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Everything posted by Chen

  1. Tried it in school because of TNG. Drinking it black was weird, but that was how Captain Picard did it, so that was how I had to do it. And it was good! I love Earl Grey - it's great before bedtime, and I now sometimes have it with milk, without milk, or with lemon (which is particularly nice!). Recommend!
  2. ((Earth - Star Fleet Academy - Near the shore)) ::DeBarres was sitting on a bench near the bay, she put down her PADD and looked out at the water. It had been a good couple of weeks at the academy. She had skipped her 3rd year cadet classes and was now ranked as a 4th year cadet. The two years as a crew member and her work on the Victory and Vigilant had convinced the brass that she would just be wasting her time spending her third year with her classmates. Not that she even considered them her classmates. She had spent most of her academy class time via subspace and serving in the engineering department.:: ::She had far more practical experience aboard a starship then probably the entire 3rd year class combined. Any ways being on Earth wasn't a picnic. She missed deep space, as she had spend the vast majority of her life aboard a ship of one type or another. Most of her time extra time these days was taking tests to stay out of classes. Sure there were some required classes she had to take, but with her experience getting out of a lot of them had been not too difficult.:: ::She had learned that most of her crew from the Victory had transferred to the USS Gorkon. The sounds of the seagulls snapped her back from the day dream of deep space and back to the here and now.:: DeBarres: What test is next? ::She picked up the PADD and looked it see that it was her final exam for her piloting skills test.:: DeBarres: Good grief. I can pilot a balky freighter into a repair facility without a scratch. ::Charlotte had been raised on the long haul space freighter and had done everything at one time or other aboard the ship.:: ::She paused for a moment.:: DeBarres: Alight, one little scratch. Any ways the starboard thrusters were out. ::She started to review the requirements of the test and it was important that everything was done the "Federation" way.:: DeBarres: I think a bit more holotime... just to make sure. ::She pressed to the PADD and made a reservation in a holodeck to work out any kinks that might crop up. Just then a small white spot appeared on the bench next to her. There was a noise from one of the sea gulls hovering over her looking for some food.:: ::She looked at the bird dropping and then up at the sea gull.:: DeBarres: Go away! ::Waving her hand at the bird.:: Wonderful, just wonderful.::Dryly.:: Give me a star ship any day. This is for the birds. Got to finish up and get away from here. ::She looked away from the ugly bird dropping and back out to the San Francisco bay.:: (PNPC) Charlotte DeBarres4th yearCadet SIMmed by Eerie Serial number # A238803E10
  3. ((Rosek's Quarters, USS Gorkon)) ::Lael was browsing through her message inbox when she noticed one from Janel. Eager to read it, she selected the message and entered the command that would allow her to view it.:: =========================================== Dear Lael, How are you settling in aboard the Gorkon and what have you been up to lately? I’m really enjoying it here on the Darwin and am catching up with old friends as well as making new ones. I helped the medical relief crew aboard Deep Space 6 while they had their second annual shuttle race. I thought it would mainly be a case of tending to the drunken mob after the results were announced, or the odd bumps and bruises of those fighting over lost bets and the like. I never expected that someone would lose their life or that one of my very own colleagues would be involved in a crash and in need of our care. Darwin crewed teams did really well with the race though placing first and second with their shuttles so I guess there’s a silver lining. I am missing you though and wish you could be here. I hope you’re settling in well with your new crew and look forward to hearing from you soon. Best regards, Janel ============================================== ::She frowned. She'd heard about the crash second and third hand, mostly from articles by the FNS. Until his message, she'd wondered if Janel had been involved and perhaps been the one killed. They still weren't releasing the name of the individual who had died.:: ============================================== Dear Janel, I'm sorry to hear about your colleague. I'd read a little about the crash, but the FNS still isn't saying much. It's been pretty routine here. They've got us on a course for the Menthar Corridor. From what I understand its part of the Astrofori initiative to build positive relations with the Cardassians and the Breen, though it makes me nervous that the Corridor shares a border with Tholian space. As I'm sure you remember, our last encounter with them was anything but pleasant. The crew has been nice enough and I've even developed a somewhat friendly rapport with Ensign Orrey, one of the Medical Officers on board. He's easy to talk to and has been kind enough to lend an ear when I needed one. I've taken to spending my off hours with Ensign Goodwell and a few of his friends to keep my mind off things. It's been a tough adjustment, but I'm getting there. I still wake up in the middle of the night half expecting to find you next to me. While Maggie, my new puppy companion, is good for snuggling, I wish she was you. I'm glad to hear things are getting better for you. I know you were in a difficult place for a bit there with all of the crap that rained down on us. I'm working on a little surprise that will hopefully make the time apart a little more bearable. I'm studying the Darwin's crew manifest everyday and I have a few friends up the ladder keeping their ears open for news of Engineering or HCO positions available. With any luck, I'll be joining you soon. I love and miss you desperately, Lael ============================================== ​::She then tapped the attachment link and laughed as a picture of Janel wearing his ever-charming grin popped up on her monitor. It was a rare treat to see Janel smile, especially as of late. Saving the file to her desktop, she then downloaded it to the electronic frame of holophotos beside her monitor.:: ::Pausing, she snapped one of herself wearing her sexy bedroom eyes and attached it, then sending the message.::​ -- LT JG Lael Rosek HCO Officer USS Gorkon I238110RH0
  4. I thought the camaraderie between the DS9 crew was amazing. They were all involved in each other's personal lives somehow and it seemed like they were a crew of friends just as much as they were a crew of Starfleet officers and Bajoran militiamen. It's pretty hard not to pick a pair of characters and find some kind of solid link between them. I think this is epitomised by the episode Badda Bing, Badda Bang - yes, it would have been inconvenient if the crew had lost access to Vic Fontaine's club, but they weren't fighting for the club so much as they were each other - that was their place and they weren't going to let each other down!
  5. Ally's not the only one having a giggle fit. I bet everyone's jealous that their character doesn't double as a hoopla board!
  6. I have to declare my undying gratitude to TOS for the fact that whenever I read the word Horta the words "NO KILL I!" flash before my eyes!!!
  7. ((USS Darwin, Deck 1, Captain’s Ready Room)) :: Captain Renos had gone directly back to nir office after the party. Ne was technically off shift but there was a matter than ne had been meaning to take care of for some time. Unfortunately the demands of their last mission had kept nem busy and Iy deserved an answer sooner rather than later, particularly since ne’d contributed so well to the Asavii expedition. Even when things had taken unexpected turns and become difficulty, Iy had not complained but had stuck in there and helped as much as possible. :: :: The truth was, Renos could have granted Iy asylum right away. Ne had the discretionary power to do so – but that didn’t mean ne should. The process had been longer when ne’d gone through it. There was no Captain or other authority waving a magic wand after a single happy conversation to make nir problems disappear. Ne didn’t want to make Iy wait for the sake of waiting but the fact was any criminal could come crying to the Federation and provide a sob story designed to gain sympathy and allow one escape from nit actions. :: :: No. Renos had needed to be sure that Iy was being genuine and not seeking an easy escape from justice. Such a thing could not be determined simply by taking everything at face value. It had taken a few hours but ne’d used contacts back at Starbase 118 to very quietly put out feelers. Had Iy been wanted for something other than mere deviance Renos felt confident it would have been uncovered. In short everything was coming together to nir satisfaction so Renos put through the paper work and was looking forward to giving Iy the good news. :: Renos: oO I wonder if Iy has considered what ne wants to do next? Oo :: As a Federation citizen ne would be free to go anywhere within the Federation, settle down and find work. If ne wanted to be a potter at the bottom of the Bolian ocean, ne could go right ahead. The deviant captain was listening to a FNS bulletin about the recent scandal before the Presidential State of the Federation address when ne received an incoming transmission on a secured, non-Federation channel. :: :: Ne recognised the caller immediately, what surprised nem was that they were contacting nem in this way despite being advised against it. The J’naii looked unimpressed. Whatever this was – it had better be important. :: Renos: I assume this is important? Keris: Donghae sank. :: In other words their safehouse was no longer safe. Probably burned to the ground. That was a blow and ne knew not to try and make contact there again, to do so would put nem at risk. Renos really wanted to ask what had happened and get more details but couldn’t. This channel was secure but ne wasn’t prepared to risk it. :: Renos: I hear you. Sad news. Anything more? Keris: Only this – 31 were lost in the incident. :: 31. That was the codename for a mentee ne had been helping. Renos’s eyes immediately drifted towards the yellow Daruma sat nearby. Ne did not want to believe what ne was hearing. :: Renos: Lost? Keris: Permanently. :: Sorrow etched on nir features was echoed in those facing nir. Ne covered nir mouth with fingertips and allowed nir shoulders to sag. It would be easy to feel disheartened and defeated and Renos was deeply saddened to hear another life had been claimed in the fight for existence. It couldn’t be in vain and if anything Renos was more determined to be able to help nir comrades. :: Renos: I’m sorry. Keris: As are we all. I must take my leave. Renos: Be safe. :: They exchanged a look and gesture before disconnecting. The conversation had taken less than a minute to complete and might have appeared curt and cold to a bystander but it was anything but. Renos had seen the pain in Keris’s eyes and had been profoundly upset by the news. Ne picked up the small Daruma and took it to the sofa by the side of nir office. Leaning back on the seat ne regarded it. :: Renos: What do I do with you? :: Ne had never had a Daruma doll – a goal that ne could not complete before. With the passing of 31 – Setsuko, J’naii who self-identified as female, ne would never be able to fulfil nir goal to help nem escape to the Federation. Usually Renos would set a goal and paint one eye on the Daruma, then paint the other eye in once it was completed, then burn it in a special ceremony before starting a new one. This one would never be complete. Setsuko had died because she had identified as having a gender and the Government and general populace thought her ill, a deviant and in need of correction for it. Who would remember her now? Renos refused to forget and keeping the Daruma would serve to remind nem of the ones that didn’t make it. :: :: Ne got some paint and very carefully painted a tear coming from the eye that had previously been painted in. The other eye would never be painted in. :: Renos: ::To the Daruma:: May you now get the peace you never had in life. :: It was a day of much happiness, sadness and reflection. You couldn’t time these things. More than ever Renos wanted some quiet time to relax and to take this new information in. Ne tapped nir badge, to invite one more to join the small group headed to the Spa. :: Renos: =/\= Renos to Ensign Mpeba. =/\= Mpeba: =/\= Sir? =/\= Renos: =/\= A small group of us are headed to the Spa to relax. Are you interested in coming along? =/\= Mpeba: =/\= It would be my pleasure, sir. When should I meet you. =/\= =========================================================== Captain Renos - Commanding Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A Also simming: Lt JG Tarna, Medical Officer, USS Victory NCC-362447 FWPA Co-Facilitator | Publicity Team Facilitator Contact: renos@starbase118.net ===========================================================
