Former PWE Community Team Lead
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 9,046
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges!

Today we start the two-week run of the thirtieth Literary Challenge: The Tau Dewa Sector Block
You and your crew have been assigned to a reconnaissance mission in the Tau Dewa Sector Block. A probe in the vicinity of one of the systems (of your choosing) there has reported activity that is out of the norm and you must investigate. Write a Captain's Log entry detailing your mission, including the system you explored and what happened there.

Feel free to use this Dev Blog as reference.
This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
  • There are no right or wrong entry.
  • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
  • Write as little or as much as you would like.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
  • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
  • A few other important reminders:
    • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
    • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
    • After two weeks time, the thread will be locked and unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
    • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**
Brandon "BranFlakes" Felczer | Former Community Team Lead for Perfect World Entertainment
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 807
# 2
10-16-2012, 08:39 PM
Captain's Log, stardate 83821.27. The USS Deliverance has been assigned to perform reconnaissance on the Tau Dewa sector block. We've launched a long-range probe into the sectors as an advance, to see what might be there.

We've already found something. Our probe detected anomalous Tetryon radiation coming from the Jouret system, which line up with known cloaking device signatures. We've redirected the probe to investigate the system. I, personally, am nervous about what we may find, because of my homeworld: Jouret IV. I haven't visited the New Providence site since I was liberated from the Collective. I avoided it because of the harsh memories for me there. After all, I was only nine years old when the Borg destroyed my home... when they took me, and made me one of them.

I worry about what we may find, not for fear of a renewed Borg presence in the system, but because of the Romulans' obsession with reverse-engineering Borg technology. There is no technology in the system that we know of, but the Romulans may have built a base there to experiment with what they have, as a sick joke. I know they've done it, I've seen the results. I still remember the augmented Mogai I faced at S'harien Station. It was almost challenging, but it was an omen. I remember the
I.R.W. Areinnye; remember how the Borg came after them. If the Romulans have set up shop in the Jouret system, they could bring a Borg fleet there. Considering the weakness of the Star Empire after the loss of Romulus, and how thinly they're spread in the area, a Borg attack on this sector could be calamitous. Not to mention, the threat of the Romulans succeeding. If the Romulans reverse-engineer Borg technology, they would almost definitely attack. This would be another calamity. We don't need a war with the Star Empire.

So, with these things in mind, I am ordering the
Deliverance to set a course for my home system, and have gone to yellow alert. I consider it highly likely that we will find something here.

***

"Captain, we're coming out of Warp." Nuju's Breen language was hard on the ears, but it at least translated well. Nuju was Antilles' helmsman, a refugee from the Breen Confederacy's secret movement away from military totalitarianism, and a great pilot. The Breen seemed to always be very skilled helmsmen.

"Understood. Omet'iklan, I want weapons on standby. The Romulans wonlt be catching an Odyssey-class ship with its pants down."

"Sir." Omet'iklan was a Jem'Hadar given to Admiral Charles Antilles by the Dominion for helping to release the Female Changeling back to them. If the Breen were the galaxy's pilots, the Jem'Hadar were the gunmen. He was a crack shot, rifle or phaser bank. But then, he was genetically engineered to be.

"Nuju, take us to the source of those readings." The helmsman nodded, and the ship was underway.

A few moments later, the ship arrived in orbit of Jouret IV, the source of the readings. "We've arrived, Captain," barked Nuju. Antilles turned to his CSO, Kisdra. "Perform an antiproton sweep of the area. While that runs, think of any other way you might know to detect a cloaked vessel." She nodded, and began to work. It didn't take long for her console to bleep. The vessel decloaked before she could even report. It was a Bird-of-Prey. They hailed the Deliverance. Antilles ordered it to be answered, and a Romulan male appeared on the viewscreen. The man was young, and looked calm. However, when he spoke, his voice dripped with Romulan arrogance and sarcasm, just as many Romulan commanders tended to. "Starfleet. How... kind of you, to be showing your support for such an impoverished area with your presence. I am Commander T'Res of the Romulan Star Empire. May we be of any... assistance?"

"Certainly, Commander T'Res," replied the admiral. "I am Vice Admiral Charles Antilles, commanding the USS Deliverance . One of our probes picked up unusual Tetryon readings in this system that corresponded to readings from cloaked Romulan ships. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that... would you? I'm sure the Star Empire would never be performing espionage from this system." Antilles spoke with the same tone as the Romulan had. He found that it made the Romulans easier to understand him.

"Ah, Admiral Antilles. Your reputation precedes you. I can assure you, whatever you may have detected was most likely only our vessel. You have no cause for concern. We were simply... performing a routine exercise in the system."

The miniature console on Antilles' arm rest beeped quietly. Looking down discreetly, he read the message Kisdra had sent. Lying. Tet readings big for 1 BoP. Possible station. So, Antilles bluffed. "Oh, I'm sure it was just routine... I'll have you know, this was my home system. That is, before the Borg destroyed New Providence and assimilated me. Before then, however, my parents were quite fond of flying through Jouret VI's asteroid rings with inertial dampers on low. Thrilling, at least for an 8-year-old. I'm... guessing you were there as well?" As he spoke, he sent a text reply to Kisdra. Find likely station coordinates. Ready CPB to fire at those XY on my signal. A simple bleep of acknowledgement followed.

"You read my mind, admiral. Although, I am... quite saddened to hear of your loss. I hear New Providence, at its height, was a wonderful colony, even if its population was rather low."

Antilles retorted. "Oh, it was quite the town. You'd be surprised what 900 dedicated people can do with a simple, M-class world. Though, I guess the Romulans might be able to do more, even if..." he nodded at Kisdra, signaling her to fire the charged particle beam, and watched as the Romulan station was decloaked by it, before saying, "it may have taken a bit more than 900 Romulans to build that."

The commander's face drained of color in surprise. "What? We had no ide-"

"Of course you didn't know it was here, Commander. I'm also sure you're not part of a security patrol to destroy any intruders. And I'm absolutely certain that you're not looking for Borg salvage on my home planet. Now, I'm also sure you're just as upset about this as I am. If I were you, I'd petition the Senate to remove this facility immediately... otherwise, you might make an enemy of your Federation neighbors, who are trying to help you. It'd be a real shame if that were to happen... right?"

"O- of course, admiral," said the stuttering commander. "I'll make sure the Senate hears of this. No one in our government should be sneaking around the site of a catastrophe looking to exploit it. We'll be on our way to Rator immediately."

"Preferably uncloaked, so we can make sure you get there safely."

"Certainly, admiral. Thank you for being reasonable about this... misunderstanding." The channel closed. The Romulan ship banked, left orbit, and went to warp. One of Two, Antilles' first officer (and first lady) said, "You played him for a sucker. Led him by the nose right into your trap... and you enjoyed that, didn't you?

"You're damned right I enjoyed that. Did you SEE how pale he got? I'll have to tell this story to Admiral Lerginas the next time I see him, he'll get a real kick out of it."

***

Captain's Log, supplemental. The Romulan Senate has formally claimed no foreknowledge of the station in orbit of Jouret IV, and has ordered its immediate shutdown. While its deconstruction is in progress, I took a trip to the surface, to do something I should have done a long time ago.

