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 fifty-third Literary Challenge: The Gateway
D'Tan plans to reactivate the Iconian Gateway that was found on New Romulus, and you've been invited to be a representative that will be present for the event. Write a Log entry sharing your preparation plans and your personal thoughts on the situation.
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
Lieutenant
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 41
# 2
10-29-2013, 05:38 PM
Admiral Timothy T'Nell Clark's Personal Log stardate 90826.61

I am currently making preparations to attend the reactivation of the Iconian Gateway on New Romulus. Being as I am the director of Deep Space Intelligence, a valued supporter of my people on New Nekellis, an Admiral in Starfleet, and a formerly conscripted officer under the Iconians in Andromeda, I seem to be an ideal attendee that D'Tan seems to be looking for. Many of my colleagues at the joint Intelligence operation IRIS, will also be attending as this doesn't represent one of biggest assets in Federation Intelligence alone, but the biggest for the quadrant as well.

Still, I cannot shake the unwavering feeling that this is a mistake. Put aside for the moment that the Dewans had it backfire on them centuries ago, The Iconians are still out there. They're hatred for the Federation & the other alpha quadrant powers is so great, especially after the destruction of their empire in Andromeda, that the activation of the gateway could spell catastrophic repercussions for us all. Seeing as the current circumstances with Deep Space Intelligence make it's future and my future resistance against them uncertain, what could we hope to do if the Iconians invade in full force?

I might be overreacting a bit. After all, there are more agencies in the United Federation of Planets that can handle the Iconians more efficiently than us, however with much less delicacy. D'Tan has no idea what he'd be getting his people into if for some chance a threat emerges or reemerges from that gateway. His own eagerness in putting New Romulus on the map, could easily do the exact opposite. Still, that decision is not mine and D'Tan has made it clear that the gateway will be reactivated one way or another. I can only hope he's making the right choice.

End Log.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 94
# 3
10-29-2013, 06:00 PM
George Aubrey, Captain's Log: Stardate 90874.22

I have been requested by Starfleet Command to be a representative for the Federation at the reactivation ceremony for the Iconian Gateway. I don't exactly hold any ill will toward the new Romulan Republic, but I would prefer to know more about what D'Tan intends to do before I accept his invitation to attend.

They already have a location picked out, and reconnaissance drones that were sent through the gate have confirmed that the atmosphere is suitable for humanoid consumption - the drones confirmed that there is a high presence of materials either rarely or not found in any Federation, Klingon, or Romulan construction. Initial scans have convinced the our technicians that the unknown construct is a vessel, possibly of Iconian origin...

End of log
Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 878
# 4
10-29-2013, 06:12 PM
Captain's Log, Stardate 91432.2. Not long after our deep space reconnaissance assignment, the USS Determination is heading for Mol'Rihan. It wasn't long after my recent climbing trip with Q that I received a report from D'Tan. Now, to brief my officers on what happened.

***

' "So they got it working... interesting." Ilaa'kshis' hissing was heard despite the universal translator, as it was for most Gorn. Similarly, Kopaka's electronic garble was heard, even after it was translated from the noise of his Breen helmet. The acoustics of the Determination's Conference Room caused a small echo with the mechanical whine.
' "I still believe it should be destroyed."
' Rygo shook his head. "Kopaka, we've been over this. D'Tan can be trusted. He's agreed to allow us to go through with the Republic forces, a joint exploratory command. I understand your disagreement, but I simply think D'Tan can do this."
Gollum nodded. "I did not personally know D'Tan, but I know Obisek trusts him. I was willing to trust Obisek's judgement to the death when I was in the Resistance... this has not changed. D'Tan will do the right thing."
' Seven, the Liberated Borg Chief Engineer, replied to Gollum. "I know he will. He studied under Ambassador Spock in the Reunification movement in the late '60s, and genuinely believes in those principles. He's trustworthy."
' "Indeed," Kopaka said, his head lowering slightly in what may have been an admission of defeat. "So, captain, what does this have to do with us?"
' Rygo leaned over the table the embedded lights playing shadows over some parts of his face. "Because of the role we played in discovering and securing the Gateway, D'Tan has requested our presence at the ceremonial reactivation. However, this isn't JUST some diplomatic call. The records we discovered with the Gateway indicate that the geothermal taps the Dewans used 150,000 years ago - and the ones the Republic are using now, though with more safety precautions - may be unstable. In case of a disaster like the one that destroyed the Dewans, the Determination will spearhead an emergency task force focused on evacuating the planet if the worst comes." The red-skinned admiral rose back to his full height. "D'Tan thinks the improved safety measures are enough. I hope he's right. The away team that was with me when we discovered the Gateway - that's Illa, Remata'klan, Motstand, and Gollum - will accompany me to the ceremony. If anything happens, we'll act as security for D'Tan and the other dignitaries. The Determination will watch out for apocalypses, Tal Shiar, and anything else that may interfere. This could be a VITAL boon for exploring the galaxy. Let's make sure this doesn't go horribly wrong. At least, as much as we can."
' The officers nodded. They knew the plan. "Kopaka, lay in a course for Dewa III. Seven, have your new assistant chief engineer... Shonol, I think her name was, dig out that old Borg Subtranswarp system, and integrate it into the engines again. Take us to Transwarp when you're ready."
' Seven nodded. "I know exactly where I put it. And fortunately, I left the old system mostly intact in anticipation of this. Drop it in, connect power, and we're good to go. I could even hot-swap it while we're at warp."
' "Good thinking, Seven. Remata'klan, Ziroh, make sure the defensive systems and crew are ready for a fight. Sela's operatives may try to interfere, even without the Empress around." The pair of officers nodded. Rygobeth concluded, "Ilaa, Gollum, Motstand, D'Tan sent me specifications for his geothermal taps and safety systems. All of HIS engineers approve of it, but he wants a Starfleet opinion. Pore over the schematics. ANY issues, tell me immediately. Tasop, make sure the infirmary is ready for casualties - from battle or from the end of the world. Prepare Cargo Bay Three as a triage center, in case. Dismissed." The senior staff rose. Most went to fulfill their assignments. Those who had none talked with those that did, offering aid. Rygo turned slowly, looking at the monitor and the Gateway schematics displayed upon it. A nag of doubt, of worry, sat in the back of his mind... a gut feeling said things would not go as planned. Time would only tell.
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; 10-29-2013 at 06:17 PM.
Ensign
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 12
Vice Admiral Ramses von Dewey's Personal Log: Stardate 90876.7

As I make this entry, I prepare to attend the reactivation of the Iconian Gateway on New Romulus, and operation headed by D'Tan of the Romulan Republic.