  8. ((Bistro, Promenade, Deep Space 6)) ::Settled in at a cozy little table outside a quaint, quiet restaurant, Ren Rennyn's nerves were finally beginning to calm, despite the day's strange events.:: ::It helped to talk about what had been happening to him, and he was lucky to have found a wonderful listener.:: Rennyn: So there I was walking out of a shop, carrying a padd with my bill of sale. I managed to snag the driver coils Mpeba wanted, plus a laundry list of other parts for the race entry, all at a price I could afford. The project's off to a great start. The equipment's varied on a galactic scale - Cardassian, Ferengi, Romulan even. Some of it's out of date. But I know Mpeba can work with it. ::He paused, but when the other man said nothing, Ren continued.:: Rennyn: So there I was. I was glancing over the list of what I'd just bought, double checking the delivery schedule they'd promised, when I looked up and I saw him in the distance. Sovak. Right here on the Promenade. I'd know that falsely logical goofball mug anywhere. I called out to him. I swear it was him! But when I chased him through the crowd, I couldn't find him. I thought I was crazy. I mean, I think about him all the time. Like I told you, I've known him for years, and we finally almost had something going, before I transferred to Darwin. He didn't even say goodbye. He took off for Vulcan to reboot his logic functions, or whatever unemotional robotic nonsense he goes in for now. Again. It's like every time we admit our feelings for each other, he decides he needs to go back to kohlinar, and purge it all out of himself. It's frustrating. Frankly, I'm angry about it, and when I do see him one of these days, I am telling you, he's in for an earful. ::Before he could get too fired up about it, Ren took the last calming bite of his dessert. He'd tried a Bolian seaweed and kelp salad for lunch. His mouth had worked up and down mechanically at it, reminding him of being back home in Arnmere, watching the livestock chew. He gagged a little, but forced himself to swallow the slimy green mess. The aftertaste of just one bite threatened to be with him for a while. It had taken two decadent chocolate desserts to wash it down.:: Rennyn: So then, I went to one of the theaters on deck 59. I figured I'd just relax and take my mind completely out of my troubles with a holovid. They showed this cheesy old Earth movie, Short Circuit, about a robot who comes to life and makes friends. They showed it at the Academy once. Sovak loved Short Circuit. So I'm here on Deep Space 6, watching Short Circuit, thinking about Sovak, and there, a few rows in front of me, I swear to you, it was him. Even from behind, I'd know that haircut anywhere. The basic Vulcan cut, but a little wild and windblown, like a logical bad boy who just got off his logical mazerati to tell you you're fascinating and making out is the only logical course of action, and you're going to live long and prosper together forever! ::As Ren's voice reached a fever pitch, he noted his listener's quizzical, nearly disturbed look, and dialed it back a notch.:: Rennyn: I apologize. I'm getting a little carried away. ::He pushed back the dessert plate, finished with eating, but not with telling his story.:: Rennyn: I guess I got lost in my thoughts in the theater too, because when I looked again, he was gone. I don't know. I guess it wasn't him. But it got me thinking that maybe it's time for me to try reaching him on subspace. I should comm him, right? I mean, I should call and tell him how I feel. Of course, how I feel is that I'm angry with him, and telling him about will involve some amount yelling and hopping around and restraining the urge to throw a punch. So long distance comms are good, right? ::The bitter feelings growing in Ren's heart stemmed from his wish that it could have worked out between him and Sovak. Even Ren had enough logic in him to see that. Logic wasn't what Ren wanted now. Logic was what had taken Sovak away from him, just as they were making a start at a real relationship. If the feelings of anger and resentment coursing through his veins were illogical, then it was all the better that he welcomed them to stay, and to grow, and to prosper.:: Rennyn: How could he. Sitting on his mountaintop, heaping sadness on my heart in exchange for his own selfish emotionlessness. He pursued me, you know. That's how this all started. I haven't forgotten that, and maybe it's a little selfish of me, but I am honestly outraged by the whole thing. How can I not be? Hey, stop hovering. Have a seat. ::His listener stood his ground. Ren continued, more animated by the minute.:: Rennyn: You will be outraged too, when you hear this! So after all that, I finally worked up the courage to call him. I'm not sure I'd quite worked out the levelheadedness I needed, but I was getting there. So guess what. He's not on Vulcan! He left, with no forwarding location. Where did he go? I don't even know. Some distant corner of the galaxy I guess, where cold, emotionless robot people live. Not here! Because I saw him a third time, outside this very restaurant. And true to the way my day has been going, when I caught up to him, when I grabbed his shoulder and spun him around after running down the Promenade calling his name like a dang fool... it was some other Vulcan. I've seen Sovak everywhere today, but the truth is, I might never see him again. I guess that's alright. I guess that's for the best. Because if I ever see that smug emotionless face, the cute haircut will not make a difference. He's gonna get it. He's gonna get a hollering at like no one in the galaxy's ever heard before. He's gonna get told what for, why how, and how not, that's sure. There's nothing in the universe can hold back the angry rage building up in me because of that dang Vulcan, and it's coming for him, with bells, whistles, and possibly a string of obscenities that hasn't even been invented yet! ::The Trill's face was redder than any uniform he'd ever worn, and his spots stood out like little angry soldiers. He was riled up and hopping mad just thinking about it. When the day came he finally saw Sovak, that dang Vulcan was sure in for the business. For now, Ren forced himself to sit back, and breathe, and let his blood pressure cool down.:: ::The listener cleared his throat and shifted his weight impatiently. In a calmer tone following a nice, deep breath, Ren returned to his senses and apologized for doing all the talking.:: Rennyn: I am so sorry. Here I am going on about my problems. Didn't this start when you asked me a question? ::After so much patient listening, the man standing by Ren's table spoke up in a carefully measured tone.:: Waiter: Regular or decaf? Rennyn: Oh. ...Uhm.... ::Ren paled. He'd gone much farther off track than he'd thought.:: Waiter: I'll just bring you decaf. ::The waiter strolled away, leaving Ren to contemplate his own ridiculousness. He was so upset over Sovak that he apparently couldn't even function in public. Still though, all that talking had helped him work through some of his feelings. And his decision was made.:: ::If he ever saw Sovak again, he was going to let his anger out. Their relationship was over forever.:: ============================================ Lieutenant Commander Rendal Rennyn HCO Officer USS Darwin NCC-99312-A ============================================
  9. I shot with DS9 - I think they did a great job of giving us insight into the characters, took the brave step of making the doctor not particularly likeable (which then set up a fantastic evolution over the course of the 7 series) and the setting was absolute magic - there was no starship and everything was vulnerable - a fragile station guarding the wormhole to another part of the galaxy as well as a fragile world. Plus, Gul Dukat - best villain in Trek imo!
  10. Spot kicked all the but!
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  12. The phrase ‘dead of night’ certainly seemed apt. Were it not for the fact that Kellan’s young eyes had adjusted to the dark, he felt he could have been sneaking around a crypt. There was a presence in the atmosphere of Valo II that was reminiscent of the underworld somehow, a heavy, oppressive quality to the air that threatened to crush you with every passing minute. There was no hope here. No light. The young Bajoran scrambled over crumbling walls. The familiar tickle of brick-dust on his lungs brought with it the threat of a telltale cough that could wake one of the tumbledown ruin’s inhabitants. This part of the city was nothing more than a slum, filled with people like him. Food was scarce and money even more so. This wasn’t his first time sneaking food from here; the ruin’s inhabitants were thrifty and resourceful, a gang of street thugs with just enough influence that they were able to gather food as a tithe in addition to whatever else they were able to scavenge or pilfer from forays further into the city. They were known to Kellan, and he was known to them. In fact, their relationship to one another was well defined. They provided him food and, on the frequent occasions when they realised that, they also provided him pain. It was worth it, though. The clandestine operation always brought with it a chance of success. The truth was, Kellan’s hopes lay far from here and he wasn’t stealing for himself. The sixteen year-old thief had found someone he cared about in the slums. He had been led to him not by the Prophets, but by his own two feet, and when he’d encountered the old, gaunt beggar and offered him part of the food he had managed to gather during the day, he had suddenly felt and understood the meaning of kindness. In return, the man who he had come to know as Heril had given him quite the unique gift. During the hours they spent together, he taught him incredible things about the stars, about space and about the rules by which the world worked. It wasn’t much of a world, but to suddenly find himself beginning to understand it made Kellan hungry for knowledge. He’d had a basic education in the refugee camps but, once they had been broken up, he’d learned little else other than what was necessary to survive on the streets of this excuse for a slum. And so the never ending quest to sate two kinds of hunger had begun. The camps didn’t exist any more. They had been dispersed after the liberation of Bajor. Many of the Bajora had taken their chance to travel home but for some, such things were not possible. Kellan had no family to whom he could return. During his early years in the camps, he could remember being taken care of by a number of different families but inevitably the same thing would always happen and he would be passed along like an unwanted disease thanks to the amount of food a growing boy needed to consume. He was as thin as a rake now, all arms and legs as he had shot upwards but not outwards. His frame was ideal for nights like this, sneaking through exposed segments of foundations, into and out of cavities in walls, or in the narrow spaces between ceilings and floors. Heril’s concerns about his health usually fell on deaf ears, not because Kellan wasn’t worried himself, but because he couldn’t afford to think about it. Fortunately, it was easy to get the old man talking about what lay beyond the bitter world that they lived in. During those times, such things were easily forgotten. A floorboard creaked. He’d allowed himself to become too distracted and deviated a few inches from his normal path. He knew it was going to cost him and his suspicions were confirmed moments later when his sharp ears picked up three words that made his heart sink: “I’ll go check.” Immediately, he had to make a decision about whether or not to listen to his instincts, which were all telling him to run, or his stomach, which was telling him he had to stay. Heril had to be hungry, too. It was two days now since Kellan had managed to find anything for them. No-one else would look after the old man; without Kellan he might starve. His feet carried him quickly to a darkened recess despite their will to carry him to the nearest window. With great dread, he realised that there were two sets of footsteps coming towards him and not one. “It’s that whelp again. I’m telling you, he comes here every night.” The room’s metal door was unceremoniously heaved to one side by two pairs of hands. Kellan never used it, there were other ways in and out, but none that he could access now without being seen. He held his breath for fear that even that might give him away. To his own ears, it sounded like the men would be able to locate him by the drum beat of his heart. No matter how many times he was caught by them, he could never be quite sure what form their justice would take. Lately they had been getting