Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 572
# 11
12-08-2013, 04:55 PM
OpenOffice Writer - should be able to turn all that stuff off by unchecking boxes in Tools>Autocorrect Options>Options tab for the dashes and Localized Options tab for the quotes. (Because, of course, different languages have different rules on quotes.)

I've been trying OpenOffice Writer myself, you see... and should have stuck to Notepad, probably! But never mind.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 572
# 12
12-08-2013, 05:00 PM
Tylha

Spirits of Earth hurtles between the stars, the subtranswarp drive eating up the light years. I settle down on the bridge - small and cosy, after the King Estmere's echoing Tholian hall with the peculiar artificial gravity - and take a few moments to luxuriate in the cool air.

Dr. Haught shivers. "Cold in here, isn't it?"

Harley Haught is a geologist, added to my crew at the last minute, in case we need his expertise on the surface of Chara V. He's a tall, rather good-looking young man - if you like humans - with dark hair and a rather high forehead. And, judging from his attitude, he fancies himself something of a lady-killer. Which might be amusing, come to think of it.

"It's an Andorian ship," I point out. "And I've just been enduring Earth's temperatures...."

"Yes," says Haught, "but, well, you guys are more adaptable than us poor pinkskins, right?"

Actually, that's true, though you won't often find a human who'll admit to it. I revise my estimate of Haught up a notch. "Conditions on Chara V are warmer," I say. "Normally - I don't know what this volcanic incident will have done to the climate."

"Well," Haught says, "in the medium term, there'll be a drop in temperature, as the volcanic dust increases the planetary albedo. But I guess it's early, yet, for that to take full effect. I just -" He breaks off, as the bridge door hisses open. "Whoah!" he says.

Amiga stands in the doorway, looking faintly taken aback. The android has just returned to her normal look, opening the service panels to the circuitry in her cheeks, removing the cosmetic caps from her eyes so that the naked metal shows. "Are you distressed, Dr. Haught?" she asks.

"Wow. Just, um, surprised, I guess. I saw you in the transporter room earlier...."

"Indeed you did," Amiga says. "Mostly, I do not conceal my artificial origins. I recently had reasons to assume a fully humanoid appearance, though, and I have only just reverted to my normal fashion. I trust you do not disapprove?"

Haught looks blank for a moment, then he laughs. "I'll say one thing for you," he says. "Whatever your origins, you're clearly all woman."

Amiga inclines her head. "I shall take that as a compliment... to my designers."

A low rumbling laugh comes from the tac station. "Don't mess with that one, lad," my uncle, Kophil Phohr, says. "She'll eat you alive."

"Commander Phohr, needless to say, does not speak from personal experience," Amiga says.

"Any time you want to put your money where your mouth is, robo-girl...."

"I hate to break this up." Even Anthi Vihl, my ultra-professional exec, isn't hiding a grin. "But we're about to come out of warp at Chara."

"OK. Amiga, Uncle Kophil... flirt later. F'hon." The Bolian comms officer looks up. "Patch us through to local traffic control, make sure we have all the right clearances. And get me the IDRA ship as soon as you can manage it."

"On it, skipper," says F'hon Tlaxx.

Spirits of Earth shudders as she drops to sublight speeds, and the view on the screen changes to a normal static starscape, a bright yellow star glowing to one side. I check the system display on my console. Chara has seven planets, two hot rockballs in close orbit, one habitable and prosperous class M world, then an oddity, a minor planet about the size of Sol's Mercury, in an orbit that makes it look as though it's a capture from interstellar space. Our destination, Chara V, is next, a much more marginal class M... and then there are two moderate-sized ice giants, further out. A pretty typical system - well, unusual in that there are two class M worlds, but not that unusual. I've seen many stranger.

"Got an automated response from traffic control," says F'hon. "Patching it through to helm now - and there's a Jevon Tolm, planetary governor, Chara V, wants to speak to you."

"On screen."

The face on the screen is a humanoid one, possibly even straight-up human, it's hard to tell just from a headshot sometimes. He's thin and middle-aged and worried looking, whatever species he is. "Vice Admiral Shohl?"

"That's me. We've had a request from IDRA to lend assistance."

He looks marginally less worried. "Anything you can do to help would be welcome. We have the situation in hand in the capital, and in most of the districts on Continent Alpha. But the situation on Beta is confused -"

"That's where the Vulcan science team is, isn't it? And where the disaster happened?"

