Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
“Computer: Time?”
“It is now thirteen hundred hours and forty-three minutes standard time”, the calm synthesized voice replied.
Captain tyr sighed, he and his crew had been working for days and although the majority of the crew was done running double (or triple) shifts by now he still had massive amounts of paperwork to fill out.
“Asking for the time every few minutes won’t make it go any faster”, he thought by himself as he looked over the umpteenth ship evaluation report.
“Four lifetimes and it seems every century I need to file out MORE paperwork!”
“Ugh”, he let his head drop squarely on the stack of PADD’s in front of him.

At this point he felt the familiar urge to hunt down and hurt whoever screwed up at either Starfleet Command or the Utopia Planetia shipyards. It was a mistake so stupid and so costly that he wondered how they could be made in this day and age. His ship, the USS Caroline, was a brand new ‘Discovery class’ vessel. Normally these new designs are built with a lot of room for eventual expansion, but with the massive succes of the series Starfleet had decided to fill her up with the latest of additional technologies as recommended by other Discovery captains. To top it all she would be outfitted with two experimental engine designs allowing Caroline to cruise at a sustained speed of warp 9.5 and above for a long period of time with a maximum speed of warp 9.997. She would also be able to traverse spatial anomalies or nebulae at high impulse, something which usually overloads many an engine.

Unfortunately Utopia Planetia had been running their tests on a standard warp core implemented in these size vessels, while Starfleet had determined that all the extra technologies were too much of a power drain and had installed a larger than usual core. Of course they both neglected to tell the other and during their latest encounter with the Klingons the impulse manifolds nearly exploded. So they had to recalibrate, and in some areas redesign, the whole bloody engine.

As it was: Caroline, one of the fastest ships in the fleet, had been limping forward on warp 1 and impulse for weeks, while its crew was working overtime to get her moving again. They all needed a break and Tyr had sat down with commander Thryiss to make sure they’d get it.

“I’m so glad those duty roster modifications are over ... at least for the next two weeks.”
He lifted his head from the pile of PADDS and looked up at the replicator across the room.
“Computer: One ... oh just get me something to drink, preferably warm.”
Without objection the computer beeped in acknowledgment and in a swirl of bright blue light a random hot beverage appeared. Captain Tyr walked over smirking, he had reprogrammed his replicator on his third day of command and nobody could understand how he stopped the computer from bombarding him with 500 questions about temperature, flavour, variety and the shape of the glass. “Oh wonderful, Vulcan spice tea ... is there a more bland variety of tea in the galaxy? Perhaps I ought to program the replicator to measure my mood first”

As he walked back towards his desk he asked once more: “Computer: time?”
“It is now thirteen hundred hours and forty-eight minutes standard time”
The captain sighed, “Still one hour and twelve minutes to go.”

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

Captain Jijan Tyr walked briskly across the hallways of his ship, nodding brightly to some of the crew he walked past in the corridors. He was wearing a costume for an old holodeck program he was itching to try out so he recieved mostly smirks and giggles in return, but he didn’t care: Starfleet wasn’t military and this was his night off.

“Sherlock Holmes, right”, a familiar voice called out to him.
He turned around to face the familiar sight of his science officer walking towards him clutching an armful of PADD’s. Ezrea looked exceptionally tired and worn out, with her hair a tangled mess.
“That’s right, I didn’t know you were interested in Earth literature?”
Although Sherlock’s attire was easily recognizable for humans, both he and his science officer were Trill. He hadn’t expected this.
“Oh I’m not”, she said while trying to stop the electronic notebooks from falling out of her hands, “But the first recorded sentient hologram was created on the Enterprise-D in the image of Professor Moriarty. I’ve always been fascinated by that accident it is such a ...”
At this point the stack of PADD’s fell to the floor, “Oh ...”
“Wait let me help”, Jijan bent to pick up the fallen objects while Ezrea stood there a little dazed, rubbing her left eye.
“Hey are you alright?”
“Oh wha?” she answered as awakening from a daydream, “Yeah sorry, I just need a break, I think ... ”

He knew what she was talking about. The ship’s engines and design created a very complex Warp field and with the entire overhaul going on it needed to be recalibrated to take the extra power input. As chief science officer it was her job to do it and although she wasn't a warp field theorist, she was the most brilliant mathematician he had seen in over two centuries. As it turned out Ezrea had been shouting at her console down in lab 4 for days on end, scaring her co-workers out of the room and in the end resigned to create a small army of holograms to help her out, but she managed an impossible feat in just under a week. Caroline was running at Warp 9.2 for forty-six hours now without a hitch.