more and more inventive. When he saw them start to check recesses where the wall had collapsed, he knew that he was going to have the chance to find out. At times like this, he could feel parts of his mind starting to shut down. It was a protective response, he realised, one that helped him to cope with the fact that this happened so regularly and that let him maintain his will to keep coming back to the most reliable source of food in the whole area. Rather than cowering until the inevitable moment where he would be caught, he was taken with the overwhelming desire to just get this over with. He stood, and walked out of the shadows where they could see him. “I knew it! Didn’t I tell you it would be that brat?” The man closed the distance between them in seconds; Kellan took a step back towards the wall and did his best not to flinch. He just had to be brave now, he told himself, although he felt the painful tug of a fist closing tightly around his hair and the unpleasant moisture of spit on his face before he’d fully finished the thought. “You steal from your own people! You betray the fact you are a Bajoran! You’re no better than a Cardassian!” Kellan could pick up from his captor’s tone that a ‘Cardassian’ was something undesirable but the significance was lost on him. He was sure he had been born here; this was the only world he knew. He’d only ever known other Bajorans and some humans, a gaudy looking race of people with smooth noses and brightly coloured uniforms. He was speaking before he’d even realised it; his mind had been trained to fill gaps in his knowledge. “What’s one of them?” Apparently he’d said the wrong thing. The fist tightened around his hair, causing him to cry out briefly before he was silenced by a backhand across the face that was hard enough to make him taste blood. “You’re an insult to your people! You don’t know what it means to be a Bajoran!” There was a heat in his words like nothing Kellan had ever heard. Somehow, he had drawn a primal rage from this man like none he had ever seen before. All concerns of food and knowledge were abandoned and his mental defenses crumbled: he was terrified for his life! The other man drew alongside him and grabbed his face, rough fingers squeezing Kellan’s jaw as he forced his head sideways. “He doesn’t even wear an earring. He probably doesn’t know about the Prophets, either.” “Do you?” The weak nod he gave them was honest, but not so much so as the whimper that accompanied it. He knew enough about the Prophets to know that they didn’t care about him. There was no path they wanted him to walk. They had doomed him to this desolate existence to live with barren guts and absent hope. Heril spoke fondly of them, but Kellan could not bring himself to believe in deities that would make such arbitrary condemnations. “Then pray they will look favourably on you tonight.” The boy’s answer was despondent. He knew that his spirit, as well as his body, would take a long time to recover from this night. “They won’t. They never do.” ::He was immediately grabbed and dragged through the door. They manhandled him over to the edge of a table, and forced his face down onto it. One of them grabbed his hand and stretched it out over the table’s filthy surface, pinning it into place with strength far superior than his. He shook with terror as he caught sight of something metallic and cylindrical as it was raised into the air. Before his sentence was delivered, a voice hissed into his ear, the heat of Bajoran breath making his skin crawl.:: “Then perhaps they will see fit to teach you the lesson that treason against your own people is something we will not tolerate. It will be a long time before you think about stealing from us again.” He screwed his eyes closed as the heavy metal bar sped down towards his fingers... Fleet Captain Diego Herrera Commanding Officer USS Vigilant NCC-75515 Deputy Commandant: UFOP: SB118 Academy
  13. ((Church)) ::Irina never went to church. She was raised Russian Orthodox, and after arriving in the United States her father continued to attend services, but Irina had not stepped foot in a church since leaving Russia. It just made no sense. Since her mother was killed, the whole concept of some happy and wonderful grandpa in the sky looking out for you just didn't work. Those lessons were relearned in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Irina learned that nobody was coming to help her, and that if she was to survive, it would be only by her own wits, and no small amount of pure, blind, chaotic luck. The Taliban would kill her, or they would keep her around, entirely at their whim.:: ::The night of the riots was like a return the combat. Irina was just passing through, on her way to New York. She had stopped in Ravensville for a cup of coffee and perhaps an ice cream for Katya, and the two of them were actually inside the Plaza Caglia when the excitement started as Irina had decided to have the oil changed in her car. It was actually what led to her job.:: ::Many townspeople had taken refuge inside the restaurant/bar, and Irina, like them, had no plans to go outside or in any way get involved. When the windows broke and a group of aggressive young men entered the bar, however, all thoughts of waiting it out went right out that broken window. As the four men started trashing the place and terrorizing those inside, one of them made the mistake of looking at Katya for perhaps a second too long, and immediately found the baseball bat he had been holding ripped from his hand and then smashed into the side of his head. Irina proceeded to beat the living daylights out of all four, and then she heard the single shot from outside.:: ::She remembered dropping the bat and upending most of the tables and ordering everyone to crouch behind them, while she peered over the top with her own pistol at the ready. Fortunately, after the shot was fired, things calmed down quickly.:: ::She didn't know why she didn't just pick up her car the next morning and keep on driving, but for whatever reason, she had stayed in Ravensville. She rented a small two bedroom apartment, got a job keeping the peace at the very same bar, and since there was a large VA hospital just 40 miles away in the same county, she stayed. Now she was in a church, listening to descriptions of the police officer who died when that single shot was fired.:: Rascon: Hey, you're that bouncer who looks like Michelle Pfeiffer who kicked my [...] when I was drunk! Those were some cool moves. I totally felt them in the morning, so respect for slapping a drunken bum who should have known better back into line! Pavlova: I've got a lot more moves where those came from. ::Irina completely put aside that they were in a church, as she had no real respect for such places anyway, and played along.:: Rascon: Do you know if Plaza Caglia is open? You don't just let something like this pass you by without raising some kind of a toast. If you don't have to work then you're welcome to join us and I'll shout you for a drink. It's the least I can do after... whatever I did that made it feel like you dislocated my leg last time. Pavlova: We should open in about an hour, and I'll have vodka on ice. ::As someone started to move past him in the queue, Daz, gave them an elbow.:: Rascon: How about you, Kael? Joining us in the bar? Thomas: Err, sorry? Rascon: You've gotta have some stories to share about the big guy, right? Thomas: Oh, a few. Matthews: ::Coughing:: Hey Kael, Pavolva, nice to see you while I'm sober. ::Irina nodded, then backed away. Too many cops. She resumed her quiet stance near the exit, keeping an eye out for Leo. It was hard for him, she knew. The bullet was meant for him, and he knew it. It was a sort of guilt that all soldiers felt for those who didn't make it, worse if their loss was the reason for one's own survival. Irina knew the feeling well.:: ::A drink would help, preferably far more than just one.:: Irina Pavlova Bouncer
  14. Hey Udas! I'm Ed, I play Fleet Captain Diego Herrera and my main PNPC is an Andorian. I love the race and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of the Andorian 'episode' of the Star Trek relaunch novels (from the Star Trek: The Fall series) later in the year!
  15. The best possible advice I can offer is to try to change your opinion about clicking edit on someone else's work. That's the single best resource for learning to use wiki code that we can offer you collectively as a group. If you see something you like, hit edit, look at the code, and adapt it into yours! Everyone who uploads material onto the wiki does so under the creative commons agreement, which basically informs them that such things can happen. I have yet to encounter anyone in the fleet who would mind one bit about you emulating a piece of wiki code from their bio, so please don't worry about it. For the pictures, try [[image:Filename.jpg|thumb|This is my caption]] - that should do the job you want. Creating collapsible tables is much more complicated - I can try to explain it here if you'd like, or if you have a table that you want the collapsing code added to then I could make it work for you.
  16. Nice work Chris. Great job! Congrats to you too, Sarah!
  17. The white, ephemeral mist spiralled around your arms like tendrils. Each finger reached out to tug at your loose-fitting, lily robe, living only long enough to make a connection before vanishing from sight. The feeling was as good as you remembered it; this was the place where you always found solace. In this hall, you would wind yourself into the strands of myriad realities and watch as they birthed and died, taking comfort in your own eternity. And then you saw it. Long ago, your people took great pains to ensure their continued survival. Their tenure of multiple dimensions was assured by the deployment of spheres, each designed to transform local space into an area habitable by your species. When networked, these spheres could alter vast regions, their domain surrounded by a thermobaric cloud that protected it from sight and from incursion. To the explorer's eye, it would appear to be a spatial anomaly. It was intended also as a deterrent, as the area influenced by the spheres was as harmful to monodimensional beings as their space was to you. For aeons it worked; none but the bravest of explorers dared venture within the confines of the cloud. That was until your people became greedy. Talk of racial supremacy began as a whisper and built into a roar. It was difficult to turn a deaf ear to it as it swept through to permeate every molecule of the essence of your culture. Opinions changed from day to day; at first the idea of a regime based on superiority was opposed but, eventually, more and more began to march to the beat of its power hungry drum. Traditions of science, history, observation and documentation were abandoned as multigalactic conquest became your society's driving force. All fell to the temptation of a realm ruled by the 'sphere builders', as you had come to be known, the beacon of hope for your race's very existence now a symbol of your intent to crush reality itself beneath your heel. Amongst the mounting insanity, only a few of you remembered the old ways, clinging to them like the vapours from the Chambers of Observation linger on a scryer's robe. You were one of them. It was difficult at first not to bow to the unstoppable tide but, having seen from the cultures whom you had observed that the lust for power resulted only in destruction, your resolve held strong. Your race's progression to be able to manipulate multidimensional space to observe myriad potential timelines had been regarded initially as an educational boon. With some sadness, you realised that the knowledge that had been drawn from it had been squandered. And then, as more and more spheres were built, as more and more territory was conquered, something pierced the arrogance of your people's veil of assured supremacy. Panic. This time, there was no gradual gathering of momentum. No, hysteria spread like a cancer, fuelling your people's jingoistic cause with new perceptions of a battle against extinction. You were to meet opposition, they said. Monodimensional life forms who lacked in technological development but were determined enough to band together to destroy the spheres once and for all. This would not just happen in one reality. It would happen in all of them. That notion seemed ridiculous at first. The spheres were a symbol of hope! You refused to believe that the foundations on which your society was built could fall so easily. How could monodimensional life survive under their influence? That they might find a way seemed unlikely but you could not ignore it as a possibility. After all, had your own people not ascended to their multidimensional existence as the conclusion of their own evolution? The more you thought along these lines, the more they seemed plausible, even logical. Was not the survival instinct strong in all species, including animals? Was it not the reason behind evolution itself? As an accomplished scryer, there was an easy way to find out, to see with your own eyes whether or not rumours of opposition and annihiliation were true. The key to the secrets of the web of reality itself lay in your grasp but you did not dare use it. Until today. How could a feeling so familiar suddenly be so terrifying? How could the mesmeric reverse echo of each breath now carry with it the weight of crushing fate? The sensation of becoming one with the mist, usually a panacea, was now an intolerable irritant. Where you had succumbed to the embrace of the conflux of time and possibility, you now recoiled from it. It was as though you knew the answer already but you would not allow your eyes to see it; if the multiverse had once been a trusted ally, it had now become a hated enemy. Because there it was, right before your eyes, playing out in infinite stereo, in innumerable permutations. There was no escaping what was to come. Fleet Captain Diego Herrera Commanding Officer USS Vigilant NCC-75515 Deputy Commandant: UFOP: SB118 Academy
