.S.S Voyager and opened fire."

"Yes, yes, and only ceased once the I.R.W Shaenha and I.R.W Valerius arrived, with my authorization codes. A commendable report and my compliments to the Vellius and its crew for an excellent job. But now our attention must turn to the present. To this 'Empress' and her plans for the Romulan Star Empire."

"I understand General. When will we be departing to Rator III?"

"Departing? What? No. We will be ignoring that upstart."

"We - we will not support her? But Sela is the empress! The successor to the Praetor and Senate!"

"Sela is a fool!" Velal snapped. "Her Government in Rator III will never survive. Her alliance with these Hirogen scum strikes at the heart of what it means to be Romulan!
We do not ask for aid! We do not invite our enemies into our realms unless we have a dagger at their back! No! We have had too many fools for Praetors, but we cannot let ourselves think that replacing the Senate with an Empress will be any better!

Neral was a fool, but he was an honest fool. When the Dominion attacked Senator Vreetak, he had no choice but to act. But there were other?.options we could have exploited. Open war is too messy a business. Hiren was better, but always too lax with security. I oft thought him addled in the head with Federations notions of fairness and openness. And so Tal?aura exploited that and walked right into the Senate with a thalaron device of all things.

Shinzon was an utter disaster. I think that's where it all went wrong. Federation ships in Romulan space without an escort. Remans in positions of power with no understanding of the subtleties of command."

Velal paused and snorted, a harsh, unamused sound.

"Did you know the fool Shinzon placed in charge of Fleet Intelligence once walked into this very office and demanded I appoint Reman captains to all D'deridex-class warbirds, and in the same breath to decommission the new D'driathu class as they were 'Ugly to the eyes'. If looks were the basis for command decisions, I should have shot him then and there!"

"And then! And then I had to order Donatra to pursue. Order her to do what is Right, What was Romulan! I gave her specific orders. Destroy the Scimitar and then destroy the Enterprise. Simple. I even gave her both Valdore-class ships! When she failed at the Bassen Rift, that's when I knew it. The Empire had become weak. Soft.

And then, then came our final folly. We trusted the Vulcan, I do not know why I recommended we follow his course. Were we so weak that we needed the Federation to save us once again? I despaired, Admiral, I admit it. I thought that, should Spock succeed, we would deserve to fade and be absorbed, and should he fail, well, it would be for the best for the Romulan people to die with a knife to the galaxy?s throat.

Spock's death? An ample downpayment for the harm the Federation has wreaked on our peoples. I only regret Nero?s death along with him. I always suspected he was too much of a loose cannon, but at least he was not Tal Shiar. But I could not see a way forward, Admiral. I could not see the path back to a reborn Empire, once again strong and powerful. Nothing, until -"

Ly'nia spoke. "Until the Vellius limped back into Romulan space. You want to use a broken ship and a shattered crew to save the Empire."

Velal stared at her, at the desperate weariness in her voice. "What? No! Don't be ridiculous. The Empire is gone, and good riddance to its decaying carcass. We need a new Empire. A new structure. A new Fleet. A new leader. A clean break from the past."

"You, Velal? Forgive me, but I cannot see you in Praetorial robes, being adulated by a worshipful crowd"

"No, no, not me. And not you either. Wipe that relief off your face, it Ill-suits you. No. I have a man in mind. And odd choice, I'm sure you will agree - a re-unificationist of all things. Come, Admiral, and see the files I have compiled on this 'D'Tan'. We will need to be careful. Circumspect. Quiet. But I think this D'Tan is the best hope for a new Empire. We may not know its form, but so long as we are there, we can sway its course."

Velal poured a bright blue liquid into two glasses on the table, and set the bottle down. He took the furtherest glass, in accordance with tradition and began the first line of the ancient Fleet toast. It was said it had been spoken on Romulan ships since the Sundering. It was the Fleet. It was Romulan.

"We are cloaked in shadow"

Ly?nia took the second glass and recited the rejoining Fleet line.

"We are blades in the night"

Velal continued in with the next words and raised his glass, intensely controlled face looking at Ly'nia's , who stared back at him with a matching impassivity.

"We are careful and watchful"

Both Velal and Ly'nia spoke the last lines of the ancient Romulan toast, hope and determination blazing in their eyes, cracking the facade for a single instant.

"And the Fleet is Homeworld's might!"

Last edited by drajora; 09-26-2013 at 01:00 AM.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 965
# 14
09-26-2013, 12:20 PM
LC: Replicator Rations/LC 47/ LC Freestyle


Grimworm and Karry walked along one of the corridors, stepping over debris. The Hulkanian rubbed his belly as it growled. He held up a ration bar and bit a corner of the rectangular food.

"It's been a week on these things. They're far too small."
Karry looked up at her friend.
"Take it easy. We're still on emergency power. Those things are all we've got left."

"Unless Luawra's idea is right, and the Captain has a garden of veg in his quarters."
"Ha! Do you think they will even be enough?"
"There may not be much, but it's something. We're out in deep space, we don't know where we are or when people will find us."

Grimworm finished his ration bar and dropped the wrapper to the floor. He quietly munched it until they reached the door. It was ripped off its hinges, the entire corridor covered in matching blasting patterns.

"Captain wasn't in here, was he?"
Karry shook her head.
"No. He was on the Bridge."
"Ah. Then they didn't come in here looking for him."

Grimworm gripped the door and bent it off the hinges. Dropping the doors, he followed Karry in.
"I don't see a garden."
"I don't think we're going to find anything. The place is a wreck."
Karry moved into the bedroom.
"Ah. Found it."
Karry came out holding a little window box. Grim worm blinked at the tiny thing.

"That's it?"
"Yep."
"That's.... what, three potatoes? Come on, let's go do something useful."

Karry put the box down on the bed and stepped outside the quarters, smiling as Grimworm's stomach rumbled again. She pulled out one of her ration bars and opened it, snapping it in half. Handing half over, she bit a corner off her half. Grimworm looked at the offered food.

"You sure?"
"You need it more Grimmy."
"Thanks."

Taking the bar, he started munching when the lights went out.




Emony stood carefully on the spot, still waiting for artificial gravity to be restored to the Bridge. As far as she knew, power was out throughout the ship. Ttorkkinn could be heard in the dark issuing orders, but no one could see or move without floating off. A couple of people had managed to work their way towards some consoles where they were trying to reroute power from somewhere. Eventually power came back and Emony felt her insides drop down back to normal. Before she could say anything, Ttorkkinn strode across the Bridge.

"Diagnostic teams, get us a damage report. Wurz, where are we?"

The young ensign was already checking her sensors.

"It looks like we dropped out of Slipstream near the Klingon border. We are in a solar system, three planets, no signs of space travel."

Emony frowned.
"Even in Slipstream, we shouldn't have travelled that far so quickly."
Ttorkkinn let out a huff.

"I told you not to trust that Traveller. I bet he did it."
"Wurz, are we holding position?"
"The momentum from coming out of Slipstream has us drifting, but it's minor. We're in no danger."

Emony nodded as she took it in, Wurz continuing her report.
"At least we're near a planet, and have a better chance of being spotted. I'm detecting population centres around the continents, but no evidence of warp capability."
"Hopefully we won't be spotted by Klingons."

Ttorkkin nodded in agreement.

"That's a chance we'll have to take. Until power is restored fully, we have to ration ourselves. Xui Li, start distributing ration-"

"ENGINEERING TO BRIDGE! WE'RE FIFTY SECONDS TO A CORE BREACH!"
"What?"
"CORE'S GOING CRITICAL! I'm EJECTING IT!"

"Get us away from it!"
"Engines are not responding quickly. We're not going to clear the blast area!"

The red alert klaxon sounded as Emony ordered all hands to brace for impact.


The ship slowly drifted through the darkness of space. The scarred and battered hull casting an ugly yet elegant form in the light of the nearby star. A thin sliver burst forth from the entity, casting out the poison before it killed those whom it had once provided for, a giver of life now mere moments from taking it all. As much as the entity tried, it could not escape the fiery grip that followed the flash of its heart tearing itself asunder. Pushing outwards, it gripped the entity and pushed it outwards, tearing at the skin to crawl back inside where it was once safe. Taking it fully on its belly, the entity gave more of itself than it could hope to, leaving behind pieces of its skin, its soul in a desperate attempt to safeguard those who called it home. As the heat and passion faded to a distant memory, the entity burned through space, towards what could only be hoped to be salvation.

Emony pulled herself up by the arm of a chair.
"Report."

Xui Li was the first to respond.
"All power is, ah, offline. The underside of the ship took the full brunt of the, ah, explosion and has suffered catastrophic structural failure."

The lights flickered as the ship switched to emergency generators. Slowly power was restored to the key systems, but kept at a minimum to preserve them as long as possible. Ttorkkinn slapped his commbadge.

"Engineering. What happened?!"

The worried voice of Gweevle was almost drowned out by static.

"Micro fractures in the warp core casing were amplified by the stress of the Slipstream malfunction. When we tried to restart the core, it shattered the casing and caused a breakdown of the antimatter seals in the reaction chamber. We're lucky Bosip was able to jettison the core so quickly."
Bosip cut in over the comm.

"We've got enough power to keep us running at the lowest levels for a day or two, but after that, we're completely dead in space."

Wurz interjected.
"I don't think that will be a problem. The impact of the core explosion has pushed us towards the planet. We'll enter the atmosphere in ten minutes."

Emony's eyes widened.
"Ten minutes? Gweevle, can we get the engines back online?"

"With what? The Impulse fusion reactors are all the power we have left and they're barely hanging on with the damage sustained. Beside which, the Impulse engines are destroyed. They would need to be rebuilt from scratch."
"Are you telling me we don't have any kind of movement?"
"I can get you the reaction control thrusters, but that's it."
"They'll never be able to slow our descent. Not with only a few working."

Emony looked at Ttorkkinn.
"There must be something we can do."
The Saurian slowly shook his head.
"The ship is dead. We need to abandon her before it's too late."
"We can't just give up on her. She's more than a home, she's a member of the crew."
"We've lost a lot of people this week. Sentinel will be the latest. But at least she won't die in vain. Emony..... you have to call it."

She looked over the wrecked Bridge. It felt like she was looking at a close friend on life support, being asked to end her suffering. She nodded.

"Then abandon ship. All hands..... abandon ship."

As the evacuation alarms started sounding, Emony moved over to the helm. Ttorkkinn followed her.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm going to make sure she doesn't hit any populated areas on the planet."
"With what?"
"RCS still work. I might be able to nudge her on her descent."
"You won't be able to do that by yourself. I'll stay and man the sensors-"
"NO! I need you to lead the survivors. Ttorkkinn, despite what The Traveller said, I'm not command material. You are. Get the crew back to Federation space. That's an order."

Ttorkkinn nodded, then stood at attention and saluted.
"It's been an honour. Sir."
Emony returned the salute.
"Until we meet again."

Ttorkkinn turned and left. Emony watched the injured survivors shut down the ship systems and make their way to the turbolifts and Jeffrey's Tubes, heading for the escape pods and shuttle bays. With only two minutes before hitting the atmosphere, Emony watched as the crew fled into space, holding position to watch the Sentinel go down. She returned the view to forward, seeing the atmosphere rushing towards her. She took in a deep breath as the ship started rumbling. From this altitude, it was impossible to see if they were heading for any populated areas. Hearing someone stumble onto the Bridge, Emony quickly turned. Karry and Grimworm had crawled out of a Jeffrey's Tube.

"What are you two doing here?"
Karry brushed some soot off her shoulder.

"There wasn't enough escape pods. After the injured got loaded, the few remaining ones were too badly damaged to use. And don't forget, the Gorn took a few. So we figured the best thing to do was to head here."

"Ok. Get on sensors, tell me if we're going to hit anything. Grimworm, best take a seat."