“Hey do you have a Watson yet”, she asked when he handed her her stack back.
Jijan shook his head, “I had intended to maybe let the computer simulate a Watson.”
It was true he hadn’t asked anyone. Although he didn’t mind walking around in costume toward his favourite holodeck 2 he found it harmful to the chain of command to ask any of his fellow command officers to join him. He was the captain after all, he was supposed to act like an infallible example, failing to solve a simple 19th century earth mystery wouldn’t do his reputation much good.
“Nonsense! You can’t play a program like that alone. I’ll replicate some proper attire and see you in 15 minutes.” With that she walked merrily back along the corridor.

He stood there watching the spot where his science officer stood just a few seconds ago and smirked. It was typically Ezrea to completely disregard any social protocol and regulation. Although brilliant in the field of science she wasn’t able to seperate the image of her friend Jijan from that of her captain and so never adressed him as such. It's funny to see how she frustrates new bridge officers when she calls him by his first name instead of 'sir'. He turned on the spot and approached the door to holodeck 2.

His previous lives never much liked the holodeck. In Esja’s time it was a brand new technology and she abhorred the ‘life-sucking machines of soulless imagination’. She was dramatic that way. Taren was too self-conscious to indulge himself and Tazi was always too busy, although she at least enjoyed a nice walk along the simulated beach from her hometown from time to time. Tazi got homesick a lot.

Personally he loved the holodecks and their infinite possibilities. They couldn’t replace the thrill of real-life exploration of course, but they could provide a creative outlet into endless fantastical worlds. And he needed a break from reality every once in a while. He only wished Esja had looked upon it that way. Perhaps if she had lived today she would have seen it in a different light.

As he selected a case to solve he saw Ezrea in the distance wearing a plain period-accurate dress. She was beaming and looked much healthier than fifteen minutes ago. She had even done something to her hair, Jijan wondered how she had managed it in such a short time?

She was right though, the more he thought about it the more he agreed that this program shouldn’t be played alone. Although with her analytical mind it might be best if she played Sherlock, he thought laughingly. Perhaps coming down from being the captain all the time wasn’t so bad. If you at least have a person you can trust.

“Ready for a walk down 19th century London, Watsonnette?”
“Undoubtetly Sherlock”, she said enthousiastically.
“Well then”, he pulled a pipe from his waistcoat pocket as the doors of the holodeck opened with the familiar sound of pistons. Beyond them was a smoky, busy rendering of the old Earth city that their characters called home.

“The game is afoot!”
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Captain Winfield Hancock Scott sat alone in his ready room, staring at the golden piece of fabric, the index finger of his right hand barely touching it, his mind thousands of light years, and half a decade away.

His head snapped up and he glanced at the readout on his desk, his eyes widening in surprise at the elapsed time since he’d entered the room.

Almost an hour! Damnit!

Pushing his chair back, Scott rose and moved toward the door, stealing one last glance at the tiny piece of cloth on his desk. As the doors to his ready room parted Scott walked onto the bridge of the USS Watchtower, his eyes moving clockwise from station-to-station, taking in the scene and nodding as various members of the bridge crew’s eyes met his.

Standing between the helm and viewscreen, Commander Thryiss was bent over the console, checking readouts with the helm officer and comparing them to the PADD in her hand.

Yeah, she’s right, she does have some spectacular legs, Scott thought as a small grin tugged at the corners of his mouth.

Looking up, the Andorian zhen noticed the commanding officer, and drew to her full, and to Scott, impressive 6’ 4” height. As she started to alert the bridge to the presence of the ship’s commanding officer, Scott shook his head in a “no” and walked toward her.

Scott closed next to his executive officer and spoke so only she could hear, with his back to the bridge as he faced the viewscreen. “No need for that stuff. Protocol is important, but let them do their jobs.”

Turning so she was also facing the viewscreen, Thryiss clasped her hands behind her back and spoke low. “Good of you to join us. Sir. I know Chief was not thinking, even for him, so I have to ask…are you alright Winfield?”