The discovery alone was a monumental event not only to the Romulans, but to myself personally. The Iconians have always been a fascinating subject to me, increasingly so ever since my trips into Fluidic Space. They're technology, their people, their ships-- why do they build ships? What is the purpose of building ships, when you have Gateways to take your people across the Galaxy? How were the Gateways developed? What purpose do they really serve?

Just a few of the many questions I ponder about the Iconians. I hope to perhaps find some clues to their whereabouts through this gateway. But who knows what we'll find on the other side?

I must admit, I am anxious for this journey through the Gateway. My crew seems to feel the same way; my Breen First Officer, Tran, questioned me about the event an Earth day ago. I could provide very little detail on the event; I know little myself.

Tran will be overseeing the ship in my absence. Hopefully he can manage; my crew is one of the most diverse in Starfleet: Tholian, Jem'Hadar, Vorta, Borg, Breen, and many others make up the crew of the R.X.S. Mercury.

I will record my findings later. For now, I must finish preparing for the activation of the Gateway.

End Log
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 3,757
# 6
10-29-2013, 07:05 PM
The Road to Hell


"So it gives me great pleasure, to promote you to the rank of lieutenant," said Captain Amanda Palmer, reaching out and afixing the additional rank pip to T'Natra's uniform.

"Thank you, Captain," replied the Vulcan navigator. "I shall strive to carry out my duties as efficiently as before."

"Congratulations," Palmer said, briefly giving T'Natra a crisp handshake, before raising her right hand in the ta'al.

The officers assembled in the mess hall began to clap, and make their way forwards to offer their congratulations to T'Natra, so Palmer discretely moved towards the bar, where Selya Chirk slid a glass of Altair water towards her.

"Perfect," Palmer said, accepting the drink from the statuesque Bolian hostess. "You've put on a fine spread, I think there's something for every-"

"Excuse me, Captain, I'm sorry to interrupt," said the soft voice of Cadet I'K'rR'h. "I have an urgent communique for you."

"That's quite okay, Cadet," Palmer replied, taking the PADD from the young Pentaxian. "Have something to eat while you're here."

"Thank you, ma'am," I'K'rR'h acknowledged crisply, twisting spryly on her toes, and sauntering across to the buffet.

Palmer lowered her gaze to the PADD, and pressing her thumb to the screen, was surprised to see the features of Admiral Jac Cheliss.

"I have an assignment for you, Captain," he began somewhat ominously. "An invitation has been extended to Ambassador S'rR's to attend a ceremony on New Romulus."

"That won't be a problem, Admiral," Palmer said. "We can be there in less than a day, thanks to our slipstream drive, but does the invitation include the Vanguard, or should the ambassador travel via shuttle?"

"I want you there, Amanda," Cheliss replied, his tone making Palmer decidedly uneasy. "D'Tan has not only announced the discovery of an Iconian gateway, but he wishes to host a diplomatic gala to witness its re-activation."

"What?!?!" Palmer exclaimed, before remembering to whom she spoke. "I'm sorry, Sir, but with all due respect, has he gone mad? Is he not aware of what happened when the Iconian gateways in the Moab System were activated? Or the rift the Undine opened near Betazed?"

"I appreciate your concerns, Amanda," Cheliss replied with a heavy sigh. "Believe me, I share them myself. This is why, I need you to have the Vanguard in-system, should anything like what happened on Moab come through, there will need to be an immediate response.

"I do not give this order lightly, but you will have my full clearance to effect General Order twenty four, should such a situation arise. I am additionally assigning the Endeavour to accompany you, as Captain Atreides' first officer is one of the highest ranking Romulans to serve in Starfleet, as well as having family on New Romulus.

"Don't be surprised if you also encounter the Tiburon, the Chin'toka, the Athena and the Solaris in-system, as this is a situation which has the potential to rapidly get out of hand, and in the event of an incursion, Admiral LaRoca will assume tactical command of any Starfleet assets present. I assume you have no problems with that?"

"None, Sir," Palmer replied. "As you may be aware, the admiral and I met following the destruction of the Valkyrie in the Moab System, and he was extremely accommodating. My crew will all willingly defer to his authority in such a scenario."

On the PADD, the Betazoid admiral nodded, his eyes reaching through the screen like blackholes.

"Very well, the best of luck to you, Captain," he said. "I fear that you may need it."

***

"Now entering the Dewa system, Captain," T'Natra announced from the helm.

"The Endeavour is already in orbit of New Romulus," Commander Brandon Mayer reported from his position at ops.

Nodding, Palmer ground her fingers into her palm nervously.

"Collapse the slipstream, and bring us up behind the Endeavour," she said.

"Aye, Captain, dropping to sub-light velocity and plotting approach vector," T'Natra acknowledged.

Rising from the command chair and automatically smoothing the front of her dress uniform jacket, Palmer reached up and tapped her comm badge.

"Siri: we're in orbit, meet me and Claire in cargo bay three in five minutes," she said, moving to stand behind the helm and ops positions.

"I'll be there," replied the disembodied voice of Ambassador S'rR's Kane over the intercom.

"Captain, would you not prefer a security escort?" Claire enquired, looking up from where she stood by the communications console.

Palmer shook her head.

