Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 31
05-13-2011, 06:14 AM
Captain Tarrak sits in perfect posture on his couch in his quarters. Stars streak past his window quietly, while he considers the question carefully.

"An interesting question." He replies simply. Reaching into his pocket and withdrawing a gold pocket watch. To a trained eye, one could identify the style as being from the 2100's era of Earth. While pocket watches were long since out of vogue in the time period inwhich this timepiece was made, there were still companies who produced them... usually as retirement gifts, or as luxury items. The hunter-case watch was fairly simplistic in aesthetics, but using military time. As the vulcan holds the watch in his hand, he opens the lid, showing laser-engraved words in the vulcan language.

"When I received this gift from my wife on my birthday, I was curious as to the meaning of such a gift." He points a finger to the engraving.

"To my Husband, Time is the most precious resource any of us have." He reads aloud.

He closes the lid and holds the watch by its golden chain, inspecting the bauble. Clearly, he is thinking deeply.

"Many humans consider the phrase to be enigmatic, when they ask for the translation. A few even believed the phrase to be cold and impersonal." He raises an eyebrow, apparently showing only the slightest hints of irritation at the human responses.

"I have carried this watch with me for a long time. It was made by a Swiss watchmaker on Earth. T'Pel had apparently found it for sale in a Ferengi antique store near Alpha Centauri some time before my birthday, and had it engraved shortly thereafter."

He inspects the watch carefully before continuing, placing it back in his pocket.

"The deeper meaning is very simple, however... poetic. We all have a finite timespan in which to exist. And though she and I are married... nothing is more important than the time we have together. It is the quintessential thread to our existance as sentient beings. It is a symbolic gift... that whenever I observe the time... I also must observe the time I have with... or as most often is the case... without her."

He seems fairly non-emotional regarding the last statement.

"She has her own ship to command and duties to perform. As do I. And for the both of us, serving in Starfleet... we both know that time is -- indeed... the most precious resource we have."
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Join Date: Dec 2007
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# 32 Entry #2
05-13-2011, 11:26 AM
Lord Sam-Al - To’ko Robes of the Demon Lords

To’ko – tolerance through acceptance - similar to the earth phrase “patience from understanding” but bears high influence as the most sacred law of the dominiqai.

........The dominiqai, native to the gamma quadrant, are the most emotionally unstable beings in the galaxy if they are not properly educated in the ways of persistence & endurance over their seething nature. At the core, all dominiqai could be described as inherently evil. This stems from the fact they are genetically disposed towards an entirely selfish pursuance of their “tio,” an ultimate goal idolized as the high rise at the end of vi-mal mari –“the path of ambitions.” A T’sli-kmo takes the low road, & travels alongside said path, always keeping it in near sight.

........Dominiqai consider the majority of their species to have the perfect balance of brains & brawn, though these can become highly unbalanced. For example, if one focuses too much on strategy in a battle they begin to enter a state of vi-bolra, “the regression” - their body begins to shrivel & shrink into what are referred to as vi-domp’shi – “the minion form.” This can be advantageous in a battle to lose one’s opponent; such a drastic change in appearance is extremely misleading. Their skin becomes a pale grey, due to the blood being farther from the skins surface. Their horns retract, folding back over their cranium & a tuft of hair grows over them in their stead. Their pupils fill out their eyes which in turn begin to bulge from their sockets, increasing visual acuity. Their jaws collapse & a rim of sharp teeth emerges around the lips & along the cheeks & chin. It is quite a sight to behold, one might even suggest that it defies all explicable nature; then again the same was said of shape shifters in the early days before it was known how common a trait this was.

........It is not truly known why such bodily changes are necessary as the dominiqai, being such an ancient race, have never been able to trace the roots along the evolutionary ladder of their planet. Fortunately they do know that in order to regain their stature, they must exercise force & push their bodies to the limit, or their intelligence will also begin to suffer until they have a mental capacity of a child.

........Though this species maturation is usually complete within their first 3 years of life, trauma such as the bolra can take a lifetime to repair. It is then up to the family, if they have one, to decide whether the life still has premise. Often, since they won’t achieve a well rounded skill set in time to be of use to their social structure, those inflicted will be trained just enough to make a decision whether or not to end their own life. With an average lifespan of 130 years, this is a shocking reality.

........Dominiqai children are born as domp’shi, & the sooner they begin their paja kin, or “influx of knowledge,” a telepathic ceremony performed by parents & peers to share history & theory, the sooner & faster they will grow. In order for the mind of a dominiqai to be properly prepared to handle the paja kin, they must literally exercise their brain muscles. The thinking process causes their neurons to wiggle, stimulating further growth of the mind & body – priming their muscles for training.

........Dominiqai language is short & simple, only using 13 alphanumeric sets of symbolic characters that can be interpreted as either letters or numbers depending on the context or the amount of space between words. Bereft of most prepositions &/or conjunctions common to known languages, the sentence structure is designed to be spat out as quickly & fluidly as possible to comprehend. Most conversations are epically abrupt as delving into ones personal life too much is considered offensive, even if it is with/from your own mate. An interpersonal query of one’s vacation may consist of “ira vash ala-li – enjoy your time?” the response simply being: “tui kmo sha - I sensed joy.”

........The spiritual robes of the T’sli-kmo or “Shaman of Sensation” are always comprised of an uncomfortable, itchy material evocative of tweed. The fastenings are crude combinations of snaps, buttons & drawstrings, ensuring that the dressing process takes at least a finar, the equivalent of 27 earth minutes. It is dyed the least desired or least complimentary color of the wearer. The robes are to bear no adornments, & they may not be made to liken any desirable object or be modified to make oneself appear desirable. A symbol of their fortitude, this tradition dates back for 3 million generations on their world. Signifying completion of this rite of passage, any dominiqai wearing these robes are eligible for off-world activity, since they may interact with other species with confidence that they will not do them harm for a superfluous reason.