“I’m good XO. But thank you for asking. I think I’m going to take a walk and check the rest of the ship out,” Scott said, turning his head slightly to the right so the two officers could have eye contact.

“Excellent idea sir. I can join –“

“Not necessary Thryiss. I’m ok. Plus, if I have to look at your legs anymore today, I may violate a Starfleet regulation or two.”

Her loud laugh filling the bridge made Scott smile, and he was grateful he was not separated from one of his best friends in Starfleet as his new command was preparing to leave Earth Spacedock.

“I understand Sir. And if I may be so bold…it’s good to see you be you,” she said, her voice firm, but friendly.

Scott nodded, and turned toward the turbolift, “The bridge is yours XO.” As the doors parted he entered the lift, turned toward the bridge and gave Thryiss a slight nod, which she returned, giving him a quick wink, and he understood she knew he was fine.

“Shuttle bay.”

As the lift came to a halt Scott stepped out, and looked to see if the hallways were crowded, and let out a sigh of relief when he saw they were empty. Moving at a brisk pace he entered the hanger, turned to his left and walked to the Type-8 shuttle Ridgway. Reaching the ship’s hatch, he let the doors hiss open, entered the craft and closed the door.

Scott looked around the tiny ship and moved to the pilot’s seat, sat, leaned back and closed his eyes. Drawing deep breaths, he reached and tapped his combadge, his eyes still closed. “Scott to Thryiss.”

“Thryiss here.”

“XO, I’m currently inspecting Shangri-La…you know where to find me if all hell breaks loose on ESD and we are needed to save the universe.”

“Understood sir. I’ll handle the real work here,” his friend replied, and he could hear her chuckling. “Thryiss out.”

“Computer… play Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 Andante.”

As the music began flooding the shuttle, Scott relaxed, feeling the strain and fatigue of the last six months drain from his body, the notes bringing him peace, a tranquility he hadn’t allowed himself to feel in years. Sitting in the shuttle, Scott thought back to his first assignment out of the Academy, piloting a Type-8 between Luna and Mars, sometimes with VIPs, often alone, listening to music and enjoying the solitude. From the time of the Battle of Vega he hadn’t had much time to get in a shuttle, the one place he felt at peace, where he had a calmness he couldn’t capture anywhere else.

I won’t have a lot of time for this in about 35 hours, so I’m going to enjoy this.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 103 Peace and quiet
06-12-2011, 10:09 AM
After you make Commander, you don't get any free time. There's always someone who you need to talk to, something to sign, somewhere to be. Promotion to Captain makes it worse, because even though you can delegate things to the XO, and the department heads, eventually they all want to tell you about it.

Nowhere is safe.

You can generally catch half an hour in your cabin before someone hasa crisis. You can sometimes scrap together fifteen minutes to stand in the shower before someone sounds a red alert. In an Escort class vessel, even in an Akira, you can't really get away from anyone.

Except for one place.

If you come up through Tactical, you find out all sorts of interesting things about starships that people don't imagine Tactical would need to know about. For example, the nacelle placement on the early Excalibur class was off, and would very occasionally lead to a partial field collapse. Which in turn would lead to a radical attitude change. Warp three, sideways. Heck of a sight.

One of the other things you learn is that there's a very small, but very important, sensor blindspot on the Defiant refit. It's the size of a seated human, and it came about because there's an EPS junction, a shield node and a really important piece of the astrogation system crammed into a space that's big enough for two of the three components. There are a few design compromises on a Defiant. This one makes a patch of hull really hard for the ship's sensors to read properly and, at the same time, very hard to see clearly. It's just behind the Bridge.

I know about it because we were told about it when the refit launched. The likelihood of anyone ever capturing a Defiant class is pretty slim, but on the off chance they do and someone needs to recapture it, you're told about all the potential entrypoints. Tactical training gets very thorough about that sort of thing.

During a quiet weekend at Utopia Planetia, when the Swiftsure was having the forward torpedo tubes replaced, I went looking for that deadspot. I found it, too, and made a very careful note of how long it takes to get there, and get back. The nearest airlock has an equipment locker devoted to my use and secured with a personal code which I'm very nearly certain my own Tactical Officer hasn't broken. I keep a deck chair in it.