"If things go wrong, you can simply go offline," she replied. "Frankly, I think D'Tan's intentions are insanity, and I don't want anyone unnecessarily endangered."

"But my avatars are expendable," Claire pointed out.

"I prefer to think of them as less vulnerable than a biological crew member," Palmer clarified, before resting her hand on the back of Mayer's chair. "Brandon, I want you to pinpoint the gateway on sensors before it is activated, and maintain a manual fix on the area, before the interference from the gate prevents a clean lock," Palmer said.

Looking up from his console, Mayer regarded the captain with a mildly confused frown.

"Captain?"

Palmer sighed.

"In the event of a hostile incursion, I want you to immediately lock onto the surrounding area with the tractor emitter, and rip it out of the planet."

"Uh, that could involve a radius of several kilometres, Captain," Mayer hesitantly observed.

"And?" Palmer snapped. "I've read Admiral LaRoca's after action report of what happened on the surface of Moab when the gateway was activated. We may have lost the Valkyrie, but we had things light compared to what happened planet-side. I have no intention of letting the same thing happen to the people on New Romulus. Admiral Cheliss has already authorised General Order twenty four, and I would rather we not have to go to those lengths if it can be avoided."

Sobered by the thought, Mayer swallowed visibly and nodded.

"Aye, Captain, locking onto the given coordinates for the gala," he replied, his normally ebullient voice hushed and subdued. "Sensors are picking up a considerable gathering already."

"Captain, I'm being hailed by Captain Atreides aboard the Endeavour," Claire said, leaning casually against the communications console. "He wants to know if you plan on beaming aboard, before transporting down to the surface."

Palmer shook her head.

"Inform the Captain I will be transporting to the surface directly in an ATV, and recommend he does likewise," she said. "Download to your mobile emitter, and report to cargo bay three, we're going for a little drive..."

***

At fifteen feet long, and nine feet wide, the blunt wedge shape of the Wayne Enterprises all terrain vehicle squatted ominously in the cargo bay on massive ground-hugging tyres.

In four hundred years, despite being updated to accomodate the technology of the day, the basic design was otherwise essentially unchanged from the original prototype: The massive rear jet engine had long since been eliminated -- replaced instead with an RCS assembly and anti-grav thruster from a Type Nine shuttle, which would enable the ATV to boost into a rampless jump. Liquid metal grappling lines replaced the original winches and bridging cables, and phaser strips more than compensated for the loss of slug-throwing machine guns.

Ablative armour and monotanium plating replaced the original terrestrial metals, and despite being the same gleaming white as a shuttlecraft and sporting Starfleet insignia, the ATV exuded an air of barely restrained malevolence.

S'rR's Kane turned as the cargo bay doors opened behind her, and admitted Palmer and Claire.

"Really?" she asked sardonically, jerking her shaven head toward the ATV behind her.

"Once the gateway activates, transporters will be unable to lock on to anything in the vicinity," Palmer replied, walking toward the Pentaxian ambassador, who for the past quarter century, had been like a sister to her. "This will allow us to get clear of the interference if we need to."

S'rR's nodded as she accepted Palmer's reasoning, and slipped off her sleeveless floor-length cloak, revealing twin vintage Type II phasers holstered under each arm.

"I'sH'd's insistence," she replied, seeing Palmer's silent enquiry as they approached the ATV. "When I realised what you had in mind, I had him return to his quarters. I'm hoping I won't need to use these..."

"That makes two of us," Palmer said, touching the contact pad which caused the cockpit roof to retract.

"Captain..." Claire called out.

Turning, Palmer saw the photonic officer holding out her hand, and automatically did likewise, surprised when Claire handed her her mobile holographic emitter.

"I thought you had to be in contact with this," she said.

"Ten foot projection radius," Claire replied, before her holographic form winked out of existence, and her voice continued from the emitter. "There's only room for two in the ATV."

"I'll let you drive," S'rR's said, climbing into the passenger seat, and bringing the systems online with practiced flicks of her fingers.

"Driving Miss Siri," Palmer sighed as the cockpit roof silently locked forwards, enclosing them into a hermetically sealed shell, before hitting her comm badge. "Palmer to Chief th'Shaan: ATV is ready for transport. Energise..."

Last edited by marcusdkane; 11-06-2013 at 05:49 AM. Reason: Expansion...
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 226
# 7
10-29-2013, 08:59 PM
USS McGrath, near Cygnus X1

"good riddance." Schrodi watched as the probe carrying the artifacts accelerated away from the ship, in moments moving even faster as it neared the event horizon. There were Cultists and others that would have paid a fortune in Latinum, hell they would have given her a planet for some of them, holy relics of the Good Masters.. She had built up a good sized collection, then once she had gotten what she needed from them, well they were too dangerous to be left around anywhere. Hence, their trip here. Black holes, reality's garbage disposals. Too bad she couldn't toss Dave Huntington and whoever else was mixed up with him in there as well. Once the probe was out of sight She turned and started heading back to the airlock, wanting to see the probe gone with her own eyes-silly she knew but it felt good.

As soon as the lock repressureized and cycled there was an annoyed looking Tellarite waiting for her "enjoy your stroll Cap'n?" her XO asked.

"would have felt better if I could have thrown a few people in there as well, but yeah. Those artifacts are gone, a half dozen gate keys and associated dangerous crap." She said with a grin as she set her helmet on the rack.

Ponta just rolled her eyes. "Which leaves what, six or seven million more to go?"

"Not that many, at least I hope not. Otherwise I'll retire doing this and my grandkids will be still going around cleaning up the Iconians messes."

"heh, you have to have kids before grandkids cap'n, and I think your sister and that tomcat of hers will beat you to that."

"probably," Schrodi agreed as she wriggled out of the pressure suit. "my grand nieces and nephews then."