While nothing of my home may be left but a crater, I will never forget what was there... and what is at stake in our never-ending fight against the Borg.
CHARACTER GRID (@Lord-Ice):
___ |___ _ Fed ____| ____ _KDF __ ____| Rom
Tac_|_Thomas Hale_| __ __Illusion _____| Silence (K)
Eng | ___Antilles _ _| _ Mirror Rygobeth__| N'Vek (F)
Sci _| __ Rygobeth _| _Lukor Son of Q'Tar | Devala (F)

Last edited by icegavel; 10-16-2012 at 08:58 PM. Reason: All my apostrophes and whatnot turned into question marks - fixed.
Empire Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,638
# 3
10-16-2012, 09:56 PM
Captain's Log, Stardate 83819.5. The I.K.S Va'Hulk has been ordered to the Tau Dewa Sector Block, as it is called in the human tongue, in order to gather intelligence about the Romulan colonies in the area.

The very thought of those honorless petaQ makes my blood burn, but it is not my place to question the orders of the High Command. Perhaps they need this intelligence to effectively plan how to take the colonies by force. Our ship will go and investigate every inch of space there, and if anything challenges us or our honor, the captured Fek'Ihri souls in our hanger bays will be put to good use.

And perhaps the Romulan prisoners will be of good use as well, should it be required.


***

Captain's Log, Stardate 83823.71. We have scoured one end of this Sector Block to the other, gathering every movement of those treacherous Romulans on their colonies. At first, there was nothing of interest to the crew, though we dutifully recorded it all.

That was when we detected a specific kind of magnetic resonance trace in the Narenda system. It wasn't long before we identified it as a Borg ship's trail, and went to investigate immediately.

When we arrived, we found the remains of a fierce battle. Debris was heavily scattered across the planet's orbit, but what was even more suprising were two intact Romulan Birds-of-Prey. A quick scan revealed them dead, but empty, stripped of all their technology and passengers.

We Klingons do not like the Romulans, but even we would not wish the fate of assimilation on them.

My Science officer says the Borg could not have gotten far, as there are no warp trails from their ship. Perhaps they are hiding to repair the damage the Romulans inflicted. Either way, my crew and I will find them and destroy them.


***

Captain's Log, Stardate 83824.29. As my Tactical Officer suspected, the Borg was hiding it's energy signature behind one of the planet's moons. There is no evidence that supports the Borg's sudden attempt to conceal itself, or why they would need to conceal themselves in the first place, but the Borg have been inconsistent as of late.

Regardless of that reason, we engaged the Borg Sphere in battle.

It was a glorious fight. We fought off the Borg's attack fiercely, smashing their ship with disruptor fire and quantum torpedoes. They adapted many times to our weapons, but we were prepared for that, as my Engineering officer had implemented a complex frequency modulater into the ship's weapon systems on his spare time. It was very useful, and I recommand all KDF ships have this technology installed.

One thing they could not adapt to was the Fer'Jai Frigate's transphasic rifts. As formidable as their adaptation is, they cannot just negate the damage from a rift in space. In addition, the rift's subspace tear actively interfered with the Borg's collective consciousness, delaying their actions. Further research must be done on this development.

The Borg attempted to board us several times, but as luck would have it, our captured prisoners fought them off. They were smart enough to know that staying with us as prisoners was better than being assimilated. Even the demons of Gre'thor known as Fek'Ihri know this for a fact.

We lost many honorable members of my crew in the attack. I will pray for Sto-vo-kor to receive their souls.

Eventually, the Borg ship was destroyed by it's collison with the moon, unable to keep itself from escaping the body's gravity. I've immediately sent a team with EV suits to collect parts and components from the wreck, and will have them analysed quickly. You can never be too careful when dealing with those machines.

If the Borg get a foothold in this Sector Block, they will be within striking distance of the Empire, and that is not acceptable.
Was named Trek17, but still an author.

Last edited by trek21; 10-17-2012 at 12:23 AM.
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 1,063
# 4
10-17-2012, 04:28 AM
Captain's Log: Stardate 88791.6


It's been two weeks since I was visited by Q, two weeks since I had been shown a possible outcome of future events and I'd been in Star Fleet headquarters almost the entire time. Briefings, debriefings, tactical assessments, and even sessions in the holodecks trying to recreate some of the things I'd seen. The Geist had been in ESD being cleaned and polished, and the crew was just as eager as I was to get out of here. After it was decided that they'd retrieved all of the information Admiral Aviess handed me a P.A.D.D. with out next assignment.


There had been a recent discrepancy in some of the classified records regarding the Temporal Cold War and as such Section 31 was stepping in. About the 1850's Earth time the Suliban home world in the Beta Quadrant had become uninhabitable. Since then they had been a nomadic race, even trying to conquer the Tandar System. At some point it was found that a Cabal had formed and began to serve as pawns in the war in exchange for advanced genetic enhancements, even by today's standards. During the 2150's the events of the cold war had dwindled then seemingly stopped all together. It was about this time the Suliban had disappeared. It was assumed that they had been exterminated by one of the temporal factions they'd failed.


Recently a probe in the Tau Dewa Sector Block had started reading an unusual series of anomalies, some of which were a little too close to what had been found in the Nukara system. This of course caused a stir in the Department of Temporal Investigations which is how Section 31 become involved. According to the DTI the entire Tau Dewa block used to be fully encased in the Azure Nebula. Some how the Nebula had managed to recede not only in space but in time. Not only that but the entire Suliban System had some how managed to be relocated from the Beta Quadrant to the Alpha Quadrant. What forces could move an entire planetary stem, shrink a Nebula, and reroute time itself like a river? I'm surprised Admiral Janeway herself wasn't trying to lead an expedition to investigate. She must have been furious to know who was being sent.


As the Geist dropped out of warp every thing seemed normal, at least in terms of what we thought was normal up until the probe had told us otherwise. Things seemed as though they had never changed, the Suliban home world was still as uninhabitable but there had been a number of smaller asteroids near the planet that hadn't been there according to old Vulcan cartography records. We began routine scans when suddenly the ship was rocked hard. Red alert blared as status alerts came in from all over the ship. Damage was minimal and injuries seemed to be just a few bumps and bruises. Sensors indicated that we had been struck by some sort of massive subspace eddy a few kilometers off starboard. Had it been any close and there is no telling what damage could have been done. Another hit rocked the ship, but this time the shields took most of the force. These rifts weren't coincidental, we were being targeted. I ordered evasive maneuvers and had weapons charged, all scans showed energy surges coming from one of the larger asteroids.


As the ship moved closer more conventional weapons began firing as well as the continued subspace bombardment. The shields were taking a beating as it were before a number of smaller pods launched from nearby rocks and began attacking. At this point we seemed out numbered so I initiated multivector assault protocols and moments later the ship had separated into it's three parts returning fire. Commander Keating, my Tac officer, registered the pods as Suliban which would mark one of the first times they'd been encountered since the days of the NX-01. The Alpha section of the Geist was the only one still being bounced around by what ever the Suliban were using to cause the eddies, so for what it was worth what ever they were targeting us with they only had one.


Little by little we were making progress, disabling as many ships as we could there were still too many that ended up exploding. Later scans would show they had been self destructing. What ever they were guarding must have been big if they didn't want to be taken alive. All segments were ordered to begin passive scans if possible when suddenly a subspace blast hit beneath the rear of the alpha segment completely taking off the lower nacelle as well as dealing heavy damage to most of the relays and conduits. We were dead in the water. We had shields but just barely so any additional eddies could possibly destroy us.


Beta and Gamma segments were taking heavy damage as well so I had to act fast, both ships were defending us as best they could but scans were picking up a building energy source meaning they were ready to put us down. I made the call to eject the Alpha warp core but ordered Beta to hit it with a tractor beam. Our one chance was to toss it towards the large asteroid and detonate it. It was a long shot but obviously the Suliban didn't have the finer targeting yet so we had that on our side. It took only a moment for the alpha core to reach the asteroid just in time to be hit by a quantum torpedo. As it detonated it cracked the asteroid right in half causing whatever power source they were using to overload and explode setting off a chain reaction. They'd been using Omega Particles. How the hell they'd managed that could only be explained in one way; the Temporal Cold War was still going on.