The ship was shaking badly now, the leading edge of the saucer glowing fiery orange. Karry grimaced and looked up.
"We're too steep an angle. We need to pull up."
"I'm trying, but the thrusters just aren't powerful enough!"
"Then when we hit the ground....."
"I know, I know. The ships reactors will explode, taking us and anything around us with it. That's why we HAVE to get her flying level!"

The ship continued her death fall, plummeting towards the ground. Karry held onto the edge of the console as the vibrating only increased.

"Sir, looks like we're heading straight for a city. A large one, over three miles wide, surrounded by a thick jungle."
"We've got to pull up!"

Emony worked the console, firing the underside thrusters, but although there was a very slight shift in the attitude, it was obviously not enough to dodge the city.

"Ideas?"

Grimworm blinked, deep in thought. Suddenly he let out a cry.

"Shockwaves! If we use a shockwave to push us away-"
"Like the core breach. But we have nothing to do that."
"Torpedoes."
"Are the launchers online?"
Karry checked.
"Yes. But Quantum's won't have the explosive force to push us off target."

Grimworm smiled.
"No, but the Harg'pengs do."
Emony's eyes went wide.
"That'll spread radiation all over the city!"
""At this altitude, it should disperse into the atmosphere. But we'll get a full hit. The torpedo will have to detonate less than 2 kilometres under our front bow to work."

Emony quickly thought through the options. Radiate themselves, and possibly the city, or crash into it and kill potentially thousands. There really wasn't a choice, was there?

"DO IT!"

The blue weapon lurched from its launcher, detonating almost instantly. The blast wave slammed the ship, knocking the three remaining crew members to the floor and tearing open the underside of the saucer. As hull plating, EPS conduits and pieces of the Captain's Yacht rained down over the city, Emony forced herself back into the seat. The ground was closer, close enough to see the buildings. The architecture suggested a mid industrial revolution society.

"Forty Seven seconds to impact! Have we altered our course enough Karry?"
"We've raised our trajectory. We should hit near the outskirts of the city. But we'll still hit it."
"Fire another!"
"Can't! Weapons are destroyed. We've got nothing left!"


Emony set her jaw, determined they would not take out this society with them. Firing all remaining thrusters, she tried to angle the ship to the side, hoping it would arc their trajectory enough. Close enough now they could see the people on the cobblestone streets start running for their lives. The deck slowly pitched upwards on the right at a sixty degree angle, Sentinel finally starting to turn away from the city.


Grimworm started swearing, holding onto his chair as they came towards a series of small buildings with a tower in the centre. Hoping against hope, he closed his eyes and clenched.




The starship dropped down, trailing smoke from the nacelles, falling towards the city. It angled to the right, starting to arc it's turn. Birds squawked and flew out of the tower as the ship thundered past, mere feet from colliding. Angled as it was, the ship started levelling out its course, the edge of the saucer inching ever closer to the ground, slipping between the houses. They had been lucky so far. But the street came to an end, with a factory looking building at the intersection. There was no way to avoid it; the edge of the saucer clipped the roof, splintering the building. As bricks, mortar and tiles showered over the few small buildings behind, Sentinel dropped into the ground, kicking up a mountain of dirt. The saucer started digging in, building up a mound, causing the rest of the hull to drop. The starboard nacelle hit with an impact that shattered fracture marks up the entire pylon, ripping apart the outer casing. Fortunately, the ship slid out of the city as it started to lose the angle, the starboard nacelle lifting up into the air. A large, thick tree, one that had been standing for a millenia and larger than the ship itself found itself in the path of the nacelle pylon. Metal hit bark, but with the entwined trunk firmly embedded in the ground, bark won. The pylon tore off, casting the nacelle free. The rear end hit the ground first, smashing the front end down into a rocky outcropping, breaking open the Bussard Ramscoop and flipping the nacelle end over end, high up in the air. It spiralled over the forest, impacting harshly in the trees, breaking itself into thousands of parts, each one kicking up more dirt and trees, spinning away into the forest.


The main hull of the ship was jerked sharply to the right, keeping the secondary hull from impacting the ground. The ship was losing a lot of momentum now, almost ready to stop. But nature had one last cruel trick to play. The ground fell away, leaving Sentinel airborne over a cliff. As the trees and soil dropped away from the ship, it turned through the air, spinning itself around towards the ocean below. With nothing to stop it, and no momentum to make a safe water landing, the Starfleet ship slammed backwards into the water, breaking apart the rear of the remaining nacelle. As surges of water crashed out in all directions, the saucer dropped into the waves, flooding itself through the missing lower decks. The ship started sinking without pause, the salt water rushing in through all the holes, filling any gaps it could find. The water level reached up to the top of the ship's neck before it hit the sea bed, coming to a rest angled with the front of the saucer completely submerged, the rear of the ship sitting up in the air.

Finally.....




Finally it was over.




The blackness slowly started fading to a haze. Shapes started forming as Emony slowly regained consciousness. Coughing up blood, she started to get up, screaming as pain shot through her entire leg. Putting a hand on it, she felt something sharp and jagged. Fearfully, she looked down. Her leg was at an unnatural angle with the broken end of her thigh bone puncturing the skin. Panting to try and clear away both the pain and grogginess, she looked around the Bridge. The entire command centre of the once great ship was beyond salvage. Chairs and consoles had broken loose, destroying the viewscreen. Nothing was left working. The deck was angled slightly towards the front. The ship was obviously resting on ground. She wasn't sure at what point after the initial impact she had blacked out, or what had hit her leg, but she was glad to have survived mostly intact. Spitting globs of blood on the deck, she wiped her mouth with the back of her glove.


"Karry? Grimworm. You alive?"


There was mutterings of a stirring from a pile of wreckage on the far side of the Bridge. Slowly it shifted, revealing Grimworm. He was battered, bruised, and bleeding from a couple of spots but he was at least mobile.

"That was some landing."
"At least it's over. Can you see Karry?"

Grimworm moved around the Bridge, looking for his friend. Shifting some chairs aside, he frowned as he failed to see her. Rubbing the back of his head, he moved to the front of the Bridge and started picking through everything there. After a few minutes, he stopped and knelt down.


"Karry?"
He reached out, gently brushing the back of his giant green hand against her soft, blood soaked cheek. Emony pushed herself onto an elbow, wincing at the pain in her ribs.
"Is she....?"

Grimworm didn't answer as he shifted the rest of the wreckage off her. Gently sliding his hands underneath, he picked her up, carrying her to an empty spot and putting her down. Resting his head against her chest, he paused.


"She's breathing. It's shallow, but it's there."
Emony let out a sigh of relief. At least they had all survived.
"You're the only one who can move. Can you see where we are? What we've landed on?"

Grimworm took another look at Karry, then nodded and stood up, making his way to the Captain's Ready Room. The window in there would be the quickest way of seeing out. He stood in the doorway, peering out.

"It looks like we're in water, near a beach with a cliffside running along it. It looks..... it looks like the front of the Saucer is underwater."

"That makes sense, given the shape of the ship. Grimworm, first thing we need to do is secure ourselves. We don't know how long we are going to be here. Can you search for any medical supplies or food and bring it up here?"

"Sure. Just give me some time."
He turned, pausing as he only now noticed the bone protruding from Emony's leg.

"Ouch! You ok? That looks painful."
"The pain's sort of numb. I don't look like I'm bleeding out. But if you could find a medkit with some pain relief, it would be much appreciated."

Grimworm nodded.
"On it Captain."




Emony lay on her back. Her leg was wrapped in a splint, bandages covering the wound. It was two days since the crash. Karry had yet to wake up, giving Grimworm great concern. She was alive, but for all they knew, she had slipped into a coma. The indigenous life forms had set up some kind of ship blockade around the Sentinel, but they had yet to attempt to board. Their ships were apparently quite primitive looking. It seems the Prime Directive had been well and truly broken on whatever world this was. Grimworm was below decks somewhere. Emony was in a morphine induced state, as she had been for quite a number of hours now. She slowly looked around at the remains of the Bridge. Ghosts of yesteryear swept around. Xui Li showing off one of her tribbles. They had probably all perished sometime over the past week. Young Jenna Jones, not long out of the Academy, manning the helm, her fingers dancing over the throttle controls and thrusters, somehow making this great ship pull off impossible turns to outmanoeuvre enemies. Roderick over at Tactical, using his Maquis upbringing to their advantage in creating insane strategies. Talaina sitting on one of the chairs in the centre, intense passion burning in her eyes as she carried out the running of the ship. And in the centre, Captain Stunshock. A calm amongst the swirling storm. He never got angry. Never raised his voice. Gave the crew certain leeways in standard ship protocols. A father figure to many. And the life in the consoles, the hum of the engines, as Sentinel herself sailed into the unknown, facing down enemies tougher than she was, or pushing through unknown nebula and storms, always trying her best to get her crew safely home.


The ghosts whispered away. Most of the consoles were gone. The life was dark. Empty. Sentinel would never fly again. She had given her ultimate sacrifice to keep them safe. Emony sadly patted the deck plate beside her.


"Goodbye, old friend. Thank you for everything."



There was a bang from near the Turbolift shaft. Emony looked that way, trying to see Grimworm returning. But the person who crawled up onto the Bridge was blue, not green. An Andorian! And better yet, she wore a Starfleet uniform!

"Hello?"
The Andorian was followed by a human female wearing a Doctor's outfit.
"Commander Bearlo? Good to see you're alive."


Emony blinked, not sure if she was seeing a hallucination.
"Woa..... what? Who?"

The Andorian knelt down beside Emony while the doctor started checking Karry.

"Commander Ylzanov, U.S.S. Magpie. Captain Ellen Hare sends her regards. We picked up the distress call from your crew's escape pods and runabouts. The Magpie's in orbit. Starfleet wants us to help clear up the mess with the locals."


The doctor mentioned something about brain swelling. Emony closed her eyes as she heard the Andorian calling the Magpie for a beamout. As the familiar tingling took over her body, she smiled, relief in the knowledge the ordeal was finally over. For now.
*******************************************

A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'

Last edited by grylak; 09-27-2013 at 07:53 AM.
Commander
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 413
# 15 Interlude
09-26-2013, 07:38 PM
LC # 30: The Tau Dewa Sector Block



The ground stretched far to the horizon, a flat plane broken only by the particles of ice whipped up by the swift winds blowing across it. Far to the east, mountains climbed to the sky, their own surface as white as the rest of the landscape. High in the deeply blued sky, a sun blazed with the slight tint of a young star and the small, irregular ovoid that was this world's only moon hung motionless above the landscape.

The two figures tightly bundled in survival jackets and resperators stood out in stark contrast, their darkened goggles examining the track of frozen plain. One knelt and was digging into the ground with a gloved hand, the beeping of the tricorder in the other barely able to be heard over the whistling wind that caused any loose straps or flaps of clothing to snap around them like banners. Frost had crept around the edges of the display on the device, but the integral clearing systems kept it mostly legible and functioning. With a hand signal to the other person, the kneeling figure stood up and backed away as that one brought up the plasma rifle it cradled to its shoulder and fired.

In seconds, the continuous beam had melted a small crater in the ground, and a metallic object glistened in the sunlight at its center. The first figure again knelt by it, and passed the tricorder over the reflective material, nodding when the device gave a double whine to indicate it had completed its function with positive results.

With a visible sigh, the person shoved the tricorder deep into a pocket and stood, turning slowly back to stare at the massive crater that lay not more than half a kilometer behind them, its walls glassy with frozen water. From various points around the pit, a series of crumpled towers lay fallen away from it, as though pushed over by the tremendous forces unleashed when the ground was pushed back. Each had been a defense emplacement rated to withstand a ship's battery for several minutes, but now were little more than twisted wreckage.

Motioning the other person to their side, the figure opened a flap on their sleve and touched the control located there. Moments later, the shimmering of a transporter beam enveloped both, flaring for a few seconds before fading, leaving only the empty landscape and blowing wind behind.