"Yes. Frankly, Vice Admiral, we're worried about those people. The only inhabitants of Beta have been accounted for - but the Vulcans were a lot closer to the epicentre of the blast, and the reports we have are... confusing. We don't have air craft capable of reaching them at this time, and the IDRA vessels aren't equipped for atmospheric operations in that amount of turbulence."

"Well, if need be, I can take my ship down, we are cleared for a range of environments - but, naturally, I'd like to explore other options first."

"Of course, Vice Admiral." Does he look slightly less worried? "Just - well, please do everything you have to - everything you can - to get those people out."

"I'll put you through to my quartermaster to see if there are any other essential supplies we can get to you. We should be in transporter range in -" I shoot a questioning glance at Anthi.

"Thirty minutes at full impulse, sir."

"Thirty minutes."

He smiles, a twitchy smile but a genuine one. "It'll be a relief to have a Starfleet ship in orbit, Vice Admiral. Ready to talk to your quartermaster now. Godspeed."

The screen goes blank, comes back with the image of the planet. "I'm not sure atmosphere operation are advisable," Haught says.

"Well, very often we have to do stuff that isn't advisable. What's the problem?"

"I'm reading some odd chemical composition from the volcanic dust cloud." Haught's high forehead is furrowed in thought. "There are some heavy elements I didn't expect to see...."

Zazaru speaks up from the main science console; the soft-spoken chief science officer has been very quiet up to now. "The planet was surveyed briefly as a possible source of topaline ore, but the deposits were not considered sufficient for commercial exploitation. However, since topaline is often found near the planetary mantle -"

"Oh, of course," Haught interrupts. "Deposits blown out from deeper levels by the supervolcano. Makes sense."

"Glad to hear it." There is a certain amusement in the Trill scientist's soft brown eyes. "I'm reading something else, though, which is genuinely anomalous. Traces - just traces - of kironide. And an isotope, too, that I'm sure can't be native to the planet."

"Kironide?" Haught's eyebrows go up at that.

"In dangerous quantities?" I ask.

"Hard to tell." Kironide, in some circumstances, acts as a natural psionic amplifier. The problem is, even after two hundred years of study, no one is sure what the circumstances are. On the planet Platonius, it reliably imparts psychokinetic abilities to most humanoids... anywhere else, the results are a whole lot less reliable, and there are still no consistent theories as to why. Kironide dust in the air? That is one reason to be very, very careful.

"I don't understand about that isotope," Haught says.

"Niobium-91," says Zazaru. "In terms of the relative isotopic quantities on this particular planet, it is not something I would expect to find in any quantity... but there is a localized source reading, somewhere in the region of the Vulcan science team. The conclusion is obvious."

"It is?" Haught seems at a loss.

"Obviously," I take pity on him, "it must be what led the science team here in the first place. And, if it's not natural - well, draw your own conclusions."

"But Chara V has no native inhabitants..." says Haught.

"So," says Zazaru, "the likelihood is, it was brought from elsewhere. A spaceship. Possibly a long time ago, if my estimates of the radioactive decay chains are correct."

I frown. There are pieces of a puzzle, here, but it's a puzzle that's obstinately refusing to take shape. I crane around in my seat to look behind me, at where Commander Sirip is sitting, quietly, by a secondary security console. "Sirip, you're the nearest thing I've got to an expert on Vulcans... does any of this suggest anything at all to you?"

"Regrettably, no, sir," the Vulcan tac officer replies. "I can only offer the truism that, whatever reasons the scientists have for remaining in that location, it must be a compelling one. But nothing I have heard so far suggests any reason for the compulsion."

Well, I suppose it's too much to ask that he should know some bit of Vulcan lore that conveniently explains what they're up to. "Does the Chara system mean anything to you?" I look around the bridge. "Or anybody else, come to that."

"It is a system with habitable worlds, comparatively close to Vulcan," says Sirip. "It has been the subject of science missions before, naturally."

"I have a complete historical record," says Amiga.

"Of course you do," says Kophil. She smiles at him. I give it a few more months before she resprays herself in blue, bolts on a pair of antennae, and becomes my aunt by marriage. Perhaps I'm being simplistic, though.

"Unfortunately, nothing relevant seems to present itself," Amiga continues. "It is only a typical system, with no indigenous sentient forms, and no significant historical impact. Even the wars in this quadrant have, to date, only involved it peripherally."

"I have a sensor contact," Anthi announces suddenly, and every head turns towards her. "Something big, on an inbound vector to Chara V orbit. Trying to resolve it now...." Her eyes widen. "Sir, it's cloaked!"