  18. ((Valley of Knives; Dorfmenland; Byzatium)) ::Arima, Belan and Varney dusted themselves off as the tall woman, who had rescued them from the Crazy and its tentacled master, pulled back her hood and glowered at the assembled trio.:: Cierva Calderan: I live in this Valley, and I know how foolish it is to wander here alone at night. I assume you’re resistance. ::Belan returned the woman’s steely gaze. He was determined to stand his ground. She may have saved them all, but that was no guarantee of friendship. For all he knew, she just wanted the prey for herself. However, he had to admit for an older woman, she was quite attractive.:: ::The trio didn’t answer.:: Cierva Calderan: Fine, have it your way. But if as I think, you were part of the convoy beyond the valley, then your trip has been wasted. ::Arima was the first to break cover. Like it or not, the woman’s actions had shown that she wanted the three of them to remain alive, at least for now. In this war, that was the best one could hope for.:: Arima Ossian: What do you mean? ::Cierva pulled her hood back up and folder her arms. She was intrigued by these kids, and the girl reminded her of her daughter, in her voice as much as her looks. Cierva hadn’t seen Nia for years, and wasn’t altogether sure the girl still breathed.:: Cierva Calderan: I am sorry to break this to you, but the resistance fighters there have all been killed. ::Belan growled at her. She must be a government agent.:: Belan Horobin: What proof? For all we know you are one of them. ::Cierva grinned at the feisty boy. She had expected this retort.:: Cierva Calderan: True, but then if so I would have let those two *things* devour you, or worse. ::Before the youngsters could discuss the matter, there was a new sound in the dark forest. Cierva didn’t look alarmed, but she was stirred into action.:: Cierva Calderan: Come, we must get moving. Follow me. ::Varney and Arima, having little choice but to trust her, began to follow. Belan stayed put. Arima turned to look at her battle brother, rubbing the cut on her cheek she had received from the monster’s barbed tentacle.:: Arima Ossian: Come one Belan, we must go…. Belan Horobin: No.. Arima Ossian: ::pouting:: Move silly! There are more of them coming.. can’t you hear? ::Belan crossed his arms. He did not take orders from women. Varney piped up next.:: Varney Groth: Don’t be a jackanapes Belan. ::Cierva didn’t slow down her long stride. They could come with her if they so wanted. She’d saved them once, she had no intention of doing so a second time if they chose to ignore her advice.:: ::Belan looked down at the ground, kicking over the soil. He then looked at the steaming mess of the dead Crazy.:: Belan Horobin: oO Stupid war Oo ::He looked up to see Cierva, Arima and Varney nearly out of sight in the dark woodland path. Burying his pride he started to trot after them. Into the night they went.:: ::After some time, Cierva slowed her pace and the three fighters clustered around her.:: Varney Groth: What happened to the rest of our patrol? Cierva Calderan: Government ambush. All slaughtered. The noise attracted the Omunic, who was feasting on the remains… as you witnessed. ::Arima and the others looked at each other. Was the Crazy one of their former comrades. It was hard to tell.:: Arima Ossian: Are you resistance? ::Cierva looked across at the young woman, barely out of her teens. Cierva’s eyes were hidden in shadow under her hood, and only the vague dappled blue moonlight gave them any illumination.:: Cierva Calderan: I am not part of any grouping. I merely look after myself and help where I can. ::She paused thoughtfully.:: Cierva Calderan: But if I am honest with you, I have no love for either the Omunics or the Pythron’s puppet regime in Gvenved City. However, I don’t trust General Telent. ::Arima and Varney didn’t say anything, but Belan was more vociferous.:: Belan Horobin: General Telent is a hero. He stood up to the Pythrons and the Omunics, and kept our hopes alive when all seemed lost. He is a great Dorfman. ::Cierva almost chuckled in her exhaling breath.:: Cierva Calderan: Oh, he is a *great* man, but beware those who aspire to greatness. I look for goodness instead. ::Belan snorted.:: Belan Horobin: He’s the best chance for Byzatium. I will follow him to the bitter end. ::Arima put her hand on Belan’s shoulder. She wanted to calm him, they had to keep quiet and keep moving.:: Arima Ossian: Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. ::Cierva didn’t turn to look at the gesture between the two youngsters, but she spoke quietly.:: Cierva Calderan: Hope is always good. Varney Groth: As is food. ((Time Jump – Banks of the River Jeryxias; Dorfmenland; Byzatium)) ::Cierva led the trio to edge of a tumbling stream. Arima looked at the water. It was about ten feet wide and looked, in the moonlight, shallow enough to wade across. She wondered if they were going to get wet.:: Belan Horobin: What now? ::sulking:: Swim for it? Arima Ossian: What’s your problem Belan? She saved us. Why are you so ungrateful? ::Cierva was unmoved by the boy’s surliness. He would learn in time. She knelt by the water’s edge and fumbled under a rock.:: Varney Groth: ::whispering:: What’s she doing? Arima Ossian: I don’t know.. Belan Horobin: A trap? ::Cierva finished releasing the *mechanism*. To the youngsters surprise a rock on the far bank slid to one side, and a row of stepping stones rose from the water. The woman stood and smiled.:: Cierva Calderan: After you, my lambs. Belan: Lambs?!?!? ::Arima moved ahead. Her face was sore where it had been cut, and she wanted to be out of the cold night. After the terrors of earlier, indoors was her idea of paradise.:: Arima: Oh get over yourself, Belan. ::Snapping:: ::Varney followed Arima across the stepping stones, looking across at the mysterious Cierva as he went.:: Varney: Is there anything to eat in there? ::Cierva rolled her grey eyes at the pudgy boy.:: Cierva Calderan: Don’t worry, you will be taken care of. ::Varney grinned, and bounded into the cave, eagerly expecting dinner. With the loss of the patrol’s supplies AND his prized drempa rat, his stomach had thought his throat had been cut. The trauma of the Crazy and Tentacle had only added to his hunger.:: Cierva: Coming? ::gesturing to the stubborn Belan.:: Belan: Do I have a choice? ::Cierva looked over his shoulder then back to his fixed gaze.:: Cierva: Of course you do. You can come inside with your friends and the person who saved your life, or you can stay out here in the cold dark forest and fight that Omunic that’s a hundred yards behind you, single-handedly.:: ::Belan spun around, and indeed the undergrowth near where the stream disappeared into the deep woods was shaking and he could make out terrible shadows in the moonlight.:: Belan: Ok, I am coming… ::They both went into the cave, the door sliding shut behind them.:: To Be Continued… Arima Ossian, Belan Horobin & Varney Groth (PNPCs) Free Dorfmen Resistance Fighters; Byzatium http://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=Mutos_War Simmed by: Major Leo Handley-Page Strategic Operations Officer: USS Vigilant
  19. ((Embassy Grounds)) ::It was with an aloof, disdainful face that Tallis removed the members of the embassy’s marine corps that were guarding the power plant from existence. Evidently they had assumed that, because he’d spent time limited to an insectoid form, he didn’t understand the value of cover, or what setting 16 on a phaser could do to humanoid life-forms. Not so, and their underestimating him had cost them their lives. He stepped over the trio of corpses, phaser held ready his route to the engine room needed to be indirect; if the defence forces realised where he was going then they would easily be able to cut him off. This was a good body, built for running, and it would be a shame to waste it.:: ::He had entered the power plant with one purpose in mind. The guards had been easy to neutralise as they had underestimated him, but he knew he was still being tailed. The odds of getting to where he was going with three officers on his tail seemed to be slim at best; a little misdirection was going to be called for. He kicked off the cover of a maintenance conduit in the wall, then hit the opening mechanism on the door on the far side of the room before heading down the opposite corridor, intending to find the quickest route to his objective by using the computer systems to guide him.:: ::It was an unpleasant night; dank, wet and grim. Twenty four hours ago, Lucas had never even heard of bluegills. Now, he was facing more of them than he could count and, worse, it was the Federation ambassador that they were in the process of hunting down. The idea that a man who was responsible for the development of Federation/Laudean relations was currently loose and hell bent on murdering as many people as he could sent a shiver down his spine. Fortunately, he had been a soldier for long enough and seen enough conflict that he would have no qualms in doing his job and putting Ambassador Tallis down the moment he got a clean shot.:: ::Greir stepped over the fallen marine guards that Tallis had dispatched. His phaser was held up and ready as he carefully entered the power plant, looking all about for signs of trouble. There was no telling if Tallis was ducked behind cover waiting to ambush them. With tricorder in the other hand he scanned the area for lifesigns and found it clear.:: Reinard: Any ideas about his purpose here? ::The most obvious answer was that he would go for the generator and take it out but Greir wondered what else the bluegill might be interested in getting up to here. It might give them some clues about where to head.:: ::Lucas kept his eyes open and focused on their surroundings rather than the commander as he answered. The last thing they needed was for another member of the party to wind up falling victim to one of the parasites. The lobby looked clear, other than the awkwardly positioned bodies of the marines who had been standing guard.:: Borr: My first guess is that he’s going to blow the generator, Sir. Second is that he’s going to sabotage the power grid to deactivate the security perimeter. If I was him, I’d go for option one. It’s quicker and still powers everything down. Reinard: That seems the most likely thing to me as well. ::Nia nodded in agreement to the Laudean Commander.:: Calderan: You’re right Sir. The bluegills are a very cunning enemy, and will want to make maximum effect for minimum effort. ::Lucas’s knowledge of the embassy grounds came largely from having studied site maps in the Starfleet databanks. However, it didn’t take a genius to know what would happen if the power generator was fried.:: Borr: Commander, I’m sure I don’t need to point out that if this generator is destroyed, we lose main power. Everything goes down. The security perimeter, everything in the CIC, the computers in the medical centre... if we can get auxiliary power up then we can restore it, but who knows how many parasites and hosts will swarm into the grounds during that time? Calderan: That’s something I hope we don’t have to find out. ::Nia had already had her close calls with these creatures so far, and was only saved by LtCmdr Eerie at the last minute. She didn’t savour having any more. What needed to be done had to be done.:: ::It went without saying that the Bluegill couldn’t be allowed to complete its nefarious goal. It could cause significant damage and turn the tide of the war. If the Embassy fell to the Bluegills then as far as he could see, it was game over. It would leave only the ships in orbit to defend the planet and the kind of action they might be forced to take to stop the parasites didn’t bear thinking about. It sent shivers down his spine. Greir nodded to the maintenance conduit whose panel had been removed.:: Reinard: There’s a chance he went that way. Lucas