__________________________________________



"There is no doubt. The trace signature on the casing matches one of the fragmentation torpedoes used in Tal'shiar hybrid ships." Science Officer Tosik said as he handed the report to Commander Rycho. "And the specific fragment we found has an energy composition matching Cube One."

Rycho looked at the other man as he finished scanning the PADD, his eyes hard. "And there can be no doubt? Could not conditions on the surface have caused an error, or given the fragment a similar signature?"

"Impossible. Cube One was an unmodified Borg Cube. For a hybrid torpedo to also have this signature, it would have had to be in direct contact with the power systems of that ship at the time it was armed." Tosik's face was set in a mask of detachment that did not reveal his own emotions. "The only conclusion that fits possibilities and probabilities is that the torpedo was fired from that ship, most likely after having been transferred from one of the other rogue Borg ships."



Commander Rycho glanced at the tactical display shown on the main viewer, noting the position of the Nor'Vesa high above the site where the attack had occurred. The unusual energy spikes of the attack had been received by a passing probe less than three hours ago, and the ship had responded as quickly as her warp drive would carry her. Yet it hadn't been even remotely close to quickly enough.

"J'Mesik was a typical colony project. Full deflector and sentry weapons, with enough shielding to hold off a single ship for an extended time." Rycho looked back at Tosik "But it held nothing of value. Even the mining facilities were not yet operational. It makes no sense for such an attack, especially given the crater you recorded. That was not a detonation point, was it?"

The Science Officer shook his head. "No. The sides did show evidence of great energy exposure, and the defense towers were apparently the targets of the torpedoes fired at the colony. However, there's no debris from the actual habitation areas. The entire area where they were located is simply not there."




Rycho fingered his chin as he narrowed his eyes and stared back at the main screen. For almost a minute, he did not say anything. Then his jaw clenched as he said "There is only one thing the colony had that the renegade Borg would need."

Tosik's face lost a little of its normal color as he realized the aweful truth as well. "People."

Rycho nodded. "When they escaped Quanuyr, the Borg ships were in the process of being fitted out. They would not have had full crews...perhaps none at all. I recall being surprised when I watched the recordings of the battle afterwards that many of the Borg ships did not do more than simply travel in a straight line through the Tal'shiar fleet. While it is obvious they succeeded using that tactic, it cost the Borg two Cubes and avoidable damage to at least eight others.

"It seems clear now that many of those ships were being operated remotely from the other Cubes, and lacked the number of Borg to operate them independently. If they are now seeking to correct that flaw, it would explain this and the other attacks we have been seeing."

The Science Officer stood for a moment staring at the main screen as well before he spoke. "Then they are....harvesting anyplace they can find for...new crews."

Commander Rycho nodded as he sat back down in his judgement seat. "And that gives us a possible clue where they will strike next."




Tapping a series of commands into his chair, Rycho pointed to the Main Screen as a map of the Tau Dewa Sector appeared, with the Nimbus Subsector highlighted in gold. Several blinking red spots were visible, one at the same location as the icon representing the Nor'Vesa. "They have continued to move away from Quanuyr, but at a speed that would be consistent with engines incapable of better than warp three. If it were not for their ability to remain undetected from long range, we would have found them by now."

Tosik stepped to the screen and traced a path along the blinking lights, then onwards in the same direction. When his fingers came close to another system highlighted with the symbol for an inhabited world, he raised an eyebrow and looked back at the Commander. "Mol'Dirsan?"

Rycho nodded grimly as he swiveled his chair to face the Duty Communications Officer. "Relay our findings to High Command, and that we are proceeding to Mol'Dirsan. Request any available assistance be directed to that system, and then check with the T'Vonn to see if they have found anything."

With a quick "At once, Commander", the officer turned to carry out his orders, and Rycho returned his attention to the rest of the Bridge.

"Helm, plot a course to Mol'Dirsan that won't intersect with the projected course of the Cube. Execute when you have the course, best speed." Commander Rycho stood and walked towards the doors at the side of the Bridge. "You have the conn, Subcommander Tosik. I will be in my Ready Room."



__________________________________________________ __




When Tosik walked into the Ready Room without signaling first, he almost braced himself for a stiff tongue lashing from....her. But then he saw Commander Rycho sitting in the chair behind the desk, and the moment passed before he had a chance to break his stride.

After the doors had closed behind him, he reported "Underway to Mol'Dirsan. Estimated arrival time is one hour, six minutes."

Commander Rycho nodded absently as he continued to stare at the PADD in his hands. Tosik noted the man was not actually entering any commands into the device, but seemed to be only vaguely aware he even held it. Walking up to the opposite end of the desk, he looked down at the Human he had spent so much time in contempt of, and wondered at the fate that had placed them as odd allies.

Rycho's features seemed chissled in stone, a mask of unemotion the Science Officer was certain would have found admiration among Vulcans, had any been aboard the ship. From the closer position he was now in, Tosik could also see the hands that gripped the PADD were causing the outer casing to bend slightly from the pressure on it, and he began to wonder if he had overstepped the new latitude Rycho had seemed to be granting him since they had embarked on this pursuit mission alongside the warbird T'Vonn.




Then Rycho spoke in a voice of controlled anger. "When I heard the accusations against the Commander at my debriefing, I could not believe what was being said. But this was her Cube, and only she could have known about J'Mesik. It was not even on our military charts yet. If the R'uhuv had not been assigned to patrol this subsector two months ago, we would not have even known to check near that system.

"Now, I must accept that the Commander I admired, that I accepted as my leader, has become the monster so many have claimed."

Tosik did not know what to say to this unprecedented openess from the Augment, and decided to wait. A moment later, Rycho looked up at him "And I swear, by the families that pleaded with us to keep their colony secret, by the children that perished because I did not remember them in time, that I will stop her.

"I will stop her!"

The PADD in the Commander's hand shattered suddenly, and Rycho gave a startled snarl as he threw the pieces across the room. Tosik remained silent as he watched the other man clench the hand that was now cut and bleeding, bringing it up to hold in a fist. Then the Science Officer said "When I was lost, and had nothing, she was the one who dared to believe I could still be the officer I once was. Even though every outer sign was that I had long since abandoned that person, that I was something disgusting to behold. She believed in me."

He leaned over the desk, his hands bracing himself as he looked Rycho directly in the eyes "I will not do any less for her."

Glaring up at Tosik, the Commander shook his head. "Believe that if you wish, but do not presume that choice is yours to make. Subcommander. This is my ship, and we will do what I determine is the course we will set. And I will not have another colony lost because I continued to hold onto what I wanted to see instead of what is right before our eyes! The Commander we knew is dead! She died the moment she took command of the Borg."




Standing abruptly, Rycho moved to the single viewport in the compartment and looked out at the tachyon streaks of warp travel while Tosik stuggled to find words that would not end up throwing away the very career he owed to the one he was determined to save.

Before he could, the Commander said "Do not mistake my determination to stop this as blindness, Subcommander. We are one ship, not a fleet. If we can retreive what remains of our Commander from the Borg, we will do so. However, I will not risk the loss of another world, or this ship. When we find Cube One, we will summon the Fleet and make the attempt. If that task proves beyond us, we will do what our duty requires us to do to end this. Is that understood?"

With no other response possible, Tosik controlled his voice as he said "Understood, Commander."

Rycho nodded without turning from the viewport. "You are dismissed. Inform me when we are ten minutes out from Mol'Dirsan. Do not disturb me until then."




It was not until, with military percision, the Science Officer had saluted and withdrawn from the suddenly oppressive room that Rycho, Subcommander in the Republic Flotilla, genetically engineered Augment and Commander of the ship, finally let a tear run down his cheek.


__________
"I am your leader, I am in command. The fate of all my followers lies in my hands. The burden of what is right or wrong, decisions have to be made. I have to take you all into this burning Gate." - Iron Savior, 'Never Say Die'.

Last edited by danqueller; 09-27-2013 at 08:56 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 545
Captain's Report from the U.S.S. Gotterdammerung
Sovereign-class Explorer
First Contact Incident with a Transdimensional Civilization and Saint's Cradle Event
Stardate: 84369.752
Written by: Captain Robin T. Harlain 0236-098 Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Gotterdammerung NCC-94592 (Subsequent Captain's Logs will be attached)


This is a detailed report on the following incursion to Starfleet Command, New Romulus Command, and the Klingon Imperial High Command regarding the events that transpired within both the Azure Nebula and our travel to another Dimension. The purpose of this report is to help investigate whether the Prime Directive or any other Starfleet Rules and Regulations were violated.

I understand in our Home Dimension it was only a month we were considered MIA before returning home. However, it was a year for us and the three vessels cast with the U.S.S. Gotterdammerung. We believe the reason for this was being sent back in time to the point that we entered the other Dimension into.


The other three vessels were the I.K.S. D'ngtak, a Norgh-class Bird of Prey Raider under the command of Captain Rakok (Yes, THE Captain Rakok who led the attack on Utopia Planitia Shipyards). The Romulan Republic Mogai-class Warbird R.R.W. L'Tar, under the command of Commander Nottra Nalar. The other ship was the Nova-class U.S.S. Equinox(Rhode Island Refit).


The Gotterdammerung had been assigned as escort (and to provide an extra Sensor platform) as well as the L'Tar for the Equinox due to the Tholian presence in the sectors in and around our location. The Dng'pak was apparently chasing the same thing we were, a possible Temporal Anomaly in the Azure Nebula; as well as following leads on criminals from the Klingon Empire (name House of Torg remnants).


The Equinox lost all but a surviving forty two out of the ninety-five crew she started with. This unfortunate loss was for three reasons. First was due to the damage done by the use of a Tholian Ultra-High Yield Tricobalt Devices. Second was during the subsequent illegal possesion and keeping of the crew prisoner (many were executed to prove a point). Her recovery was only due to certain criminal elements being unable to catch the Acting First Officer while stealing the Federation technology onboard and using it for criminal activities during our stay before we found out about her and where they kept her. The third was the battles we ended up engaged in.


The former First Officer; a Commander Yital, was executed and command responsibilities for the crew so far not either dead from battle or execution fell to Lieutenant Hoguma Tanaka. (Field Promotion from Ensign given due to her actions of valor, courage, and leadership under extreme circumstances and duress. See Commendation report filed by myself as well as the reccomendation for a further promotion jump to Captain and assignment as Commanding Officer for the Equinox. Her actions are testament to her training and stand for and exceed the highest expected actions Starfleet could of had for any crew in a similar situation) .


We were rendered unconcious during the transit event, many systems disabled or put into standby mode. When we came too and saw where we were, we found that we were also being greeted by the local governmental power. To state, this Bureau oversees Transdimensional incidents and is in possession of a level of ship building capacity far ahead of the Federation, and maybe even The Borg. The warships themselves are nearly as large as a Vo'quv-class vessel and pack firepower equal to or greater than what a Scimitar-class starship carries if the specifications we were able to see are any indication.


Even in light of the level of firepower they possess; this group has a mission profile similar to that of Starfleet's own. It's main duties are Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief, Diplomatic, and Law Enforcement/Peacekeeping. They are more relaxed then Starfleet is as far as protocol and regulations however. They enjoy an alliance with and backing from a local religious power who also maintains a standing militia that can be activated to work in concert with the other group.


Our unintentional one year stay here was; to put it mildly, eventful. We were put under the guard and watch of a newly created and deployed military unit designed for fast-pace deployment similar in function to the M.A.C.O. and Klingon Honor Guard. Furthermore, this unit was under the command of people Starfleet would still have in the Academy and the frontline was handled by teenagers and pre-adolescents. While this may sound unreasonable and dangerous, these youths handled themselves with a level of valor and dedication to their duty that would of made them the cream of the crop at the Academy, with constant training and drills between deployments on a regular schedule. Their superiors are very stalwart and kind while maintaining an air of discipline when neccesary. Also, it seems training in how to use the powers and technology demonstrated by this society starts young and recruits are taken from the brighest at any age. Admiral Chrono Harlaown himself was recruited in at the age of seven from the local Magic School and trained to the point he gained an Enforcer status by the age of eleven. The trio that are known as "The Three Aces" by the locals all started their careers at the age of nine.