"Yellow alert," I order. Can there be any good reason for a cloaked ship to be operating here? "Maintain course. Let's not let on we've spotted them."

"Maintaining course. Sir, I think - yes, they're decloaking."

"Put it on the screen. Maximum magnification - let's see what we've got."

One second, there is the empty starscape; the next, the stars shimmer, and a shape appears - the ugly winged bulk of a Romulan Scimitar, grey-green and massive.

"Weapons hot. Get me a read on that ship!"

"On it," says F'hon tersely. "Sir - incoming communication. They're hailing us."

I lean back in my command chair. "Let's have it."

The face that appears on the viewer is a harsh Romulan one, all sharp planes and angles, surmounted by iron-grey hair in an elaborate coil and braid, and with the coldest, lightest grey eyes I have ever seen. She looks at me with those icy eyes, and I sense a will behind them, a will and a purpose.

"Starfleet vessel. I am High Admiral Valikra, aboard the IRW Raven's Heart. You are no doubt at alert status. You may stand down. My mission is a peaceful one."

Stand down? I'll stand down in my own time. "You're a long way from Romulan territory, High Admiral. I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to specify your - mission."

"Naturally." Is there a hint of amusement in those eyes? "We have heard that some of our Vulcan brethren are in distress on the planet Chara V. We have come to offer them our unconditional assistance."
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,412
# 13
12-09-2013, 07:29 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by shevet View Post
OpenOffice Writer - should be able to turn all that stuff off by unchecking boxes in Tools>Autocorrect Options>Options tab for the dashes and Localized Options tab for the quotes. (Because, of course, different languages have different rules on quotes.)

I've been trying OpenOffice Writer myself, you see... and should have stuck to Notepad, probably! But never mind.
Thanks for the info. I knew about checking off boxes in Options in OOW, but didn't think of it terms of copy/paste text from OOW to STO website.

I like OOW and MSW, but frustrating that one can't designate another drive than C to install on. My C drive is an 60GB SSD and gets filled fast, so I tend to use my D drive instead (1.5TB HD; it's not that much slower, from what I can tell). You'd think programmers in 2013 would finally figure out that users just *might* want to install on something besides C drive. Some do, some still don't. For the latter, you'd think it was still 1990. Maybe I should send them a message typed in EDLIN.

Thanks for bringing back some of the main characters from "Fallout". And for adding Romulans to the mixture. You do a far better job of giving the Romulan view of things than I ever have. Like I said before, I don't mind being mediocre, provided authors like you and Starswordc keep producing stories and posting them at this website.

Last edited by philipclayberg; 12-09-2013 at 08:01 AM.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 572
# 14
12-09-2013, 01:00 PM
The door of the shelter opened, and T'Nir's heart leaped as she looked up. Stiak stood there, unwinding his dust-laden outer wrappings, his broad handsome face looking lined and weary. T'Nir went to him.

"Stiak." She extended her hand, index and middle fingers out. He touched her fingers with his own - but briefly, perfunctorily.

"What is the situation?" Stiak asked. His voice was hoarse. It was the dust, of course, they were all choking on the dust - and he was spending longer outside than any of them -

"Team three is accounted for. Three dead, two seriously injured. Stileg is demanding fresh action. I have repaired the communicator and arranged for a supply drop from the IDRA ship. This will take place at twenty-three hundred hours tonight. A drone canister has been launched from their ship on a descent trajectory - our people are ready to receive it."

"That is satisfactory. Are there further demands that we evacuate the site?"

"The Andorians and the planetary authorities advocate it most strongly. Stiak - most of our people are in agreement with them." She strove to keep her voice from shaking. "They question the logic of your decisions. I am finding it increasingly hard to overrule them."

"You must," said Stiak. "You must. We cannot leave now. I have made - a discovery. I believe it to be significant." He rummaged among his clothes, brought something out from the folds, and handed it to T'Nir.

It was metallic, heavy; a box with a curving top, and odd, fluid-looking script across one surface. T'Nir caught her breath. "A Hegemony data recorder?"

Stiak nodded. "And intact. There are others. I believe the Hegemony ship landed - roughly where we thought - and was dismantled to set up a base. They stored vital materials - including these records - underground. Then, at some point, a tectonic shift closed off the underground chambers -"

"And the current upheavals reopened them again?" T'Nir stared at the object in her hand. "This is a major discovery, indeed. You are correct, these objects must be preserved before another disaster conceals or destroys them. You are acting correctly." She felt a great sense of relief. "I shall direct the others to assist you in the recovery of the items and the recording of the site."