A subspace shock wave reached out destroying the remaining pods and heavily damaging all three sections of the Geist. Alpha was totally disabled, even life support was gone. Warp was out of the question for the entire sector, Gamma lost a nacelle and a large chunk of hull plating on the lower deck and Beta had minimal power but was the only ship still moving. Most of the smaller asteroids had been destroyed in the blast as well, but Gamma's sensors were the only still functioning and managed to find something quite odd, but just what we needed. In the debris of the asteroids there had been a lot of metallic debris, specifically Ships from earth.


By shear luck the scan detected a full ship capable of carrying the surviving crew. Alpha segment's crew was beamed aboard the other two segments, afterward Beta checked out the ship and all available engineering crews were able to get it up and running. Once it was deemed safe the rest of the crew transferred over and began preparations to head out. Logs indicated it was a temporal vessel, but not one from Star fleet, in fact not even from our universe, it was Terran. We towed the Geist free of any subspace damage and made the Trans-warp jump back to Earth Space Dock. It seemed we would have some explaining to do.


After Debriefings it was found that any and all subspace damage in the Suliban System was gone, but not just gone, as if it had never happened. Chroniton readings had been of the charts in every probe retrieved. There were no signs of any of the asteroids or the subspace weapon, but for the time being the Geist was out of action for at least several months. I worry that this is the first stage in Q's warning. The Federation agrees that it is a possibility that needs further study and therefore would be putting more of a Federation presence into the Tau Dewa Sector to find out just what happened to cause such massive temporal and spacial anomalies. As for the crew and I, it took a little bit of work, but I was able to get clearance so until the U.S.S. Geist is up and running again it looks like we will be operating "field tests" of the Terran time ship.


Captain James Charles Donovan


End Log

Last edited by wraithshadow13; 10-18-2012 at 01:06 PM.
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 141
# 5 Archer IV
10-17-2012, 11:45 PM
Goshen A'nar stepped from the turbolift and hurried to the center seat of the large bridge onboard the USS Olympic. "Report," he called out as he stepped into the bullpen and approached his chair. Marok handed him a PADD and stood by with his hands clasped behind his back as he waited for the Captain to issue their orders. Marok new that Goshen was a visual learner and that if he was to truly comprehend a situation, he had to see it for himself.

Goshen eased into his seat as he looked over the data on the slate that outlined the distress call that they had received from a planet in the Tau Dewa Sector Block. When he finished with the initial report, he asked, "Archer IV? Why does that sound familiar?"

Marok was a statue of Vulcan calm, when he replied, "Turn to the next page, Captain."

Goshen did as his first officer had suggested and read the relevant entries from the Starfleet database. Marok always had his back, and could often anticipate Goshen's needs even before he did. Skimming through the report, Goshen learned that Archer IV was an M-class planet first discovered by Captain Jonathan Archer in 2151. The planet's flora emitted a pollen with toxic levels of tropolisine, a hallucinogenic. It wasn't until the 23rd century that the pollen was eliminated and a Federation colony was established there. Over the next century, the planet became a major Federation world on the border between Federation and Klingon space.

Putting the PADD down, Goshen asked, "Are we en route to Archer IV?"

Marok answered with a curt nod as he said, "We will arrive in two hours, thirteen minutes, and 42 seconds."

Turning to his operations officer, Goshen asked, "Can you hail Archer IV?"

Noebellor had been trying to raise the colony, since the distress call came in. "No response from planet yet," he replied. "Several other starships are en route to the planet as well. However, it appears that we will be arriving first."

The Tau Dewa Sector Block was a heavily populated and highly disputed region situated between Klingon, Romulan, and Federation space. Before the Hobus disaster, the area was a powder keg ready to go off at any moment. After the destruction of Romulus and Remus, the Federation did all they could to keep the Klingon Empire from conquering all that remained of the Romulan Empire. It strained the relationship between the Empire and the Federation. However, the efforts bought the Romulans and Remans time to recover and reassert their claims to the worlds in the region.

"What ships are en route?" Goshen asked.

From his console behind Goshen, Noebellor pulled up the information. "The Axelrod, the Sutorox, and the Discovery will be arriving to Archer IV over the course of the next three to six hours."

Goshen thought about it for a moment. "Marok, let's see if we can get there faster."

Marok?s eyebrow arched and a scowl tugged at the corners of his mouth. "We're already at 97.3% efficiency." He considered his options for a moment before he stated, "I may be able to get us closer to 98% efficiency. I?ll be in Engineering."

Goshen nodded and watched Marok head for the turbolift. Marok not only was his first officer, but also the chief engineer aboard the USS Olympic. In all of the years that Goshen was in Starfleet, he had never encountered a more proficient engineer. Sometimes, his mood swings from the trauma that he had experienced during his binding ritual to T?Prell interfered with his work, but the last such event was weeks ago. Whenever one of these moods struck Marok, the best solution that they had found was for the two of them to spend a little Holodeck time together beating the crap out of one another. Meditation and some of the other solutions that other Vulcans use to keep their emotions in check just didn't work for Marok. However, there was something therapeutic in throwing his captain to the mat time and time again. Goshen didn't mind the bruises, and he certainly gave Marok his fair share.

Lieutenant Lydia MacArthur, the human pilot, called out, "Captain, we've just hit warp 9.85."

"That was fast," Goshen replied to himself.

"Engine proficiency is now at 98.3% and still rising," Noebellor replied as he monitored the engine output.

Goshen tapped his combadge, "Goshen to Marok. Good work, Commander. Keep it up. However, I want you up here when before we reach Archer IV."

"Very well, Captain," came the reply from Marok.


***


"Hail the colony again," Goshen ordered.

Noebellor opened a channel, "No response from the colony, but the channel is open. If anyone is listening, they'll hear you."

The Olympic was still a few minutes from orbit around Archer IV.

"This is Captain Goshen A'nar of the USS Olympic. We're responding to your distress call. Please respond." He paused a moment. He turned his head and nodded to Noebellor, who repeated the transmission.

"What do sensors tell us," Goshen asked Chell Brotha, the Bolian at the science station.

"I'm reading millions of lifesigns, but most are rather sporadic. We're losing some of them. Something is definitely going on down there."

"Captain," Noebellor interrupted. "I've got audio from the colony."

"Put it through."
"Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill went tumbling behind him."

Turning to Noebellor, Goshen shot a quizzical glance at his operations officer, who shrugged in response. Goshen cleared his throat before speaking. "Archer IV colony, do you read me? This is Captain Goshen A'nar of the Federation Starship Olympic."

Another voice came over the open comm channel. It was screaming. "The boat is sinking! The boat is sinking!"

A third voice followed on its heels, "Quiet! I won't let you steal my eyes!" It was followed by a sharp meaty thud and a blood curdling scream. The first voice began to cry and laugh and cry uncontrollably. It too went eerily silent after another series of meaty thuds.

Goshen looked around the bridge and saw the appalled expressions on the faces of his officers.

Lydia MacArthur finally gave voice to the fear that each of them felt. "Did they just kill the other two?"

Goshen was going to reply, when the remaining voice demanded, "Who's there? I heard you speak. Come out and face me you coward!"

Goshen motioned for the channel to close with a wave his hand across his neck.

Noebellor did as he was told and severed the open comm link to the planet. "What is going on down there?"

No one spoke. They were horrified at the images that their minds created based on what they had heard.