........An undergarment, standard to all members of this race, is fitted using a super-elastic polymer of light fibers that can split apart to a point of resistance & then begins mending itself back together. This was invented by researchers of the “jshel,” beasts that create nests out of excretions from their mucus membranes. This rare near-indestructible material can bind together & stretch & contract to fit their eggs, keeping them warm & safe. It was adapted to suit dominiqai who may inadvertently transmute into domp’shi so they might still retain their dignity. They are worn as a one-piece like long-johns.

........As one of their most revolutionary discoveries, it was christened with the longest single word in their language. Kreeen, as it was named, is malleable like metal yet soft like spandex, conforming to the contours of any design they see fit. The material is also used to make carriers, not unlike a backpack or satchel on earth; though these ones come in only one size & can carry something as small as change, or something as large as a load of ore - roughly the amount you could fit into a wheel barrel. Neither the weight nor jaggedness of any object could pierce the material. They do recommend against carrying unsheathed blades, however; as they could, in a large enough quantity, be sharp to the touch when the material is stressed around its contours.

........90% of their planetary culture has evolved beyond their primal urges, however the remaining percentages go insane trying to keep themselves in check or merely embrace their dark side. Once in a while, a fractured mind may either swindle its way onto the committee or unknowingly deceive others if their condition is not identified, due to being well hidden or simply not showing symptoms. This can lead to disaster as the votes must always be 3/5 to approve any action, & though only 10% of the population reverts to such a state, it just so happens that exactly 3/5 of those afflicted live in rural areas & pursue facets of administration due to their inclined superiority complex.

........Due to this fact, if at any given moment there are 6 or more members on the committee who have or are susceptible to this contagious mental illness, they may sway a vote that would deny necessitations or enact a bill of war. Their people take great medical precautions to avoid this, but it has happened recently in documented history. One such offset of balance had devastating consequences leading to their involvement in the Dominion War, & initially denied their entrance into the federation.

........The dominiqai encountered the jem’hadar in an interplanetary skirmish while they “mediated” a territorial dispute. Of course, the jem’hadar were actually there under this pretense to make a land grab for resources, under the flag of the growing dominion fleet. The dominiqai were bartering for a planet in Geltak territory, about 43 parsecs from the beta-Q wormhole when the jem’hadar laid claim to the area after instilling fear in the local populace, insinuating that a painful death would ensue if they did not give up without a fight. More openly admitted to protecting their own interests than to defending the weak but thriving commercial civilization, the dominiqai stepped in & annihilated the dominion in that region.

........For a short time, the dominion attempted to negotiate with these seemingly ruthless enemies. Eventually outthought & outgunned, the vorta & changeling leadership inevitably bowed down to their new masters, whom they dubbed “Demon Lords.”

........Several thousand jem’hadar saw this as a sign of weakness of their masters & rebelled against all sympathizers. Others openly objected or just absconded from the dominion; the vorta wished to have them hunted & executed but couldn’t get approval from the changelings, as they knew this would never pass approval with their lordship. The demon lords retained reign over the dominion to gain access to the bajoran wormhole. At this point the dominion had outlived their usefulness & so the demon lords turned them loose with a threat bearing little more than a slap on the wrist.

........Basking in the adamant reverence these acts had earned them throughout the quadrant, the dominiqai clung to the name their dominion pets had given them. All distinguished members of their race would henceforth be referred to as Demon Lords. Corruption & arrogance began to stir within the secondary fleet of the dominiqai, the committee aboard the lead vessel had been swayed to ally themselves with the dominion & helped them eradicate several federation colonies. In the hopes of preserving the peace, several well trained T’sli-kmo monks opened negotiations with the Federation & eventually joined their ranks. They infiltrated the Demon Lord fleet under the guise of True Way allies, & managed to cause them to destroy themselves from the inside out, crippling the supercilious supremacy the dominion had so reveled in.

........Two of their most notable officers & veterans of this event, Lords Svihra & Sam-Al, now head a frontline blockade against the borg alongside battle group omega.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 33
05-13-2011, 02:36 PM
From the journals of Grbl3dor
Stardate 157463.06 -- June 18, 2480

I first met Fleet Admiral Hastings over 70 years ago, before I'd left Starfleet to become a full-time writer. In fact, I served under him when he first joined the Admiralty and I was a green officer with my first command.

Admiral Hastings was awfully young for an Admiral, but then in those dark days, they all were. Everyone was young -- too young. The saying at Starfleet Academy was that when you graduated, you got a plaque with your hardcopy diploma, a pin for your dress whites, and the command codes to a cruiser. Like any truly good joke, that wasn't far from the truth; my first command came with my promotion to Lieutenant.

And the Admiral knew this. He didn't have a crew of season veterans; his ship commanders often didn't know the difference between warp coils and entertainment provisions, but we were all eager and ready to fight in the wars. The Admiral gave us the support we needed to become better commanders, and really, what more can you ask?

But as I said, that was a long time ago. Starfleet is a distant memory for me, and Fleet Admiral Starlin Jeffrey Hastings, retired, is dying.

Stardate 157463.34

I've arrived at his home near San Jose, California. Naturally he never left the Bay Area; you can take the Admiral out of Starfleet, etc. etc.

My original plan was to conduct an interview with him, but he's unconscious and not expected to wake.

Stardate 157463.98

Admiral Hastings died a few moments ago at the age of 106.

Stardate 157465.51 -- June 19, 2480

Evidently there is a small ceremony called a "Will Reading" this afternoon that I have been asked to attend. As I understand it, humans have a custom of "passing on" certain possessions or objects to friends and family. Often these items have sentimental or symbolic meaning. It's only done for a few possessions; the majority of items are simply recycled. And although he wasn't human, he was raised as one and lived his life as one.

I have been asked to attend because, evidently, I have been named in this "will." I confess I am surprised: I knew the Admiral (never "Jeff" -- I could never call him that) well enough to share an occasional dinner with, but we were hardly the best of friends.