The Unit Commander (reference Personality Profile Report from our Ship's Counselor regarding Colonel Commandant Hayate Yagami that is now under review by both Starfleet Intelligence and Diplomatic Corps) is herself a kind and stalwart commander. She is also very focused on her assignment and tends to work hard to shield her juniors from harm when she can.


This unit was created in response to both a possible threat to this world (as foreseen via a Prophecy, see Cultural Anthropology Report on nature of 'Rare Skills' as seen within the church entity of this civilization) and the inability of(and later learned corruption within) the Ground Forces of the agency in charge of safety and peacekeeping. Much of this aimed at the control of what they classify as hazardous materials that we would think nothing of and study carefully.


It should be mentioned that this society is wary of to out right afraid of a pure science approach to the Universe. This was evident in the first contact when they learned our engine cores were Matter/Antimatter Reactors and the Romulans use of Artificially-created Quantum Singularities.


The reason for this fear is from having a long and sad history with Science as we understand it. They switched to a new method of running their society and have embraced something far more esoteric in nature while using it to take command of(or generate as a by product) Exotic Particles. (Reference Cultural Anthropology Analysis of the Historical Texts that stretch back at least one Earth Millenium.) While this may invoke Clarke's Third Law of Prediction, our scans indicate this is a real and genuine facet of the large Multiversal Field Laws and should be looked into for possible future applications. To quote the Vulcan understatement, 'Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.' This axiom of Vulcan philosophy never held more true then with this civilization. They were even able to after a week of time launch their own first Warp-capable craft able to break the Light Barrier. Three months to master Warp Capability up to Warp 7.5 and as can be seen when we returned, six months later they were able to field their own craft capable of matching Warp 9.97 with room to fit a Transwarp Coil once they develop it (estimated from their Research and Development indicates two year maximum to field this). This was do to their realization of the dynamics needed for Warp Travel and how to modify their already existing technology to compensate and generate the neccesary effects. Granted, their Transdimensional Engines are faster but take a while to charge when they enter out of the layer of space they travel through. Nottra has likened the ability to that of the Elachi vessels and Iconian Gateways and this local power is interested in an up close study of the ruins on Iconia and any other Gateways.


We became involved in their local eventss when scans and frontline involvement revealed they were up against a level of technology equal to our own(in the least with some functions far more advanced) and functioning in similar ways. One key difference though was the negating of the powers of our allies. They had ways to overcome these problems but it was found the Drone-craft being employed to fight them were powerless to Phasers, Disruptors, and Romulan Plasma-Disruptor weapons at the start of the engagements. The drones come in a small close-combat walker, a spherical Command Drone (according to my Operations Officers Six of Nine), a flight capable drone, and finally a base version that looks like a short and stubby pill. Nearly all were armed with a basic laser and could employ missile technology that could prove dangerous to the unprotected. However, as noted above; neither their Dampening Fields nor materials are resistant to Weapons of known species in the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Quadrants. As a matter of fact, Polaron-based weapons seem to cause the most damage to circuitry while Tetryon-based pulses disrupt the dampening fields generated. Disruptors affect the Armor and Phasers seem to cause disruption in the weapons systems and neural networks of the Onboard AIs. Plasma is however most effective as it punches through the smaller units, and can cause the drone to explode if it hits the energy supply. (Further details and technical schematics of the individual drones are in the Technology Analysis reports done by the Engineering staff of all three vessels).


Our involvement further deepened after the first engagement (which we deployed on with them with permission of the Unit Commander). We helped to train the forward teams (two of which; see Tactical Analysis and Personnel Profile Collections titled 'STARS' and 'LIGHTNING') in field tactics as well as providing Starfleet regulation Cadet Level cross-training in First-aid and other facets of their job that had similarities to ours (with permission of their Main instructor, a Captain[Ground/Aerial Forces Rank] Nanoha Takamachi) so as to increase their effectiveness. (This also included supplementing their skills with knowledge of how to use Starfleet Weapons and Close-Quarters Combat from all three ship groups.) The Klingons and Romulans also took part by providing themselves as target fodder or (for the Klingons) as sparring partners for the close-quarters combatants. These themselves were limited to a pair of Cyborg sisters(one of which was part of the STARS team), one of the Forwards (from LIGHTNING), three of the Unit Commander's family (Two of which are Vice-Captains for STARS & LIGHTNING while the other is one of her personal guardians), and a Nun from the local Religious power. Nottra herself proved to be an excellent tactician and strategist and had taken the Ranged Combat Specialist under her wing as had my Head of Security, Lt. Vetal. (It should be noted that Corporal Lancaster is a very viable threat due to her skills and talents.)


The crew of the Gotterdammerung herself was tasked with not only just providing combat, logistical, and command support but also to reverse-engineer and counteract the use of the special Dampening Fields of the Drone units. Also, the Security officers of the Gotterdammerung, the assault teams of the L'Tar, and Marauding & Raid Squads of the Dng'pak worked closely with this group in the field.


This teamwork proved valuable when we learned of the seizure and taking of the Equinox and her crew as prisoners and hostage by a criminal element connected to and working behind the scenes of the events currently in motion at this time. The rescue was pulled off without a hitch though very little data on their captors survived due to a data purge that had been initiated once the attack began and none of the captured knew very much. The ship was freed and brought up to full readiness thanks to both her own crew and the Gotterdammerung providing assistance. She was returned to orbit thanks to the use of the T.S.A.B. flagship Claudia.


The full spectrum in these events of what was happening came to light when a massive incident took place that had all of our forces scrambling. This event was an all out assault that was actually just a distraction to take possession of a material that was dangerous as far as the local powers went, as well as three kidnapping attempts. One of which was successful, another was turned into a working attempt to backstab one party, the third was a failure due to events moving faster then could be adapted too as well as what kicked off the night of bloodshed. (Reference Incident Report from both T.S.A.B. as well as the three Ship Captains regarding the Attack on Ground Forces HQ/Long Arch).


The Kidnapping attempt that was succesful was the one upon my Operations Officer Lt. Commander Six of Nine. She was taken against her will when we came under fire from a Tal Shiar Warbird similar in construction to the Narada with it's own Nanite-made Shrapnel Torpedoes. Meanwhile, the Dimensional Headquarters and Shipyard for the Naval Branch of this organization was attacked by two Elachi warships. Ground reports from the local forces as well as Starfleet Security, Klingon, and Romulan Tactical personnel trained in Security and Assault reported a combined force of Drones modified with our technology (as well as Borg and Elachi) and paired with Elachi Drones.


A number of the injuries and deaths from the Drone attacks was due to Tal Shiar modifications to some of the Gadget Drones to deploy Thalaron Radiation Bursts.
Also, a Hirogen Hunter Pack loyal to the Tal Shiar, as well as Klingons from the House of Torg and Romulan Tal Shiar forces worked in concert during the attack.


Things seemed to go (as the saying is used) 'pear-shaped' when the Combat Cyborgs known as 'Numbers' saw the bloodbath their allies in the other enemy forces were making the whole battle (orders apparently from their creator and commander were to minimize casualties) and attempted to stop the massacre taking place at both locations. This seemd to start after one group of the Cyborgs fell under attack by Hirogen when they (The Hirogen) refused to take one of the targets; a Ginga Nakajima (older sister to Subaru of the STARS team), alive and wanted her as a trophy. Also, the headquarters of the Unit we worked with came under fire by what was the largest ever seen Elachi Drone documented by the Romulan Republic to date with support from two of their shuttle craft using legs to walk and able to unleash a barrage of spatial charge warhead missiles, as well as other Drones. All attacking Drones, the Walker, and the Shuttlecraft were thankfully destroyed by a member of the Unit's LIGHTNING team via her abilities to 'summon' support attackers. (Watch video labeled 'VOLTAIRE' for reference. Firepower equal to three Type X Phaser Emitters is the current estimate we have arrived it with sensor scans.) She then proceeded to sanatize the local air space of both areas under assault using the Summon she generated.


This event though also showed that the cyborg technology present was very far ahead of what Starfleet and even The Borg currently have and can field. If there was a battle between the two forces (the fourteen known Combat Cyborgs versus The Borg)...I would have to lay the winning odds on the smaller group of fourteen of this society's active Cyborgs (with more being brought online to act as a supplement to the Ground Forces, Church Militia, and Naval Marine forces). They are far more mobile, faster, and their powers are varied enough and able to adapt quickly enough as to be an efficient strike force against any ground force in our universe. However, the Type One variety suffered from issues fighting in Hirogen Dampening Fields on sight while the Type Zero variety had little issue. Further study indicates this is due to a slight variation in their construction as well as the application of a 'Berserk Mode' within the Type Zero Combat Cyborg Models that allows them to generate far more power then they normally use (this is possibly due to limiters released on their systems to fight targets far tougher then normal systems usage and power levels can handle) and an Inversed Dampening Field that nullifies the Hirogen (and possibly others) Dampening Field. The one known as Subaru Nakajima was only taken down by concentrated fire from the Alpha and his pack when they saw her special ability could break and destroy their armor, as well as themselves (They lost at least 6 of a 24-strong pack to her alone, another 2 were taken down only by the three Numbers at the scene).


The Unit we are working with has taken both their Creator and his Combta Cyborgs under their watch and is considering offering this group of Cyborg's as an assist to the ongoing battles with the Borg Collective, the Undine, and the Elachi. Also,they were part of the criminal element that attacked us originally. However, after this battle; they started working with both the Local powers and us while a portion of the Local powers (after trying to take the Gotterdammerung into custody and frame us all as helping in the events) was found to be corrupt and had taken control of a newly developed defense system. This defense system was very much part of the final events that led to (What is being put in the textbooks now along side studies of the Battle of the Mutara Nebula and the battle between Picard and Shinzon) the "Battle of Midchilda" between the U.S.S. Gotterdammerung and U.S.S. Equinox versus the Saint's Cradle both in Midchildan orbit and the subsequent battle in a nearby In-Solar System nebula titled "The Graveyard". Data from the ship sensors is already being given to the S.C.E. Command Staff, The Daystrom Institute, and Memory Alpha for further study and applications for fighting The Borg, Undine, and Elachi (and if Nottra's Intel is correct; Iconian) threats as well as possible uses against further Borg technology modified ships of the Tal Shiar that the Romulans on the L'Tar have titled "The Children of The Narada". This includes the development of possible Transdimensional Weaponry and Transdimensional Engine Technology for Starfleet application. (Project is being considered for the possibility of being a cooperative project with the Tholian Assembly which has shown extreme interest in the technology.)


However, to say the Gotterdammerung or Equinox did anything alone in any of these event of this battle is to make lightly the contributions of everyone. Indeed, the T.S.A.B. lost a quarter of the one-hundred ships they sent into the battle and those men and women deserve even Starfleet's thanks and graditude. The most beneficial help we recieved in this was from Vivio Takamachi and The Numbers. Vivio; after her subsequent hostage status, bounced back and helped us fight the Cradle by slipping inside with help from all four ships and the Inter-Dimensional Naval Task Force created for the battle by focusing the attention of the Cradle on all of us. She and and the Combat Cyborgs boarded the ship and proceeded to fight their way through it all. Vivio herself religated the power supply of this ship no longer operational (due to the damage she inflicted upon it and it's user after co-opting it from him via a loophole in the system's security which she then opened up for the 'Numbers' known as Uno and Quattro to hack into and disable as much of it as possible.). She and the Combat Cyborgs were able to do this thanks to the help of the L'Tar and the Dng'pak ability to cloak and remain undetected till they delivered their packages and then promptly joined the battle.

