Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,268
# 111
03-06-2014, 09:18 AM
...Jesus.

Those Hegemony guys are NUTS.

Destroy Andoria?

How freaking insane...

Unbelievable.

Also, I see that you're using the Typhon Pact novel version of Andorian reproduction. Any particular reason why?

(and I will only offer biological arguments against it if you're OK with it)
Founder and Grand Vizier of the Sovereign Ba'al joke. Hail Ba'al!
My official eternal issue: Why no muscle definition slider? Let's have some equal-opportunity sexiness, Cryptic!
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Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 615
# 112
03-06-2014, 12:53 PM
The four-sex Andorian reproductive system? It's reasonably well-established soft canon (there's even aspects of it inside STO, in places)... and I've been using it pretty consistently since about Literary Challenge #28, so I'm blowed if I'm re-writing everything now.
Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,268
# 113
03-06-2014, 01:01 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by shevet View Post
The four-sex Andorian reproductive system? It's reasonably well-established soft canon (there's even aspects of it inside STO, in places)... and I've been using it pretty consistently since about Literary Challenge #28, so I'm blowed if I'm re-writing everything now.
Heh.

Last I checked, it was one line from either Data or Thy'lek Shran that was the only hard canon basis for that idea.

And it doesn't make much sense from a biology perspective, especially for a humanoid animal. I mean, three genders is pushing it, from a sustainability standpoint. Four? Just unrealistic.

But I understand narrative convenience.
Founder and Grand Vizier of the Sovereign Ba'al joke. Hail Ba'al!
My official eternal issue: Why no muscle definition slider? Let's have some equal-opportunity sexiness, Cryptic!
PWE: NO to mandatory ARC! At least make it optional!
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 615
# 114
03-13-2014, 09:32 AM
Apologies for the slow updates... I still have one half-paralyzed hand, which is not helping at all.

However. Next one's coming up.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 615
# 115
03-13-2014, 09:37 AM
T'Laihhae

Tylha's expression is stricken. The gaunt Borg woman's face could get no paler, but it is frozen in shock, the one organic eye the only thing moving in it.

I can't blame them. It was a shock to me, when I saw it. There was a time, of course, when any patriotic Romulan would have been glad to see the Federation tear itself apart... but not now. Not now.

Tylha finds her voice. "We need to get this," she says, shakily, "to the Federation Council, to Starfleet Command, and to Andoria itself, first. Then -" She breaks off. Her eyes widen.

I turn. Behind me, the transparent wall gives an excellent view of the interior of Earth Spacedock, and the starships moving slowly within it. I see at once what has claimed Tylha's attention. Two ships - a large Nebula-class cruiser and a smaller Griffon-class warship - are moving too close together. Even as I watch, the two of them collide, white hulls crashing together with seeming slowness that belies the violence of the impact.

Alarms sound. Tylha is on her feet. The Nebula is spinning across the cavern of the docking bay; it sweeps past us, the massive hull blotting out the view for an instant as it swings by the window, a huge curving mass of metal. I lose sight of the other ship. The Nebula wobbles for a moment, reaction mass spurting desperately from its thruster assemblies. Then one nacelle sweeps irresistibly across a cupola protruding from the docking bay wall, leaving nothing but crumpled wreckage and gouting air in its wake.

"That was docking control!" Grau yells.

"This shouldn't be possible," Tylha says. "There are too many safeties in the system - things like this shouldn't happen -"

A dreadful possibility occurs to me. "Maybe someone made it happen," I say.

"Sabotage?" I can almost see Tylha's mind racing. "Then we need to preserve the information. Ronnie!" The Borg woman snaps to attention. "Your ship has full transwarp capacity, right? Take Stileg and the data chips, get them direct to Andoria. I'll be right behind you. Move!"

Grau seizes Stileg with one hand; I press the data chips into her other one. Tylha's decision makes sense - with Earth Spacedock in a state of emergency, too much of Starfleet's communications around Earth will be compromised. Better to alert the Federation from a relatively stable location - and to alert the Andorians to an impending attack.

And Spacedock is quite clearly in a state of emergency. I can see, now, what has happened to the second ship; it has collided with the central pillar that runs through the docking bay - the pillar which forms the central core of the spacedock itself. Little shudders run through the deckplates, and the wailing of alarms is insistent. The Nebula has slowed and steadied, but a baleful green light is leaking from its damaged nacelle.

"There's an auxiliary control room near here," says Tylha. She looks hard at me. "I suppose you know more than you ought to about ESD's systems?"