Stardate 157466.07

Several others have arrived for the ceremony. Most I don't know. The Admiral's daughter, Ashley, I've met. She's about as unlike the Admiral as anyone I've seen: she never went near Starfleet and became an artist instead. Yet they were very close. Who knows, perhaps they liked the same holovids, but it's hard for me to see what they had in common.

Admiral Khaotik, of course, will not be attending, and I don't think we need to rehash that old story.

Fleet Admiral Amara has arrived. If you've never met her, you cannot possibly be prepared for her. You expect a senior Vulcan Admiral to be a certain way, have a certain personality...but Admiral Amara is nothing like those expectations. Most Vulcans seem to exude an intimidating calm. Not her. "The Hormonal Vulcan," I've heard her called (though never to her face!). Raised by humans, she's emotional, but like anything Vulcans attempt, she's very good at it. Hyper-emotional, you might say.

She and Admiral Hastings worked side by side since their early careers, and while they were never romantic (so far as I know, anyway) they were close indeed. You can see it now on Admiral Amara's face: pain, sadness, tears. She just went around the room and hugged everyone, including people she'd never met. Then she started crying again.

The Estate Administrator just came out to begin the ceremony. It's not much of a ceremony, frankly; he just walks around the room, handing each person his/her/its item. He just now handed me mine: a plaque with hardcopies of my first command assignment announcement and my first mission report affixed. I had no idea he even had such a thing. I guess I made more of an impression than I realized.

Now he just walked over to Admiral Amara and handed her...a pebble. A very plain, unremarkable pebble. And Admiral Amara broke down completely, sobbing and wailing so loudly I had to cover my ears.

What could the significance of that pebble possibly be?

Stardate 157470.97 -- June 21, 2480

I'm on my way to see another retired Admiral: Fleet Admiral Jeffrey Davison. He's nearly 130 now, I think, but as a young Rear Admiral he first recruited then-Commander Hastings, then-Commander Amara and then-Commander Khaotik to form a "strike team" of ship commanders who could work independently, short-circuit the fleet bureaucracy and "get the job done."

I land my skimmer right next to Admiral Davison's house on the beach. It's a gorgeous San Diego morning (but aren't they all?). I knock on his door, and after a few minutes he answers, and grins. He advises me to get used to stooping, as his house wasn't built for people my size (I'm nearly 8 feet tall).

I follow him into a large room with a huge picture window that overlooks the ocean. We sit down, exchange pleasantries, and then get down to it.

Me: I assume you heard about Admiral Hastings.

Davison: Yep. Wished I could've attended, but at my age, traveling is risky.

Me: Did you know the Admiral well?

Davison: Hell, I knew Jeff as a green Ensign. Always Jeff – nobody called him “Starlin.” We spent enough time together that people would get confused -- since we were both "Jeff" -- so people started calling me "Proper Jeff" -- because I was senior -- and him "Other Jeff" for clarity.

Me: And of course, you know Admiral Amara.

Davison: Yep, though I didn't meet her until after she had her command. In fact, I met her because of Jeff: if you follow his career, you pretty much have to follow hers. They were quite the team.

Me: And Admiral Khaotik?

(Now the grin fades for the first time.)

Davison: Yes. Him too.

Me: At the Will Reading, the administrator gave Admiral Amara a pebble. She took one look at it and collapsed in grief. Any idea what the significance of that pebble is?

Davison: No idea. Have you asked Amara?

Me: Not yet. She was pretty upset, and I figured she'd need a bit of time.

Davison: Probably, yeah. But I don't know what the pebble is about. I wonder if it's related to their first mission together? I don't remember all the details, but I think I have the ID somewhere.

(Admiral Davison slowly rises, then shuffles over to a bookcase and pulls down a box full of data solids. He rummages through them, then apparently finds the one he's looking for. He slides it into a reader, then scrolls through the data on the viewscreen.)

Davison: Here it is.

(He pops a blank solid into a slot, hits a key, then ejects the solid and tosses it to me.)

Davison: That's the mission ID. You can apply for access to the logs; I doubt much of the mission is classified anymore.

(We continue chatting for a while, and then make our farewells.)

Stardate 157471.54

After the interview this morning, I did apply to the Starfleet Press Office for access to the mission logs. SPO said they would get back to me "soon."

Meanwhile, I'm en route to Memory Alpha. I've got an interview set up with Vice Admiral Stike in the morning. Stike worked under Admiral Davison, and provided scientific and technological support to his strike team. I figure he's probably got some insight into the team that might prove illuminating.

Stardate 157473.70 -- June 22, 2480

Vice Admiral Stike has been working at Memory Alpha for over sixty years. Legend has it that he and his team figured out a way to create warp-14 engines out of a kettle and some string, and while that's obviously apocryphal, it's not by much. Like most Vulcans, he has no use for pleasantries, so we exchange none.

Me: How well did you know Admiral Hastings?

Stike: The question is not logical. There's no scale or measurement on which to base a response. How do you quantify, "well?"

Me: Let me rephrase. Are you familiar with the details of most of his missions for Admiral Davison?

Stike: My familiarity varies with each individual mission, depending on the level of support I was required to provide.

(This is the problem with interviewing Vulcans. You have to phrase things very carefully if you have any hope of learning anything at all.)

Me: Are you specifically familiar with all of the details of the first mission that Admiral Hastings and Admiral Amara worked together?

Stike: No. However, I am familiar with many of the details. Would you like me to list them for you?

Me: Please.

Stike: Stardate 86363.13. Hastings and Amara are ordered to Regulus IV, where the Klingons are supposed to be meeting with Miral Paris. Upon arriving they meet with armed resistance -- both in space and on the planet's surface. The Klingons had planted spatial charges on a number of facilities on the planet, including the Federation Embassy. Hastings and Amara defuse the charges, and survive an attack by Klingon Ambassador B'Vat, who then escaped.

Me: What support were you required to provide?