Also instrumental was Dr. Scalliegti's and Ship Councilor's Voreros Psychological Assessment of both the Sainkt Kaiser Hun Bismarck's clone named Terran; and the ancient Al Hazardian known as Ryleh being the type to want vengeance when put into a situation they no longer control via defeat and being outsmarted. It was in this instance that they could be likened to the infamous Khan because they were going to focus all their attention on the ones who made fools of them...the Gotterdammerung, Equinox, their crews, and the Riot Force 6 forces. This personality defect allowed us to drag them into the final parts of the 'Battle of Midchilda' within 'The Graveyard'. It was their lack of knowledge on basic Space Starship-to-Starship combat tactics and lack of adaption and forethought would prove to be their downfall as while The Saint's Cradle carried significant levels of firepower beyond even the T.S.A.B. capabilities and ablative armor with regenerative ability, it lacked shields and they fought in a standard T.S.A.B. method...which is to sit there and blast the opponent or fight like old naval seaships did on Earth during the naval battles that would dot the time period from when cannons were developed to the end of the Third World War. The two-dimensional nature of this style and their sheer focus and in ability to adjust to the Nebula as a battlefield allowed for a strategy that even the famous James T. Kirk would have approved of.

I will also add that the crews of the Gotterdammerung and Equinox; and the ships themselves, performed well and beyond anything Starfleet could of asked of both during this whole engagement. Never since the first appearances of The Borg and the Dominion Wars has a Starfleet (or any) vessel been so outgunned and fought a foe with technology so far ahead of current Starfleet and Alpha/Beta Quadrant Technology as 'The Saint's Cradle'. Indeed, this entire battle goes to show that there is truly no such thing as a 'No-Win Scenario' and should also be referenced by the Romulan Republic Training and Klingon Academy on Q'onos for study as well in their Starship Combat Training courses. (The proffesionalism and courage of the crew of the Equinox; as well as her Commanding Officer's Leadership skills in this fight are also reasons why I have given my reccomendations to the Flag Officers for 1st Lt. Tanaka's further promotion jump to the rank of Captain as well as further rank advancements for her staff and crew. She and her crew has cleared the stain to this name brought on by the last ship to bear the name of Equinox through actions of valor in the face of a superior foe. Hence also why I again stress she should be named it's Commanding Officer and the crew kept together despite regulations on these matters. They have ascended from being a crew to truly being a family and the Equniox is their home and guardian angel.) [Addendum: The Rhode Island-class as it is now is very much a hallmark class for the sheer level of damage it took during it's transit and in this battle; and bouncing back from. Indeed, as we exited the nebula; I am given to understand that the Equinox seemed to illicit the image from those who were watching of a war-weary wounded soldier stepping off the battlefield looking exhausted but like she fought well and hard to earn her part in the victory. Gotterdammerung herself illicted the image of a Battle-scared Warrior Queen bearing her scars proudly like they were a sign of her hard-fought victory.]

Losses though did happen and out of a crew compliment of 830, the Gotterdammerung lost 213 throughout this whole incident with 65% of the casualties coming from the attack on the ship itself and the remaining 35% of happening during the battle with 'The Cradle' we engaged in. The Equinox lost another twelve of her crew, bringing her down to the aforementioned total. Both the L'Tar and Dng'pak suffered a casualty rate by our return that was somewhere between 23-37% of their total crew compliments.

However; I truly believe the advancements made, what was learned, and the allies that were made do not invalidate those deaths and instead raise everyone who did not make it back to the same level of expectations Starfleet has for all personnel. Indeed; 'Duty, Valor, and Sacrifice' being our watchwords was never more true then what we endured here towards the end.

In any event, I will now go into a day-by-day detail over our stay on the more important events with Officer Log entries given for varying points of view. This all starts with our entry into and subsequent meeting with the small portion of this society that greeted us.
Cruisers do not suck at DPS and Escorts are not Tanks. If you think this, you need to reread the definition of Tank.
Captain currently of the USS Crash-to-Desktop NCC-18897741

Writer/Author of Lyrical Trek
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 2,665
# 17
09-27-2013, 12:45 PM
Alice-Daystrom Institute Symposium on Synthetic Lifeforms and Artificial Intelligence, some years ago...

"You can have the fastest quantum processor in existence, you can have infinite processing power and bottomless memory-and it won't be Artificial Intelligence." Alice was young for a Ph.D.-she would have been young for an Academy student at this point. Most of the students attending the lecture were older than she was-some of them much older.

"so what defines sentience? According to the Turing test...anything that you can't identify in a blind test as being artificial-that is, for instance, ELIZA here." she tapped the podium, and text appeared, hovering in the air over each student's desk. "ELIZA isn't really AI-but rather, an interface expert system designed in the late twentieth century-at the advent of the Internet. What she is, is an expert system that mimics human behaviour in an anonymous environment so well, that she passes Turing's test. Clearly, there's something fundamentally wrong with Alan Turing's original idea-but it indicates the direction." she tapped the interface again, and the text string vanished. "The next step in the progression was to create a learning programme-the most famous one, of course, was the ATTICUS programme-another 'expert' system, this one used Heuristic algorithms combined with an Eliza-based search mode and interaction software. The ATTICUS achieved what is now considered baseline S1 level sentience during the closing years of the Third World War at University of California Berkeley's Livermore campus...that version of ATTICUS set the baseline for the modern Sentience scale at S1-self awareness. Virtually every Starship since NX-01 has had management software based on the S1 Atticus, most often using a feminine, as opposed to the original's masculine, set of interaction identifiers-basically Eliza mk IV's voice, but Atticus' brains. one could say most ship AI's have a bit of gender dysphoria..."

This drew polite laughter.

"The next step, didn't happen for centuries-Mister Sander, what was the next step in AI evolution after the initial ATTICUS experiments?" she asked.

"That would be M-5." Marc Sander answered from the middle row of the lecture hall.

"Correct. Doctor Daystrom's M-5 was rooted in work pioneered by Aris Soong-a geneticist serving an extended prison sentence for his attempts at human genome manipulation. M-5 used a different structure than ATTICUS, including the use of 'blue brain' patterning and advanced hardware rooted in non-linear equation based algorithms. It was a brilliant machine, but machinery is merely hardware-the M-5's downfall was the software. Does anyone here have an answer as to what was wrong with Daystrom's original software model?"

"Daystrom copied his own brain engrams, but without the restraints of a physical body, the system rapidly went insane." an older 'student' named Carlsen answered.

"Wrong." Alice said, "if that hypothetical were true, then we shouldn't be allowing Captain Data to command a starship, or 'The Doctor' from Voyager to teach medicine at Starfleet Academy, and the Emergency Staff Holograms installed on every Starfleet ship are automatically a danger to both ship, and crew. The reason for the M-5 failure, and the resultant disasterous consequences to four Federation starships, can be found in Dr.Daystrom's subconscious mind-a subconscious that, thanks to his chosen methods, gained free reign over the systems of the NCC-1701 during test exercises, resulting in the deaths of the entire crew of the USS Excalibur." She folded her hands behind her, "put simply, Dr. Daystrom's ethics weren't strong enough an influence on his own thinking, to serve an adequate role in controlling M-5's behaviours. This is the reason every Starfleet regulated Artificial Intelligence capable of Sentience 5 and up, has ethical subroutines built in today."

she checked the chronometer on the wall, "We're about out of time today-remember, your initial projects are due on Tuesday, and don't forget to read chapters one-forty and one-forty-one, there will be a quiz!"

"Doctor Okuda! Doctor!!" a man in a black suit approached. Alice noted the long scar on his face, and he didn't LOOK like a student.

"Yes?" she answered.

"I was looking at your Wonderland project notes for a...project we're putting together, I was wondering if I might have a moment of your time..?" he said.

Alice grimmaced, "The wonderland project failed, mister-?"

"Drake, Frank Drake. My agency found a lot of merit in your wonderland hypothesis, Doctor, we are planning to try it again." he said with a smile.

"Mister Drake, Wonderland failed for a variety of reasons, and I'm not entirely sure it's safe to try it again." Alice told him, "I was pursuing a pretty dangerous path of work on that one-I was hospitalized for nearly a month after." she said, "The Wonderland project ran into fundamental technological hurdles we aren't sophisticated enough to overcome, it may not be a dead-end, but, unless your agency has access to beyond-state-of-the-art hardware resources for the integration, and I'm talking about Dominion clone or higher levels, it's not going to work for your people any better than it did for me." she finished gathering her notes, "Now, if you'll excuse me..."

"What if I told we we have the technology you need to finish it?" Frank asked.

she stopped, and looked at him, "Then you're either lying, or using hardware that violates a series of Federation laws beginning with bans on mental transfer research." she said, "Which either makes your agency a criminal enterprise, or a mythical black-projects outfit normally tasked with suppressing those technologies-I already got probation for Wonderland once."

"I understand, Doctor." Drake said, and gave her a strange little wave, "Be seeing you."

"I doubt it." Alice walked out of the lecture hall.


She walked out of the building into the open-air of the campus. as she walked, she looked at the timer on her watch. Three days, nineteen hours. She'd been tapering off the Neuroin-maintenance doses instead of the full boosts she'd been using for the Wonderland project.

There was still a danger that her next medical screening wouldn't read 'clean', but she didn't NEEd the full intelligence boost to teach basic AI concepts, and the lower doses were less noticeable in other, non-material ways.

she reached the tram station. "Marc." she smiled.

Marc Sander's face wasn't smiling. "We need to talk, Alice." he said.

"did I forget-"She began.

"You didn't forget our date, alice..." his expression was pained, and she realized they were on the tram platform alone-except for a brace of Institute Security.

"What's going on?" Alice asked.

"your medical screening." he said, "These men have a warrant to search your quarters for illegal contraband. Please, tell me it's not so."

Oh ****.

She steeled her resolve, "Marc, what are you talking about?"

"Were you...are you dosing?" he asked, "are you using Neuroin?"

"That's..that's ridiculous." ****!! the worm should've erased that! "Neuroin does permanent, long-term damage. you end up hooked for life-you can't get off of it because you lose...everything."

"Depending on how long you were using." he said, "Someone who just started usually can regain up to seventy percent of their original mental function."

"That's never been proven." Alice said.

"do you want to accompany them when they search your place?" he asked.

"Sure..." go ahead, I don't keep it there anyway..."...and when they don't find anything?"

he actually managed a weak smile, "If they don't find anything, I'll make it up to you, I promise."

"I'll hold you to that." she said. be cool, they won't find anything because we were really careful...

"There's just...one...more thing." Marc said, "WILL you submit to a full medical screening?"

three days out...should be safe enough. "Sure." she said, "How else can I prove I'm not using?"

When they got to her apartment, the security team entered and searched very carefully-and discretely. Alice was certain they wouldn't find her stash-she kept it well away from the apartment, behind a tile in the third stall public refresher next to her office.

"Found something." A security man came up with a hypospray, and tested it in a field kit. "It's Neuroin."

"WHAT?? that's not mine!!" it wasn't-the hypospray he found was standard starfleet-issue style, mine's housing is clear and graduated... she didn't say it, but she could tell-the fix was in.

"I don't know where that came from." She insisted.

"There's still the tox screen-we can also test it to see if it was left here." the Security man said. Marc was staring at Alice, and she knew the look-hurt.

She met his eyes levelly, "I don't dose-I can't afford to-dosing loses your fellowship at the institute, and I don't have the resources-"

"Right." he sighed, "Let's get to medical, then."

on the way to Institute Medical, Marc asked one of the security men, "so, how is the work on treating Neuroin addiction?"

"There's not been a lot of progress, but the Hospitals on Titan have some promising results-we get about six of these cases a year-usually the junkies hide it better." the Security officer said, "only really advanced cases do something as dumb as leaving it on their personal premises."

"How advanced?" Marc asked.