When we're in friendly space, usually in orbit, I suit up, grab my deck chair and go sit out on the porch. Then I sit back and watch the world go by.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 104
06-13-2011, 11:36 PM
Delta

There are so many people on a Magellan that someone always needs you. There's no where to hide. Even if you ditch your combadge, those crafty scientists will track you down.

That's why there's only one way to really escape and get some solitude. That's why I keep my Delta fueled up and ready to go. My staff know not to bug me when I take her out for a spin, and the Yokohama never lets me down.

In no time at all, I can hit an uncharted system and spend a few hours getting back to my roots: biophysics. Forget warp theory and slipstream technology. The real breakthroughs are going to come from studying the infinite supply of extremophiles that have carved out niches in nearly every conceivable environment.

But as interesting as it is to collect and study organisms that range from single cells swimming in hydrochloric acid to hundred meter tall trees with lava for sap, the real joy comes from being the first to explore strange, new worlds.

And my Delta lets me escape the daily paperwork and remember why I joined Starfleet in the first place.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 105 Trophy Room
06-15-2011, 02:53 PM
Trophy Room

........The shuffling of crew is the klingon way. Ship captains come and go, live and die. Most garner enough respect from the crew to make it a long career. The few who don't find themselves falling under the judgment of a first officer's bat'leth. The crew of the raptor class I.K.S. Crimson Talon doubted they could respect a non-Klingon captain. But it's hard not to, when he's an eight-foot tall hirogen.

........Dunjir enters the mess hall. Subordinates scatter, allowing him a wide path. He picks up a mug from a table and walks over to the barrel of bloodwine sitting open. He lifts the ladle and fills the mug, ignoring the spillage on the side.

........Todok, the ship's engineer, has been on many ships and has seen many captains come and go. Being an old, scraggly klingon, battle has weathered his body and his soul, scars running from outside in. He sits at a table with four other officers.

........"Nice of you to join us in celebrating our victory," Todok says slurringly, his head swimming in bloodwine.

........Dunjir turns and steps from the barrel. He towers over the table, but stands quietly. The other bridge officers seated with Todok are the seven-foot gorn named Slavec, a smaller gorn named Saraash, a klingon woman named Unris, and an orion enforcer named Madekk. They look around at each other, but say nothing.

........"We wonder sometimes, 'tis all," Todok says, taking the last drink of his bloodwine. He turns up the cup, and then peers at the bottom with one eye clinched. "You took your trophy and disappeared into that...that space in cargo bay two you had me cordon off with targ nets. You were there a long time."

........"That is my trophy room," Dunjir says. "You all may go in and look but do not touch." The hirogen takes a sip of the wine, grimaces slightly, but takes another anyway. "If you disturb any of my trophies, I will replace the damaged item with your carcass." Dunjir turns and exits the mess hall.

........Todok gnaws at the targ's haunchbone. He drops it on his plate and pushes it away from him. He sits for a moment, picking meat from between his teeth. He grunts and then stands, and the other four jump to their feet as well. They hurriedly walk out of the mess hall and make their way to the cargo holds, followed by a mob of crewman. Todok reaches the door to cargo bay two. Before entering, he notices the crowd behind him.

........"Not everyone has to enter," Todok says to the crewman. "Get back to your posts. You can quell your curiosity later."

........A few grumble, but they turn and walk away. Only Todok and four other bridge officers remain. He taps the pad on the side, and the cargo bay's door swishes open. They navigate through the crates, until they approach the targ nets. Todok reaches up and takes hold, but hesitates. He turns to Unris. She growls slightly in displeasure and nods for him to proceed. Todok throws the net aside and they enter.

........They all gasp, even the gorn Slavec. Hanging from the nets and the wall are various skeletons and hides, mostly animals, but a few humanoids. In the center display is the most recent trophy, the tanned hide of an undine tacked to the wall as the main central piece. Todok walks up to it, studying it closely, part in awe, part in disgust.

........"It appears to be coated in something," Todok says. "A preservative perhaps."

........Saraash reaches around Todok to touch it.

........"Fool!" Todok snaps.

........The smaller gorn pulls away, but eyes Todok menacingly.

........"Where is the rest of it?" Unris asks. "The guts, the innards. Where?" She looks around on the floor. "There is a stain, but nothing else."

........"Are you an idiot?" Todok says. "You were in the mess hall. Did you see him leave with any food?"