A few minutes later she was dressed, and the Nebula class ship was leaving the black hole behind, it's smooth lines marred by borg-bits that had been incorporated here and there along the hull-but it improved the systems, and that was the important thing. at least in the Corps of Engineers. The advantages to having a science ship she thought as she checked on the course Lt Pickens was following towards their next objective. No one really cared where or what they were doing. Of course she could only do so much on her side of the border, her 'sister' had to take care of the Klingon side of things. They still hadn't found a way to prevent the portals from opening though, not from lack of researching how. it was only a matter of time.



She glanced at Pickens as she watched the stars go by on the viewscreen. Mel had fit in pretty well, for a bunch of, how did BUPERS describe them? 'worthless bunch of misfits and lunatics.' Well to be fair, they were a lot of civilian scientists on board, as well as a still, and she thought the Casino was still somewhere on deck 11, she'd have to get security to check for it again.

She idly went through her messages before getting onto the real paperwork, Daystrom Institute sending another offer for her to work there, a Ferengi Prince needed her help in getting several thousand bars of gold pressed latinum out of Ferengar, an invitation from D'Tan to the gala event on New Romulus for the opening of the Iconian gateway-wait what?

"What the frack!" Everyone turned to look at her, both at the unexpected outburst, and the fact that all of the Captains fur was standing on end. "they can't be..that's...it's...they're MORONS!"

Thag looked at Ponta worriedly, true the Cap'n had passed not only the CMOs medical eval, but a full Psyche exam by Starfleet Medical after her last outburst months ago, but still... "Everything allright cap'n?" Thag asked.

"Remember that gate on New Romulus they found?"

"you mean the one you sent them the instructions on how to safely disarm and destroy it?"

"the pointy eared idiots are having a grand gala, when they fire it up." she said, tossing the PADD to the deck. "D'Tan himself cordially invited me, to thank me for our research on the Iconian gates!" she said , cursing in Caitian under her breath as she stalked to the helm console, bringing up a galaxy map, with the Atlas overlaid on it. "no possible breaches in that system at least but...damn. There's stupid, then there's this."

"When are they doing it, we could get there before they set it off maybe, try to stop it?"

"Bah" Ponta just shook her head "Romulans are too stubborn to be talked out of a bad idea once they get it in their heads, the only way to stop this would be to nuke it from orbit."

"Don't tempt me" Schrodi muttered darkly. "it's moot anyway. We're in the wrong quadrant, even with slipstream we'd get there two weeks after the party." She closed her eyes, talking inwardly "can you get there?"

{no, we're just as far in the other direction from you, picking up that Bird of Prey that K'Tirr shook loose for me to use. At best, we'd get there two days afterwards.}
{We've got to get one of us with the Romulans}
{you volunteering?}
{Нет, спасибо, ромуланским еды не делает мое расстройство желудка.}
{how about Mary, or Monroe-they might be in a position to get there before it's over.}
"they're both CC'd on the message from D'Tan, for their work in the field as well. So hopefully one of them will be close enough." She sighed and picked up the PADD, sitting back down.

"well, what can we do?" Mel asked from the helm.

Schrodi shook her head and sighed, her hand rubbing over her face "at this point? Pray there's still a New Romulus when they're done with this. There's nothing else we can do-even a message sent through the subspace relay network wouldn't get there till the day after. Keep on our present course Mr Pickens. We've got science to do."
"It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier."
Captain
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 749
# 8
10-30-2013, 01:25 AM
Encrypted Log Entry
VA Zolaria
Chief Intel Officer, Orion Cygnus Task Force

I have received orders via Deputy Commander Ocasio to divert to New Romulus. Apparently, D'Tan has decided, without consulting us or the Klingons, to activate the Iconian Gateway. This is probably the worst move he could have made. My only guess is that he wants to establish the Republic as a serious power by showing off the activated gateway to the dignitaries he's invited to the event.

In anticipation of something much worse, not only am I diverting to NR, I am using my authority as CIO to diver the USS Omega Imperius and USS Attack Dog, commanded by VAs Azlera and Adam Jensen to NR as well. If the situation goes south, part of the Orion Cygnus task force will be in system to render assistance.

-END LOG-
-ENCRYPT: DELTA-EPSILON-ALPHA-THETA-HYDRA-
Republic Veteran
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 35
# 9
10-30-2013, 01:26 AM
With a thundering crash, the ship slewed sideways, inertial dampers insufficient to handle the sudden stress. Amazingly, there were no showers of sparks from bridge consoles.

"Impact on the port shield. Minimal damage. Overload shunt diverted surge to engines. We jumped forward about...six hundred meters." The engineer pursed his lips in a silent whistle. "I think the Starfleet Corps of Engineers is going to be very interested in that little piece of technology."

"Status on the swarm?" asked Captain Selene Persico, commanding officer of the repurposed Jem'Hadar Attack Ship USS Talon.

"We've cleared a narrow path through. The Zz'gryx and its squad-mates have enough shielding remaining to handle the smaller stuff that got past."

"Excellent work everyone. Another convoy with mechanical problems saved from the menace of rogue asteroid swarms. Some days I almost miss the Borg."

There was a chirp from the Operations console. "Incoming message Ma'am. Starfleet Command, Priority One."

"I just taunted Fate again, didn't I? Put it through to the headset Lieutenant."

Selene tapped a control on the wearable device. Constructed from Dominion technology, the set had a small earpiece and one-eye heads up display. In combat, a Captain could see at a quick glance the status of weapons, shields, hull integrity, and even the number of casualties the ship had sustained. It could also be configured for Communications Mode, allowing a private viewing of a message even on a crowded bridge - a useful feature on a ship where the concept of a Ready Room was synonymous with the weapons locker.

The display flicked over from Status to show the visage of Admiral Quinn.

"Captain. You're a member of the Fast Response Squadron and do we ever need a fast response. You are needed at New Romulus on an urgent mission. I'm sending an encrypted packet with available intelligence, but the short of it is that the Romulans are potentially about to do something very dangerous. You'll need to stop by Starbase 234 to pick up Lieutenant Commander Eight. She's our resident expert on what you'll be facing. Best Speed. Quinn Out."