Stike: I was not required to provide any support, which is why I do not know all of the details of the mission.

Me (nonplussed): Um, OK. If I were to tell you that Admiral Hastings had a pebble given to Admiral Amara at his Will Reading ceremony, and that Admiral Amara had an emotional reaction to this gesture, would you have any idea as to why?

Stike: Unknown. It would depend on when you told me such a thing. Do you think it is likely you will tell me such a thing in the near future?

(If he was not Vulcan, I would accuse him of teasing me right about now.)

Me: Admiral Hastings had a pebble given to Admiral Amara at his Will Reading ceremony. Admiral Amara had an emotional reaction to this gesture; would you have any idea as to why?

Stike: No. Emotional reactions are never logical, so it is pointless to try to determine what causes them using reason. Furthermore, I have no knowledge of any pebble that might have any significance, real or perceived, on the part of either Admiral Hastings or Admiral Amara.

(I ask a few more perfunctory questions and then end the interview.)

Stardate 157474.39

SPO has responded to my request for the mission logs. There's not much of interest in the logs beyond what Admiral Stike had already related. There is, however, a small note that then-Lieutenant Amara's life was saved by then-Lieutenant Hastings. This isn't unusual; I'm sure Starfleet Officers save each other's lives all the time. But it's a new data point, anyway.

I think I'm going to have to talk to Admiral Amara.

<end of part 1>
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 34
05-13-2011, 02:38 PM
<begin part 2>

Stardate 157479.17 -- June 24, 2480

Fleet Admiral Amara has consented to speak with me. As I am ushered into her office at Starfleet Command, I am once again struck at the "feeling" she gives off.

We all make assumptions about people. We expect them to act a certain way, say certain things, etc. This is a sort of mental short-cut that we have to do, because doing a detailed analysis of every person and every gesture would drive us mad with paralysis.

And I think that's what freaks people out when they meet Amara. Physically, she's Vulcan and she looks it. She may be well over 100 but she appears to be a human in her mid-30s, except of course for the ears and eyebrows. Her face, when set, looks like a regal, Vulcan face...until she cracks a huge smile and bounds over the desk to shake your hand. It's the wrong signal for what you expect. Her body language just confuses the hell out of your brain. And her reactions aren't exactly human, either; if anything, she's over-expressive. And hyper. A Vulcan with ADHD, can you imagine?

After a hearty "hello" hug she bounds back over the desk and into her chair, gesturing to another chair for me to sit in. I sit down and thank her for agreeing to meet with me. She smiles warmly.

Amara: Jeffy was a terrific friend. Anything I can do to help.

Me: Well, I don't know about "help" but I do have a question. It's almost certainly personal, so feel free to refuse to answer...but I hope you do answer.

Amara (warily): Go on.

Me: Tell me about the pebble.

(Silence. It drags on for what seems like hours, though I am sure it lasted no longer than a few seconds. Her eyes well up, and she sighs.)

Amara: I doubt it will make sense to anyone but me or Jeff.

Me: Perhaps, but I'd still like to hear the story. Was it related to the mission on Regulus IV?

Amara: You've been doing your homework, I see. Well. Yes, it does. But you have to understand that Jeffy and I were very close. Not in the salacious way some people implied; we were friends. Almost like siblings, but without the fighting. And he was excited about everything. Hell, the day he got his promotion to Captain, he came bounding into my ready room. "'Mara, 'Mara, guess what, guess what?" Like that.

(At this memory she smiles a sad smile.)

Amara: That closeness came very fast for us. Yes, we were on Regulus IV. It was one of the first real big missions either of us did. We'd met purely by random chance one day at Earth Space Dock, and before you knew it, we were teaming up to go protect Miral Paris.

At one point we're running across a beach, dodging fire from Klingons and Orions. Some stupid KDF lobbed a photon grenade at me. My personal shields were exhausted and I was hurt badly; that grenade would've wiped me out, or at least put me in the hospital for a very long time. Jeffy came running up and shoved me out of the way, taking the full force itself.

It's not as big a deal as it sounds. This sort of thing happens all the time on away missions. But we were young and scared. Anyway, I took that opportunity to wheel around and vaporize the munitions officer. Then I ran to check on Jeffy.

He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at me. I told him he probably just saved my life. He grinned and said, "You owe me, 'Mara! Your life! Or, in exchange, I'll accept your most valuable possession."

Possession? Hell, I didn't even own a holo-viewer. I sat down next to him and thought for a moment. Then I looked at the bottom of one of my boots and found a pebble jammed in the treads. I pried it out and handed it to him. "Here you go," I said. "Most valuable thing I've got. All yours. Treat it right, Jeffy, or I'll break your collar bone."

He took the pebble and looked at it with a solemn expression. He opened a sealed compartment on his belt, carefully placed the pebble inside, then re-sealed the compartment. He looked up at me and said, "I'll treasure it always, Amara." Then, after a moment, he grinned widely and shoved me so I fell over. Then he took off running.

When the administrator handed that pebble back to me the other day, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea he'd kept it all these years. Afterwards I tracked his daughter down.

(ARGH! Why didn't I think to interview his daughter? Bad Grbl3dor! Bad!)

Amara: She told me her father had shown her the pebble before. To him it represented a friendship so strong that it could last forever. Like stone. And he was returning it to me as an apology. "An apology?" I asked. "Yes," she said. "Dad was sorry that the friendship wasn't going to last longer."

Of course, you could hardly blame him. He lived to 106 after all; it's not like he was abandoning me. But I know that I'll never experience another friendship like that, and that's the saddest part of all.


----------------------------------------------------------------
Character: Admiral Starlin Jeffrey Hastings
Prized Possession: a pebble
----------------------------------------------------------------
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 35 First Draft
05-13-2011, 06:00 PM
Sickbay was a busy place, but Trin was already on the way out before Renesia could continue her rant about Starfleet, politics, and Ferengi cuisine… Days like this didn’t exist for Trin before he had joined the Dre symbiont. Yet, they have been haunting him ever since. Within minutes he could feel his usual calm disappear, from now until long after his shift was over he would snap commands at those who had to listen, and would continue to argue with the voices of former hosts, or with those unfortunate crew members who happened to engage him in conversation.