"I can learn fast," I assure her.

"Then let's move." She leads the way, through corridors that bustle with purposeless, panicky crowds. I follow her as she reaches a door, thumbs the biometric lock, and dashes inside.

The auxiliary control room is little more than a cubbyhole with a viewport; there is just room for the two of us to work at the consoles built into the walls. Tylha starts tapping into the comms net, while I set to work on the systems panel. Alarm lights are flickering... except on one bank of controls, which stubbornly register an all-clear. Sabotage, or merely error? I cut them out of the circuit, and start to take stock. The controls are not unlike the ones at the Vulcan assembly yards....

"Command and control are still routed through the main station," Tylha mutters. She punches a control switch. "Docking bay control now patched to substation 37-2-D, authorization code Shohl Delta Tango Two Four Niner." Panels suddenly light up and come alive under my hands. A 3-D display shows the interior of the bay, marking the positions of the starships within it. Two icons are ringed by flashing red warning symbols. "USS Trifid, Nebula class... USS Marengo, Griffon class," I call out.

Tylha touches another control, and voices fill the air.

" - declaring an emergency, I have SI compromise and possible warp core destabilization - "

" - medevac units to assembly points Delta through Juliet - "

" - vacuum warning in docking control, repeat, vacuum warning in docking control - "

" - anyone seeing this? Radiation spikes across the spectrum - "

" - God! Medical to transporter room, we have scramble cases! - "

Tylha and I both wince at that last one. She hits another control and speaks, and her voice echoes back from the public address system. "All stations, this is Vice Admiral Shohl. Main docking control is down, I have command functions running from a substation. USS Trifid, you are leaking warp radiation from your damaged nacelle, go immediately to cold shutdown, we will tractor you in. USS Marengo, report your status on Channel Red. All other ships, hold station, stand ready to assist."

She sounds clear and calm, which will help a lot. I check my controls and displays. "Docking port 32-C is clear," I say, "and I think I can get the Nebula in there." The docking bay boasts a formidable internal array of tractors and repulsors, enough to juggle starships like toys. I hope.

"Do it," Tylha says. "Don't worry too much about neatness. So long as they've stopped moving and stopped leaking - "

"This is Captain Willis on the Marengo," a voice breaks in.

Tylha turns back to the comms board. "Status?"

"Not good, sir." Willis sounds worried. "We have major structural damage, and we seem to be hung up on something at the central core. I don't think I can pull her loose on thrusters alone. And we took a power surge along the EPS grid, and I think it's destabilized the intermix chamber. My engineer reports we may lose AM containment."

A core breach. In a Federation ship, that means the antimatter fuel supply leaks out of its containment fields, to interact with the normal matter of the ship - with explosive results. My heart is in my mouth. If the breach cannot be contained - Normally, a ship can eject a malfunctioning core and move off on impulse drive to outrun the resulting explosion. But, in the confined space of the docking bay - an ejected core would not just wreck everything inside, it would set off a chain reaction with the cores of other ships, with the spacedock's own stores of antimatter and deuterium fuel.

If the Marengo's core breaches now, Earth Spacedock will become, briefly, a second sun in Earth's sky.

All this flashes through my mind as my fingers move, automatically, on the tractor controls. The beams reach out, grab the inert bulk of the Trifid, guide her towards the docking port. The Federation interface is - not wholly unfamiliar. The Trifid makes contact, albeit with a jar that must have knocked everyone aboard off their feet. But the status light on the docking seal flickers and turns green - the people on that ship, at least, are safe.

For the moment. Tylha is frowning intently at the telemetry coming in from the Marengo. "Get me a read on that obstruction," she snaps - perhaps to me, perhaps to the captain. I call up the schematics anyway. "Comms are snarled again," Tylha mutters. "Can't contact main admin - not that Quinn or any of the others could do more than we can -"

The situation with the Marengo takes shape in my schematics viewer. It is an awkward one. One flange of the warship's upper hull is wedged hard against a major structural member. On the screen, it looks a simple enough thing to deal with; one hard pull and the ship comes loose. But in reality, we are dealing with thousands of tons of metal, already crushed and deformed by the impacts.

I run the numbers in my head, and turn to Tylha. "We can tug her loose with the tractor arrays," I say, "but not without compromising her structural integrity - unless we can take several hours to do the job slowly and steadily."

"We don't have that much time." I had already worked that out, from the plummeting graphs I can see on Tylha's screens. She takes a deep breath before she hits the comms panel again. "Captain Willis. There is no way to salvage your ship before a core breach. On my authority, my responsibility, Captain - abandon ship. That is a direct order."