........Unris drops her gaze, and then jerks her wide eyes back to Todok.

........"Well," Todok says. "If the Undine don't hate us, they will now." He pushes his way through the group and exits the cargo bay. He enters the bridge and eyes Dunjir at the engineer's console. Todok approaches.

........"Give me your report," Dunjir says, stepping back from the console.

........Todok steps up to it, punches some buttons and sighs. "Ship repairs are complete," he says. "We have full impulse and all weapons. Warp engines are back online."

........"Good," Dunjir says.

........"We're ready to leave the area," Todok says. "Per your command, of course."

........"Do it," Dunjir says. "Set a course for Qo'noS."

........"Acknowledged," Todok answers.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 106
06-16-2011, 07:29 PM
Shared Pain

Lt. Gelon Treya circled slowly to the right. Admiral Jarek Amrstrong mirrored her actions keeping himself opposite her in the sparring circle.

Both were already slick with sweat, though the Admiral seemed the more winded noted Treya with some satisfaction. She winced as her smile made her cheek ache. It was swollen where the Admiral had landed a solid backhanded riposte to her wide swing.

Blood was trickling into his eyes from where she had split his right eyebrow. She had offered to stop the match then and there so the Admiral could seek treatment but he had just wiped the back of his right hand across the wound and licked the blood, nodding to her with respect before they continued.

He was at least twice her weight, dressed in black exercise pants and a matching short-sleeved shirt, and barefoot. She wore a tight red crop-top and knee-length shorts. Also barefoot, she shifted her weight to her uninjured ankle, the other already swelling and turning a sickly blue-black.

The Admiral seemed to be dropping his left arm, favoring the shoulder. She could not stop her eyes from narrowing at this. Her knife hand technique had been more effective than he had originally let on. He should be proud, after all he had taught her the maneuver after she had transferred onboard and taken her place as his Chief of Security.

She feinted towards the favored arm and he predictably drew back. She dropped low and swung her leg out to sweep his ankle while he was off-balance. The Admiral recovered more quickly than she had expected but rather than dodge her sweep, he set the leg in place as though it had grown roots. Her heel smacked into his shin and stopped. She gasped in pain as the shiver ran up her leg. He brought his other leg up to stomp downward at her but she dropped completely to the ground and rolled back out of the way.

He did not stop however. Advancing on her, the heel of his palm struck her in the center of the chest just as she came back to her feet. She stumbled back and he landed a fierce chop to the right side of her neck. Pulsing black dots swam in her vision and she regained her footing and struck a defiant pose.

Sweat dripped off her nose ridges and her tongue gently probed where she had bit the inside of her cheek. She spit blood from the side of her mouth, not looking away from him. Clever old tokka, she thought to herself. Not nearly so winded or hurt as she had thought. He had drawn her in and then pressed the advantage. She couldn’t help but be a little impressed.

She took an unsteady step and realized that her balance was off, finally registering the ringing in her ears. Her lip twisted in a snarl and she willed her eyes to focus, but they would not. The entire room spun and the sparring mat rose up to meet her.


Lt. Gelon awoke to the familiar sounds and smells of Sick Bay. She turned her head, painfully, to one side and saw Dr. Bennet moving a hand scanner over her. Dr. Bennet had a disapproving look on her face. At times like this she reminded Treya of her own mother.

Treya tried to sit up but collapsed back with a groan. The room spun and she felt the cool metal of a hypospray pushed into the side of her neck and the hiss as it dispensed medication into her bloodstream. She immediately felt better and the room stopped spinning.

“Better?” asked Dr. Bennet. Treya nodded weakly. “I should leave you a nice scar to remember this foolishness by,” huffed Dr. Bennet. “I’ll add it to the set,” mumbled Treya, drawing a finger pointedly down the deep scar that ran the length of the left side of her face. Gelon Treya was no stranger to pain, no Bajoran was.

Abashed, Dr. Bennet flushed slightly, pursed her lips and moved to her other patient.

Treya turned her head and saw Admiral Armstrong sitting on the edge of the next medical bay. He had removed his shirt and she saw the patchwork of old healed scars across his torso. Numerous fresh bruises stood out lividly against his pale skin. He had an osteogenic regenerator on his right side. The corner of her mouth quirked up at the memory of the flurry of jabs she had applied to exactly that spot early in their match.