Marok broke the stunned silence and stated with an emotional edge to his voice, "I think I may know."

Goshen didn't notice the change in Marok's demeanor as he looked to the Vulcan for answers.

"Tropolisine," Marok finally said. "It was in my report to you about the distress call. Did you get to the page that discussed how the colonists eliminated the tropolisine that the planet's flora released in its pollen?"

Goshen thought about it for a moment, before he finally said, "Didn't they use some kind of industrial sized environmental scrubber to neutralize the compound from the air?"

"That's correct, Captain," Marok replied as he approached Chell's science station. "Chell, can you scan the colony's environmental filtration system? I want to know if they're operating properly."

Snapping out of his bewilderment, Chell turned back to his sensor panel and began to work the sensor control panel to get the first officer the answer to his inquiry. After a few moments, the answer was frightfully clear. "Marok is correct, sir. The EFS is offline. From the looks of it, all six of them along the outer edge of the city are non-operational."

Goshen rose to his feet and approached the pair of officers that huddled around the sensor panel. "Without that filtration system, the planet's natural and highly toxic environment reasserted itself. That means that everyone on the planet is hallucinating?"

"Apparently so," Marok replied softly. He felt his emotional control begin to slip. He took a deep breath and tried to reel back his emotions, but the idea of millions of people turning on one another in a fit of delusional rage made him extremely comfortable. This wasn't a time for him to lose control. He needed to refocus and offer his captain some solutions, but he couldn't tear his thoughts from those people and the horrors that their imaginations were conjuring up.

"Hail the other ships, and tell them to get here as quickly as possible." We?re going to need their help. Every second that the EFS is offline, the people on the planet are in grave jeopardy."

"Aye, Captain," Noebellor replied as he set upon his task.

"We're going to need engineering and security teams ready to beam down to the planet as soon as possible. We need to get those scrubbers online as soon as possible." Goshen looked at his friend and first officer, and saw fear in his eyes. He knew what was happening. However, this wasn't the time nor the place for Marok to lose control of his emotions. They were in a crisis with the fate of millions of people in their hands.

Goshen stepped to the Vulcan and whispered in his ear. "Get a hold of yourself. I need you to focus right now." Goshen looked around the bridge to make sure that his crew were busy with their tasks rather than paying attention to his exchange with Marok. "I promise, once this is over, we can go to the Holodeck and you can beat the crap out of me. But, at this moment, I need you to be ok. We all do. No, those people down there need you."

Marok gave a subtle nod as he whispered, "Yes, Captain. I understand." He then walked away from Goshen and said, "Tell the transporter room to issue Type Two respirators to all members of the away team."

"Good thinking," Goshen replied with a smile. "The last thing we need is for our crew to go native right now."

Noebellor called out, "Captain. We're receiving confirmation from the Axelrod, the Sutorox, and the Discovery. They've increased their speed and will be rendezvousing with us as quickly as possible."

"Great. Now, get me a secure channel to Starfleet Command in my ready room. We're going to need help dealing with the sick, the injured, and the dead once we're able to restore the colony?s EFS back online." Goshen quickly headed to his ready room and closed the door.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 62
# 6
10-18-2012, 08:13 AM
Captain's Log, Stardate 90382.54

The U.S.S.
Harbinger has been ordered to the New Romulus system in the Tau Dewa Sector Block. My crew has recently been on edge, as there have been reports of Tholian vessels in orbit of said system, most notably New Romulus itself. However, my security chief, Talirus, has shown the regular Vulcan restraint that would be expected. Cmdr. Tharyn Alzelaph has been working to put the engines and warp core at maximum efficiency, and my Executive Officer, Cmdr Linwood Luxton has been hard at work in deflector control trying to boost the harmonics to get the best possible resolution.

Starfleet's Vice Admiral George Aubrey had just finished speaking with his younger sister Alana, who had recently been assigned a ship of her own, when he was summoned to the bridge by good friend and executive officer Cmdr. Luxton, who had some interesting news for his commanding officer.

"Captain Aubrey, sir, we have been initiating a long-range scan of the New Romulus system, and I have come to the conclusion that strange fluctuations in the scan harmonics are due to Tholian interdimensional gateways forming in the system. Lieutenant Ostinoph, has held position on my orders, sir, as we don't particularly want to engage the Tholians before we have more information."

"Understood, commander. Doctor Colclough, let me know when you are ready to issue the anti-hallucinogenic to the crew. We don't want to end up like the crew of the Defiant in the 23rd Century after the Tholians took their ship. Commander Luxton, my ready room in five. Commander Colclough, you have the bridge."

Doctor Kelli Colclough, the Chief Medical Officer and the eldest of the three Colcough sisters on board the Harbinger, replied almost instantly.

"Captain, the hyposprays are ready to be issued to the crew on your command. Also, could I speak with my sisters in sickbay? It's urgent."
"Understood, Doctor. Let me know when you are finished."

***********

George was relaxing in the holodeck when he received a notification from the ship's computer that the Tholian vessels detected earlier had begun to engage Romulan patrols in the area. He then returned to the bridge, where an extensive battle was taking place between the two factions.

"Status report", he asked his Chief of Ops, Lt. Cmdr. Willow Colcough.
"The Romulan ships are taking heavy damage from the Tholian weapons, captain. They can't stay in this fight much longer."
"Understood. All decks, all stations, this is the captain speaking. Red Alert, all non-essential personnel are to return to their quarters with immediate effect. Lt. Ostinoph, prepare to fire all beam arrays at will, and torpedo dispersal pattern Sigma. Lt. Cmdr. Colclough, hail the Romulan fleet, tell them we are moving to assist them."
"Aye sir", the two women replied in unison. Soon, the viewscreen was ablaze with colour from the 3 Romulan vessels still in the fight, and the Harbinger's advanced weaponry seemed to cut through the Tholian shields with ease.

"Captain, more Tholian ships coming through the spatial rifts! We can't hold them off forever. More warp signatures detected - it's the Enterprise and the Defiant, as well as some of your own ships, sir, namely the Macintyre and the Queretaro!"

"Commander Ozelhgez, scan those rifts, see if they have any weaknesses. If so, target them for a level two high-yield torpedo each."

A hail from the Enterprise came, as they had taking heavy damage and were unable to continue until preliminary repairs were made. The Defiant soon followed. However, what nobody was expecting was for the Macintyre to suddenly split into three, as it went into Multi-Vector Assault Mode, and engaged three Tholian ships at once.

"Captain, the Macintyre has split, and very few crew members knew about the fact their ship had the ability to do that. Did you know, sir?"
"Yes, but I was sworn to secrecy about it, as the Tholians seem to counter our every move against them. So it was best to keep it a secret from everybody."

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

Captain's Log, Supplemental

The Tholians have retreated for now, and the Romulans have graciously accepted our repair efforts as well as given us some kind of insight into what the Tholians were doing in that system. They were apparently stealing ships to take to the Azure Nebula, where they are stripping captured ships of their components and slaughtering the crews. Our next mission will most likely be there.

Last edited by sharpie65; 10-18-2012 at 02:48 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 578
# 7
10-20-2012, 06:36 AM
Personal log: Tylha Shohl, officer commanding, USS Sita NCC-92871

The mission of Starfleet is not primarily military. In troubled times, it's too easy to forget that. But Starfleet, above all, is a force for exploration - to seek out and unveil the unknown. And, for once, we have a chance to be part of that. Sita is on course for the unmapped fringes of the Azure Nebula; no longer a sword of vengeance, but a spear aimed at the heart of a mystery.