Selene sat silently in the captains chair, mentally digesting the message. The promised encrypted file popped into the view and unraveled itself. It only took a quick scan of the synopsis for her spine to acquire an acute case of chills.

An Iconian Gateway. The Romulans were going to reactivate an Iconian Gateway.

"Helm. Immediate course for the Transwarp Gate, warp nine point nine seven. Commander Anthi, please relay our apologies to the convoy and then inform Captain West on the Blade that the Talon has been recalled and he is to take charge of the Squadron. Staff meeting in thirty minutes in the mess hall. Go."

The ship flashed into warp as Captain Persico began planning.

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

Captains Personal Log, Stardate 97951.1. Talon is en-route to Starbase 234 to pick up Lieutenant Commander Eight. As her name implies, a liberated Borg citizen. She's been studying the Iconians and has apparently assimilated enough information that she's the closest thing we have to a proper Iconian expert. On that note, I must admit a deep concern about the Gateway. I've sent out a request to the Romulan captain that helped uncover the gateway. Unfortunately, she was one of the group that elected to ally themselves with the Klingon Defence Force. I remain uncertain if my request for a meeting will be granted.

The howl of the Red Alert siren brought Captain Persico out of the log. She tapped her combadge.

"Captain to Bridge, Talk to me!"

"Romulan warbird decloaking directly aft. They're powering disruptors!"

Disruptors? We're at warp. You can't fire energy weapons forward out of your own warp field. Torpedoes yes, energy fire no. So it's a message, not a threat. What message? Oh.

"Bring us out of warp. Raise shields and charge the weapon banks. I'm on my way."

Selene arrived on the bridge in time to see the warp flash as the Romulan vessel appeared. It was an unusual configuration, with a wedge-shaped hull and forward-swept wings. The tactical computer considered it's readouts for a short moment and then flashed an identification. Modified Ha'Feh-class warbird, optimised for cannon fire. Registration RRW Scythe, under the command of Vice Admiral Karlyn Venas.

"Incoming hail from the warbird."

"On Screen."

Captain Karlyn was every inch the Romulan. Severe black hair framed the distinctive double-V of the forehead ridges, and she was dressed in a Red-and-Green Vice Admiral's overcoat. She sat comfortably in the command chair of the warbird, something suspiciously close to a smirk on her face.

"You know Admiral, a simple 'pull over' is a lot more polite than the threat of weapons fire"

"It was effective though, was it not?"

Selene decided not to press the point.

"Admiral, I would like to meet with you to discuss-"

"The Gateway. Yes. I fully support of the endeavour. D'Tan has extended an invitation to myself and my crew for our role in it's recovery. Such a powerful device can only be an asset for the Republic. Naturally, since the Republic and the Federation are officially 'friendly' powers, I will be happy to share my logs from the recovery expedition. I would also be happy to escort your ship to New Romulus."

The word 'friendly' came out with a twist at the mouth. The admiral had chosen her side, and it wasn't the Federation. The connection terminated without so much as a goodbye, and a moment later Anthi nodded as the promised files arrived. Then she grimaced.

"Captain? These logs have been transcribed to text and written in a very old dialect of Romulan. I'm not sure we've got the translation matrix for it loaded. I'll have to check with Intelligence back on Earth."

Selene sat back in her command chair, fingers steepled before her.

So thats the way it's going to go is it? Well Admiral, two can play at that game.

On the screen, the massive Warbird wheeled and turned towards the distant star of New Romulus.

"Very Well Commander. Contact Starfleet Intelligence and get that translation. Helm, resume course for Starbase 234. But wait until after our gracious hosts have jumped to warp."

"Captain? Should we inform the Scythe of our detour to Starbase 234?"

"I don't see any special need. The Admiral is obviously quite busy and we shouldn't waste her valuable time with needless minutiae."

Commander Anthi grinned. "Of course not Captain".

Three hours later saw Captain Persico in the small transporter room, welcoming Lieutenant Commander Eight aboard. The ex-Borg was a tall human, with the "Seven" suite of implants retained - a ocular adjuster above the eye, and an aural enhancer by the ear. Her left arm was replaced by an advanced prosthesis, since the original limb had been 'swapped out' during some point during her time with the Collective. She didn't require one of the body-hugging dermaplastic wraps, and was instead dressed instead in a standard Starfleet Sierra uniform.

"Captain Persico. I believe we will need to discuss contingency options for the upcoming unveiling. I would suggest startin-"

Selene's combadge chirped.

"Captain, the Scythe has warped insystem. They sound...put out. Should we resume course for New Romulus?"

"By all means Lieutenant."

Eight had an eyebrow raised in an almost perfect imitation of a Vulcan inquiry.

"Just a little friendly rivalry. I happen to agree with you in regards to contingency planning, and have several suggestions I would appreciate your input on. Here."

Selene handed Eight a PADD and waited while the ex-Drone thumbed through it.

"Impressively efficient Captain. But have you considered the Sela Contingency?"

"The one where Iconian monsters jump through and take everyone hostage?"

The two women exited the transporter room, discussing the anticipated reactivation in animated detail.

-----------

"Ah, Captain Persico. Welcome." D'Tan greeted the away team as they beamed into the repressurised chamber deep inside New Romulus. Pipework and display readouts festooned the central artifact of the chamber, two thrusting pinnacles that formed the edges of the inactive gateway.

"Thank you, D'Tan. May I introduce my executive officer Commander Anthi, Specialist Lieutenant Commander Eight, our resident Iconian expert, my operations officer Lieutenant Wolversham and of course Emma, our Enhanced Medical Hologram."

D'Tan stepped forward to properly greet them, and then paused as the sight of holstered phasers and tricorders registered. As did the case that Lieutenant Wolversham was carrying.

"What's in the case? And are the weapons strictly necessary?"