When Trin steped out of the Turbolift to enter the bridge, a young talaxian ensign approaches him just to be directed elsewhere by Todd the first officer. The way in which the ensign was carrying his data padd, made it very clear that he had just arrived from the academy. When Todd prevented the new crewmember from facing his captain, saving Trin and the ensign from embarrassment. “Commander Todd, I ll be in my ready room” Trin announced somewhat more formal then was common for him. Todd understood, if only Trin could better comprehend what triggered these fits of bad temper in him. …

Pouring ale from his personal stack into a glass he sat at his desk. The Ver’thrax had been on relief duties for quite some time. It’s relatively large cargo holds were filled with supplies, to be delivered to various planets across the Regulus sector and the bordering Arucanis arm. The expanded medical facilities were filled with wounded casualties of a natural disaster in a nearby system. Nothing seemed to require his immediate attention.

On normal days Mhai’Dre's voice would be his most trusted adviser. He always admired her resolve and cunning, as much her unceasing passion for doing the right thing. They had become inseparable parts of him. It was hard to understand why Mhai would suddenly target her passions against Trin. What could upset a woman of her composure and go completely unnoticed by Trin? Unlike the memories of other hosts, it was as if Mhai prevented Trin from simply accessing her memories. Most of her life was filled with secrecy after she had fallen in love with a Romulan commander. Both Nveid and Mhai would have been outcast if their love had been conducted publicly. But before either had to choose sides, their relationship continued in secrecy for almost 15 standard years.

Trin focused on the time his mood swing had started earlier. He was standing in sickbay, surrounded by civilian causalities of the planetary disaster. Of the 280 patients that had beamed on board, Renesia’s team had miraculously managed to save 278. Thinking about his medical officer, Trin felt a sudden sense of pride. He had trusted and supported the sometimes impatient and eccentric Betazoid. But once she had discovered her interest in medicine her record was one of the most impressive in Starfleet history.

Mhai never liked Betazoids or any telepaths. In an attempt to protect herself and Nveid, Mhai had undertaken years of training among Vulcan reunificationists, who subverted various levels of both the Romulan Star Empire and Starfleet in an attempt to work together. The group was a mix of Vulcans, Romulans and Remans who trained each other to use their mental capacities as a means of protection. Had she not had the experiences of the Dre symbiont, it would have been impossible for her to distribute her mind so freely among this group, and yet finding a way back into her own persona. After years of practice, she had learned to interfere her normal stream of consciousness by jumping into the thought patterns and memories of previous hosts. The only thing that Mhai never anticipated was the way in which her powers to disguise her emotions and thoughts would prevent even future hosts from accessing her conscious. Until this day it felt like no one but Nveid would ever know the truth about Mhair.

Trin had only vague recollections of Mhai’s interrogations on board the USS Malis. Mhai’s training prevented that. She was captured by a Vulcan spy from Starfleet intelligence at a secret meeting on Earth. Her training successfully prevented her from revealing other members of her cell. So the intensity of the interrogations began to increase. Mhai realized that Starfleet would always find a way to make the golden rules and principals of the Federation be coherent but simply not apply in cases where they were inconvenient. How else could her interrogators torture her, a citizen of the UFP?

For 10 days the Vulcan accompanied by his Betazoid colleagues were trying to break into her consciousness. It felt like she had to relive every death of a loved one, all the horror and pain of her previous hosts two times over, always at the brick of loosing herself in a net of lies designed for her to reveal other members of her cell. There were brief moments of foolish victory when she succeeded in unlocking the blocks that ensured the logical purity of her Vulcan interrogator. Those rare moments of triumph were followed by brief spans in which she could guide her own consciousness ascension to its rightful place. She had managed to conceal a small tissue, and it became her sole anker to reality.

When Nveid and the crew of the Terix located and destroyed the Malis to liberate her, there was no return to the Federation or the Trill homeworld. She was a criminal for seeking peace with the wrong people. Mhai underwent cosmetic surgery, papers and evidence were forged, and she joined the Terix’ crew. At long last she could be with Nveid. Although the original tissue had been destroyed when the Terix crew broke into her cell, the habit of always carrying a tissue stayed with her until their retirement on Romulus.

Once more Trin, dwelled on the fact that there would never be Romulan silk again after the Hobus incident. “Computer, show me the report on the two civilian casualties on board.” “Processing….” But Trin didn’t need to look at the screen anymore, he suddenly new what Mhai had immediately recognized while he was to busy looking elsewhere. He stood up, and went to the mortuary. The two corpses we’re lying in a stasis field waiting to be buried according to the customs of the disaster victims. An elderly couple, and in the left hand of the female corpse there it was, a piece of grey fabric, shimmering in the cold light of the stasis field.

Although little pieces of Romulan silk had always been popular around the galaxy, their subtleties were usually lost on those who owned them. Unlike their replicated counterparts, Romulan silk remained a craft and Romulan craftsmen took pride in their work. Their pride was only second to their pride into the empire, and on occasions not even that. The intense dedication to such seemingly mundane objects embedded a special quality in them. Thanks to Mhai, Trin immediately realized that the silk came from a master crafter of the southern River delta of Jullha province. This was not the cheap junk that still found its way from the outer colonies of Psi Velorum, how did it end up here?

He caught a glimpse of Mhai’s reflection in one of the LCARS screens:
“You have always been more Vulcan then any of them, stop fighting your grief. We have taken the children and wives of previous hosts to their graves. Suppressing or clinging to grief will only consume us both. Remember, after the Borg had killed A’ev, how Nveid wouldn’t stop reciting classical Vulcan poetry in his lousy accent until you gave up and faced you emotions openly? Share your pain, and pride with me, so I can honor their memory.