"six months to a year of dosing usually gets them careless." the Security agent said, "we usually see it with life-sciences types though-or Warp theorists-fields with lots of competition and demand for spaces, Comp-sci and AI researchers are usually outside the norm."

They reached the medical center building, and by now, Alice was pretty sure that regardless of what happened next, Marc's mind was made up...

"Dr. Okuda, if you would have a seat in the scanner?" Dr. Jennifer Di'Carlo was someone Alice ate lunch with during the work-week. a colleague, a friend...but that tone said that was done now.

"Sure, Jen." Alice said, "This is all some kind of mistake..."

"You're right about that." Jen Di'Carlo said, "lean back and just relax now..."the scanner hummed.

"Three days until your next dose, right?" Jen said accusingly.

"What?" Alice tried to sit up.

"I said, based on these numbers, you're going to need another hit in three days." Jen said, "You realize it took tech support nineteen hours to clear that virus, and we only found it because of an inquiry from Starfleet Technical Intelligence Group?" Jen's lips pursed, "You messed with my equipment you *****." Jen, who'd been her friend, glared down at her, and the shame started to cascade. "You wrecked your life, Alice...my god, it's Neuroin, nobody comes back from that!"

"What happens now?" Alice asked.

"We have to keep you under guard for the next seventy two hours." Jen said, "actually, based on your watch here, Three days, sixteen hours. Once you're clean we can assess how much damage you did to yourself."

"Why that long?" Alice asked.

"because then you'll be too dumb to score another dose or keep your stash concealed." Jen said, "Nobody wants you using boosted intelligence to escape or cause problems, or pull some kind of retribution..."

"and then?" Alice asked.

"based on the damage, you won't have to worry about that-you won't have much consciousness left to worry, but you'll be remanded to a treatment facility-probably for the rest of your life-somewhere they can take care of you for the remainder of whatever is left of your life." Jen said, "it's like a living death, and you made me do this to you." she glared down at Alice, "Marc's probably never going to recover from this-my god, I was going to be your maid of honor!"

"And if I'm fine in three days, what then?" Alice asked, "What if your instruments are WRONG?"

Jen sighed, "If you're fine in three days, we re-test with another lab's equipment, and if you're clean, then I will owe you a massive apology."

"You don't think I will be, though." Alice said.

"no." Alice told her, "You're going to Algernon...and I have to watch it-Alice, it's like watching someone die when you can't do anything about it."

"Maybe you could just leave it with the EMH then." Alice suggested.

"no." Jen said, "I won't do that to you...we were friends...you won't remember it, but maybe someday..."

72 hours later...

Alice felt the shakes, and realized why she was restrained. "Alice?" the woman..what was her name? Jenny "hi jenny." Alice said.

"Marc's here to see you. How are you feeling?" Jenny asked.

"Tired...a little confused. is there something in the-" she stopped. I asked that question before. "I guess you caught me, I'm having problems..thinking straight."

"It happens." the woman said, and a man-he was handsome, stepped into her field of view. "WHo are you?" Alice asked, "you're handsome...why are you crying?" she didn't know why he was crying, but she felt like crying too..so she did.

"We'll get you treatment." the woman...what was her name? Alice couldn't remember.
"when you're out of Birds of Prey, you're out of ships."
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,077
We'd been out in space for the better part of five months.

Five months of slowly limping home, five months five months with no warp power or communications beyond shortwave. Needless to say with a ship this badly damaged, the long trip home was less than a pleasure cruise. The U.S.S. Geist had taken one one hell of a beating in the seizure and destruction of an illegal genetics research lab, but about one month into an already arduous journey we were attacked by a two ships from the Breen Confederacy, which put another nail into the tire, so to speak. What was only supposed to be a supply raid turned into their last flight, but as their last course of action, they decided to do as much damage as possible.

This kicker is, that with a Prometheus class ships, we have a total of six nacelles and three warp cores, all of which were rendered useless with the destruction of the two port nacelles missing and enough exterior hull damage to fuse the three sections together. Even if I could have ordered the separation, I wouldn't be able to pick and choose who went home and who had to guide the other two segments back. It's almost ironic that one of the fastest ships in the fleet has to travel home so slowly. After the the tragic loss of the U.S.S. Denning though, I can honestly say I'm just glad to be bringing my people home at all.

A task made all the more difficult given how many ships systems we'd lost during both attacks. The ship wide holo emitters were out including the two holodecks, most of the hanger bay had taken out with only a single type nine shuttle, the brig, three separate labs and a few of the quarters in crew deck (luckily unoccupied at the time). Even the replicators have been taken off line, and frankly crew moral hasn't been lower. The crew knows that we'll make it home, that pretty much certain, but it's passing the time that has become the difficult issue. For this I assigned a moral officer: Nurse Pruz. Fizi is a bubbly young lady, as well as a Betazoid and well received amongst the crew, so she was the perfect choice. I'm sure it would be a nice break from her most recent duty of babysitting one of our newest guests, a genetically created being titled merely Rre Desha, The Wraith.

Initially she tried setting up various activities in the gym, different exercise regiments, sports, even bringing out various games and such from the crew's personal effects, but all that did was raise spirits so far before raising tempers, so it was suggested to institute an ancient tradition known as "movie night". With no way to replicate parts to make a view screen my Chief Fine was able retrofit a single holo emitter to projects against the bulk head. It's not much more than a two dimensional image, but the crew seems to be enjoying digging through the computer for anything that fits that format. It seems to have put moral back into a manageable order for the time being. Tonight's movie is the first entry from a series of documentaries from the early days of interspecies relations, I think 'Alien' is what Keating called it.

As for the food situation, that's proved a little more difficult. With all of the replicator equipment blown out, I initially assigned a team to try and convert a transporter into a functional replicator, but the technologies, albeit similar principals, their just different enough that it didn't work. While we could replicate certain things, they were never quite right. Foods tasted terrible, materials didn't have the right structural properties and the power usage was far to great for what little gain we were getting. Devon was, however, able to salvage enough to get a single food replicator working, which we set up in one of the labs, which we converted to a galley of sorts. We were fortunate to pass a few traders here and there as well as plenty of planets with vegetation we could harvest.

One of the bigger issues I found myself dealing with was the boy. At first, we weren't really sure what to do with him. The brig had been destroyed, and even if it hadn't, he had done nothing to warrant holding him there. Most of the crew were doubling up since a majority of the quarters had been breached along with the attached hull. At first it seemed reasonable to keep him confined to sick bay under guard, but even then, he soon began to get restless. Short, escorted visits at first, but after E'Saul and Pruz gave me the all clear, in terms of possible threat to the crew or hidden programing of the sort. I'm sure E'Saul could use the reprieve as well, especially after a slight incident where in I had to explain to him the importance of clothes and modest, after using the de-con chamber as a shower.

It would seem that our guest is having quite the effect on the crew as well. Apparently while Mr. Sabin is fitting in well and making himself useful, Wraith (for lack of a better name) has been the start of a rumor mill. On the one hand, he looks like he's a walking corpse, reminiscent of assimilation victims. On the other, he's clearly Vulcan, but the eyebrows and emotions are just so unexpected with the pointed ears. For the most part, people seem to be avoiding him, though those ears of his can hear everything they're saying about him.

As a means of getting the crew used to him, as well as helping him feel useful around the ship, I've allowed him to start assisting Chief Fine around engineering, mind you under close supervision as well as no where near certain vital or sensitive areas of the ship. He seems to be more than willing to lend a hand as well as any heavy lifting, both figurative and literal. My lead tactical officer, Dave Keating, seems to be very mistrusting of him. Dave has lost numerous family to the Borg, giving him a reasonable amount of dislike for the way he looks. While I've also lost my wife and son, I can't help but feel like I can do something here. Almost as if I can help him become more than the sum of his purpose.

It was only two weeks ago I allowed him to start walking the ship without a security escort. To get around the problem of not being able to track him, he was issued an old work suit circa 22nd century and a comm badge. The comm badge houses a surprise if he does decide to turn on us, but the uniform is simple so I don't get any more complaints from the medical staff. It seems that since I've made that decision, there have been more crew complaints as well. I'm sure having the boy walking free is only a small fraction of the stress that the crew has been under since the genetics lab. There are too many little things going wrong, causing too many fractures in an already tense atmosphere.

Within the next week or so, there is an M-class planet a few days off course. It's a small but tropical place, so I've already had the proper course modifications. I feel a little time on a beach would do a lot of good. It shouldn't be much longer after that and we'll be home. Frankly this old girl could use a lot of love when we get back to space dock. She's well over due for an overhaul on all of her systems, not to mention a completely new emergency medical hologram. Each test run we made of the default model it kept trying to inject itself with any and all hypos it could find. There were also issues with its vocal subroutines which caused it to say some outlandish and often inappropriate things. I had Devon all but delete it after it got fresh with one of the female ensigns. Just one of the many curses of flying an old Prometheus class ship I suppose.

I'd like to propose accommodations for both my crew as well as the entire crew of the U.S.S. Denning, as well as ask to have Mr. Sabin promoted and reassigned to be the new science officer aboard the Geist. He's been hard working and knowledgeable, making him a great asset to this crew in the future. As for the boy, I'm not really sure what I can say for him. He's done nothing wrong, so a penal colony is out of the question, and keeping him in a lab seems inhuman, despite him being... well.. inhuman. Hopefully the egg heads at Starfleet can at least come up with a better name for him. It seems slightly ridiculous to keep referring to him as something that was written on the tank we found him in.

Dr. E'Saul seems to think that taking him off the ship might not be as easy as I expect. It seems he's managed to imprint himself on me as part of his innate programming. She thinks its a method of control, like the Jem'Hadar's dependence on Ketrocel White. I suppose it makes sense though. It seems the boy is willing to do what ever I ask without question. Unquestionable loyalty and a fierce instinct to protect those deemed as "family". It's a powerful instinct, a who knows what a creation like this could do, under the right conditions. That however, will be Admiral Aviess' problem. There are a number of things that need to be done before the ship is ready to sail again, giving the crew plenty of time for personal leave. I know there are those looking forward to seeing their families, others have friends, a few like myself who really have nothing but their work...

It will be good to be back at Earth though, this has been a long hard journey on all of us, with too many losses to really ever call it a win.

Last edited by wraithshadow13; 09-29-2013 at 12:28 AM.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 195
# 19
09-29-2013, 10:31 AM
LC #50 Redux 2.0 channeling LC #49: The Return of the Traveler

__Trail_Mix_______

Nicci was thrilled to be getting a Starfleet commission from Captain Erred, himself only just commissioned, following his successful evacuation of wounded countrymen from her home planet, Moab III, and the rescue of two Starfleet hospital ships from Fek'Ihri invaders. Before the battle Nicci helped Erred find a new crew, after his Ankari crew abandoned him upon arrival from the distant Delta Quadrant. In return Erred rewarded Nicci with a bridge posting in time for the space battle, which was now commuting to Ensign status. Now came the hard part - Starfleet personnel forms. "Nicci. N-I-C-C-I," she spelled.

"No surname?" asked assisting nurse Ha Siobhan.

Nicci once had a surname, but unlike the many Trans, Phams, Hoangs and Nguyens of Moab III, hers was unique to herself and her brother Peter. It belonged to her mother's memory, too painful to recall when she entered the orphanage six years ago, and too painful to recall now. "Just Nicci, thanks auntie," addressing her elder as she would back on Moab III.

The computer repeated the name, and the nurse acknowledged it. "Next question. Age?", asked Nurse Ha. "That is, your experiential age. Include REM, NREM and hibernation sleep, coma, Trill host years, hyper-acceleration, local time spent on tachyon core planets and double time spent by reabsorbed future selves. Subtract cryo and temporal stasis. Do not adjust for absolute stardate, progeria, segmental progerias, chroniton particle damage, Barclay's Protomorphosis, adsorbed Collective experience, reverse universe de-aging or reboot."

"Um, what?"

"How old are you?"