Dr. Bennet was moving a bone regenerator over his left shoulder and part of his neck. Noticing her gaze, the Admiral’s eyes flicked to where the doctor was working, “You fractured my collarbone with that knife hand.” Her eyes narrowed in amusement. “I’m going to have to more careful what I teach you!”

“Don’t you dare! You need me at my best out there in the field. I need every trick you can teach me!” Treya teased, but her smile betrayed more affection than anger.

Dr. Bennet huffed, annoyance furrowing her brow. “I thought we were done with this. I have enough real patients without you two breaking each other in half every week or two!”

Feigning an innocent expression, the admiral raised himself up, “But you’re the one who keeps saying we don’t spend enough time together anymore, Karisa!” That got a small smile out of her as she continued to work the regenerator over his shoulder. "I meant in a non-professional capacity, Jarek," the doctor responded coyly, eliciting a slight blush from the admiral.

“This over-armed broom closet has no recreational facilities, no holodeck, not even a real gymnasium! How else is an active person expected to work out his frustrations and get a little exercise?” The admiral swept his free arm out to encompass the room, though he obviously meant the whole ship. It was true, tactical escorts had a premium of space, especially refits like the Adamant. The only thing they didn’t lack for was firepower.

Dr. Bennet moved to stand between Treya and the admiral, “This no holds barred sparring has got to stop. I’m done patching you up. As Chief Medical Officer, that’s an order!”

Treya’s eyes found the admiral’s. She knew he was thinking the same as her. As soon as she got out of her, she’d replicate up some padded headgear, sparring gloves and tunics for the both of them. It wouldn’t be as fun but there was no way they were giving up their weekly matches. It was the only respite they had from this damn war.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 107
06-17-2011, 01:47 PM
Refuge

His life was a field of sunflowers turning toward a violet sunset. At least it was whenever it could be; infrequent was the downtime an alien part of Julian's psyche so desperately required. Maybe he wasn't ready for the joining that was essentially thrust upon him, because all too often there was no sunset.

The simulation before him continued to play out, a discourse on the state as conducted by Plato in his classically designed academy. Julian had looked around earlier, spotting Ptolemy, Machiavelli, Qin Shi Huang, and other great human philosophers and politicians. The program was downloaded from Earth Space Dock's educational library, though he suspected the academy was fashioned after the Parisian interpretation of Plato's desgin than Plato's own work.

"Computer, end program," Julian called into nothingness. He rubbed his head. The Julian-host was a scholar. He studied history and philosophy. The symbiote was not, carrying with it the memories of a tragically violent past. None of the others would have been interested in this garbage.

Except it's fascinating, Julian told himself. He wasn't sure anymore. He sat on the chair the station computer was kind enough to leave for him and let his mind remain empty.

"What is that ambient noise, computer?"

The soothing female voice common to all Starfleet vessels cut through the air. "The EPS conduits and warp core aboard this station emit a sound frequency audible to Trill between eighteen-point-two and eighteen-point-seven hertz."

"Can you drown it out, please?"

And it went silent. All that remained was the yellow grid pattern of the holodeck wall.

"Compter, remove all light, please."

And it went dark.

Julian took a deep breath and felt his heart take an extra beat. Shocked by the rush of oxygen, it began pumping faster, invigorating his system. Vast rivers of life coursed through him, devoid of cognition but fulfilling function. He took another, but his body had adapted and his heart rate slowed. He had an impulse to find a jumja stick, but it wasn't his.

Julain closed his eyes and tried to imagine happiness. He saw a Breen cruiser burning in space. Eyes open, deep breath, eyes closed. This time an Orion pirate ship. He was still a Lieutenant then, struggling to make his god-awful third-rate ship work for him. Work for the crew.

Eyes open, then closed. Then open. It was all the same.

He heard the door open behind him. It remained dark, the computer doing an excellent job with its programming.

"Captain?" The voice was familiar. He backtracked through memory to find it. His second officer.

"Computer, end program." The familiar holodeck pattern re-emerged. Julian stood, his chair disappearing, and turned to face the Lieutenant Commander. The blue skin shocked him after being so long in the dark.
"Not too many people use the privacy setting in the holodecks anymore, sir."

"That's right." Julian paused. "Well?"