Stiak shook his head. "That will not be practical. The access into the chambers is too narrow, the working space too limited, for more than one person to work within it. I must accomplish this task single-handedly. You must prepare the others to work on the artifacts I retrieve. Start with that one." He indicated the box. "This will prove an excellent test of our hypotheses regarding Hegemony data storage protocols. If we can retrieve the information, a whole chapter of history will be open to us."

"The others will be convinced of the importance of this. I believe that they will now understand the logic of this situation."

"I am gratified. We must not forget the sacrifices that our teams have made, T'Nir." For the first time since the eruption, there seemed to be a light in his eyes. I am glad to see it, choice of my heart, she said silently to herself.

Then the subspace radio warbled shrilly for attention. T'Nir turned to it in an attitude of exasperation. She snapped on the audio channel. "This is T'Nir at Research Station Chara V One."

"Research station, this is the Starfleet shuttlecraft Walt Whitman." A new voice, one T'Nir didn't recognize: brisk and harsh, with distinctively Andorian tones. "I'm Vice Admiral Tylha Shohl, assisting with the relief effort. We are on a descent path to your location now. I have with me medical supplies and personnel... and, also, High Admiral Valikra of the Romulan Imperial navy, who is here to offer assistance."

"Assistance is welcome," said T'Nir, "but I must emphasize that we do not require transportation at this time. Our work is of paramount importance and must continue. Also, I would suggest that you do not risk your shuttlecraft in the current atmospheric conditions. The turbulence, and the mineral dust, create an unacceptable hazard to aerial operations. I strongly recommend that you abort your descent."

"Don't worry about us," the Andorian's voice replied. "Whitman is a very special shuttle, more than able to handle the dust storms. I'm coming in, to provide aid and assess the situation. I gather the High Admiral has the same sort of idea."

"Hold, please, Walt Whitman." T'Nir muted the channel. "I do not see how we can prevent them from landing."

"It is not necessary to prevent them from landing," said Stiak, "only to prevent them from interfering with the work." He was shrugging his protective wrappings back into place. "Deal with them. And inform the others. I am returning to work in the underground chambers."

"To recover more data recorders?"

"Yes. And perhaps - there may be something more. I have not yet explored fully. And I must." And, with that, he was gone.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 572
# 15
12-10-2013, 01:05 PM
Tylha

The clouds are vast and churning, lit both by the sun from above and the fire below. The initial blast of the supervolcano has subsided into a dull fierce glow, from the pooling magma that covers everything within a hundred kilometres of the eruption site. The falling dust and ashes will, eventually, cover everything on this Continent Beta, to a depth of at least fifteen centimetres - more, here, so close to the blast.

Walt Whitman's sleek black shape knifes through the clouds without so much as a whisper of resistance, and inside her cockpit, everything is eerie calm.

"The devastation is considerable," Valikra says from the seat beside me.

"I've seen worse," I mutter. She turns towards me.

"Really? Where?"

"Bercera IV."

She nods, accepting my answer... somewhat grudgingly, it seems. In person, she is even more forbidding and impressive than she looked on the screen. She is tall, nearly as tall as me, and instead of the gaudy Imperial uniforms with their thick quilted fabrics, she wears a simple grey tunic and trousers, with a white cloak pinned together with a silver brooch at her left shoulder. The brooch takes the form of a Romulan raptor, and its eyes, picked out with tiny rubies, are the only note of colour in her outfit.

"The Vulcan appeared concerned for our safety," she says. "You are sure this vessel is reliable?"

"Absolutely. The Walt Whitman is rated for environments a lot worse than this. Besides, since it was built in the 29th century, it can hardly be destroyed in the 25th, can it?"

Valikra sniffs. "I find your logic specious."

She's going to be fun. "In any case, the Whitman is the best chance we've got - unless you want to ride down ballistic with the supply drop from IDRA." The relief agency ship is a converted freighter with Starfleet surplus science mission pods attached to its aft cargo modules; as an atmosphere craft, it's hopeless. Corodrev has, however, put together the unmanned supply drop, a module simply fired like a shell from the main ship, descending slowly but surely, with a few RCS thrusters to guide it safely to its touchdown point. "Your Tiercel shuttles can't cope with this heavy-element dust any more than my standard type eights, and transporter operations... don't even bear thinking about."

"Possibly we can set up pattern enhancers near the Vulcan's base."

"Possibly. I'd want to test them thoroughly first. Once you've seen one scramble case, you never want to see another one."

"Scramble case?"

"Reintegration failure."