Chief Science Officer Zazaru's dark eyes are abstract, unfocused; she has been poring over the data from the long-range astrometrics probes all the way from Sirius sector to Tau Dewa. There is no sign of strain on her face, though. Zazaru has always been frighteningly efficient; sometimes I wonder how much more efficient she might be if she were joined, like so many Trills in Starfleet - but the joining is something she's never sought after, it seems. Now, as we approach the coordinates where the probes inexplicably glitched, she looks up from her console to watch the starfield on the screen.

"Coming out of warp," my exec, Anthi Vihl, reports unemotionally.

Sita barely shudders as she drops below lightspeed and reenters the conventional universe. Before us, the Azure Nebula lives up to its name, a glorious tangle of gas clouds and plasma streamers glowing with celestial light.

"Skipper, I'm reading something." There is an unaccustomed frown on F'hon Tlaxx's good-natured Bolian face as he looks up from the comms console. "Transponder code - not Federation, but I know the format -"

"I confirm," says Anthi in that same businesslike voice. "I'm reading.... one large vessel and some auxiliaries. D'deridex class."

Romulans. I lean back wearily in my command chair. So much for the unknown.

---

The Romulan commander's face fills my screen; a hard, bony face, with hooded eyes glinting beneath a heavy, ridged brow. "I am Commander Tarkhal, of the IRW Maestor," he says. "We are engaged in a scientific survey. Starfleet... supervision... is neither requested nor required."

"Vice-Admiral Tylha Shohl, USS Sita," I reply. "We are on a science mission of our own - frankly, Commander, we did not expect to find you here."

Tarkhal's face, already sour, works with repressed emotion. "The USS Sita," he says. "A heavy battlecruiser using mirror universe technology and your experimental phased-tetryon weaponry - yes, we are familiar with you, Vice Admiral. A strange choice for a peaceful science mission."

"Your own - science vessel - is fairly substantially armed," I remark.

"We live in difficult times, Vice Admiral," Tarkhal replies.

"As do we."

Tarkhal grimaces slightly. His eyes flash. It's an expression I recognize - because I've done the same thing so often myself. He's responding to an off-screen message from one of his bridge crew. Whatever it is, it doesn't do anything to improve his mood.

"In fact," he says, slowly and reluctantly, "your arrival here may be more opportune than I had thought. We must be here for the same reason - a data anomaly reported by remote probes. It would only be sensible to pool our resources."

I nod. "Of course, Commander."

---

"So far," Zazaru says, "what we know is this: a sequence of four probes, sent into this volume, reported back with data anomalies - timing glitches. Data transmissions dropped out, or were duplicated, or appeared out of sequence, only to resume normal functioning as soon as the probes cleared this approximate region of space."

In the briefing room, a hologram of the nebula hangs, ghostly, before her; she marks out the paths of the probes with quick, precise gestures.

"So the Romulans have encountered similar unusual readings," says Anthi.

Security Commander Yulan snorts. "Most likely, they've encountered the same ones," she says. "Our long-range data transmissions aren't that well secured - they're probably piggy-backing the probes' scans. And with the Romulans' operations in Tau Dewa already under way, it's no surprise they got here before us."

"Well," I say, "however they found out, they're here now. How far have they progressed?"

Zazaru taps her PADD; the holo display changes. "Nebular material; random gasses and proto-star material, some asteroidal debris. The Romulans have a network of short-range probes out, and what looks like an away base on one of the larger asteroid fragments. How much data they've already gathered - well, we have no way of knowing."

"But they can't be too far along," I say thoughtfully, "or they wouldn't need any help from us...."

"There's something else," my engineering chief, Shrin Izini, speaks up. "I'm spotting some odd power fluctuations from that battlewagon of theirs. It looks to me as if they've got some sort of maintenance problems. Equipment degrading, SIF defects, that sort of thing. Nothing major, but it's odd. It looks as if that ship's not seen proper maintenance in months."

"Romulans aren't normally so careless," Anthi says.

"Their resources are probably stretched thin, with everything that's going on in this sector," I say. "Still - it's unusual. Shrin, keep as close an eye on them as you can. Zazaru, are we fully equipped?"

Zazaru nods. "Besides our normal complement of science personnel and material, we are carrying specially modified chroniton probes. If there is a temporal anomaly out there, we should be able to deploy those to map it exactly."

"Sounds good," I say. "But, if we use them, we'd better make sure their data channels are fully encrypted. I don't want to share anything with the Romulans that I don't have to."

"I imagine Commander Tarkhal feels the same way," says Anthi.

"Very likely. He doesn't look the type to share his toys." I stand up. "Well, he's issued an invitation to visit their facilities - I suppose that must mean their away base. So, let's get things moving."

---

The Romulan base is little more than a force-field bubble clinging to the ravaged surface of an asteroid. I can see the flaring gases of the nebula through the field's mesh. Inside the bubble, the environmental settings are unfamiliar; gravity, air, temperature all set to the standards for vanished Romulus. My boots crunch on regolith as I look around. Shield generators, a small AG plant, food replicators, various tents and awnings... the typical impedimenta of a hastily assemble science expedition, anywhere in the galaxy.

"Ah, the representatives of the human empire!" Tarkhal is striding towards us, in full dress uniform, his chest positively resplendent with decorations. Behind him trails an elderly centurion with science insignia, and a hulking, scar-faced uhlan.

I've beamed over with four senior officers. Bulpli Yulan could pass for a human - any Betazoid can - and Zazaru, if you ignored her spots. Shrin and his assistant Dyssa, though, are as obviously Andorian as I am myself. We're being baited, then, and not subtly. "You've been busy, Commander," I say.

"We are nothing if not efficient, Vice Admiral," Tarkhal says with a thin smile. "Already, we have a provisional map of the local anomalies. Your science officer may confer with mine." He waves an imperious hand at the centurion. "And, in the meantime, let me show you our most interesting discovery to date." He steps forward, takes my elbow in a polite but firm grip, and steers me away from the group. Bulpli Yulan looks worried; I flash her a quelling glance. I don't see the Romulan Commander assassinating me just yet... maybe once he's got to know me better.

"I would welcome the opportunity," Tarkhal says in a low voice, "for a confidential discussion, Vice Admiral. We should come to an understanding with one another. I have no wish to impede your scientific mission - if that's what it is - but I must absolutely insist that you do not interfere with mine."

"Of course not," I say. "If that's what it is," I add, dryly.

Tarkhal doesn't laugh. He is leading me along a marked path, little metal pointers planted in the asteroidal regolith. "I have a duty," he says, "a duty to my race, my people. We have suffered such losses... and yet, Vice Admiral, we endure. Through all the vicissitudes of fate and treachery, we endure. Do you know why?"

"Because you do your duty?"

"Because we are fit to do our duty," Tarkhal says, and his tone is loud and strident. "Because we are Romulans, and - no matter what the dogma of your human masters says - we are a superior species." His hard dark eyes are fixed on mine. "It is a pity, Andorian, that your race has chosen the service of the humans. You would be far more useful in service to us. Because we endure, we survive, and we will prosper. And we will not brook interference."

His eyes dare me to disagree. I say nothing. I have Tarkhal's measure, now; he is a fanatic. There is no arguing with fanatics.

After a moment, he takes a breath; his voice drops back to a conversational tone. "I had something to show you." He points. "There it is."

In the surface of the asteroid, a rectangular strip is embedded; perhaps a meter long, perhaps twenty centimeters wide, made of some white substance, and carved, intricately, with glyphs. I kneel to study it. "D'Arsay pictograms?"

"Yes. They must have visited this region of space... and left a message."