“Oh those are fancy napkins, I didn’t know the replicator could make these” Renesia said while sitting at the dinner table inside Trin’dre’s quarters. It was obvious that she sensed their significance to her CO and decided to let her curiosity get the better of her. “Romulan Silk, crafted in Jullha province, some of the finest ever made.” Trin replied, “Oh another one of those presents you inherited from Mhai?” Todd said while enjoying his meal, “Yes, just like these daily meals with my officers. It was important to Mhai to be herself around her crew, I like the idea.”
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 36 Tiran
05-14-2011, 08:45 AM
Tiran exited the testing facility, her head held high and a triumphant smile on her face. The ‘Presidio’ area of San Francisco where Starfleet Academy was located was uncomfortably warm for Tiran’s Andorian blood, but even that discomfort couldn’t dampen her spirits. She had passed. No, more than that. She had excelled!

She paused at the top of the steps and looked around, eventually spotting the two members of her parental quad who had accompanied her to Earth of her entrance exams. Jeysa and Thaleb were a striking couple as they shared the shade of one of the massive oak trees on the campus. They were both warriors, though Thaleb’s focus had turned to using his knowledge of fighting to craft some of the finest, and most sought after weapons on Andoria. There had been bitter arguments in the family home when Tiran announced her desire to join Starfleet, but Jesya and Thaleb had never wavered in their support of her desire.

Tiran bounded down the stairs toward her parents who both looked up expectantly. “I passed,” she announced happily, throwing herself into Thaleb’s arms and receiving a crushing embrace.

“We knew that you would,” her father’s deep rumbling voice assured her before he released her and showed her his broad grin.

“Your great grandfather would be proud,” Jeysa assured Tiran and suddenly the shadow of her great-grandfather, the famed General Shran, hovered about them. It was quite a lot to live up to, Tiran realized, trepidation eroding her smile a little.

“Well, we cannot have our daughter going into space without adequate protection,” Thaleb said, adroitly changing the subject and drawing Tiran’s attention back to him. He reached into Jeysa’s bag and pulled out a bundle of dark blue silk which bore the crest of their keth, or clan, upon it.

“For me?” Tiran asked, looking between her parents with wide eyes as her smile returned.

Jeysa nodded as Tiran took the bundle and carefully folded back the cloth. Nestled within it was a brand new chaka, the ceremonial dueling blade of Andoria. It was clearly Thaleb’s work and the metal had the distinctive bluish tint that he imparted to his pieces. Carefully, Tiran picked the weapon up and tested its balance. She then stepped back and performed a series of quick thrusts and slashes with the weapon, the alarmed looks from other parents and newly-minted cadets unheeded.

After satisfying herself that the blade had been perfectly crafted to fit in her hand, Tiran straightened up and smiled. “I will make you proud,” she said, bowing to her parents as she removed her old chaka from the sheath at the small of her back and replaced it with the new one. She resolved that from that day forward, the weapon would always be at hand; not only as protection, but as a tangible reminder of her family’s love and her duty toward them.
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 37
05-16-2011, 04:15 AM
'Odd Squad'. That's what they'd called themselves at the Academy. The three of them: Arkim, Oz and Jun... a Trill xenobiologist, a Betazoid chemical engineer and a Human political historian. Odd Squad had been their affectionately self-deprecating creation, their Academy quiz team name, and their gentle protest against the athletes, tacticians, and command-track heroes selected for the officially-sanctioned elite of Red Squad.

Thirty years after graduation, Captain Arkim once again sat in the old drinking hole of his Academy days. He was light years away from Earth, streaking across space at Warp 9.5 in the starship he now commanded; but in the holodeck, in a recreation of Boothby's as it had appeared in 2379, Arkim sat at a table near the back of the bar, full of nostalgia and allowing himself to believe, for now at least, that he was back in the cadets' bar on the grounds of the San Francisco campus. He raised a square glass to his lips and took a sip from the replicated Samarian Sunset it contained, reminiscing and patiently waiting for his old friend Oz to patch in.

The Odd Squad trio had remained close friends over the years, despite the fact that their careers had taken them to different starships, which in turn had carried them off to different and distant corners of the galaxy. At this moment, Arkim was patrolling the Bajor sector in the Alpha Quadrant, while Oz was on a five-year diplomatic and reconnaissance mission in the Delta Quadrant. Through the wonders of transwarp micro-threading through the MIDAS array, the two old friends were about to rendezvous for a drink, exchanging holographic feeds in real time for a meeting in a shared holographic setting, each man interacting with a hologram of the other. Arkim had chosen the setting on this occasion; it was an important day, and this was the most appropriate place in the galaxy that he could think of to remember an old friend.

As he waited, Arkim savored the drink and the reassuring embrace of familiar surroundings, his mind battling against an onslaught of grief using an army of happy memories of Oz and Jun. He loved those two, without condition, and as deeply as if they were members of his own family. Ties stronger than blood or water bound these three together. They had literally saved the galaxy together. They had watched each other grow up, raise families and build careers. They had been counselors and champions for each other, they had spoken the truth whenever it needed to be heard, they had laughed and joked, they had entertained the crowd at Pelios Station with their impromptu three-piece rendition of Melor Famagal, and they had grown old in each other's unwavering company.

Friends for life, they'd always said. And beyond, Arkim thought, in a moment of realization that he had never had until this moment. Jun was gone, the victim of a terminal Betazoid neurological condition. Almost three years since her death and still, in moments of quiet reflection and in many unguarded thoughts in between, the vacuum Jun had left behind her pulled at Arkim like an inescapable black hole. He had refused to ever mark the anniversary of her death, but he met with Oz each year on Jun's birthday, reuniting the Odd Squad in spirit and conversation, just as they would today.