She stood up straight and reported. "Commander Velaran has prepared his combat readiness report, sir. Also, our crew was reinforced, though we are still awaiting the arrival of our replacement medical officer and ammunition replenishment."

It must have been halfway through the report that Julian noticed his anxiety was diminished. His anxiety? No, not his. It was now obvious that this symbiote was too powerful for him. Or maybe the reason for this symbiote was too powerful? Before the end of the speech he decided to turn his life over to it. Perhaps it was already gone, that this last choice was some illusion concocted by the parasite in his gut to take control. It didn't matter. Ergo cogito sum, where thinking brings you nothing but pain. He killed himself before her next sentence.

"We expect to be fully ready for combat operations by tomorrow morning."

"Thank you, Commander. Return to your duties, I'll be on the bridge shortly."

The Bolian turned to leave, and Julian resolved to find a jumja stick.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 108 Holophobia
06-19-2011, 02:42 AM
........Everyone is afraid to say it now, it's like walking on photonic eggshells. Who are we to play gods? This is very understandable, & quite agreeable, however limiting & perturbing it may be.

........With the heated debate sparked by notable members of the federation who are now "acknowledged" as sentient life-forms such as Data, Dr. Van Gogh, & others, it has been decreed that all holodecks are not be used. Temporary protocol now mandates that ships holodecks should be placed in standby &/or diagnostic mode indefinitely; the latter is usually reserved for science vessels who intend to aid in the ongoing research project to see if these occurrences are more than just random anomalies.

........Under no circumstances are any holodecks, EMH or similar holo-programs to be used, & they are not to be activated until Starfleet can determine the cause of the unique awareness-giving nature of certain phrasing fed to the programming subroutines. Much investigation involving the moral implications surrounding this subject on the whole is also in dispute, concerning & involving both artificial & actual sentient races. Still, for some reason I swing by one of the ships holodecks from time to time. I find comfort in the quiet solitude I can find nowhere else, even in my quarters. It is the one place nobody else on the ship will go, where very few know where to look for me.

........3 of the 4 holodecks have been temporarily converted into alternative pastime areas such as study halls & entertainment hubs like gymnasiums, game rooms & one is now even an arboretum. It is efficient, & an attractive initiative to many who may tend to over-use the holodeck. It is becoming a bit of a setback, though; that much is collectively agreed upon. I ordered this particular holodeck, suite #4, to be left as-is for "emergency space" for… cargo or... passengers or... whatever the hell I can think of. No, we’re not going to need it; that’s exactly what the motivation for it is, & I would venture a guess that every single member of my senior staff has already figured that out.

........I found myself coming back to that holodeck often. Eventually, I even began to dare to bend the rules.
“There can’t possibly be restrictions on a little scenery.”
I started with a plain white room, like a blank page; no visible walls or corners. Somehow though, I could still sense the walls being little more than a stones throw away.
“A stone…”
I grew bolder still.
“Inanimate objects cannot possibly become sentient now can they?”

........I dwelled for a brief moment on the exocomps, but quickly dismissed the thought surmising that a stone would need some sort of computer circuitry to become alive, & much more than that to become sentient. So I dared; I synthesized a holographic stone, & threw it at the wall. The shrill pulverizing noise from the impact made me cringe; the resulting shock wave sent a light tingle down my spine, as well as a photonic ripple across the grid, now visibly phasing in & out until the waves finally subsided.

........I then had the notion to do what few people think of as a necessary addition to holodecks: I set the illusion parameters to allow moving objects to render past the wall as if it weren’t there. The issue here being that a person could easily injure or at the very least humiliate themselves by sudden unintentional contact with the wall. To avoid this, I added a subtle alarm that would sound if organic matter were to come too close to the holodecks border.

........Throwing stones into a pale oblivion was still not my idea of relaxation. I further disobeyed the new protocols & conjured up a meager pond in which to skip what was now a substantial pile of stones that I had been summoning to my side. Time began to hurry past, & at last I was at ease with little more than the white noise of the warp core & impulse engines in the background. The pond grew to a lake, & the white room became a boundless Zen garden the likes of which the Jade Emperor would have given an entire lifetime of spoils just to lay eyes upon.