"I see." She looks at me disdainfully. "Your terminology is imprecise. You should rectify that."

I get the feeling this is going to be a long trip. "Pulverized topaline ore," she says, reflectively. "Normally, so valuable, now such an inconvenience. Your Ferengi must be distressed by this."

"Oh," says Klerupiru from behind us, "if I was a true Ferengi, I'd be hanging out of the shuttle with my mouth open, now."

"Quite," says Valkira, in a quelling tone. Any efforts at humour are to be firmly squelched, it seems. Unless that crack about Ferengi was meant as a joke. I turn around to look at Klerupiru and Samantha Beresford, in the rear seats. "You two comfortable back there?"

"Pretty much," says Samantha. She looks austerely at me through her data monocle. "We should be more cramped, in fact - I wanted to bring more medical supplies, remember?"

"Your physician is, I hope, competent to work on Vulcans and Vulcanoids," says Valikra.

"Dr. Beresford's more than competent on a whole range of different species," I say.

"Though of course I'm most used to glueing pig-headed Andorians back together," says Samantha.

"That should not prove necessary," says Valikra. "Assuming, of course, that we traverse the planetary troposphere without incident."

I don't think any of us is going to get a rise out of the High Admiral. It seems a peculiar sort of rank, too, though I don't know what ranks are held in the various shuddering remnants of the Romulan Empire these days. She seems to be utterly humourless and utterly dedicated to... something. Some inner vision. And it's one that she's fanatical about, clearly. I have very bad memories of Romulan fanatics.

The timeship doesn't so much as shiver as she dives deeper into the clouds, the roiling vapours parting at the mere touch of that ultra-sleek matte black hull. "All readings nominal, holding course and speed," I say. Valikra gives a minimal nod. I have a feeling I might have to disabuse her of the notion that I'm her personal chauffeur. That air of absolute authority - that is a front for something, usually an underlying insecurity. But, of course, any Romulan has a lot to feel insecure about.

I need to know more about her - why she is here, what she is fanatical about. Of course, I could always just ask her....

"Why are you here, High Admiral?"

"Your shuttlecraft is the only vehicle capable of reaching the science team quickly. It was necessary for me to... hitch a ride, I believe is the term."

"I didn't mean here in the shuttle. Why are you in this system?"

"Our Vulcan brethren need help."

"And they'd get it without you. I'm here, in fact, because your Vulcan brethren have been turning help away.... You know a Federation relief effort would reach them, you must appreciate that Federation teams can do anything your people can. So why are you here? Why aren't you helping your own people?"

She turns and looks at me, sharply, intently, with those icy eyes. "I am," she says.

"All right, Vulcans and Romulans are basically the same species, fair enough. But why these Vulcans, when there are so many Romulans in need, closer to home?"

"You have no conception," she says, "of where my home is.... In any event, I am helping Romulans everywhere by helping Vulcans. Or at least, I will be, if you will kindly permit it."

"Would you mind explaining how?"

"Your instruments are registering turbulence." She points. The autopilot is handling it well - I suspect the Walt Whitman's systems are several orders cleverer than me, in fact - and there's no real need to make a trivial course correction. I make it anyway. Outside, the dust clouds are wrapped around the shuttle, enveloping us in a roiling orange murk. It's no harder to see through than Valikra's manner, though.

"So you do mind explaining how. Very well, then."

"People will be helped. That is all that the Federation cares about, is it not?"

"No. Not by a long way. For that matter, the Federation doesn't go about indiscriminately helping people - ever heard of the Prime Directive?"

"Yes, of course. What looks like help from one angle may be hindrance, or unwarrantable interference, from another, and so the Federation does not intervene unless the issues are clear-cut - to the Federation's satisfaction."

"We never claim to be perfect."

"Very wise of you." She stares into the murk beyond the viewport. "I seek a rapprochement with the Vulcans. It is necessary to extend a hand of friendship." She turns to glare at me. "Your next remark will include some reference to D'Tan and Mol'Rihan. Please, spare me."

"Very well." So, she wants the Romulan Star Empire - or whatever fragment of it she represents - to make friends with the Vulcans? Interesting. Somehow, though, I doubt whether the High Admiral is going to be good at making friends.

Maybe she's different with Vulcans. Come to think of it... she'd better be.
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,412
# 16
12-10-2013, 03:03 PM
Shevet: I honestly didn't think you could improve on the high quality of "Fallout" ... until I started reading "Heresy". I really, really, really hope you'll build up a series of stories, including these two. I want to read them all.
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 572
# 17
12-11-2013, 02:16 PM
The scream of the descending shuttlecraft cut through the incessant whispering of the dust-laden wind. T'Nir sighed, wound her protective fabric about her face, and stepped out of the shelter.