"The case has several phaser rifles, multiple wrist flashlights, a subspace beacon and some miniature pattern enhancers. An ancient organization on Earth once declared that one must "Be Prepared", and we intend to be prepared for anything once that gate opens. And we certainly hope that we will never need to use our personal weapons."

D'Tan considered her answers and nodded. "Sensible precautions, although I would wish they were not necessary."

Each of the crew exchanged handshakes and greetings with the leader of the Romulan Republic. He stepped back and was apparently about to launch into a speech about the importance of good interstellar relations, or possibly about the benefit of the gateway, but a Romulan scientist called him over first, pointing excitedly to a readout.

The distraction gave Selene more time to look around. The first thing she noticed was several Klingon warriors, a Gorn and an Orion clustered around a generator of some sort. A momentary flash of worry dissipated as she recognized the head of the Klingon Delegation from the intelligence packet given to her by Admiral Quinn.

In another corner was Admiral Karlyn, surrounded by several of her crew - two Romulans and two Remans. Selene hid a grin as a container beamed in as she watched, and several plasma pistols were extracted from it. Copycats. Then her smile died in puzzlement as the dark shape behind the Romulans registered. well, less the shape itself and more the small part of it peaking out from under the covering.

The small part that set off a shock of recognition. She had to be sure, but that fragment of hull plating looked suspiciously identical to something she had seen before. Only a few weeks previously in fact - but in a place that she suspected was very, very far away.

But that's the point of the Gateway, isn't it? Get from Point Here to Point There almost instantly.

She strode over to crew of the Scythe and was intercepted by the Admiral.

"Admiral. What, exactly is that?"

"Is what?"

"You know very well. What is under that tarpaulin?"

"Oh, that's out little insurance policy." Karlyn swept an arm back, and the Reman crew pulled the covering off a gleaming Scorpion two-man fighter.

"This may sound odd Admiral, but could you tell me the registry of that vessel?"

Admiral Karlyn frowned and hesitated before replying, apparently searching for a reason in the Captain's request.

"MRDF-047, on loan to the Scythe from the Republic. Why?"

"No reason". Selene smiled and forced herself to casually stroll back to her officers, despite wanting to sprint. The rest of the ID matched precisely to what she had glimpsed at the end of her Q-sponsored trip to the alien Dyson Sphere.

Once surrounded by her crew, she contacted the Talon.

"For Immediate relay to Starfleet Intelligence. Message Begins. Have suspicion of hostiles on other side of Iconian Gateway. Possibly a species called the Voth from the Delta Quadrant. Refer Intelligence Report Persico-Six-Three-Q-Four. Send with Priority One."

That done, she turned to Eight. "I don't have much time to explain, but we could be dealing with a Sela-Five Contingency. Stand by when that Gateway activates."

As if to punctuate her words, there was a loud VWORP behind her, and she wheeled to see a flickering image resolve.

"Uh, Representatives!" A flustered D'Tan announced, caught off guard by the sudden activation. "Behold, a working Iconian Gateway!"

*****************

The delegates were looking directly at the activated Iconian gateway when the first drone shot through. Wedge-shaped, it had five trailing appendages that apparently provided some form of locomotion. The single red eye at the front glowed, and then a beam of energy shot from it - to slam directly into the panel controlling the Gateway.

Selene and her officers heard the distinctive whine of an overloading plasma capacitor and dived for the deck, just as the console detonated violently.

Eight was the first to recover. "Sela-Two! Weapons Free!"

Almost instantly, three phaser beams converged on the drone. Brilliant shimmering betrayed the presence of energy shields protecting the attacker.

Selene dropped her hand phaser and dived for the crate her crew had brought down from the Talon. Extricating a phaser compression rifle, she shouldered it and took careful aim.

The alien drone was now dodging around the room, spearing generators, delegates and cables with it's energy beam. Her crew were sustaining phaser fire on the drone, and from the other side of the chamber came the whine of plasma pistols as the crew of the Scythe joined in.

Tracking carefully, Selene took the shot. The shield around the alien robot flared and then failed, and Lieutenant Wolversham dived out of cover and brought up his own phaser rifle. His shot flashed across the chamber, a direct hit causing a detonation of burning scraps.

Balek Wolversham smiled and shouldered his rifle, turning towards Selene. Which meant she had an unparalleled view as two more drones shot through the gateway and immediately struck him down.

Time seemed to slow as the young Bajoran toppled forward, a look of shock on his face. Already the Enhanced Medical Hologram, Emma, was sprinting directly for the fallen Lieutenant. Sound seemed to vanish, and she could hear his anguished grunt clearly, as well as the clatter of the dropped phaser rifle.

The chamber grew much brighter. Far too bright. She twisted, still seeming to exist in slow motion, seeking the source of the flare. As impossible as it seemed, Selene saw it. A twisting, crawling packet of ignited plasma, erupting from the turret atop the Romulan Scorpion. One. Two. Three. They screamed across the cavern. The first shot missed, chewing a crater out of the rock wall. The second and third were direct hits, shattering the drones.

A battlefield silence settled over the chamber - devoid of weapons fire, but with quiet whimpers and moans of the injured. She took a quick scan of the room, and felt her stomach drop directly into her boots. By the exploded console lay the charred remains of D'Tan, leader of the Romulan Republic.

Her brain tried to process the implications. They would be vast. Splinter factions, resurgent Tal Shiar, a fractured fleet. The dual alliance with both the Federation and the KDF would split the quadrant in two, as the ever-flickering war would spill over into Romulan space. Against weakened and weary forces, the Borg would simply roll over what was left. Blame, recriminations on all sides before assimilation.

Assimilation. Ah, Hell! The mere thought of it had started the reaction. Normally that was deal-able with, but the death of Wolversham and D'Tan? The destruction of the chamber? It was too much, too quickly. Selene's breathing quickened and her muscles started trembling. A sense of utter dread, paradoxically coupled with exhaustion spread through. She couldn't move, but had time for one despairing whisper before the attack fully hit.

"Not Now!"