There is a long moment's pause, then Willis replies, "Aye, aye, sir." There is naked pain in the man's voice.

"Transporter ops will be safe now the Trifid is no longer radiating," Tylha says. "Get your people off, and slave your controls to my remote access. As soon as we read no life signs aboard your ship, we'll get to work." Her voice softens a little. "You did the best you could, Captain, now go."

She cuts communications. I'm already readying the tractor arrays. If we can pull the crippled ship off the central pillar, out through the docking bay doors - if we can hold her core together by remote control long enough to do that -

The lights flicker. Tylha swears. "EPS fluctuation. Marengo's warp plasma must be interfering with the central lines - Damn it. Lost Spacedock door functions."

I glance at the viewport, at the hectares of solid metal that close the docking bay off from space.

"Nothing for it," says Tylha. She taps out commands on the panel. "Emergency override, condition red, keyword Open Sesame. Blow Spacedock doors."

Across the docking bay, brilliant flashes of light spark in a precise square around the door assembly - shaped explosive charges, cutting through the structural members, slicing the entire massive doorway out of the side of Earth Spacedock. The space station shivers, inertial dampeners unable to block out all the shock. More flares of light - one-shot solid-fuel rocket boosters, blasting the severed doors out and aside into the void.

"Marengo reads empty," Tylha says. "Let's do this."

I have already set up the sequence I need; now I start it. The full power of all the tractor beams I can bring to bear pulls at the Marengo, wrenching her on what I hope is the right angle to pull her loose. For a moment, the ship remains motionless, bathed in the blue glare of the beams -

Then she jerks abruptly and comes free, random jets of flame spurting from both the ship and the central pillar. No longer restricted, the Marengo hurtles towards the tractor assemblies. I switch polarity, turning the beams to repulsor mode, and again the whole station rings like a bell with the impact. Tylha is cursing steadily as she fights to retain whatever control she has on the ship's dying warp core. I can hear and feel the groaning of the dock's stressed members. The Marengo slows, stops, begins to move in the opposite direction. I shift the beams, switch in another array, nudging the ship in the right direction -

The lights in the room flicker, go out completely, come back on at low power. The control interface flashes gibberish at me before it clears.

"Another random power surge," says Tylha.

"I've lost beam focus," I say. "Trying to regain now." Right now, the Marengo is drifting towards another wall. I have to regain control, have to get her moving towards that empty doorway -

"Dumping everything I have to reinforce SI generators," says Tylha. "No time to be subtle. Hit it with everything you can, and I think I can keep her together till she's through the doors -"

The tractor controls are sluggish, erratic, unresponsive. Somehow, I get the arrays focused again, the beams reaching out to the doomed ship, slamming into her, knocking her onto the right heading. It is not gentle. The end of one nacelle comes loose, spinning freely across the docking bay. The Marengo is moving... is on the right course... is dwindling in the distance, into the square hole in Spacedock's side, and the black sky beyond -

The black square turns white, dazzling, eye-searing white. I close my eyes tight, reflexively, while fresh alarms wail and the deck rocks beneath me, tossed by a sudden storm.

It passes. I'm still breathing - always a good sign. The after-image fades from my tear-filled eyes, as I hear Tylha's voice, echoing back again from the PA system -

"All stations. All ships. We have had a warp core breach within minimum safe distance. We have radiation and debris hazards, and structural damage as yet undetermined. I am putting docking bay in shutdown and declaring Earth Spacedock a disaster zone. Relinquishing controls to Emergency Central now. All ships, all stations, follow your assigned disaster procedures. Substation 37-2-D out."

She takes a deep ragged breath. "I should stay and help with the emergency," she mutters. "But I think we've got another emergency." She touches a wrist communicator. I raise an eyebrow at that - Starfleet usually relies on its combadges. "Direct link to my ship. I've needed it, lately." She keys the wristband. "F'hon. Come in."

"Here, skipper," says a voice. "Are you OK? We saw the bang -"

"I'm fine. Get a lock on this communicator, though. I'm going to get near the outside of the station, and then you can beam me aboard. Once I'm there, we're going to Andoria, and fast. Did the USS Falcon get away yet?"

"Vice Admiral Grau's ship transwarped straight out of its docking cradle, some minutes ago. Traffic control's still screaming - Skipper, what's going on?"

"I'll explain once I'm back aboard, F'hon. Contact you again shortly. Shohl out."