About a dozen others had also left their domed huts, standing, shrouded in wrappings, in the light fluffy dust that covered everything like a grim snowfall. T'Nir looked upwards, shielding her eyes from falling dust, and saw the shuttle. Not a standard Starfleet model - well, of course, it could not be, in the circumstances, she thought. It was sleek and black, shaped like a leaf, or the point of a spear. It circled the encampment, once, before spiralling in to land by the largest intact dome. T'Nir went forward to meet it. The black material of the hull seemed to repel the dust, as if it spurned the world around it.

The exit ramp hissed down, and the shuttle's occupants disembarked. T'Nir bristled at the sight of the Starfleet uniforms - a Ferengi and a human in science division markings, the human carrying a case with medical symbols; behind them came a tall, lanky Andorian in operations colours, the insignia of a Vice Admiral at her throat. Shohl, then. All three were wearing breather masks and transparent visors, protection from the dust. Behind them -

T'Nir blinked. The woman in grey and white was clearly Vulcanoid, but did not carry herself like a Vulcan - then, she noted the raptor brooch. Romulan? Here? The woman wore a breather mask of a different design, and she moved -

She moved like the shuttle, T'Nir thought. With a casual disdain for the disordered world around her. She trod in the dust, and it was truly dust for her, beneath her notice.

"Who commands here?" the Romulan demanded.

T'Nir stepped forwards. "Director Stiak is in overall command," she said, "but he is unavailable at present, being engaged in necessary work. I am T'Nir. I have been deputized to attend to you."

The Romulan arched her eyebrows. "We have medical supplies in the shuttle," said the Andorian, "and Dr. Beresford here is anxious to get to work on your casualties. Commander Klerupiru is an expert technician, and hopefully she and I can help with your mechanical difficulties. So, point us in the right direction, and we'll get to work." She looked vaguely quizzical, behind the breather. "I must admit, we're all... curious to know what work it is, that's so absorbing you can't take a break from it."

"There is disagreement on that matter," Stileg's voice came from behind T'Nir. The man shouldered past her, heading towards the shuttle. "We have seven dead and six seriously injured from our initial complement of thirty. Supplies are critical - most of our stores were destroyed in the initial incident, and much of what survived has become unusable due to the dust contamination. It is the judgment of many of us that evacuation is needed."

The human, Dr. Beresford, came out to meet Stileg. "Let me have a look at that forehead," she said.

"There are others in far worse need than I, doctor," said Stileg. "Let me show you the way. Is there other equipment that I may carry for you?"

"Let's get it," said the human, and led Stileg to the shuttle. T'Nir felt obscurely angry, sternly repressed the emotion. It was not unreasonable, she thought, that Stileg should consider the medical matters urgent. But he should have respected her authority -

The Andorian suddenly shouted, "Brace yourselves!"

For an instant, T'Nir thought she had gone mad. Then, the ground shuddered beneath them. The Romulan stumbled and nearly fell; the Andorian reached out a steadying hand. Her legs were spread, braced, ready for the shock. The Romulan shook off the helping hand. "How did you -?"

"Can't fool these antennae," said the Andorian. Of course, thought T'Nir, the sensitivity of the Andorians was well-documented -

"Let me take you to the main workshop," she said, "and I will explain the situation, as well as I am able. Director Stiak will give you more complete information, when he returns." If he returns, she thought, and clamped her mind down hard against that thought. But if he was underground - when that shock came -

"That is an excellent idea," said the Romulan. "We will go. Since Vice Admiral Shohl has not seen fit to introduce me, I will inform you that I am High Admiral Valikra of the Romulan Star Empire. We are engaged in a number of humanitarian ventures across the quadrant, and are cooperating with the relief effort here." She smiled, thinly. "I hope we will be able to be of service to you."
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,412
# 18
12-11-2013, 04:30 PM
(smiles) Oh, Shevet, you haven't changed a bit. Teasing your readers with just enough info to make us impatient for not just more, but for the rest of the story (which I hope will be even longer than the last one).
Captain
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 572
# 19
12-12-2013, 08:45 AM
Ronnie

"Sir, we're receiving a distress signal," says the comms ensign.

"Whoo!" I say. "All right! Let's saddle up the white chargers and ride over the hills, then."

"Sir?"