Everything was utterly wrong. Disaster. She had to escape. Her breath came in short gasps as nausea flooded up. She tried to take one stumbling step, but tripped on a cable and fell to her hands and knees. The warm metal plating seemed to throb malevolently in time with her heartbeat.

I am in control.

The first line of the Vulcan Keethara was lost in the tumult of the intense anxiety attack.

Function is the essence of control. I am in control.

Her heart was still thudding faster and faster. A great invisible beast loomed over her, pressing all that she was into a small worthless lump. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted movement, as a familiar face whirled towards her.

Logic is the foundation of function. Function is the essence of control. I am in control.

No, she couldn't breathe. She felt sick. A yawning black abyss loomed all around. The Chamber was too big, It was too small, the disaster was beyond anyone's ability to rectify. War was inevitable, Defenses would crumble, The Borg would come. Resistance was futile. They would all be assimilated, their biological and technological distinctiveness added-

A hypospray hissed, and Selene collapsed facedown in a heap.

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

She woke to insistent shouting. She was calm. Artificially calm. The Beast was still lurking within her somewhere and it wouldn't let go without a fight, but for now oil covered the choppy waters it tried to agitate.

Sickbay. More specifically, the cramped, undersized sickbay of the Talon. Shouting voices were clearer. Emma. As territorial as a Sehlat defending it's range, the hologram was arguing vehemently with someone.

"The Captain still needs rest!"

"Captain Persico was not injured in the conflict. She requires this report and I must deliver it to her!"

"Which will only stress the patient out more! As Chief Medical Officer, I can and will have you banned from this sickbay!"

Selene levered up on her elbows. Eight was face to face with Emma, who was blocking access to the main biobed. She tried to speak and found her voice dry and weak. Swallowing, she tried again.

"The patient isn't getting any rest with you two yelling like that either. Let the messenger pass, please. I need to find out what's going on."

"Captain, your panic attacks are based on fear of the Collective. You could suffer a relapse if you-"

Selene waved her off and swung her legs over the side of the biobed. Her attack had left her exhausted and drained, but a Captain's place was in charge, not lying on her back, asleep.

"I'll be fine Emma. If it'll make you happy, I promise not to step outside sickbay for at least the next six hours."

The hologram considered and then handed over the PADD she had taken from Eight, who standing in stoic silence, pretending to ignore the medical officer.

"Very well Captain. Computer, deactivate Enhanced Medical Hologram."

The report was indeed grim reading. The Romulan Republic had splintered, and one part was at war with the KDF, another part with the Federation. Contact from starbases along the neutral zone was intermittent at best, Starbase Sierra-39 was silent after reporting an attack. The Talon had been ejected from Romulan space and was en-route to Starbase 83.

She chucked the report onto the biobed and rubbed her face in her hands.

"Well, this half of the galaxy is done for. War, Disaster, Conflict. A right mess of things, would you say?"

"The outcome from the activation was...less than optimal for all parties involved."

Selene stood straight and picked up the PADD, clearing the depressing reading and calling up a stored file.

"Well, I suppose its time for the Persico Eight-Five-Two Contingency."

"I do not believe we discussed that contingency, Captain."

"I call it my Go-To-Hell plan. Eight-Five-Two is related to what Admiral Lowe once told me. He used to say there's a mystery behind every nebula. I was more interested in finding a way to exploit the mysteries on this side of the nebula."

Selene called up a section of the file, retrieved a second PADD and began working on it as well. She handed the first PADD to Eight.

"Here. I need the common subspace compression ratio for these readings."

"These...are exceedingly complex temporal calculations, Captain."

"Yes they are. Which is why I need your help."

The former drone was momentarily confused, but soon began tapping away, correcting and calculating the figures.

They had been at the problem for nearly a hour when a nagging suspicion finally got the better of Selene.

"Anthi sent you with that report, didn't she?"

"The commander did ask that I hand-deliver it, yes"

"That's because Anthi's too smart to waste hours trying to argue with Emma. Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander, I do believe you just got hazed."

"Hazing. A competitive process to induct new members to a small, typically exclusive, social grouping."

"That's the one. Don't take it too hard - Ensign Wilson spent three hours in EVA sandwiched between the outer hull and the engineering space looking for negative-matter neenion contamination."

"I am not familiar with that class of particle."

"Neither was Ensign Wilson, apparently."

There was another lengthy pause as they both worked on the calculation. This time it was Eight who broke the silence.

"Captain. Why are you unaffected by my presence?"

"Unaffected?"

"I am Borg. Your medical officer mentioned a fear of the Collective. Why do you not fear me?"

Selene continued typing on the PADD as she spoke.

"Because my problem is not with the Collective. It is with assimilation, and in that lies a critical difference. A small one perhaps, but when dealing with one's own fears, small differences can count for far more than they seem to.

You were once but are no longer Borg. You are living proof that assimilation is survivable. That a way back is possible. The Talon has rescued dozens of drones from the Collective. And in each of them is a reassurance that no matter how crippling my fear is, there is always a sliver of hope.

I do not fear you, because you give me hope. I do not fear the Collective, because the Collective can be beaten.

What I fear is loss of control. I fear my very self being subsumed and destroyed. Assimilation is simply the most visible and reliable of the triggers to that fear."

Eight considered the unexpectedly frank outpouring carefully.

"Your viewpoint in this matter is...illogical. Such an attack triggered by the fear of losing control would only serve to make you lose control. The cycle is self-sustaining. It would be more logical and efficient not to fear, thus eliminating a cause of the attack."

"That's the wonderfully terrible thing about humanity, Eight. We are so very illogical. And we haven't figured out how to just lock our emotions down like the Vulcans."

Eight raised one eyebrow in another perfect mimicry of a Vulcan inquiry. Selene burst out laughing.

"Or the Borg, Eight. Or the Borg."

The PADD in her hand beeped.

"Ah. Here we go. One solution to galactic war and imminent destruction of all we know, utilizing a cheap shot from a forgotten mission log. Persico to Bridge."