The glyphs are crisp, their lines barely eroded by uncounted millennia of nebular radiation and micrometeorite dust. I frown, puzzling over them. "'A new self-governing system takes in material'," I translate, doubtfully.

"You can read ancient D'Arsay? I am impressed, Vice Admiral. We understood you to be merely a moderately competent soldier." Tarkhal doesn't sound impressed. He sounds displeased, as if I'm a pet who's done a trick at the wrong time. I stand up. "I minored in palaeolinguistics at the Academy. What do you think it means?"

"I... am not sure. Possibly, the D'Arsay attempted to found a colony nearby, and this is some comment regarding that emerging nation."

I shake my head. "I'm not so sure about that. 'Self-governing'... Did you know that in human language, 'governing' and 'cybernetic' have the same root? And there is a parallel in ancient Tellarite, too -"

"Well, we may speculate," Tarkhal cuts me off. "What matters, I think, is that there is something here to investigate. Of course, Starfleet has a good record when it comes to scientific investigation - and my own ship has been plagued with minor difficulties, of late. I do not go so far as to say I need your help, Vice Admiral... but it would not be unwelcome."

"Well, then," I begin, "let's discuss -" And then I stop. "Did you hear that?"

"I heard nothing."

I listen, hard - and there the noise is again, a high tinny chittering sound. I look around. There is no one in sight; there is nothing but the dead surface of the asteroid, the inscription at my feet, the nebula glowing through the forcefield overhead. Again, something chitters at me. With a sudden shock of recognition, I realise it's coming from my combadge.

"Something is wrong," I say to Tarkhal, but he does not reply. He just stands there, frozen. I look closely. He is frozen; his eyes don't blink, his breathing is imperceptible. Sudden fear grips me. I know what the sound is, now.

I turn, and grab at Tarkhal's sleeve, dragging him with me as I hurry back down the path. He seems heavy, impossibly heavy and hard to move, and I know why that is, now. As I move, the noise from my combadge drops in tone, and it becomes possible to make out words -

" - Admiral, respond, please. Sita to Admiral Shohl, respond - "

"Shohl here," I gasp; all at once, I am short of breath. "Contact the Romulans, get medical attention. We've been caught in a temporal anomaly."

---

"All fine now," Dr. Beresford says. "The chroniton field merely affected your perception of time - the three hours you were gone must have felt only like a few minutes. Commander Tarkhal was more badly affected, but even so, he doesn't have anything worse than mild hypoxia."

Because, in the chroniton field, we were both forgetting to breathe... "Have the Romulans confirmed that?"

Samantha Beresford nods. "I've spoken to their field medic - Commander Tarkhal has a thundering headache, he says, but he's fine otherwise."

"Commander Tarkhal is a thundering headache," I mutter. I swing my legs off the medical bed and stand up. "They're dealing with him at the away base, then? He didn't beam back to his ship?"

"Apparently not."

"Odd," I mutter. "He was worse affected than me - do we have any idea why?" So much for the Romulan master race, I think to myself.

"Oh, I think we have an explanation," says Dr. Beresford. "The field affected both your brains equally, but in your case, there was partial shielding from a dense mass of metal nearby. Specifically, the titanium rod at the centre of your zygomatic implant."

I raise one hand, self-consciously, to my scarred right cheek. "Well," I say, "I'm glad it's got some use besides holding my head together."

---

Something is glittering in the holo-display in front of Zazaru; an abstract shape, a complex skeleton of coloured lights.

"It's my preliminary map of the anomalies out there," my science officer explains. "Based on the Romulans' observations and our own sensors, I've identified a - a sort of web of quantum singularities, chroniton fields, and spatial distortions. There are power flows between them... it's fascinating...."

"How has this not been spotted before?" I ask. Time distortions are one thing, but a quantum singularity is a highly energetic object - the long-range probes should have seen those half a parsec away.

"The power flows," Zazaru says, abstractedly. "The energy from the singularities isn't dissipating at random... it's almost as if it's being diverted to fuel the other anomalies." She blinks, her dark eyes coming back into focus. "I'm sorry, sir, I don't have all the answers yet. Just some speculations... we need more data."

"Are the Romulans cooperating?"

"Mostly." Zazaru frowns. "I don't think they're being deliberately obstructive, sir, but a lot of the data they've sent over has been corrupted, one way or another. I think they must have some serious computer problems aboard that battleship. The data we've been getting directly from their base camp is more reliable...."

"Well," I say, "I think it's time we gathered some more of our own. Are those chroniton probes ready?"

Zazaru nods. "In the launch tubes now, sir."

"Then let's go." I stand up, and lead the way out of the ready room, onto the bridge. Zazaru moves to her console as I settle myself in the centre seat. "Prepare to launch probes," I say. "F'hon, contact the Maestor, tell them we're sending out survey probes - I don't want any misunderstandings."

"Yes, sir." A pause, as F'hon taps on his console. "The Romulans acknowledge our message, sir," he reports.

"All right, then. Launch."

Zazaru's fingers move briskly on her controls. "Launching. Probes deployed. Search pattern theta-two, centering on course two-eleven mark one-four." Then she starts, her eyes widening in shock. "Enemy contacts!"

"Confirmed!" Anthi snaps. "Scorpion fighters inbound with disruptors hot!"

I turn to F'hon. "Get me Tarkhal!" Then the situation claims my attention. The Romulan fighters are bracketing the probes, moving with tight efficiency. I could order the Sita to fire - a volley of isometric charges, and a follow-up from the forward phased-tet banks, and those Scorpions would be space dust. But then we would have to face the Maestor....

Disruptors flash. Zazaru curses. The probes vanish from the screen. I grit my teeth. If Tarkhal wants a shooting match -

"I have Commander Tarkhal," F'hon says. The Romulan's face appears on the main viewer. He looks - harassed.

"Explanation, Commander," I snap.

"My apologies," Tarkhal says; the words seem forced out of him. "We have - we have a situation -" He takes a deep breath. "Your signal was received, and understood... I ordered my fighters to stand down... but the officer who transmitted the order has been... affected, as you and I were. A temporal anomaly." He looks at something outside my field of vision, and nods. "I see the officer involved will finish pressing the send key on his console - as soon as the chroniton field dissipates." He looks offscreen again. "Possibly another twelve hours from now."

"Recall those fighters."

Something flickers in Tarkhal's eyes at that, but he knows he's in the wrong, here. "At once," he says. "Vice Admiral, all I can do is - offer my apologies."

"At least no lives were lost," I say. This time, I add, silently, to myself.

"But we can't replace those chroniton probes," Zazaru cuts in, tight-lipped with anger.

"I know." I lean back and give Tarkhal my best disapproving look. "We'll need to figure out some replacements. And we need to make sure there are no further... misunderstandings."

---

Even without the specialised probes, the Sita has her resources. And Zazaru works like a demon when something captures her imagination. Forty-eight hours after the misadventure with the probes, a new hologram is glowing in the briefing room, and Zazaru is tired, but triumphant.

Tarkhal has beamed over to join us, his Romulan finery looking oddly out of place aboard my ship. He stares at the holo-image and says nothing.

"It truly is something remarkable," Zazaru says. "The quantum singularities and the time anomalies work in synergy - part of a homeostatic system, self-contained, self-repairing - even growing."

Shrin Izini is normally stolid and unflappable, but his jaw drops at that one. "Are you saying that energy network is alive?" he asks.

Zazaru shakes her head. "No, not exactly," she says, "or at least not yet. Imagine the origins of life on a terrestrial world - chemicals in a primordial sea, combining randomly until, at last, amino acids form, chemicals with the potential for self-organization and self-replication. Now, imagine a system where the atoms of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and so forth are replaced by the various energy anomalies we see out there...."