"Tell your crew, two to beam out," I say. I look at her, levelly. "You will want my copies of the recordings, and my verification scans. And, very possibly, the firepower of the Messalina, too. My ship's transwarp speed can match yours." I fix her eyes with mine. "It's clear, now, that the Hegemony is your enemy, as well as mine. If we stand together... then we stand a chance."

She looks hard at me, then gives one sharp nod. "All right. Let's move."
Survivor of Romulus
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,268
# 116
03-13-2014, 09:51 AM
Shevet. Those Hegemony guys are NUTS. Did they really just sabotage ESD? Are they really, seriously going to try to destroy Andoria?

They are NUTS. They are just BEGGING for the Federation to crush them like ants. The Republic is with the Federation on this, if T'Laihhae is any judge, and the Klingons are with the Republic...

End result: Hegemony 0, everyone else several million.
Founder and Grand Vizier of the Sovereign Ba'al joke. Hail Ba'al!
My official eternal issue: Why no muscle definition slider? Let's have some equal-opportunity sexiness, Cryptic!
PWE: NO to mandatory ARC! At least make it optional!
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,445
# 117
03-13-2014, 05:54 PM
No one said that fanatics (Vulcan or otherwise) had to have common sense. They have a goal they're aiming for, and anything that gets in their way is considered expendable. Or, as a Klingon saying goes, "If something gets in your way, knock it down."
Commander
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 394
# 118
03-14-2014, 04:18 AM
Keep in mind who (or what) the strings of this little movement all lead back to: the katra of an infamous Vulcan warlord who was, if anything, more crazed and bloodthirsty than most surviving accounts claim. We're talking Hitler's-brain territory here. (Or Khan, or Tieran, or...)
Join Date: January 2011

Last edited by hfmudd; 03-14-2014 at 04:33 AM.
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,445
# 119
03-14-2014, 09:20 AM
Or one of Mudd's women (ST:TOS). Okay, maybe not that bloodthirsty.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 615
# 120
03-16-2014, 10:38 AM
Ronnie

The room is vast, with an echoing high ceiling, sparse furniture, and walls painted in white, and pale grey, and even paler blue. Because God forbid anyone on Andoria should forget what ice looks like, of course. The temperature is comfortable for Andorians, which means roughly "meat locker" for the likes of me.

The imposing man behind the imposing desk is Ves th'Oziph, the Chancellor of the Andorian Empire - Andoria being one of those Empires which gets along so much better without an actual Emperor. Th'Oziph is tall and statesmanlike and handsome - he looks like a Chancellor. The black-clad man standing beside him is short and rather tubby; his name is Thelev ch'Haras, and he looks more like an accountant than the High Marshal of the Imperial Guard, but the High Marshal is what he is. Then there's me, looking like a cyborg bag lady as usual, and Stileg, looking like one very scared Vulcan.

"It still seems incredible," th'Oziph murmurs.

"Incredible or not," ch'Haras says, "we need to be prepared." A practically-minded man. I could get to like him.

"Right," I say. "So. I guess we need to work out what sort of attack's coming, then. Unfortunately, we don't have much of a clue, there. I'm thinking Andoria is better prepared than Bercera IV was for a conventional attack...."

"Weapons on Andoria Spacedock," says ch'Haras, "smaller weapons platforms in planetary orbit, and outlying stations further out into the system... by the time any tricobalt bombers got past those, there would be very little left for the Imperial Guard to shoot. Besides, Andoria's planetary shields are second to none."

"Right, right. But, however good they are - could they stand up to a relativistic strike? That's the classic method of killing planets. In theory. Right?" A mass, launched at a speed approaching that of light. Usually a mass of lightweight material - ice is good - so that it doesn't just punch right through the planet, but deposits its whole kinetic payload in one job-lot of mass destruction. The Chancellor and the High Marshal exchange glances. "Don't tell me you can block a c-fractional strike... wouldn't you need, I dunno, an inertial damper about the size of Jupiter?"

"Not block," says ch'Haras slowly. "But... we believe we can deflect them."

"The Enfilade Network," th'Oziph says. "A number of sensor and deployment satellites spread through the outer system. The sensors register any mass travelling at excessive speeds, and signal the deployment devices to send countermissiles in by subspace jump. Reaction speeds need to be fast... but we believe they are adequate. The countermissiles are, essentially, nothing but overloaded warp engines - striking from above or below the system's ecliptic."