"Bridge here"

"Lay in a course for Cusak IV. It's a Class-L planet under Starfleet interdict, located in the Rutharian sector of the Beta Quadrant. We're going to need to break a couple of standing orders on this one, Commander."

Silence. Then:

"Aye, Captain. Course laid in. Any point in lodging an official protest?"

"None whatsoever. Maximum Warp. Go."

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

Three weeks later, Selene stood on a rain-wracked promontory, a shuttle grounded behind her. The carbon-dioxide saturated atmosphere was kept at bay by a rebreather mask, but the cold rain still soaked her uniform. Coruscating energy streamers swirled overhead. Beyond that sky, Romulan and Federation and Klingon ships attacked each other in righteous fury. New Romulus lay scorched, it's new beginning trashed by quantum torpedoes from orbiting starships. Border worlds burned, countless lives being lost to proclaim one side the masters of a fragment of a muddy ball of useless rock in backwater systems. And from Gamma Orionis came chilling reports of waves of Cubes, conquering everything in their path, a vastly understrength Task Force Omega unable to halt them.

Selene turned back to the transmitter and entered the painstaking calculations. The set futzed for a few moments and then stabilized. It was transmitting a recorded message and an encrypted databurst, and all that was required now was to wait for a certain reply.

The reply came two days later in a very familiar voice.

"This is Captain Persico of the USS Talon. Your transmission has been received and is being relayed to Starfleet Command per your instructions. Good Luck. Persico out."

Selene turned, watching the reality wavefront cancel the shuttle and march onwards towards her.

Funny. So this is what utter destruction looks like. This is what I fear the most. The complete end of my existence. Although I suppose it isn't the true end, not really, since-

******************

The shimmer of the transporter deposited Captain Selene Persico in the Iconian Gateway chamber, deep under New Romulus.

Admiral Kererek waved her over. "Ah, Captain. May I introduce you to Commander Maiek, our operations officer for the Gateway. I'm sure you are familiar with Ambassador Worf, and this is Captain Koran of the IKS Bortasqu."

Selene greeted the dignitaries, trying to ignore the calculating look that Captain Koran was giving her. The KDF were very interested in certain aspects of the Jem'Hadar ships that the Federation had repurposed. She was saved from having to deflect any questions by the arrival of Captain Shon from the USS Enterprise-F.

Looking around the room, it appeared the message she had passed on had panned out. Unlike the scenario depicted with it, D'Tan was nowhere to be seen, the crew of the Scythe and the Lleiset were collaborating quietly, and there was a double guard of security and engineering officers. A quick check revealed a higher tolerance of plasma capacitor had been installed in the console as well.

Whomever that unknown Captain had been, and whatever the source of that oddly distorted transmission, it seemed that the higher ups at Starfleet Intelligence had taken it's dire apocalyptic warning seriously. She had some suspicions - one did not receive visitors from Temporal Investigations unless some sort of time-travel shenanigans had taken place.

Ambassador Worf and another officer were talking to Commander Maiek as the Iconian Gateway rose out of the ground, and Selene grinned as the officer attached what appeared to be spatial charges of some kind to the gate. Lieutenant Commander Eight was deep in conversation with a Romulan scientist, comparing notes.
Still, all the preparations were complete, so her job here was done.

"Persico to Talon. One to beam up."

The chamber dissolved in sparks.

Selene had only just got back to the Bridge and settled into her chair when the tactical console beeped accusingly.

"Captain, we're picking up major seismic activity, emanating from the Gateway location. Contact lost with the Chamber."

No mention of this in the message. Must be something new.

"Red Alert!"

Last edited by drajora; 11-04-2013 at 10:02 PM.
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3,439
# 10
10-30-2013, 03:54 PM
Captain's Log, Stardate 91400.7

The Solaris is en route to New Romulus to attend a ceremony as D'Tan is planning to activate the Iconian Gateway. Admiral Cheliss has informed me that he is also sending several other Federation diplomats due to the importance of the event. The Iconian Gateway is known to have caused the extinction of the Dewans, and even though the Romulans are sure to have taken acute precautions to avoid a similar destiny, any unforeseen effects will be met with the appropriate response. Thus, several other combat-ready ships are meeting in-system.

To prepare for the event, the crew have pulled extra time on their respective shifts to make Solaris better than tip-top shape in the event any of D'Tan's delegation honors us with a visit. On a more serious note, I have also ordered extra combat drills for both space and ground combat.

Our travel to Bajor, and ultimately to Solanae, is put on hold for this. And frankly, after a visit from Q, I'm considering this detour to be worthwhile.

Personal Log, Stardate 91400.8

D'Tan is a bold man. I understand his motivations, as far as I know them. He wants to improve the Romulans, to make them better than before. It's admirable. They will pay a price for their desires, but do they really know the cost?

I'd like to think, if I were in his shoes, I would make the same decision. The potential benefits outweigh the risks, even given the catastrophic history. The efforts the Romulans have gone to avoid repeating the past are many and great. I agree with the current thought that the Federation has almost done the same with the Bajoran Wormhole - and there was a war before there was peace. If war comes from the portal, it may actually be a unifier to the galaxy ... Borg notwithstanding. If the same planetary calamity were to begin, the Romulans would be safe from extinction - the Federation and Klingon interests would prevent that.

So ... what if ... what if the Gateway works as wanted. New planets to explore, new cures to be found, new alliances to forge. These were the thoughts when the Bajoran Wormhole was discovered, and everyone knows the immediate result. So what if the opposite of that experience happens?

The galaxy stands at the precipice of either greater strife or greater prosperity, and D'Tan holds the key on New Romulus. Either way, my crew and my ship will be there to see the door open.
Kathryn S. Beringer - The Dawn Patrol

Solaris build - Veritatum Liquido Cernene

Last edited by cmdrscarlet; 11-10-2013 at 11:22 AM. Reason: Cleaned up some wording.
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