"That's what the D'Arsay message meant!" I exclaim, and Tarkhal's gaze snaps towards me. "Nothing to do with political systems at all - they discovered the self-organizing system among the anomalies. But why leave a message at all?"

"Who knows?" Tarkhal says wearily. "Perhaps it is simply a - a note, to future expeditions of their own kind."

"One thing, though," says Zazaru. "They were right about the energy network incorporating new material. Some of the temporal anomalies in the network now date from the time of the Suliban conflict. I think it accretes fresh material whenever the opportunity presents itself... incorporating new anomalies when they're generated. Somewhere between a crystal growing in solution... and a protoplasmic entity seeking out food."

"It's not alive, you say." I think for a moment. "Is there a possibility it might develop into life?"

"A remote one, sir," says Zazaru. "It takes a billion years or so for true life to develop out of the chemical soup of a primordial world - and that thing out there is operating at a rate a billion times slower than chemical reactions. The universe itself might not last long enough for it to become a true life form."

She is probably right. But that night, creatures walk in my dreams, creatures taller than galaxies and made of force and fire.

---

"Something's happening on the Romulan." Shrin's voice is louder and more urgent than usual. I stand and go over to the engineering station. Shrin has set up remote monitoring of the D'deridex with his normal efficiency - and, right now, the readings are fluctuating wildly.

"F'hon, contact Tarkhal, offer assistance," I order. Something is very wrong on that ship. Shrin is already hitting his control board, signalling his emergency engineering teams to readiness.

"Commander Tarkhal," F'hon calls out. The Romulan's face appears on the viewer. Behind him, his raptor banners flutter, caught in some breeze on his bridge. Gusts of wind on a spaceship; never a good sign.

"Vice Admiral," Tarkhal says. "Be brief. I am... somewhat occupied at present."

"We can beam over help right now," I tell him.

"That will not be necessary." Tarkhal actually smiles, glacially. "We are experiencing some difficulties with our ship's structural integrity field. A subsection has - gone out of phase. No doubt another of those temporal anomalies which have been plaguing us. We expect to have the situation rectified momentarily."

I look at Shrin. He nods; Tarkhal is telling the truth. "Commander, if you need help, we're ready at any time," I say.

"Thank you, Vice Admiral, but that will not be necessary." Tarkhal cuts the connection.

"He's right," Shrin says, "at least, this time. His SI field is starting to stabilize. But I'm reading a fair amount of damage, still - and we've no way of knowing what else is going to hit him."

"Or us." I think for a moment. "Shrin, have we had any maintenance problems reported? Any temporal anomalies on the Sita, or - well, anything at all?"

Shrin shakes his head. "Nothing out of the ordinary," he says. "Wear and tear is a little above normal, maybe - because of the radiation and the local material in the nebula. All within our standard working parameters, though. And we've not had any time distortions, apart from your own misadventure on the Romulan base."

I scratch my head. "I'm concerned," I say. "I'm starting to wonder if there's something in the nebula affecting the Romulan ship... but, if so, why is it not affecting us?"

"They were here before us," Shrin points out. "Maybe it simply takes a while for - whatever it is - to start happening."

I was frowning to start with, and my frown deepens. "Stay on top of things," I tell Shrin. "If something does start affecting us... I want it stopped. Fast."

Shrin nods. I turn away from him, then turn back. "Can you fake a problem?" I ask him.

"Sir?"

"Something... anything. Some little thing that will stop us having the next progress review here. So we'll have to hold it on the Maestor instead." I grin. "I want a close up look at that ship."

---

The meeting does not go well. Tarkhal has been reluctant to hold it at all, and when we beam over to the Romulan ship, I can see why. Everywhere, there are signs of repairs: makeshift patches, jury-rigged consoles, burn marks on walls and ceilings. There is a stale smell in the air, and the crewmen all look hangdog and exhausted.

Tarkhal's science team are a silent and cowed group, and Zazaru does most of the talking, as she points out the new discoveries and new data on what she has taken to calling the emergent entity. Tarkhal wears a permanent scowl as he listens; perhaps most of what Zazaru's saying is going over his head. Frankly, it's going over mine.

The one thing that makes the Romulan brighten up and take an interest is the references to the Suliban conflict. I'm none too sure what went on during those years - possibly, nobody is, given all the interference in the timelines. But some of the temporal anomalies formed in that time period are now part of Zazaru's emergent entity, and Tarkhal asks some direct questions about how she knows that, and how she found them.

The meeting drags on, until finally it is over, and Tarkhal sends a security detail to escort us to his ship's transporter room. We are trooping dutifully down one dimly-lit corridor when it happens.

One of the Romulan security people seems to shimmer, somehow... and then he screams, a shriek of sudden agony and fear, and crashes to the deck. Another shouts an oath, then calls for a medic on his combadge. Zazaru and I are at the fallen man's side in seconds - and it becomes clear that something is terribly, horribly wrong.

I look down, and four dead eyes stare up at me from a misshapen skull; a mouth, twisted in an impossible snarl, is showing too many teeth; two hands protrude from one uniform sleeve. The man's whole body is massive, ungainly, misshapen... and then, as we watch, it shimmers again. Now, there is only a normal Romulan lying on the deck; two eyes and two hands... but still broken and dead.

Zazaru's spots stand out against the sudden pallor of her skin. "Another temporal anomaly," she whispers. "His body... his body was displaced in time, just a few seconds... just so that, for a moment, there were two of him... occupying the same space."

"Quite so." Tarkhal's voice; I never heard him approach. "In the circumstances, I will have to report in my log that he killed himself." I hadn't thought Tarkhal had a sense of humour; I think I preferred him without one. I stand up slowly, trying to hide the sickness and the shaking inside me. I thought I'd seen every way a man could die....

---

When I ask Tarkhal for a private meeting, he agrees reluctantly. We set it up on the surface of the asteroid, again, near the D'Arsay relic. The Romulan commander is edgy, prickly, clearly unhappy.

I come straight to the point. "Commander, your ship needs urgent attention. I don't know what's causing all the damage, but I do know you can't carry on much longer like this. You've lost one man -"

"Six, at the last count," Tarkhal interrupts me. "They died for the Romulan cause, Vice Admiral, just as surely as if they had died in battle. There is not one of us - myself included - who would not give his life for that cause."

"But it's not necessary," I say. "We can surely arrange for your ship to be relieved - a fresh crew, on a dedicated science vessel -"

"And in the meantime," Tarkhal breaks in again, "you and your ship would have free rein in the region of the anomaly. Suliban temporal technology! D'Arsay relics, and who knows what else! Yes, Vice Admiral, I understand the motives behind your - solicitude."

"If it comes to that," I say, trying to keep my tone reasonable, "we can withdraw the Sita at the same time you pull out. Starfleet would probably benefit from sending a pure science vessel in any case. Commander, there's no reason for us to come into conflict over this. Starfleet doesn't want conflict, you must realize that."

"You do not have seniority enough to set policy, Andorian. That is for your human masters."

Fanatics. There is no reasoning with fanatics. I decide to try another tack. "When did you discover that?" I ask, pointing to the D'Arsay inscription.

"Practically as soon as we entered the region. The ultradense ceramic of which it is made was immediately obvious to our sensors."

"It was meant to be, I think," I say. I stoop down to examine the relic again. "It's been here millions of years - probably, it will be covered up once more material accretes on the asteroid's surface, but I'd give it a few million more, at least. And the inscription is laser-carved, at least a centimeter deep. This thing was made to last, Commander, and it was made to be easily spotted. Why would the D'Arsay do that? The only reason I can think of... is that it's some kind of a warning."