I want you to check it out. ::If the ambassador had chosen the maintenance conduit then it would be very easy for him to spring a trap inside it. Lucas was already wrapping his mind around the possible eventualities as he answered.:: Borr: Aye, Sir. Reinard: Calderan you go that way. ::Pointing down one corridor:: I’ll go this way. ::Thumbing the other one.:: Maintain open comm channel and immediately report any sightings or other significant information. ::Nia wasn’t looking forward to wandering off on her own, but she needed to do her duty.:: Calderan: Aye Sir. ::Lucas prepared to enter the conduit, weapon first. Crawling along on his elbows and knees would be the best way to make sure he could keep his phaser ready to be aimed quickly if he did fall foul of a trap.:: Borr: Yes, Sir. Good hunting. Reinard: Computer, seal access points to the fusion generator room. Computer: Acknowledged. Security bulkheads deployed. ::Further into the complex and looking up his route on a computer console, Tallis heard the activation of a hydraulic mechanism in the distance. Cursing under his breath, he realised that Starfleet had anticipated what he was trying to do and were putting countermeasures in place. He sped off, hoping to get to the generator in time, but tripped over the cover of an access panel that had been taken down from an EPS conduit and leant against the wall; as he picked himself up he could see the blast doors finally close and lock into position, just a few yards away. Frustrated, he kicked the panel and sent it flying down the corridor; evidently someone had forgotten to replace it and it had just cost him precious time. Heading down the perpendicular corridor to the blast door, he knew he was going to have to find another way in; he was about to find out just how effective a Starfleet phaser could be.:: ::Greir took off down his chosen route. If Tallis was going for the reactor then they might not have much time. He was scanning with his tricorder and focusing his mind for fielding; trying to use any advantage he could to track him down.:: ::Nia Calderan made her way along the corridors as she continued her way through the Embassy’s lesser explored areas. She could see the bulkheads, and other industrial equipment all related to the power supply of the Embassy. There were a number of consoles of non-Starfleet design but with LCARS computer interfaces that she was tempted to use to see if she could locate this man Tallis, but thought better of it. If he and his bluegill symbiant were as clever as she feared, then these consoles were probably booby trapped. She sighed and continued hunting in the old fashioned way.:: ::Lucas’s progress through the maintenance conduits was slow. It was beginning to strike him that if anyone else had been inside, he would have been able to hear every point of contact with the metallic grate on which he was now crawling. He wasn’t sure whether or not these bluegills had any form of military training, but he very much doubted it. How could they? As he came to a junction, he paused, taking advantage of the slightly raised sealing to seat himself and check his tricorder with one hand, the other keeping his rifle ready to fire.:: ::Greir came upon a wall mounted console and on further inspection found it had been accessed recently . It confirmed Tallis’s target and showed his intended route. Greir immediately picked up the pace and bolted down the corridor, following the route as quickly as possible.:: Reinard: =/\= I can confirm he is headed for the generator. There’s one access point, meet me there. =/\= ::Commander Reinard had called before Lucas’s scan was complete; snapping his tricorder shut, he aborted it. Their target had been sighted and now he knew where he was going. The scan had at least given away the direction he needed to go in to make it to the nearest access panel and he started off in that direction with all due haste.:: Borr: =/\= On my way, Commander. =/\= ::Nia heard here Commander’s discovery and abandoned her search. She knew she was going to have run if she was going to get to Reinard’s location in time.:: Calderan: =/\= Calderan here Sir. Aye, I’m on my way. =/\= ::Whatever the blast doors were made out of was no easy material to cut through. There seemed to be some kind of coating on it that was partially absorbing Tallis’s attempts to cut through with his phaser. He growled with frustration at the lack of progress; he was going to have to cut a section out of the blast door if he was going to get through. His instructions had been specific. Once he’d set it to overload, he didn’t even need to get out of the generator room before it went up. All he had to do was stop it from being cancelled.:: ::He tilted his head at the suspicion of a noise, echoing down the corridor behind him. Taking his finger off the trigger, he focused on trying to figure out what it was.:: ::Footsteps. They were close!:: ::Whoever it was was approaching at a run and near to Tallis’s position. He had to react now, or he would lose the initiative. Whirling around, he aimed his phaser rifle as quickly as he could and hit the trigger. A beam of lethal golden energy burst from its tip, headed for one of the officers who had been hunting him, who had just come into view...:: ::Greir’s nerves were on edge as he approached the security bulkhead. If it had closed before Tallis had gotten through to the generator room as he’d hoped then he was about to come face to face with the bluegill. His heart leapt into his mouth as he sighted Tallis who was turning his weapon on him. It was a race to see who could fire first. Greir squeezed the trigger but because he’d been running his aim was off. His shot impacted the bulkhead to the side of where Tallis stood.:: ::The shot from Tallis missed too. Or did it? Greir barely had time to realise what the Bluegill had hit and raise his arm defensively when he was thrown backwards by a powerful force. He was immediately knocked unconscious and hit the ground so hard that his head and body were smashed and bounced off the cold, hard surface.:: ::One of the many perks of being inside a humanoid host was that you could smile when you were satisfied with your handiwork. The brutal explosion that had ripped from the conduit to smite Tallis’s attacker had pinned him against the emergency bulkhead in front of him but, other than what felt like a bruise or two, he was unharmed. His smile widened as he imagined the sight of the broken and burned corpse around the corner and he turned back to finish what he had started. The queen had given him a job to do and he intended to do it.:: ::Nia was fit, and running didn’t normally pose a problem for her, but the tension of the situation was making her breathing more laboured than normal. She was almost at the location.:: Calderan: What was that? ::The echo of an explosion rumbled down the corridor.: Calderan: Oh no.. ::Nia rounded the corner and came across a prone figure lying on the ground. Nia was shocked. The man.. was very badly burned, especially his face. For a moment she didn’t know who they were. Was it even the Ambassador they’d come to stop. Then the realisation gripped the Dorfwoman that this was Commander Reinard. The uniform and comm badge, or what was left of them, was clearly Star Fleet.:: Calderan: Commander!! ::Nia was no medic, but had basic medical training as a Marine Officer. She scanned the Commander, and breathed a sigh of relief. He was still breathing. He was alive. Then Nia pondered whether that was a blessing or not, looking at the crushed form in front of her. She tapped her comm badge.:: Calderan: =/\=This Lt Calderan calling for immediate medical evacuation.=/\= Zehn: =/\= Ready to go, Lieutenant. Who is it? =/\= ::Nia’s words caught in her throat. She couldn’t bring herself to fill in the identity. She looked at the Commander’s melted comm badge. It was useless now. She pulled off her own and placed it gently on Reinard’s chest.:: Calderan: =/\= One to beam out…they’re.. burned badly. Please use my comm badge location.=/\= Zehn: =/\= CIC to Medical. Casualty being transported in, patient has severe burns Energising now=/\= ::Nia waited for the transporter to do its stuff, but then she heard a noise behind her. Her nerves all felt like bursting.:: ::Lucas skidded to a halt behind Lieutenant Calderan just in time to see the last part of the transporter cycle. There weren’t too many things that could mean and he had a horrible feeling that the commander had just been taken out.:: Borr: Are we on our own? ::Nia shook her head gently.:: Calderan: I don’t know where the Ambassador is... ::He sighed and readied his weapon. Commander Reinard had really put himself out trying to help Lucas settle in. He really hoped that wasn’t going to be the last he would see of him.:: Borr: OK, so I guess we need to make sure we get our man and get back in one piece, Sir. Calderan: Aye Mr Borr. ::In front of them, a plasma fire roared, leaping from a ruptured EPS conduit. It was the only sound that the Laudean soldier could hear other than the Lieutenant’s voice. Reaching for his tricorder, he began a life-form scan. The Ambassador had to be close by; they were close to the generator room, which they had identified as his target.:: ::The tricorder showed that he was just around the corner. Snapping the sensor device closed, Lucas replaced it in his belt, then wordlessly pointed around the corner. There was a chance that the noise of the fire might provide them with enough of a distraction to have the element of surprise. There was also a chance that Tallis was lying in wait, ready to shoot the first thing that moved.:: Calderan: If we can’t see him, I think we should at least try and stun him. A grenade might work. What d’ya think? Borr: Worth a try. It could give us an edge. ::Lucas nodded and quietly lifted his phaser, edging towards the junction. Nia followed close behind. She didn’t want to take any chances, not with bluegills after what happened earlier.:: Borr: Ready when you are, Sir. ::He stooped low, ready to roll across the opening after the grenade had fired and lay down cover fire for his senior officer. Nia darted past him, and drew her stun grenade. She lobbed it into the area she thought that the Ambassador might be hiding.:: Calderan: Get ready. Now! ::With anger in her voice, Nia hurled the stun grenade into the darkness.:: ::Between the noise of the plasma fire and the continuous thrum of his phaser beam, Tallis almost didn’t hear the dull thud of the stun grenade as it bounced down the corridor. It emitted a high pitched whine as it powered up, leaving him with only enough time to duck and cover, turning the back of his neck away from the blast and covering his face with his arm. The force of the stun grenade was unpleasant; he could feel the pain that it caused his body, but knew that it wouldn’t be enough to put him down. He snarled as he reached for his phaser.:: ::Lucas rolled into position on the far side of the corridor. He waited until he heard the stun grenade go off before pointing the nose of his rifle around the corner, looking for a shot…:: ::Nia peered into the gloom. There was movement. Definite movement. She aimed her phaser at the shadowy figure. Whatever the man had been in the past - noble, wise and a leader of men, he was gone now. That body was just a vehicle now.:: Calderan: ::whispering:: I’m sorry… ::Nia squeezed the trigger, on maximum kill. The beam flew through the darkness, illuminating the corridor and leaving Tallis with no time to react. It struck him square in the head, his body crumpling and landing in a lifeless heap against the cold tritanium bulkhead.:: ::Lucas narrowed his eyes; Tallis Rhul had been such a prominent figure in the news over the last few months and had been a face that everyone has associated with Duronis II’s Starfleet contingent for a long time. Now, it would be difficult to recognise him as much at all; his benign face had been replaced by twisted, burnt flesh. He fought hard not to retch and looked away as quickly as he could.:: Borr: I can’t believe that was the Federation Ambassador… ::Nia moved towards the gruesome scene, phaser still raised. She ran a scan over the body. Neither the bluegill, nor the noble Tallis Rhul still lived. She tapped called in to the CIC.:: Calderan: =/\= This is Lt Calderan to the CIC.=/\=Zehn: =/\= Go ahead, Lieutenant =/\= ::She cleared her throat.:: Calderan: =/\= I have to report that.... Ambassador Tallis is.. dead.=/\= TAG/TBC A JP by PNPC Recruit Lucas Borr Tactical/Security Trainee USS Vigilant NCC-75515 SIMmed by: Fleet Captain Diego Herrera & Commander Greir Reinard First Officer USS Vigilant & Lt. Scania ‘Nia’ Calderan (PNPC) Marine: USS Vigilant http://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=Scania,_Calderan Simmed by: Major Leo Handley-Page: SOO: USS Vigilant
  20. Thanks guys - enjoyed writing that. Congrats Marissa too and to everyone else who entered! What a bunch of awesome entries!