Nobody in this century has any poetry in their souls. "Lay in an intercept course, maximum warp, and signal that we're en route to assist. Is that all right, or should I sign something in triplicate too?"

"Course laid in," says Tallasa.

"Warp drive ready," says Ada, and "Warp drive ready at your command!" says Ahepkur, and glares at the android.

"Play nice, kids," I say. "Let's go. Face-ache. Any details? What brand of duct tape are we going to need?"

"Uh," says the ensign. "Vulcan merchant vessel, SS Lyrane Star, signal says they have hit a subspace rupture and lost warp drive. No casualties."

"Good. That green blood stains like you wouldn't believe."

"Scanning for subspace anomalies in the area," says Saval. I don't think it's possible to offend Saval, and heaven knows, if it was, I would have done it by now. "Recommend we approach with caution."

"He wants caution, I want carrion! - oh, all right, take your point. No good blowing out our own engines on the way to a rescue. Besides, it'd be bloody embarrassing."

I settle back in my command chair and enjoy the feeling of my ship leaping forwards, towards - well, OK, it's not much, but at least it's a chance to be useful. Despite my tendency to enjoy all the pew-pew stuff, the fact is, Starfleet justifies its existence by helping people more than by shooting them. The adrenaline rush of combat is all very well - though I suspect I enjoy it a lot more than most people -

*/*---violence is destructive and inefficient---differences of belief can all be subsumed within the collective---collective function is preferable to individual conflict*/*

Enough with the propaganda, Two of Twelve. Anyway. Grateful Vulcan faces will be a prettier sight than hostile Klingon ones. Maybe today will be a good day.

"Sensor contact," Saval reports. "Consistent with a commercial freighter."

"Recommend we prep engineering to fabricate standard drive components," says Ada.

"That order has already been issued!" Ahepkur snaps. "It is part of standard procedure!"

"That is not normal practice," the android says, in a prim tone of voice that is liable to get her violently disassembled in the next thirty seconds. "Starfleet procedures -"

"We use modified procedures," I say, loudly. "We've been in too many front-line situations where we've had to repair damaged ships quickly. So Ahepkur's made sure that our guys don't wait to be asked. Just like the medics do, in a disaster situation."

"I see," says Ada. "That is reasonable. I withdraw my objections."

"Anyway," I say, before Ahepkur does or says something she will regret, but Ada will regret a whole lot more, "do we have any idea what sort of damage they've taken? Saval, anything interesting on your scans? Swirly things, that sort of stuff?"

"Reading some residual subspace disruption," says Saval. "Within the tolerances of our warp coils, however. I suspect the freighter's course has intersected a subspace inclusion which has dissipated violently. The remaining energy surges are -" He breaks off. His eyes become intent on something. "I have an anomalous contact."

"A what?" I sit up straight. Anomalous. That's a very Starfleet sort of word. Anything we don't immediately recognize, we call it an anomaly. I remember a Starfleet doctor, way back when, who used to get very cross about that sort of thing.

"Consistent with...." Saval's eyes widen. "Sir, it could be a cloaked ship on an approach vector."

"Tactical. Weapons hot, shields up. Oh, yeah, yellow alert and all that good stuff. That's Starfleet procedure, right?"

"Possible contact, confirmed," says Jhemyl. Tallasa's little sister is riding the main weapons console, and like all Andorians, she'd love a chance to play with it. "Whatever it is, it's on an intercept course to the freighter."

"OK. Well, shall we play a nice guessing game where we try to come up with innocent reasons why a cloaked ship should be coming up on a crippled freighter? Tell you what, some of you get on with that, while I go to red alert." Actually, I hate red alert. Too damn noisy.

"Contact decloaking," says Saval. He frowns. "Well outside weapons range of the freighter, though."

"Contact identified," says Jhemyl. "Transponder codes say... IRW Callasthae. Mogai-class heavy warbird."

"Yay. Skeet. Comms, order them to, I dunno, the usual stuff. Stand down, heave to, shake it all about, that sort of thing."

"They're hailing us, sir," says the ensign.

"OK, jaw-jaw is better than war-war. On screen." I affect not to notice Tallasa's mutter of "that's not your usual line, sir."

The Romulan */*species 3783*/* - I never did understand why the Romulans get a separate species number - the Romulan commander is a thin-faced, mournful looking character, tricked out in full Imperial uniform. "I am Subcommander Takalus of the IRW Callasthae," he says, in a voice as doleful as his face. "We are responding to a distress call from the Vulcan vessel SS Lyrane Star. We are here to offer assistance."