"Speculation," he sneers. "You do not understand the motives of a long-dead race, Vice Admiral. Do not pretend that you do."

I look at him; I can make no reply that will reach him. I understand his motives well enough; dogmatic pride, and resentment, and desperation as his ship falls apart while mine isn't touched. And I am afraid, truly afraid, for where those motives may lead him.

---

The next day, I have barely taken my seat on the bridge when Anthi reports, "The Maestor is leaving station."

"Course?"

"Not sure yet, sir. She's on maneuvering thrusters... Impulse drive coming online now." Anthi looks up. "Sir, she's on a course directly into the emergent entity."

"F'hon, get me a channel to Tarkhal. We need to know what he's doing," I order.

"Sir." Zazaru speaks up from the science station. "I'm reading energy surges throughout the entity... it's starting to emit polarized graviton waves." A frown is etched on her brow. "I haven't seen this behaviour before -"

It's something to do with the Romulan ship. It must be. But what? I rack my brains. Why is the Maestor so different from us? The quantum singularities in the emergent entity are generating enough power to smash the Sita a dozen times over -

Suddenly, everything clicks into place. "F'hon! Where's that channel? I need it now!"

"Coming through, sir." And, indeed, Tarkhal's face is forming on the main viewer. He looks intent, triumphant.

"Commander," I say, "your ship is in danger. You need to back away from the entity, now."

"Oh," Tarkhal says, "I knew you would say that. I knew already that you want the secrets of this phenomenon for yourself. Well, you will not have them! I have the maps and the data your pet scientist so kindly provided; now, I will use them and seek out the treasures hidden here for myself. For myself, and the cause of the Romulan people!"

"Tarkhal!" I'm shouting, now; I can't help myself. "The entity grows by assimilating energy anomalies - and your ship is powered by an artificial quantum singularity! That's why you've been so badly hit! That's why the D'Arsay left their message - they must have used anomaly technology themselves. It was a warning!"

"I will not listen to Federation lies!" Tarkhal screams back at me - except his voice is lower, slower, than a scream. A chroniton field is already forming, stretching time into slow motion. "You... will... not... prevent... me...."

"Tarkhal, eject your warp core! We can go in safely and tractor you out! Eject your warp core!!"

Tarkhal is still speaking, but his words are drawn out, now, into an unintelligible basso-profundo rumble. On my console screen, I can see the Romulan ship's course, see it arrowing into the heart of the emergent entity - and see flares of energy as the entity reacts. Eagerly. Hungrily.

Then, everything changes.

---

There is no chance of long-range probes missing the entity now. An intricate braid of mirror-bright, fluidly curved shapes stretches across a full three light-minutes of space. The reflective surface is not made of any material; it is a field of pure force, a condition of space itself. It can reflect any and all energy sent into it. So far, it has reflected aceton beams, tachyon beams, the blast of a tricobalt warhead, and the full force of Sita's phased-tetryon beams, firing continuously until the coolant overheated and the automatic safeties tripped.

The emergent entity is somewhere inside... and so is the Romulan ship.

"It may be a defensive reaction," Zazaru says, "while the entity is... assimilating... the Maestor's warp core. Or maybe that quantum singularity was enough to let it, umm, evolve into a new stage in its development...." She shakes her head. "I'm just speculating, sir. We don't have enough data."

"What about the Romulan ship?" I ask.

She shakes her head again. "Unknown, sir."

In my mind's eye, I see the Maestor explode, metal and air and people broken apart like the shell of a nut, as the mindless forces of the entity feed on the quantum singularity inside. And, awful as it is, it's still not as terrible as the other possibility that haunts my imagination....

"We can't do any more, here," I decide, finally. "I need to prepare a report for the Federation Science Council... and the Romulan Senate. And -" I look at the twisting thing on the screen. "I don't think we want to be near that any more."

---

Later, in my quarters, I play back the recording of Tarkhal's last message, speeded up so that it becomes intelligible. It is a rant, an ugly re-statement of his belief in Romulan glory, Romulan power, Romulan destiny.

I look out of my window at the stars speeding by, and I shiver as that other image comes back into my mind.

The image of the quantum singularity falling into its new place inside the emergent entity... and the time fields adjusting to keep it there, safe, forever. Of the Maestor and its crew trapped, unchanging, in a static bubble of frozen time. Trapped until the heat death of the universe itself... or maybe longer, until something finally happens to break that stasis. Until that entity, with its potential lifespan of trillions of years, finally dies.

Perhaps, in the end, they will break free, I tell myself. Perhaps Tarkhal and his Romulans really will, one day, rule the universe. Whatever is left of it.

Last edited by shevet; 10-20-2012 at 04:24 PM. Reason: fiksed spelyng
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 10,567
# 8
10-29-2012, 10:45 AM
Captain's Log, Stardate 90432.6. U.S.S. DeForest Kelley, Vice Admiral Soval Reporting

Starfleet Command has requested that I divert the DeForest Kelley to the Khitomer System, after one of our long range reconnaissance probes in that system began picking up elevated Neutrino Emissions.

Given the present state of destabilisation in this Sector Block, I'm concerned that this may be the beginning of another Romulan incursion. The DeForest Kelley can handle a Romulan attack, but if we come under serious threat...

We are proceeding to Khitomer at Warp 9. All stations are maintaining Yellow Alert until further notice.

...

Captain's Log, Supplemental.

We have arrived in the Khitomer System to find something strange, potentially terrifying: absolutely nothing.

The probe is continuing to pick up Neutrino Emissions, as are our sensors, but three tachyon sweeps of the system have revealed nothing. Could the Romulans have improved their hull plating to repel the tachyon particles?

...

Captain's Log, Stardate 90435.3

We have located the source of the Neutrino Emissions. A small B'rel-Class Klingon Bird of Prey, apparently left behind after the Khitomer Massacre, was retrofitted with a Romulan Cloaking Device and left to drift into Khitomer's atmosphere.

A scan of the ship reveals that a Klingon Negh'var may be in the area - the I.K.S. Kahless.

The Kahless has been seen several times in the past week, always attacking Romulan ships in the Azure nebula.

On several occasions, however, the Kahless has bypassed Federation ships en route to the Klingon Empire.

We are maintaining a heightened state of alert for the time being.

...

Captain's Personal Log, Stardate 90437.6

After several days, I have ordered the ship to return to Starbase 39. There has been no sign of the Kahless, and I can only assume General Torpal has returned to base as well.

...

Captain's Personal Log, Day 37 of the Year of Kahless 6012. I.K.S. Kahless, Brigadier General Torpal reporting.

The Federation Odyssey-Class Battleship has left the Sector. My crew continues to feel uneasy of my open objections toward the Federation-Klingon War. We have left the Khitomer System and have set a course for Galorndon Core. Perhaps the Romulans there will be worthy of Battle. Otherwise, we shall return home with only the Romulan blood from Azure Nebula to give to the Chancellor.

Qapla'!
My Fan Fictions

"Logic and War are old enemies"

Vice Admiral Soval - Commanding Officer, U.S.S. Bunker Hill
Former PWE Community Team Lead
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 9,046
# 9
10-30-2012, 11:48 AM
I really enjoyed reading the entries for this challenge and how they tied in to Season 7. I think we'll continue on this theme for #31, which I am preparing to post now Feel free to still post an entry for #30 if you'd still like!

Cheers,

Brandon =/\=
Brandon "BranFlakes" Felczer | Former Community Team Lead for Perfect World Entertainment
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