  21. ((Night Before Shuttles Depart - Handley-Page's Quarters; USS Vigilant)) ::Leo sat on his bed looking out of the porthole. It had been a busy day, and tomorrow was going to be even busier it would seem. He'd been given command of the one of the shuttles – the Lapuente – and was to go down to the planet and meet up with the locals. This was going to be a *First Contact* situation. It wasn't Leo's first experience of meeting a hitherto undiscovered yet warp-capable species before, but was certainly his first as a member of Star Fleet. He relished the opportunity, but couldn't help thinking that he wasn't….. well…. quite at his best.:: Handley: Just a few more days rest and relaxation should do the trick… ::Leo reached across for the bottle of vintage Byzallian mango wine… and poured himself another final glass of warming liquor. It had fermented well, and had a powerful kick. He downed it in one and it steadied his nerves. Unlike everyone else on the crew – he could still recall every detail of the last mission. The mission to a land beyond the looking glass. A land of horror and of death.:: Handley: I hope this one turns out to be a tad more conducive. ::Leo got up and put the now empty glass and bottle over by the replicator. He was tempted to order something to eat, but then that would only dilute the effect of the drink, and quite frankly he wanted its full force tonight. The fight to the death with his evil twin was still so vivid in his mind. Leo wanted nothing more than to bury those memories deep inside, along with all the rest of the hurt…:: ((Flashback - Bridge: The Forlorn Hope; The Far Side)) ::The LEOs – Prime and Graven crashed in a pile at the back of the bridge of the Forlorn Hope.:: Graven: You're old Leo, no match for me apparently. Father has made some improvements that you missed out on. ::Graven punched Leo in the face, sending the Star Fleet Major sprawling backwards against the rear consoles.:: Leo Prime: Hurmph! Why did you ever let Father mess with perfection? Eh? ::Graven moved towards the good-hearted Leo, menace in his eyes.:: Graven: Perfection? Pah! You were the faulty prototype it seems. Leo Prime: CRIKEY! Random Steam Engine!!! Graven: What? ::Leo random comment was enough to buy him a second or two. Before Graven refocused his concentration to turn Leo's face into a bloody pulp, Leo swiped his hand across Graven's face, unintentionally connecting the infected green part of his hand with Graven's mouth.:: Graven: Uuurk! ::Graven spluttered. Leo wondered if Graven hadn't the taste for chroniton-fever, or whatever he called it, after all.:: Leo Prime: Have some of that! ::Leo was hopeful this green goo was something Graven hadn't bargained for and would undo him. Graven staggered back and thumped the engine controls for the ship. The vortex was slipping away from them whilst they had been fighting. Graven desperately needed to get the ship back on its correct heading, but the engine controls weren't responding..:: Graven: No! Leo Prime: Sorry old boy. Looking for these? ::Leo reached into his pocket and waved the conduit connectors he had stolen earlier on his way to the bridge, from the warp modules. They were small but crucial to the ship steadying its position and going to warp. Graven snarled in fury!:: Graven: You fooooool! You will die, but I am one with the temporal flux. I need no ship!!!!! Leo Prime: You really are quite mad! ::The ship was rocked again as a massive pulse of chronitons bombarded the bridge and the two men within it. Leo hadn't bargained on what happened next. Graven moved back from Leo, a wild grin on his face. As Leo watched in amazement, Graven eyes turned from blue/hazel to red. His skin took on a grey-green hue, and he looked even more demonic.:: Leo Prime: Someone can't handle their chronitons eh? ::Graven was swaying on his feet, absorbing energy and temporal waves from all around him. Leo was worried what he had unleashed. A monster evil Graven would be even more trouble than a run-of-the-mill evil Graven. Leo grabbed the phaser from the floor and took aim at the morphing Graven, who was taking on all the energy of the temporal rift opening up behind him.:: Graven: Mmmmm feeeels sooooo good. ::Graven licked his lips.:: Leo Prime: Well, feel this! ::Leo fired the phaser at full power into Graven's grey hide, but it had no effect as he seemed to absorb even that, growing more powerful and more monstrous with each blast.:: Gravenaurus Rex: Soooo Much POWER! ::Despite monster Graven's new found confidence, the Forlorn Hope was being buffeted and jolted by the rift as it spiralled, now out of control, towards the event horizon.:: Leo Prime: oO Just need to keep him distracted long enough…Oo Gravenaurus Rex: KILL YOU! ::The Forlorn Hope began to tumble end over end. The stresses on the hull causing multiple fractures. Sparks and fires broke out everywhere.:: Leo Prime: ::Cough:: It's over Graven. You're reign of terror is OVER! ::Graven stalked forward after his prey, knocking the helm console over off its bolts as he moved..:: Gravenaurus Rex: DIEEE!!!!! ::His attack was short-lived as a metal girder from the roof collapsed through the ceiling, skewering the vile abomination to the ground. Blood spluttered from his snarling mouth, then silence.:: Leo Prime: ::Sighing now the battle was over.:: All I need now is a tall ship and a star to steer her by… ::The Forlorn Hope collided with the edge of the vortex, being cleaved in half in the process before exploding.:: ((Present Day - Handley-Page's Quarters; USS Vigilant)) ::Leo eyes opened. He hadn't realised he'd been daydreaming, or at least reliving those strange memories. Perhaps it had all been a dream? No one else had mentioned it to him – not even Eyas or Scania who had been there with him. Leo would be the first to admit he had a vivid imagination and this sometimes spilled over into his nightmares… now and then. Was he up to this mission? Maybe, maybe not – but one thing was certain - he really needed a rest…:: Handley: Can I do this? Graven: oO Of course you can old boy..Oo Handley: Really? I mean really? Graven: oO DO IT! Oo To Be Continued… Major Leo Handley-Page Strategic Operations Officer: USS Vigilant
  22. “Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” - Ambrose Pierce The first rays of liminality shone through the parting clouds of rage and intoxication. The dull ache in Chen’s back and neck was a souvenir from having spent the night propped up against the bulkhead. The not so dull ache in his head was a souvenir from the amount of glow ale that he’d consumed. His parched mouth craved water just as his head craved solace from the memories of the previous night that were ranked along the borders of his conscious mind. An invasion was looming. The computer recognised the scratch of his desiccant voice and obediently produced a glass of clear, cool liquid. Today would be a day where the world would stop crashing down around him, leaving confusion and shame in its wake. Once again, his mind leapt back to his childhood, reinforcing the bridge that had been built the previous night. He’d felt this way the morning after his talk with Dar, his charan; the emotional blow he’d taken that day had not led him to a bottle of ale but had instead shaped his life up to this point. The memories that had pooled behind the [...] came bursting forward, overwhelming his defences and threatening to drown him in an irresistible tide… The blue-green grasses of the Irimari plains sighed in murmurs of a youth of too quick a passing. Laughter from a distant farmstead carried on the breeze in recognisable peals. Chen and Dar had been walking in silence for some time, the reason for their stroll along the plains driven between them like a wedge. Chen’s antennae twitched as he concentrated on preventing them from indicating the full extent of his anger; his heart was heavy in the knowledge that the parent to whom he was closest was so disappointed in him. Each footfall brought with it the temptation to break the near silence, to goad his charan into saying what he had brought him here to say. Yet, out of respect, Chen waited. He was resentful that Dar had chosen this particular time, a visit to see long standing family friends, to confront him on this issue. Escape was impossible; it had been a long time since their last visit and Chen had no intention of causing their current hosts any worry or acting in a manner that might offend them. That left him with no other option than to weather the incoming storm. Finally, Dar stopped, turning to look back at the farm rather than Chen as he laid down the first brick in what Chen already knew would grow to become an insurmountable wall between them. “I heard that you have broken your bond.” The older chan took in a slow breath. His sombre tone was laced with bitter dissatisfaction. “That there is to be no shelthreth.” It was a decision that Chen had not taken lightly. The woes that befell an Andorian that broke his bond were well known to all after the media had blown every incident involving ChariVretha zh’Thane’s chei, Shar, out of all proportion. He had been forced to live with the disgrace of reneging on his obligation to further the Andorian genome for every minute of his Starfleet career. Chen was eighteen, the right age to tread that same path. Pursuing a career in the fleet, however, was not the reason for his withdrawal from the bond that had been prearranged for so long. “Even more disturbing than that,” Dar continued, still refusing to face his chei, “are the alleged reasons behind your choice.” Chen nodded grimly. “You’ve been talking to Shalla.” Dar was the only one of his parents with whom he had not discussed this matter; it was not that he respected them less but simply that he knew all too well what Dar’s reaction would be. He had made the mistake of thinking that leaving him until last would give him time to prepare more carefully what he might say. Of those that remained, his shreva was the one he considered most likely to have passed on his reasons for breaking his bond. Dar’s antennae swept backwards dramatically as his rage flared. “It doesn’t matter who told me!” Just as quickly, he forced his temper back under control. “What matters is that it is not too late for you to reverse your decision and fulfil your obligation to your people, despite what you believe your personal rights to be. The Whole comes first, Chen, always.” The younger of the two chan was shaking his head before his elder could finish speaking. How could he just change a fundamental aspect of who he was? He had never been attracted to zhen or shen; the only other member of his bond for whom he had feelings strong enough to perform the shelthreth was Toren, their thaan. He understood tradition. He understood obligation. They were things he took very seriously but he could not understand why Andorian culture would mandate him to perform a sexual act with which he was not comfortable, in violation of his own personal wishes. In truth, he was also struggling to understand why his charan, with whom he had always been close, would force him into honouring that custom. His antennae roamed in confusion and disbelief. He had planned his defence, for want of a better word, since the moment the bond had been broken, yet no part of it seemed appropriate. How should he justify himself where no justification should be warranted? How should he rationalise that which ought not to be rationalised? “I cannot put the Whole first, Charan.” He struggled to contain his own anger. What right had anyone to make him feel ashamed of who he was? “If my being Whole requires me to mate with three others in violation of who I am then I have no other option than to break my bond.” “Violation?” Dar laughed at the idea. “Violation of who you are? You are an Andorian, my chei, and bound by the same obligations as are we all. If your current obsession with only one other gender causes you to miss this opportunity, think how you will regret it in later life. Think how we all will regret it.” Chen was deeply insulted that Dar could think that his expression of sexual preference was based on some whim that would fade, as fickle as the chill breeze that whistled across the plains. He knew better than that. “Had I remained with my former bond mates, it would be me that regretted it. I have no such obsession, and my interest is not limited to thaan. It extends to other chan as well.” A terrible silence fell. Dar looked up to the sky as if searching for answers from Uzaveh himself, his antennae parting in an expression