Well, that's a new one. I only have one eyebrow, so I raise it as hard as I can. "Vice Admiral Veronika Grau, USS Falcon," I say. "Call me Ronnie, everyone does. Um. If it's not a dumb question, how come you were approaching under cloak?"

"Standard practice for operations outside Romulan territory," Takalus replies, promptly. Oh, those standard practices... I suppose it's good to know Starfleet isn't the only outfit afflicted by them. "You will notice, I hope, that we decloaked well outside weapons range of the freighter - to avoid any misunderstandings. Our engineers are standing ready to offer assistance now. Your scans should confirm that our shields are down and our weapons are not powered."

"Unlike mine," I say. "You're a long way outside Romulan territory."

"I am under orders to patrol this area and render assistance to any of our Vulcan brethren who may require it. We picked up the distress call, and proceeded to this location."

"Sir," the comms ensign speaks up, "I have the captain of the Vulcan ship on a separate channel."

"What the hell. Patch him in. Let's have a three-way chat."

The image on the screen splits, the face of a middle-aged, rather plump Vulcan appearing on the left. "Captain Sinuk of the Lyrane Star," he announces himself. I can see his eyes flicking from one side to the other. No doubt deciding who he's better off with, the Romulan or the crazy cyborg.

"This is your lucky day, Captain," I say. "Not one, but two, knights on white horses riding to your rescue. Oh, all right, they tell me I shouldn't be fanciful. USS Falcon standing ready to assist, and, well, it seems the IRW Callasthae is... also standing ready to assist."

"I am gratified," says the Vulcan, "though, I admit, somewhat perplexed."

"You and me both, brother."

"We are here to offer our help," says Takalus.

"The Romulan imperial state," says Sinuk, "is not, I regret to say, noted for its philanthropy."

"I appreciate that," says Takalus. "My orders are, I suppose, that that should change."

"In respect of Vulcans," I say.

"The Vulcans are our estranged brethren," says Takalus. "My orders are to extend a hand of friendship, where it is possible."

"Well," I say, "I guess it's up to you, Captain Sinuk. We're about a half hour further away from you than the Callasthae, but we're happy to help if you want us. Or we can team up with the Romulans and maybe get your engines sorted out quicker. Or, I guess, you could hang around and wait for some helpful Tholians or Breen to happen by?"

"It is not logical to refuse aid," says Sinuk. "However, in my judgment, your Starfleet vessel will more quickly be able to fabricate and install compatible components than a Romulan ship."

"That is probably correct," says Takalus. "Is there any other way in which we may assist? Do you have casualties requiring treatment, for instance?"

"No," says Sinuk, "we were fortunate in that respect. All that is needed is the replacement of some components in our warp drive, which we are unable to fabricate ourselves. I will transmit the specifications for our requirements over the data channel."

I turn to Ahepkur. "Get a look at it, and tell me if there's anything we'd have trouble with."

"I will assure you now, sir," she growls, "there will be no difficulty."

"Then," Sinuk says, "we accept, with gratitude, the USS Falcon's offer of assistance."

"Noted," says Takalus. "I will remain in the vicinity - decloaked - in case some unforeseen difficulty arises. Unless Vice Admiral Grau decides this is not permissible?"

"Um," I say. "Don't see why not. We're not at war, after all. Oh, yeah, stand down from red alert, turn those phasers off before someone gets hurt."

"Aye, aye, sir," says Tallasa.

"All required components are in the fabrication queue already," says Ahepkur, with deep satisfaction.

"Great. Super. Should be cooked by the time we're in transporter range, Captain Sinuk. We'll have you on your way again in two shakes of a lamb's tail. Maybe one shake, if Ahepkur's feeling frisky. Or two shakes if it's a hyperactive lamb -" I have a feeling that metaphor's getting out of hand. I shut up.

"Very well. We will make preparations for your arrival. Lyrane Star out." Sinuk's face vanishes, leaving me looking at the Romulan.

Romulan faces. When I first ran into them, they were the ultimate faceless enemy... we fought an entire war with them, without once setting eyes on them. Now, I can see one, and he's real. He's not some silent, anonymous killer out in the stars... he's an ordinary flesh and blood being like me, and he's sitting there in a ship not so much unlike mine, and he's offering his help -

In a pig's eye he is. What's his game?
Captain
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 1,412
# 20
12-12-2013, 09:42 AM
If the Breen were involved, I'd say you'd have quite a nice Cold War going. Now where's a Cardassian Missile Crisis when you need one?
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