........Yes, this would certainly bring about some spiteful consequences & more than a few carefully prepared lectures, perhaps even a reprimand. But what are they going to do, revoke my commission? Starfleet NEEDS captains, & captains like all crew need a reprieve, albeit a little more often perhaps; though we'll never get as much shore leave as the crew, lucky scrubs as they are. The stress of the job can get under our skin easier than the average duty officer may realize, though many tend to shrug it off easily with distractions such as the holodeck, & conversations with their friends... long ago I was assimilated, & already I had felt alienated by my own people. Now, having crossed over to the proverbial other side, a pandemonium of thoughts; & been fortunate enough to return... I am just not yet ready to re-integrate myself with the social web, therefore I don’t have either of those luxuries.

........They so covet the pole position, yet they don’t realize that it is lonely at the top, & the breeze causes one to teeter atop a very frail pedestal. The fall can be devastating, but there are always helping hands to guide you weather you want them to or not, be they human or the simple advantage of having a soft landing spot somewhere below. Weather you hit it or not... well that is left for fate to decide. Oh yes, luck has more of a part to play in skill than many would care to admit. I just so happen to have the benefit of having seen more than one outcome of circumstances many would consider impossible to survive. My own experiences among them, I now believe that if providence indeed has a will of it’s own, it is on our side.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Hello and welcome to our writers challenges!

Today we start the slightly belated two-week run of the fourth Lit Challenge: Passing Grades
Remember that one test in exobiology you fretted over so bad you couldn't keep food down? The time your Drill Officer told you to kill that wild Targ with your bare hands if you were stupid enough to lose your weapon? Tell us about your captains hardest challange before they passed their academy years and were allowed to wear the uniform of the fleet!

This is the writer's thread.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an index page of stories HERE.




The rules may change from one to the other, but I'd like to give a quick recap each time. These may grow as we move on, so feel free to also give feedback!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky a subject and have at it.
  • There are no right or wrong entries. If you write 500 words of 3000: Write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are - with one tiny mention:
  • Please heed the rest of the forums' rules when submitting your story!
  • Each poster can have one entry per character. Feel free to edit you post however to fix typos, add stuff or remove stuff as you see fit during the next two weeks.
  • After two weeks time, the thread will be locked and unstickied. If you wish to write on this topic after this time, there will be a place for this in the "Latecomer" thread.
  • We'll have two threads: One to post the stories, one to discuss the stories. *I will allow cross-linking between these two threads!!*
  • I will index your story by name and title (if you have one) for future reference.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 110
06-20-2011, 02:11 PM
It was almost embarrassing for him to see Armin Merrick typed into the header. The paper was probably his worst, containing factual errors, poor syntax and an argument so poorly constructed it is impossbile to conceive the writer's mental state.

And yet, a printed form of it sat framed on his personal desk in his ready room. The paper was a reminder, nay, a testament to his youthful arrogance. Armin was a young man at the academy, easily four years ahead of the average human. He thought he knew everything, coming from a colony world where he learned to maintain the large agricultural equipment. Starfleet was a passing whim back then.

But then something changed in him. He realized he would be stuck on that stupid colony forever if he didn't escape. He passed the entrance exams with flying colors, aced his first semester and became involved in a plethora of girls that ranged in color across the spectrum. Until the second semester when one of those girls convinced him to take LIT 3237D, Literature Across the Species. The tragic origins of this paper originated here, and its purpose was the comparison of the protagonists in Va Bolyn's Unto the Valeran Gap and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. At least it was meant to be. Armin to this day couldn't finish reading it.

The class itself was a level of boredom Armin had never experienced before. He came from a colony coming just off the precipice of terraformation. There was always something to learn, or plant, or run away from while sneaking through the woods as a child. While that thing you were running away from was just a noise your older sister made, the sounds of his Bolian professor reading off the syllabus were equally as frightening and proved more deadly. Armin had even wondered if the mind-controlling aliens that infiltrated Starfleet Academy so many years ago - he had heard of this story through some of the groundskeepers - still maintatined a presence in Professor Dalen Broht.

Armin used the paper, replicated by Professor Broht only so he could scrawl a giant 'F' across every page in red ink, as a tool for humility. He knew he took his crew's expertise for granted. There were times he didn't care. Those were the times when he looked at the four red letters staring at him from his desk. He would listen to his officers and even reconsider his own tactical appraisals. It would remind him that he wasn't the best captain in the fleet like he wasn't the best student at the Academy.

But perhaps the best lover, as all those women may attest...
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