of… concern? Chen’s feelings began to coalesce into something he hadn’t imagined he would ever feel while talking to his charan: despair. Dar pitied him. This was worse than he could ever have thought. “We have contacts who could put us in touch with some very good psychotherapists in Laikan. I’ll place a few calls and we can…” “There’s nothing wrong with me.” Chen interrupted. How could he make Dar see that? Rather than listening to him, the elder chan raised his voice, insistent on completing what he had to say. “…get you the best possible therapy. We’ll find out exactly what the problem is, then the family will pool together so that we can have you treated…” “There’s nothing wrong with me!” Chen’s despair was mounting. What were they going to do? They could dig around in his head as much as they wanted, peel back every last layer of his defences. He would be the same, right to the core. There was no switch he could toggle on and off. Dar’s voice raised yet another notch. “…and help you to return to a point where you are willing and able to contribute to the future of your race in the way that all Andorians are expected to contribute: to address the continuing issue of our shrinking population…” “THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH ME!” Despite the force behind his assertion, Chen’s antennae were not flat to his skull in the usual expression of rage but hanging forwards as a sign of his anguish. The outburst had finally been sufficient to cut Dar off, who stared at him through cold eyes, looking deep into his heart, searching for a way to force his point home. “You are a sexual deviant. You have already brought disgrace on our clan by dissolving your bonds. Do not make this any worse than it already is. Accept the help that you are being offered.” “And then what?” His voice was pained, but he refused to back down. “Live the rest of my life as a lie? The bond means nothing to me. Would you have rather had an automaton for a chei? Someone that you could program to follow your every command? Someone who could not be identified among a crowd as the individual that they are?” Dar’s face betrayed his disgust. “If you must defy the will of Uzaveh and turn your back on your people to be individual then yes. Perhaps I would prefer that. Our concept of the Whole is the foundation on which our civilisation is built, Chen. It represents strength through the unity of the four genders: thaan, chan, shen, zhen.” “And as a concept it is flawed,” the youngster interrupted. Evidently there was still a measure of bravery left in him as he went so far as to challenge Andorian culture itself. He knew how much that culture meant to his charan, but the rift between them was widening by the second. If he could not make him see sense now then perhaps he never would. “Our world is dying. We refuse to explore scientific means to prevent that from happening. We refuse to take real steps to save our race. Tell me now which you think is more perverse. A chan whose sexual preference does not fall in line with your expectations or a society that willingly dooms itself by refusing to bring itself out of the past?” Dar closed the distance between them in an instant, grabbing Chen roughly by the wrist and twisting until his chei’s face was just inches from his own. His teeth were clenched as he leaned in to hiss the words that would cause Chen to form his resolve once and for all. “Not until this world burns in the fire of our sun will I stop loving you but, as long as you hold such an opinion, you cannot be my chei.” He hurled Chen to one side, the pain from whose bruised wrist could not compare to the agony of his shattered heart. It would be hours before he could gather himself enough to return to their hosts, by which time everyone had retired for the night. Within a few more weeks, he would take the decision to leave Andoria for good in search of a life that he could live as his true self. The uninvited memory, stirred by comparable pain that had been caused by the breakdown of his unexpectedly strong relationship with Greir Reinard, reminded him of how grimly resolved he had been when he had left his homeworld. The previous night, he had questioned whether or not Dar had been right, whether he should have taken him up on his offer. It was easy to believe that he was broken somehow, flawed more profoundly that he could ever imagine. ‘Easy’ was never something he had subscribed to, however, and that was not about to change. He would do what was right. He wasn’t a statistic, a failed experiment unworthy of inclusion in society. Nor was he a lovesick fool, too naïve to charge blindly into a situation where he would be vulnerable again so soon. He was what he had always been: himself. No matter how painful that made things for now, that was how things would remain. “I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.” - Drew Barrymore Captain Diego Herrera Commanding Officer USS Vigilant NCC-75515
  23. ((USS Vigilant, Deck 1: Captain's Ready Room)) ::Deep Space 6 stared at Diego through the window of the captain's ready room. By now, members of the crew would already be filtering onto the promenade to take advantage of the many shops, bars and restaurants that it had to offer. For now, however, he was busy taking advantage of the stack of PADDs that his desk had to offer. Reports had filtered in from various departments relating the actions of the most senior members of his crew, chronicling their achievements and logging their successes. Having spent a good deal of time in sickbay dealing with Resistas, Diego had been somewhat out of the loop and, as he read up, he found himself suitably impressed with one of the team leaders. Enough so that he had summoned him to his ready room.:: ((taJoot's quarters)) ::Dueld was sitting in his quarters, reviewing zoological files on ... red pandas. Seriously. Red pandas. Like, what? The ship had been constructed on Zakdorn, and flown into space-- it was the Ship That Stayed Out In The Cold. It hadn't even gotten within orbit of a temperate forest. How did the Vigilant end up harbouring an arboreal terran omnivore? And what would they have to do to keep it from licking all its fur off in despair? The only vertical spaces higher than 3m were the shuttlebay and the warp core. What kind of sick friends did Eerie have, sending the poor thing out here?:: ::And then the captain called him. As Dueld scrambled to find an unwrinkled uniform, he just gave up on shore leave altogether.:: ((Captain's Ready Room)) ::When the door chimed, Diego travelled towards the replicator as he answered.:: Herrera: Come in! ::The door slid back and Dueld taJoot entered the room as ordered.:: taJoot: You wanted to see me, sir?. Herrera: Right on time, Dueld. Can I get you a drink? taJoot: Uh, sure, uh... lemonade? taJoot Formula Two, please. ::Diego turned his attention towards the replicator for just a moment.:: Herrera: Computer, gimme a raktajino and a lemonade, taJoot Formula Two. ::The drinks were ready almost before he'd finished ordering them. Setting them down on the table in front of the long sofa, he offered the engineer a seat.:: Herrera: Make yourself comfortable for a sec. ::He grabbed one of the PADDs from his desk.:: taJoot: ::lowering himself to the edge of the seat gingerly and picking up his drink, just to have something to clutch:: Yessir. ::Returning to the lower area of the CRR, Diego took a seat himself, perching on the edge of the table.:: Herrera: I have to say, I appreciated the information you sent my way while we were dealing with the Zalkonians. I don't know what we would have done without it. taJoot: ::blinking:: oO So far, not in trouble? Unless this is, like, poisoned. Oo Uh, well, just doing what you asked, sir, really. And we had it pretty easy in Lab Two, I hear, no ruptured EVA suits or infections or spies. Herrera: Well, I gave you a job to do, threw you in the deep end, and you floated. You did better than that actually. Assembled a team. Directed them to find what you thought was relevant information. Collected more intel on the Zalkonians than we've ever had. taJoot: Uh, thank you, sir, but maybe you're giving me credit for being the first engineer to stumble across a pile of unprotected Zalkonian data? And I couldn't have processed even the tiny chunk we got through without the supreme technical expertise of Malik and T'Rella. ::Diego nodded; he had no intention of discrediting the other members of Dueld's team.:: Herrera: That's true, but they were acting under your orders and your direct command. ::He lifted up the PADD.:: It says so right here. I'm looking at clear evidence of leadership skills. taJoot: ::closing jaw slightly agape:: ... If you say so, sir. ::Diego slid further back on the table to secure his perch a little and took a drink of his raktajino. Dueld was supremely capable but exceptionally nervous. He didn't know enough Catullans to know whether that was some kind of racial psychological trait, but he imagined it wasn't. He was looking at a good, healthy dose of nerves from a relatively new assignment that had augmented a naturally nervous personality. That was his assessment from what he had seen so far, at least. If that meant that what he had planned would be met by incredulity or panic then he would deal with it appropriately.:: Herrera: ::Smiling:: I think you're a great officer, and I need great officers to run my departments. If I could have two chief engineers I would, but I'm sure you'll agree that's not really practical. taJoot: Yeah, no, you can't tune a dilithium chamber two ways at once. Herrera: Actually, I could really use a Chief of Operations. There's a lot of crossover with engineering, so you'd still be working closely with Kael Thomas. I think you'd handle to administrative side of it really well because you obviously have a good eye for details. And the position would come with a promotion to full Lieutenant. Can I count on you? ::He knew he could, of course, but wanted to give the Catullan a chance to air any concerns he might have before just slapping an extra full pip on him, hanging an Ops sign round his neck and then turfing him back out onto the bridge.:: taJoot: ::jaw gaping for real this time:: But... you... I... aren't there, like, any ops personnel with actual seniority, or, like, experience? I've only met Block, but... seriously, didn't Fleet send you out here with anybody to wrangle the data? ::It sounded like the concerns were pretty sizeable.:: Herrera: ::Calmly:: I really think it's something you could pick up. Your engineering experience qualifies you for the position. You don't think you're ready? taJoot: I'm just saying that if I had been handling the scheduling and the filing and the agendas and the cleaning, erseyntin the cleaning, for a few years and then some three-year-old got promoted over me, I would be volcanic, I mean, I know you're not dumb enough to do that, but, just... ::running out of steam:: wow. ::Diego broke out into a laugh, partly because he hadn't even considered the 'erseyntin cleaning' and partly at the image of a three year-old Ops officer. The closest thing he could imagine was Fleet Captain Turner's daughter wearing a starfleet uniform and bossing people around.:: Herrera: No-one's going to resent you, or go volcanic. We're all professionals. taJoot: Yeah, yeah, laugh it up, but you know how weird this looks from my end, right? Like, I barely speak one language, I only got out of the Academy four months ago and I'm not in engineering because all the seats in diplomacy were taken, you know what I'm saying? Someone is going to ask you why you put a wrenchnoob in charge of ops. Herrera: ::Regaining his composure:: So I'll tell them that I put the most skilled officer I had into the position and that I have every confidence that they'll excel in it. taJoot: ... I guess. I ... wow. ::looking down at the lemonade he has yet to sip, like he's not sure how it got there, then suddenly back up at Herrera:: Holy cow, helm falls under ops. I can't fly the ship! I mean, I can fly the ship, but I can't do what Fox does. ::eyes narrowing:: Actually, I'm not sure who we have who can. Can you do what Fox does? ::It looked like Dueld still needed some convincing.:: Herrera: Well, I could give it a brave try. I did basic piloting, so, I mean, I could fly the ship forwards and engage the warp engines, maybe even throw out some evasive manoeuvres if the computer was feeling generous enough to help. Other than that, no..., I'd just have to say "I'm a doctor, not an aerial stuntman." In your case you'd just have to organise