"Oh," I say. "Oh. Neat." You can't stop a relativistic projectile, not with anything short of a planet - hitting one will convert it to a mass of plasma, moving at near enough the same speed as it had originally. But if you hit it hard enough, far enough out from its target - at astronomical ranges, even the tiniest deflection in a course translates into a clean miss. And aiming from off the ecliptic - the plane in which most of Procyon's planets revolve - means the incoming missiles will be knocked straight off into interstellar space. "Real neat - so long as it works."

"We have some level of confidence. Though of course," ch'Haras adds dryly, "it is a little hard to give it a full-scale test."

"Hmm. Is it vulnerable, though? Data subversion attacks, that sort of thing? T'Laihhae reckoned the accident at ESD was down to deliberate sabotage...."

"There are precautions in place," says ch'Haras.

"And of course you're not telling me everything. Quite right too. The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold. OK, so direct attack and c-fractional strikes seem to be covered, so what else might they try?"

"Forgive me." Stileg speaks up for the first time since we viewed the datachips. "I am - I just - well, it seems to me that T'Nir is a Vulcan. She will approach this - this issue - logically -"

"I'm not entirely sure I trust Vulcan logic, just now," says ch'Haras.

"What I mean is," Stileg says, "it is unlikely that any plan of T'Nir's will have a single point of failure. There will most probably be an attack along multiple avenues simultaneously."

"We have the full resources of Andoria and the Imperial Guard," says th'Oziph. "Those are most certainly equal to any military threat. If you can give us some insight into T'Nir's thinking, to show us which avenues she is most likely to explore, that will be a considerable help."

"I - I am sorry, Chancellor," says Stileg. "I - do not follow T'Nir's logic in this matter. She was a friend and a colleague - I find it impossible to understand how she can -"

*/*decentralization of assets is key to successful strategy---avoid definable failure modes by ensuring multiple critical pathways to objective success*/* Pipe down, Two of Twelve.... I frown. "Stileg. Something you said."

All three of them turn to me as I chase down the fugitive thought. "Single point of failure. Does Andoria have one? Some critical spot, some jugular vein that T'Nir might go for?"

"Hard to think of one," ch'Haras says. "Andoria Spacedock is unique, of course, but it is not our only military asset in orbit, not by a long way."

"The planetary capital, perhaps," says th'Oziph. "Though we have normal disaster-recovery and fallback options in place - and many of our citizens would not be all that unhappy at the loss of most of Andoria's politicians...."

"Losing the capital, or the space station, wouldn't be fatal. Is there anything centralized and vital?"

"I suppose the fertile farmlands on the planet's surface are... smaller in area than on most worlds," says th'Oziph, "but they are not small enough to be considered centralized. The datanet, the planetary shields, the power generation network, all of these are distributed to a considerable extent." I can feel Two of Twelve approving of this. "I suppose there is Storm Command, but...."

"Well, don't keep me in suspense," I say, "what's Storm Command?"

"When we first developed weather control technology," th'Oziph says, "there was only one suitable location for placing the jet-stream moderators. An extinct volcanic caldera, high up, close to - well, the meteorologists would know the details. Over the centuries, it has been elaborated, but it is still the nerve centre of our planetary weather generators. Storm Command."

"Oh. Right. Sounds like a vulnerable point, then?"

"A single point," says ch'Haras, "but not a vulnerable one. We have always been fully alive to the potentialities for sabotage or damage. Storm Command is one of the most closely guarded areas on Andoria - the actual installation is shielded by a duranium alloy dome, five kilometres in diameter, and absolutely impregnable."

"Never liked that word, impregnable," I say. "Too much like unsinkable. We'd better check it out, however unlikely it sounds to you."

Th'Oziph and ch'Haras exchange glances again. "Technically, it is off-limits to anyone except a properly cleared Andorian citizen," th'Oziph says. "An exception might of course be made -"

The door of the office hisses open. "Sirs." A flustered-looking aide pokes his head through. "Two ships have entered the system - a Charal-class escort with Starfleet identification, and a Romulan Republic warship -"

"Ah, right," I say, "that'll be more of the good guys. Come to think of it, my buddy Tylha is an Andorian citizen, so you could send her off to look at the weather machines." Andoria's climate is managed? You wouldn't think so to look at the place. I take care not to say that in my out -loud voice.

Ch'Haras smiles thinly. "And are we expecting any more help from Starfleet?"

"I wish I knew," I mutter. "Tylha must have got the word out, somewhere, but... our communications were in a lousy state before Earth Spacedock got broken, so I don't know what they must be like now." I find it hard to meet his eyes. "We'll... do what we can. I hope it's enough."
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