Arkim absentmindedly ran his fingers over a small wooden box he had brought with him into the holographic Boothby's. The box was almost black in color, made from ebony with deep grooves carved into its dark surface that divided the faces of the box into triangles and diamonds. The lid was thicker than the rest of the box, hinged at the back and with a simple hook at the front that swiveled down to clasp a small stud to keep the box closed.

His mind drifted back from treasured memories to the little treasure chest between his fingers, the box reasserting itself into his consciousness, his little collection of things he never wanted to forget.

He freed the metal hook from its latch and pushed the top of the box open. A feint but pleasing and familiar whiff of old wood greeted his nostrils, and he smiled wistfully as he gazed down at the assorted keepsakes the box contained. He began to finger through the lifetime's worth of mementos: his first mission patch, showing the stylized logo of Starfleet's Medical Relief Effort to Cardassia; a metal whistle from the bazaar in Rakantha; a blue pebble from the foot of the Cliffs of Bole; his mother's hand-written recipe for steamed azna; a small bottle of Mintakan mead; a picture of Jun on stage at the Academy Revue in full costume as Jean Luc B'stard, an affectionate parody of the famed Federation ambassador and her former mentor; and a Dabo chip from Drozana Station, taken as a souvenir on the eve of Oz's wedding.

At the back of the box was a white envelope, with Arkim's name written upon it, opened but with the flap tucked back inside to protect what lay within. His fingers paused, almost unwilling to open the envelope despite the fact that this was the thing he loved the most.

He sighed gently and curled thumb and forefinger around the envelope, lifting it out of the box as his eyes welled up with tears. It was a letter from Jun, handwritten on real paper in the months leading up to her death and given to him at the funeral by her daughter.

He opened the envelope now, half expecting this time, as he had done when he first opened it three years ago and every time since, that it would contain a long correspondence from his old friend. But instead, as always, it contained only a single folded sheet of white paper.

He unfolded the paper and looked down at the words written upon it in black ink.

It bore just two short words, written in Jun’s hand, in the very center of the page.

“Thank you”.
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 38
05-16-2011, 10:57 AM
IKS yaybom
Captain Q'loveH, Son of Kerla

*****



Lieutenant Muk'da entered his Captains office and snapped a Salute. "You wanted to see me?"

Q'loveH glances up from his computer terminal and gives a quick nod before tossing a Padd across his desk. "Give these to Kobor. This approach is going to be tricky."

"Yes, sir" Muk'da replies as he scoops up the Padd.

Several Seconds pass and out of the corner of his eye Q'loveH notices Muk'da Hovering over near his desk still. Q'loveH turns to his officer, "Is there a problem Lieutenant?"

Startled Muk'da straightens and replies "No sir. uh.. I. It's nothing."

"If you have something to add then out with it."

"It's nothing important. I was just trying to place the symbol on the badge on your desk. I noticed the same symbol behind an old panel in Engineering while running some diagnostics."

Q'loveH turns his gaze to a small badge perched atop a small Pedestal on his desk and plucks it up in his hand. He examines it for a few seconds causing Muk'da to shift uneasily as the silence fills the room. Q'loveH traces the symbol with his thumb and finally speaks. "It's the mark of house Siqta'qu."

"I'm not familiar with that house."

"You are young and that SiQta'qu was never part of the High Council. At our height we were poised to challenge for a seat but that is long gone."

Muk'da's face grew a puzzled expression "Your house? I though your house..."

Q'loveH cut him off with a wave "I was once a member of that house. This ship was once part of that house. SiQta'qu however is no more. Poor leadership shattered what we had and those of us who remained joined other houses or started a new one as I did." Q'loveH indicated the badge in his hand "Only one other followed me on my path although he stubbornly clung to the old house. His name was Qoloth."

"Kholoth? The Dahar master?"

Q'loveH laughs and shakes his head, "No. Not that Kholoth. He was a good and loyal friends none the less. We served together aboard this very ship for many years and shared glory in countless battles."

"I see. He is dead then?"

Q'loveH grew more somber and nodded "He died just as the war with the Gorn began."

"He died in battle then?"

Q'loveH again grew silent and placed the badge back on it's pedestal. "There will be time enough for stories another time. I need you to get those calculations up to the bridge. We will be arriving in several hours."

Muk'da snaps to attention once more and says, "Yes sir. I appreciate you indulging my curiosity." Then left for the bridge

Q'loveH to his console and pours over the Intel for what seems the hundredth time. Several hours pass and his studies are interrupted by a call from the Bridge. "We are approaching the target system sir."

Q'loveH acknowledged the summons and stood to leave. He paused only briefly and plucked up the badge once more. "You will enjoy this fight old friend. Outnumbered and deep behind enemy lines." He grins again and tucks the Badge into his belt before leaving for the bridge.

QloveH and Qoloth rides to battle aboard the yaybom once more.
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Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 39
05-18-2011, 02:57 AM
Title: Lost now Found
By Bazag

The duties of Starfleet were many, especially in an environment as war torn as the galaxy seemed to be. For the Bajoran Vice Admiral, Talar Bazran some of the occurances he understood all too well. People doing what they must to survive even that commander of the Tal Shiar Hakeev, in his own way.

However there was so much more that made little sense the Hirogen. Hunting others for sport? That made no sense from a tactical perspective nor from any other really. The True Way had some ideological basis but hurting their own people to cow them into submission? That wasn’t survival that was something else entirely.

He had become tired of war, tired of having to make decisions that resulted in people’s lives being lost, tired of having to continually defend himself and others from the aggressions of others but most importantly tired emotionally.

However there was one thing that he had that kept him fighting. His father’s earring, it had been taken when his father had been killed during the occupation but ten years ago almost exactly to the day. A young Cardassian had sought him out and returned the earring to Bazran. He didn’t ask why or hat drove the Cardassian to return it but finally once again he had a link back to his father.