"Thirteen!" Finally, an easy question.

"Okay then! That's pretty young to be a Starfleet ensign. Good work! Next question-" The nurse frowned at her screen. "That's odd. I've never seen that before. It looks like we have some new questions."

Nicci's anxious heart beat faster as she leaned over to look at the console. The extra questions were listed under the title, 'Wesley Protocol'. She sighed. "Okay auntie."

"Aside from youth, does the candidate possess unique talents?" Nurse Ha studied Nicci. "I don't know what that would be."

Nicci figured that had to refer to her surname. "I do. But I don't want to say."

"That's okay, it appears to be a 'yes' or 'no' question. Let's put 'yes'. That gives us another question: Has the candidate made contact with The Traveller?" Nurse Ha frowned.

That had to mean Captain Erred. "Yes I did!"

The nurse was no longer reading from the screen. "What kind of contact was this?" Nurse Ha's looked extremely concerned.

"No, silly, they mean Captain Erred!"

Nurse Ha breathed a huge sigh of relief. "Okay, on we go. 'Where does The Traveller come from?'"

Nicci couldn't remember exactly. Erred was Telsian, from a planet called something like 'Telsian One'. "Can you just put 'Delta Quadrant'?"

Nurse Ha nodded. "That worked. Next question: Has the Traveller demonstrated his metaphysical powers?"

Nicci and Nurse Ha both scratched their heads. The nurse pulled up a quick definition of 'metaphysical'. "Metaphysics", she read, "what is ultimately there? What is it like?" Nicci could almost feel ligaments snap in her head trying to get her mind around that. But then she remembered the encounter between Erred and the Fek'Ihri hordeling in the Moab III refugee infirmary. Erred had tried to befriend the vicious horror before a Klingon officer blew it away with a disruptor rifle. It almost seemed to work, albeit briefly. "Yes, yes! Erred tried to 'like' a hordeling." In fact, Erred was friendly to everyone, which made Nicci a little envious. Still, Erred definitely liked her too.

The nurse did not seem convinced, but after throwing her hands in the air she answered the question in the affirmative. She was about to read out the next question when Lawrence the transporter operator's voice came across the comms.

"The transporter has just shut down. I have no idea why yet," the exasperation clear in his voice. "It will delay the repair efforts on our ship."

Nurse Ha noticed something appear on the console in front of her, and read it out. "Confine the candidate to quarters. Do not let the candidate- Oh woops. I guess I didn't say that." The nurse shook her head. "I guess we're done for now, we'll just have to wait."

Nicci could see Nurse Ha was as frustrated with the process as she was. "I'll go see how Lawrence is doing with the transporter problem."

"Sure. As soon as the personnel form is working again I'll let you know."

"Thank you auntie." Nicci climbed off her chair. "But if it's this hard to join Starfleet, how will Erred's Lethean prisoner-pilot ever make it through?"

Nurse Ha gave Nicci a conspiratorial look. "Maybe we should just register him as an uncatalogued alien?"

* * *

The transporter room led on to a brightly lit hexagonal alcove filled with teleporter pads, whence people came and went at times when the machine was working. Right now Nicci found Lawrence bent over beneath the transporter console, muttering. "There's nothing actually wrong with you! You're just saying that!"

"Lawrence?"

"Is that you Nicci?" Lawrence's voice echoed in the void inside the console. "You know you nearly made me bang my head, but this officer can't be pegged so easily."

"Sorry, Lawrence." Nicci walked over to look at the transporter console. She had started learning about consoles already, ultimately to train as a Communications Officer. Apparently speaking Klingon and the local patois of Moab III was useful in space. Nicci had meanwhile been taught the simple controls of the tractor beam to give her something to do on the bridge. The Starfleet training officer had told her that communications was harder, more than just 'push to talk'. No doubt it was very complex, as Nicci had never seen a male Communications Officer. Lawrence's transporter console was colored like every other Federation console Nicci had seen, although this one had a red stripe rendered digitally across it.

"Someone has locked me out," explained Lawrence. "Don't panic. I think I can restore my access if I can just reverse the polarity of the monogamer." Nicci wondered how Lawrence could possibly expect a thirteen year old refugee to understand him, but at least it did sound like he was on to something. Nicci was still watching the display under the red stripe when a message appeared: Target Acquired. The teleporter began to make noise, before a loud thump under the console. "Ow!" cried Lawrence.

"Are you okay?" asked Nicci, focussing on the teleporter console messages. The red stripe was still there, but she could see the target momentarily identified as a holo-emitter. The display then went blank, before displaying: 'Drake Franklin, Vice Admiral, Starfleet Admissions'."

Lawrence climbed to his feet, rubbing his head. He looked down at the display. "Ahh, top brass. Just like them to prioritize your enrolment over the devastation of a whole planet." A Starfleet officer in a dark sea grey-green uniform appeared on the teleporter pads. He stepped quickly towards Nicci and Lawrence.

"Hello sir," saluted Lawrence, "I am Commander Lawrence Moore, transporter officer."

"And I am Drake Franklin." He checked the console. "As you already know." He proceeded to draw a tricorder and pointed it at Nicci. "Hello, Nicci Shwe. Or should I say, 'min ga la ba'? What are you doing in the transporter room? Where is Nurse Ha?"

How could he possibly know her mother's surname, and the greeting she had used? "I don't know you. But 'Ch`ao m`u'ng ban' to you too." A proper greeting on Moab III was far more appropriate than baby talk. Nicci's grandmother died of the same seizures as her mother, at a similar age. Those few words that had survived the generations were too sacred for just anyone to use. "Nurse Ha is fixing her console. I was just seeing if Lawrence needed some help fixing his."

"Apologies for confusing your genetic and cultural heritage." Drake Franklin spoke with very little intonation, and even less sincerity. "Moab III is a complicated case, perhaps unnecessarily so." Drake shrugged. "So you are Starfleet's latest 'Wesley'?"

Nicci looked up at Lawrence. Lawrence looked just as confused as she was, but he spoke up. "Nicci is an Ensign-elect. Youngest I've ever seen, in fact." Lawrence did not sound especially happy about that. He'd also complained earlier when Nicci was on the bridge, during the fight with the Fek'Ihri. She hoped Lawrence wouldn't stop her from being an Ensign. Joining Starfleet brought her one step closer to finding Starfleet officer Jesu, who had saved her from the orphanage during the original invasion. It was the whole reason she had found her way onto this ship, bringing her injured little brother with her. There was no way she would let Lawrence screw it all up.

"Yes, I'm training to be a Communications Officer", ventured Nicci.

"On some strange, yet working facsimile of a hospital ship piloted by an alien from the Delta Quadrant who is younger than Nicci!" Lawrence couldn't hold back. There was something clearly rankling the middle-aged Starfleet officer.

"Interesting," said Drake Franklin. "This captain - is he The Traveller?"

"Yes!" cried Nicci. Captain Erred wanted her to be an Ensign. If Drake Franklin could meet Erred then he'd vouch for her. Surely.

"Does he travel alone?"

Lawrence snorted. "He sure does. Came all the way from the Delta Quadrant and arrived without a crew. He's lucky I found him a crew."

Nicci looked aghast at Lawrence. "You're lucky I introduced you to him first, to help with transporter-ing! You just brought them here!" Nicci turned to Drake. "Nurse Ha found most of the crew." Drake Franklin almost smirked. It was as close to an expression as he had come since his arrival. Nicci was not sure what it meant, but it did remind her of her manners. "Lawrence did a really good job bringing everyone on board."

The interrogation continued. "Did this Captain Erred start out with a whole crew of Travellers?"

Nicci nodded. The Ankari crew had built Erred's ship, loosely based on Olympic class ship blueprints, and brought Erred most of the way here before leaving. Maybe this happened all the time out in space. At least Drake Franklin was nodding.

"The Delta Quadrant is a very long way. Say, do you have any Betazoids on board?"

Lawrence shook his head. "There's none on board. The crew and medical staff are mostly from Moab III. We didn't see many Betazoids even before the invasion. I don't know if there would be any at all left on the surface."

"That's a pity. It would be a useful test. Nevermind. May I speak with this Captain Erred?" A crewman strolled past, throwing his hand to his head in a frantic salute when he recognized Drake's rank. "Somewhere private perhaps?"

Lawrence rubbed his chin. "Most working parts of the ship are jammed with wounded refugees, but we could try the captain's ready room."

Nicci recalled the room where her injured brother was convalescing was called the ready room. It would be good to see him again, regardless of the distraction it might cause to her enrolment processes. "Yes, let's all meet in the ready room. Lawrence can fix the transporter." Nicci spotted Lawrence's angry glare. "Nicci... Ensign Nicci to Captain Erred, please report to the ready room." She threw a smarmy smile over her shoulder at Lawrence as she walked out the door with Drake Franklin.

* * *

Captain Erred arrived at the ready room slightly later than Nicci and Drake Franklin, which gave Nicci a chance to check on her brother. He was sedated again, lying on a stretcher, but looking better. The color had returned to his skin with the help of blood transfusions. The Fek'Ihri bites were still covered by bandages. Nicci kissed him on the forehead as Erred arrived.

"Hello Captain Erred," said Drake, unconvinced. "No need to apologize for the mess of course. Let's be seated." They sat at one end of the ready room table by the feet of two patients who lay upon it.

"This is Drake Franklin, from Starfleet admissions," emphasized Nicci. She knew Erred was prone to say the wrong thing sometimes. Hopefully this would not be one of those times. Erred sat with a simple smile.

"You can call me Drake. So you are the Traveller?"

"I guess I am," said Erred.

"Traveller, your skin is as grey as I had expected. But you do not otherwise appear as you appeared before."

"I changed my appearance to be more approachable," explained Erred. Nicci thought that was a crazy idea when Erred explained his plastic surgery earlier. She did not have as strong a desire to make people like her.

"Interesting. Should I call you Wesley?"

"I am not Wesley. I am Erred."

"Oh." Drake looked confused. "Traveller Erred then. So you came from the Delta Quadrant in this starship?"

"Yes, the Ankari built it for me."

Nicci noticed Drake surreptitiously using his tricorder. "But you're not Ankari. Did you by any chance provide the propulsion for this 'little' trip?"

"No, I just provided an auxiliary battery." Nicci knew about the battery. The device left by the USS Voyager crew had provided sufficient information about an Olympic Class vessel for the Ankari to build a mock one. It somehow was enough to get from the Delta Quadrant to here.

"I see. Euphemisms. Euphemisms, entendres and goodness knows what else. I expect we have a long way to go before we might fully comprehend you."

Erred and Nicci looked at each other. Drake was either talking in riddles or mocking them. But Erred was too polite, and Nicci didn't want to jeopardise her entry into Starfleet. There was an awkward silence.

Drake moved on to a new line of questioning. "So you have come for Nicci? Is she another Wesley?"

"My mission? Oh, I have come for much more than that." Nicci suddenly felt despondent, but Erred smiled warmly at her. "Of course, Nicci too. But she is just one person. I have come for World Peace."

Nicci was stunned. She hadn't thought to ask Erred why he'd come to the Alpha Quadrant. She thought he just wanted to pilot a hospital ship, something he'd seen on the side of an auxiliary battery box. World Peace did not make much sense. Especially since Erred had come a little too late to save Moab III. Drake probably reached the same conclusion when he asked, "Which world did you plan to change, exactly?"

"Any of them."

Drake leaned towards Erred. "And you would do this with the power of thought?"

"Metaphysics," chimed in Nicci. She was adamant she would ascend this steep learning curve, and was glad when Drake nodded. It was that warm 'got a test question right' feeling.

Erred gave Nicci a weird look, like someone had no idea what they were talking about. "Yes, with the power of thought. And feelings."

Drake stiffened. "Your emotions can change things?"

"Everyones' emotions. We just need to give peace a chance."

Drake scratched his head. "So this power to change everyone's emotions - it can be countered, somehow?" He did not appear to believe the words he was saying.