Every time he held it he knew he couldn’t stop fighting for what was right. He could not let himself forget his father and his dogged determination to fight against the Cardassians for a free Bajor then and now Talar Bazran could only fight for those that needed help whether it was through the branch of diplomacy or through the end of a phaser. His work still had to go on.
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Posts: 120
# 40 The Isolinear Chip
05-18-2011, 05:53 AM
It was my very first command.. back on the USS Jonas Grumby... now that was a ship. Every time we took it past warp 7, the bulkheads started creaking. The Jonas was old and tired, but it was new to me then. The whole idea of being actually in command, all on my own.. it was frightening honestly. After all the training, and checking out.. serving as First officer to someone else. It's not the same you know. The first time you're out there, and everyone is looking to you for the answers.

It must have been about two weeks out, on our first tour, when we received the distress call. A colony out on the outer rim. It was an automated message.. you know the type "please send help, any Starfleet vessel, please respond immediately." We were doing the standard colony patrol run in those days.. the Jonas Grumby was honestly little more than a freighter. An old Miranda Class ship that had been rebuilt from scrap so many times, well like I said, it wasn't a top-of-the-line ship.

We travelled to the colony as fast as we could, hailing them all along the way. No response. By the time we received their distress call, it had been repeating for several days. You know that feeling of dread when you know you're probably too late? Yeah, we were all feeling that.

Well when we got there, we scanned the area.. no alien ships, no weapons signatures, and inconclusive life signs on the planet below. From orbit, there's only so much you can tell, especially with the marginal sensors on the Jonas. We could scan for atmospheric gasses, radiation, etc, but you couldn't tell if people were dead or dying, and if they were dying, whether they were dying from some kind of virus, or weapons fire. We had to go down there. I mean, you HAVE to try and help, right?

We took every precaution. Shuttles, Environment Suits, Double DeCon procedure, both leaving the ship and coming back.

When we got there.. it was like a ghost town. It was one of those borderline M-Class planets.. you know "M for We'll Manage". It was a dry planet, a bit like a desert town, at least that's what the area around the colony was like. Everything was silent, and still. The streets were deserted, the vehicles parked.. honestly it seemed like everyone had just stayed home one day, like they'd all called in sick.

That's where we found them.. in their homes. They'd been dead, maybe a week. The warm, dry air, and the relative lack of microbes meant that there wasn't really much decomposition. Each of them, huddled in their beds, bundled up in blankets like they were trying to ward off a chill.

It took us nearly a month of the most dreadful work to process, identify, and bury all the bodies. Four thousand colonists.. men, women, children.. Farmers, ranchers, teachers... and yet, a medic on the very first team, a kid really, not 6 months out of the academy, and she determines what killed them all in less than 15 minutes.

Four thousand lives snuffed out in the span of a few days, by a drug-resistant strain of Andorian Flu that hitched a ride in a damned cargo container. The colony was equipped with medical replicators, protein resequencers, everything they could possibly need to combat the disease. Worst of all, the damned virus in question had a cure on file for the last 60 years in the Starfleet Medical database.

We sat in orbit for another week.. waiting for Starfleet to decide how we should proceed. It took a toll on the crew.. and a toll on me too, and the mood on the ship was just awful. That's when the ship's Quartermaster asked me what we should do with the cargo that was meant for the colonists. The Chief Science Officer, a Denobulan named Hajen, was within earshot when the QM called me, and so the two of us went down to the cargobay to talk to him and scope out the situation.

And as we stood there, looking at the pallets of cargo, and Hajen was looking over the manifest as the QM and I started arguing over what to re-direct, what to move to Ship's stores or recycle, what to pass on to other colonies, and what to just dump.. and all of a sudden Hajen threw the padd on the floor, and he walked over and began pulling apart the pallets and boxes, all the time mumbling "8931" until he came up with this one cargo container. You don't usually see a Denobulan get angry, but Hajen was like a man possessed. He popped that container open, and dumped the contents out onto the floor, rummaging around in the pile of various wire harnesses, tricorder cases, medkits, and so on, and he pulled out this little box of green Isolinear chips, And then he just stood there.. staring at the damned box.

There had been a fire at the colony's Medical Center about a year before, and their only medical database uplink terminal had been damaged in the fire. They'd ordered a replacement and three backup units as well, so they'd never have that happen again. The replacement units had arrived 6 months earlier, but for whatever reason, the terminals shipped with a bug in their coding. It wasn't anything major really.. it just kept the uplink from accessing about 0.1% of the Starfleet medical database.

And this isolinear chip right here.. one of the very ones that Hajen pulled out of the cargo container, contains the damned software update that would have fixed the problem. And the only reason we had them in our shipment, is because an Andorian dock worker, nursing a mild case of the flu, accidentally left the pack of Isolinear chips out of the last cargo shipment to come to the colony before ours.

Every time we leave starbase, after fresh crew rotations.. I do the standard "Welcome aboard" pep-talk speech for all the crew, new and old. And every time I give that speech, I take this Isolinear chip with me. And I tell the new recruits the story, of how an honest mistake can cost thousands of lives. And then I tell them this:

Space travel is a dirty, difficult business. One tiny mistake, even an honest mistake, can indeed cost lives. Each of us, at one time or another, will do something, forget something, take too long to decide what to do, hesitate, miss a shot, screw up a number, and every once in a while, press the wrong button. God knows there's plenty of buttons to press on a Starship. Even a Vulcan mathematics expert can't anticipate all the angles. I don't care who you are, or how good you are, perfection is simply impossible. While I expect my crew to do their very best, I insist that they have the ability to acknowledge when they make a mistake, and to do their very best to amend that mistake as soon as it's noticed, and try and find ways to avoid, or prevent that sort of mistake in the future. You can let a mistake defeat you, or let it challenge you to do better.

That Andorian dock worker.. he went on to develop the triple-scan cargo tracking system that all Federation Starbases use now, and he helped change the way that software updates are distributed through the various Federation Medical, Science, and even Astro-Navigation databases. It's all automated with triple redundancies now, and happens in the blink of an eye. No more waiting 2 months for a box of isolinear chips.
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