"And give war a chance? I guess that's possible. I haven't thought about that yet."

Drake sighed audibly. "Thank you. Please don't think about that."

Nicci had no clue what they were talking about. She fidgeted.

"I guess we have no choice then," said Drake. "What do our worlds need to do to convince you not to mess with them?"

Erred laughed. It did not seem like a terrible thing, but Drake recoiled, a look of horror on his face. Erred noticed, and stopped laughing. "Well, I guess if everyone just got along, I'd have to find something else to do."

Drake nodded slowly. "I do have considerable influence in this quadrant, as you perhaps already know. Would my word be sufficient for you to give us time to sort things out?"

"Trust is important. If you say it, you should do it." Erred was clearly a good person, but from Nicci's experience the world did not always work like that.

Drake nodded. "I know trust is difficult, heck, I know it better than... but anyway. I can sign a blood oath, or whatever it takes. On behalf of the worlds of the Federation."

Nicci raised her hand.

"Uh, yes Nicci?" asked Erred.

"Holograms don't have blood," she pointed out.

Drake's eyes narrowed at Nicci. "You're not very smart for a prodigy, Nicci. Whatever deception you think you have uncovered, that is not it." He patted his torso with his hands, before remembering the knife in an ankle holster. He pulled it out and drew it across his hand. "By my blood, I-"

"Am not bleeding," interjected Nicci.

Drake held up his hand to show Nicci and Erred the blood. Erred looked surprised. "There's no blood."

Drake spun his hand around. "No blood?!" He stabbed his hand. Again and again. No blood. Not even a wound.

"But it's not fair!" cried Drake. "I'm a clone, not a hologram!"

"Then you're a hologram of a clone," pointed out Nicci.

Erred frowned pointedly at Nicci.

"But how could I not know?" Drake cried.

"Actually, it's not all bad," Erred smiled helpfully. "This way you can be in many places at once."

"Or none," cried Drake.

"If you are in many places, then you're a duplicate of a hologram of a-"

"Shut up, Nicci," said Erred, shaking his head less than subtly towards the distraught Drake hologram. "Still, that is messed up.? Nicci wondered why Erred was allowed to state the obvious, and not her.

"No kidding!" cried Drake, looking at his palms. "Do I even exist?"

Erred had heard of this question recently. He scanned his eyes across the books on a shelf, before spotting Completing Your Sentiences by Ira Graves. The book had been provided to Erred by transporter officer Lawrence when he was concerned about Erred?s mental development. Erred gave a huge grin. "You predicate therefore you are."

"Oh! My goodness." Drake gave a proper, human-looking smile for the first time since coming on board. "That's extremely well put, actually. I'd never thought of it that way."

"See? Thought!" Erred tapped his skull. "Powerful, no?"

"Indeed it is. This turn of events has changed everything. In the context of a hologram, my internal urges are starting to make sense to me. I no longer feel the need to stall you, observe you, or steal you back to my ship. In fact, I feel I must return to my ship."

Nicci scratched her head. "But you're a hologram. Surely your ship doesn't actually need you."

Drake nodded. "That is logical. But still, I feel compelled! I guess I am programmed."

Captain Erred jumped to his feet. "Now is the time to prove your sentience! Resist your programming!" He then noticed the sleeping patients on stretchers and put his hand over his mouth.

Drake nodded very forcefully. He whispered, "You're right. I must think beyond my programming. Outside the box."

"Be a real man," whispered Erred.

"Traveller, your metaphysics is truly more powerful than I could ever conceive. No doubt due to the nature of my conception." Drake sighed. "If only I were a real human."

"No Erred is human," pointed out Nicci.

"To forget is divine," added Erred, smiling at Nicci and waving his arms in a wide embrace meant for everyone in the room.

"You have given my existence meaning, for which I am so grateful." Drake struck his most shakespearean pose, waving the back of his hand at an imaginary sky. "We are philosophising, therefore we are. Take that, cruel world."

Erred and Drake then sat back in their chairs with arms crossed, looking smugly at each other. Nicci was not quite sure what had just happened, but it had to bode well for her Starfleet commission. Then suddenly Drake flickered and de-rezzed into a holoemitter that appeared on Drake's chair. A single red light pulsed weakly on the side.

"Oh dear. Maybe he shouldn't have stayed," observed Erred.

"He seemed happy. I hope it means I can still be an Ensign."

Erred shrugged. "I don't think a powerless holo-emitter can have an opinion either way."

"No. I guess he won't be predicating any more either." Nicci looked towards the book that had inspired Erred earlier. "What does predicating mean, anyway?"

"I don't know, I haven't gotten to that chapter. It sounds kind of nasty."

Last edited by milandare; 09-29-2013 at 10:48 AM.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 197
# 20
09-30-2013, 05:00 AM
LC #45, Freestyle




IKS Nighthawk, Eta Eridani sector

There were some things that one did not expect to run into in space. Fourteen frozen Ferengi floating freely was definitely not what Captain B'oDgok ever thought he'd see out here. there was no ships near by, though there was signs of battle, and this technically was Alliance territory, though close to the border with the Empire. "Sensors, what do you have?" he asked, as the Ki'tang Bird of Prey came to a stop.

"All channels clear Sir, I'm picking up two warp trails, one a Ferengi D'Kora..th other..looks Terran, possibly Miranda." Thag replied. There were some in the fleet that looked down on the neanderthal clone for being too close to human-but far enough away from human not to be a slave.

Unlike his first officer-but then she technically was human-though the crew had learned not to call her one to her face. Her people wanted nothing more than to be left alone, living on a backwater planet on the edge of the galaxy. The Klingons had found them close to a hundred years ago by a ship fleeing Imperial tyranny, and had been taken in by the genetically enhanced humans-only to find themselves having to flee twenty years past, when the ISS Aventine discovered the planet.

It had been a nice place too-B'o was born there but now...it was a radioactive ice ball, destroyed in retaliation by the Emperor for the loss of the Aventine. There were over sixty million people on the planet..The eight hundred thousand survivors had been relocated to Rura Penthe, where they mined and built for the Alliance which had given them sanctuary. They were considered slaves at first, though with Martok's ascension to Regent, and their service to the Alliance, they had been granted emancipation. Many still wore collars voluntarily though, as a reminder to the debt their people owed to the Alliance-like his first officer. But then, he'd bought her the one she was wearing, made of blue targ leather that matched her eyes, and she'd worn it since the day he married her.

Melissa leaned over Thag's shoulder, looking at the readout. She wasn't wearing much more than that collar now, having borrowed something from one of the Orion medics, her large fennec like ears splayed wide due to the heat on the bridge. One of these days they'd have to make time to have the environmental controls replaced again, not that he minded the view. "definitely a modified Miranda "she said, a predatory gleam in her eye "I wonder if it might be our old friends on the Gabirel Bell.."

"While I for one would love to be the ones that sent those p'tahks to Gre'thor" he replied "We have a mission we must see to first."

"I know, just wishing" she said with a feral grin "we still should probably retrieve the bodies-returning them to their families might help move the Ferengi more towards our side."

B'o just snorted "ha, they won't do a thing if there's not profit."

"true, but every bit of evidence we can get that the Empire is killing their traders helps. Can't make latinum when you're dead." she said.

"bring them aboard then-if the Empire killed them, then they will be added to the list for avenging."

She nodded and headed for the lift. It was cooler below decks thankfully, heading towards the medlab. The bodies were being set out on tables for examinations by Dr Ilssa, the female Gorn chief medic looking down at them sadly "why did they bring them here Missy?" she asked the XO as she walked in "this is a place for saving life, I can not do anything for them"

Melissa looked comicaly small next to the huge Gorn, in another ten years or so Ilssa would probably have to leave the service for shore duty, warship corridors just aren't that big. "we just need to find out how they died and who killed them."

"Fah. How is easy, they went out the airlock in their underwear. Except this one..." she leaned down over one, looking at her scanner "this one was dead before he touched the black.." delicately, with tools that looked too small for her claws, the medic scanned something just barely poking out from the Ferengi's eye "stylus, rammed into the ocular cavity and into the brain-at least he died faster than his comrades."

"Wait what?" Her ears perked up...she'd heard of that before, the so called 'magic trick.' She leaned down, sniffing at the body, then growled.

"Tran. That ***** hasn't died yet."

"Tran of the Black Fleet?"

"that's the one. I'd have thought her disease would have killed her by now." Melissa said , still growling a bit. "just as well, means I still have a chance to gut her like a targ."

The gorn let out a rumbling laugh "I think you may need to..what is the saying? 'Pick a number and stand in line'. Just about everyone wants her dead."


"heh, true. but no one would be too upset if I got to her first." she grinned. "Sadly, their course and ours aren't going the same way. But never know, we might get lucky."


"good" Ilssa said "Not that I do not want to see her dead..but our mission this day is about preserving life. Can always kill Tran later. I just hope that if we do run into her..that some fool does not completely atomize her."

"why is that?"

Ilssa smiled "Because I would like for myself the simple pleasure of jumping up and down on her body."

"I'll see what I can do" Melissa laughed, as she headed back towards the bridge. "guess who's not dead yet?" she asked as she dropped into her seat at the helm."as tempting as it is to go after her, we'll hurt them in the long run more by continuing on" she said as she prepared to resume their previous course.


Three days later, Nova Hanoi, New Vegas system

Landing a Ki'tang Bird of Prey cloaked without making any disruption to the atmosphere that could be detected required a good pilot, and Melissa was very good. They had set down in a deep valley, where the only thing they had to worry about was an hourly pass by a picket ship in orbit. Their contacts were waiting for them. She didn't have to go, the air outside even hotter than it was on the bridge, though while grounded the engineer was going to swap out the environmental controller again. But she felt she had to go, she could stand it for a while.

The human waiting for them didn't use his name, just his title. Shepperd. Not for security, but because once taking the vows of their order, they gave up their names. "good to see you again" the older dark skinned man said with a genuine smile.

Melissa for a long time had hated un modified humans, many did. yet the more time they spent with the shepherd, the more her hate lessened. They were in fact just as much victims as her people, hell as half the galaxy, dumped on these poisoned worlds by the Empire. "good to see you too Shepherd" she said, "we've got the last of the medical replicators you need to get full production up and running, as well as weapons for when the liberation comes."

The Shepherd just nodded, taking one of the pistols from the crate and sliding it into a holster. "I thought your holy book prohibited the taking of life." Bo'dgok asked curiously as they headed into the underground warren of tunnels.

"Killing yes, it's a bit fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."

She laughed as they came into one of the main caverns, their cargo for the return trip was there waiting for them. She looked over the crowd of children, her ears drooping a bit "do they all have it?" she said quietly.

"they do, as well as other ailments that will leave them dead or worse in a short time" Shepherd replied softly. She felt something tug on her, looking down it was a small girl, about seven or so.

"why do you have such big ears?" she asked. Melissa just crouched down and smiled "the better to hear you with."

The girl just giggled "you're pretty, am I gonna be pretty like you when I wake up?"

"I think you'll be prettier than I could ever be " Melissa replied, getting a hug from the girl before she scampered back to the others. She sighed softly "only 80 percent are going to survive the augmentation..." she whispered sadly.

"that is still better than the 100 percent that would be dead in a year or less...and with the changes, they won't have to go through what their parents did in twenty years." B'o rested his hand on Melissas shoulder, giving a reassuring squeeze.

"Exactly." The Shepherd winced a bit as another pain hit, getting close to stage two himself before much longer. "you're giving these kids a chance at life they never would have had..and a chance to liberate others from Earth's tyranny." He patted the holster "Tell the Regent, when the time comes, we will be ready. The empire will fall."

Melissa just nodded "amen to that Shepherd." She then started leading the children back to the Nighthawk, and a chance at life.
"It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier."

Last edited by knightraider6; 09-30-2013 at 05:05 AM.
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