people to sit in the chair. taJoot: I guess it's no different than you commanding Thomas, I suppose-- assuming that you yourself can't redesign a warp core. ::nodding::... okay. This is just so...I mean, I am related to my sister and my mother, who are both really pushy and take charge, don't even ask, I just... it was always easier to just do things myself, you know, than to get other people to do them? ::face blanks out :: Wow. Wow. Suddenly it is like my sister is right here, and she has her "Okay, I ran out of time for this five minutes ago, yes or no?" face on. ::taking a breath:: Okay, sir, I guess I'm in. If she can herd cats, so can I. It ... can't be harder than hacking a Klingon ship... can it? Herrera: No, compared to that I'd say it's gonna be a walk in the park. taJoot: ::frowning again:: Sir, what about the virus that's chasing me? If it eats anything with my name in it, and suddenly my name is all over the ship's file systems... what if it evolves, and defeats the data echo system we have going? Whoever built it is going to upgrade it eventually, right? Suddenly there'd be gaps everywhere in the ship's operating systems. ::Brow furrowing, Diego thought on that problem for a moment. He'd received notification of that particular problem from Lieutenant Zehn in and amongst the other reports that had been filed, and he'd picked it up relatively quickly due to the urgent flag that showed up next to its title. There was little action that he could take other than grant his Chief of Intelligence all possible latitude to investigate it. There had to be some way around it, though.:: Herrera: I think short term we could probably create you temporary access with a different set of codes? Hopefully we'll get some answers about who's responsible for this quickly enough to do something about it. taJoot: Hmm. I guess we have time to try to think of what we'll do next, or... whoever Zehn knows has time to think of what they'll do next, I mean. ::blowing out a breath:: I'm really glad that you think I'm doing a good job, sir, and I'll do my best. I can handle the systems stuff, but I will need advice on dealing with people. I can think of at least two people in Engineering that I have been glad Thomas had to deal with, not me. Herrera: ::Smiling:: Any advice you need on that, feel free to ask. You seemed to do well enough with your last team and if it makes you feel any better, I've not heard the crew talking trash about you in the corridors, which has to be a good sign. ::Dueld snickered.:: taJoot: True, but you're the captain, right? You'd have to lurk to get the real dirt. ::Diego raised an eyebrow and replied with the wickedest of all possiblegrins.:: Herrera: Who says I don't? taJoot: Cue ominous chord, okay, I got it. ::shaking head with a smile:: ::So, official business seemed to be taken care of. There was still the matter of taJoot's nerves to address, though. If it really was a part of his personality then it was something that was unlikely to ever disappear in a puff of smoke, but there were certainly ways to make him feel a little more comfortable in his working environment. Making him feel like the Vigilant was home and that he was part of the family was one of them.:: Herrera: On a less threatening note... do you have any plans for shore leave? taJoot: Uh, some, not superbooked. I have to take the official hardcopy of the Zalkonian data over to the station in a couple of days, it's a big deal, apparently, there's a marine escort-- Brown, I think it is?-- and a schedule and checkpoints and everything. And Lt. Cmdr. Reinard and I are hoping to get in some time at the Nebula. Herrera: I'm pretty much free at this point. How would you feel about meeting up and doing something on the holodeck? taJoot: ::blinking:: Uh, sure, that'd be great. ::These days, whenever Diego stepped through a set of holodeck doors, he ended up on a Parrises Squares court. He fancied a change.:: Herrera: Something active? I'd like you to choose though. Maybe something that you might find yourself doing back on Catulla? taJoot: Uh, mostly I windsurf, sir. Do you-- I mean, I don't actually know what you do in your free time. Is that interesting to you? ::Despite having grown up in a town next to a bay, windsurfing was one sport that Diego had actually never found his way around to. He'd seen people doing it and it always looked like fun... and a challenge. To his mind, that was the perfect combination.:: Herrera: You bet, although you'd have to teach me how to do it. I'm more of a Parrises Squares guy usually but I'm definitely up for trying something new. I guess windsurfing is another of your CVable skills? taJoot: Well, sailing, surfing, anything you can do with sand or sails or water, for a lot of Catulla that's what you get, you know? But I don't know if I'd say it was, like, an employable skill, except maybe if you were going to teach it on Risa or something. Herrera: ::Shrugging:: Hey, well maybe teaching it to your captain qualifies? It sounds like it should be a blast. Where's your usual setting? taJoot: Well, I normally play the Big Skenemmo surf series, they sim all the big surfing locations. But this time, see, I heard about this cool resort sim, Rubica. It's kind of an all-islands-to-all-people kind of thing? It's got a lot of different open air pavilions, there's a casino lounge and a spa and a sunbathing deck and a tea house, and a couple of different docks on differing water conditions for different activities. It's a mountain peak, so there's hiking and cliff diving and hang-gliding and stuff too. Since it's so multipurpose I don't know if the surf programming will be as good. But the variety might make it worth it. Skenemmo gave it four out of five on his blog, anyway. ::It sounded as though that particular program had been designed with more than just sporting activities in mind. Diego found himself looking forward to testing it out already.:: Herrera: Sounds ideal... taJoot: The real appeal is the easter eggs, apparently-- that's a Terran thing, right? Easter eggs? Like, every so often, at random, the island changes its layout a little. One day there'll be a grotto with hot springs, the next there could be an aviary or a bonsai garden. ::Having been brought up by a vaguely religious immediate family, he had heard of Easter Eggs. He remembered having bought back into that ancient tradition with some of his friends in school all those years ago, but he hadn't heard that term used to describe holoprogramming before.:: Herrera: They call those Easter Eggs? I honestly didn't know that. So it constantly changes its layout to stop people from getting bored? taJoot: Well, the big features stay, I think-- like, the billiards tables and the lounge chairs and the docks are always there, you know. But little things come and go, different hiking trails, little hidden mountain valleys, keeping it fresh. I'm probably just going to stroll around quickly and then head for the waves, though; I need to be on the water and the island could take weeks to explore. Herrera: I'm up for skipping straight to the waves. The island does sound interesting, though. Maybe I'll stick around afterwards to scope out the other facilities? taJoot: Well, then, sure, company would be nice. If you have a wetsuit or water shoes, bring them. My holodeck slot is tomorrow, kind of late, 2200h, is that okay? ::Diego figured that he would either be at some bar on DS6 by 2200 or sat in his quarters reading reports by that time; late night windsurfing sounded more tempting than either.:: Herrera: 2200 is fine. I'll check the replicator patterns and make sure I'm kitted out. Talking of which... ::He stepped over to the desk and picked up a smaller version of the rosewood box he had taken to the last promotions ceremony.:: Herrera: You'll be needing this. Oh, and you get to keep the box too. No expense spared. ::Still firmly in informal mode, he tossed the box over to him from the desk.:: ::With his free hand, Dueld caught the box, a grave look on his face. (Okay, if it hadn't been for all those tools Stoltzy had thrown at him on the Joyous Hope, he probably wouldn't have been able to catch it, it wasn't like he was using his holodeck time for jekker practice, but hey, silver lining there.) Tauscherstin. He was still stuck with the mustard uniforms. Well, too much good fortune attracted the envy of the spirits, right? Or entropy, or.. whatever.:: taJoot: Thank you, sir. Herrera: ::Nodding:: No problem, you earned it. taJoot: I'll see you outside Holodeck 1, tomorrow night? Herrera: Sure. You are qualified as a lifeguard... right? taJoot: Absolutely-- I can call Sickbay in under 5 seconds. ::Diego laughed at the idea of lifeguarding by proxy.:: Herrera: Then I'll leave my oxygen cylinders in my quarters. See you tomorrow night. ::taJoot nodded, and took his leave, glancing down at the box he carried.:: _________________________________________________ Captain Diego Herrera Commanding Officer USS Vigilant NCC-75515 & Lt. Dueld taJoot, Chief of Operations, USS Vigilant NCC-75515
  24. Chen

    The Cost of Failure

    “The Cost of Failure” A vivid flower of flame-tinged gold blossomed from the bed of dull metal that was suspended in the view screen. It was an oddly compelling sight; the sudden contrast of light bursting from relative darkness bound their gazes and rendered them silent. Only when further eruptions twisted through the dull metal construct did time resume as the first of the cheers broke through the silence, the bridge mirroring in sound the deed of the satellite that they watched in jubilation. They were the crew of the USS Vigilant and they had successfully completed their mission. Stardate 240001.15 It had been almost ten years to the day that the present journey had begun. Every officer could break their career down into a series of such voyages, most coinciding with their placement aboard a new vessel or outpost. For many on the Vigilant, that journey had spanned a decade. They had shared each other’s losses and revelled in each other’s successes. Above and beyond all else, in the estimation of Captain Diego Herrera, they had given of their all to protect the citizens of the United Federation of Planets through the most turbulent period of recorded history. It had started shortly after the Vigilant’s construction on the Zakdorn homeworld. The crew’s first mission had concluded with the successful aversion of Zakdorn IV’s secession from the Federation and the Vigilant had launched, hoping to act as a stabilising factor on the outermost edge of the UFoP’s Beta Quadrant colonies. For a while, they were. However, not even the Zakdorn master-strategists could have predicted what was happening behind the closed borders of Zalkon, scant light-years away. Fired into hostility by zealot rhetoric, they poured from their corner of the quadrant in impossibly fast destroyers, expanding their power and influence with ease and overriding what little resistance the Federation had to offer. In response, the Zakdorn wasted no time in switching sides, allying with the Klingons before the final unfortunate and [...]ing twist of fate. It had been a dark day indeed when the Zalkonians and Klingons had declared their alliance, and with Zakdorn tacticians to guide their hand, the greatest threat the Federation had ever faced was born. Never before had Federation colonies fallen so swiftly and, as the blue portion of the galactic map was forced into recession, casualties of record proportions were recorded. The Federation was on the ropes. The doors to the ready room hissed open. Head jerking towards the door, Captain Herrera quickly recognised Lieutenant Paulsen, his ever present PADD tucked under his arm. The captain’s expectant look served as acknowledgement enough for him to begin delivering his report. “Sir, the destruction of the communications relay is confirmed.” The report seemed superfluous, given that Diego had seen it with his own eyes, but recent experiences had taught them all that looks could be deceptive. The Lieutenant continued, “We’ve received an encoded transmission from Starbase 118 that I thought you’d like to see.” The war-weary CO nodded his thanks. “I’ll take a look at it now. Thankyou, Will.” Blinking his attention back to the screen, he refocused on the same puzzle that he had been looking at for the last few years. On one side of his monitor ran 11 sequences of numbers and symbols, representing a tau protein and its encoding exons. On the other, a political map of Federation space, which now extended no further north than Starbase 118, a veritable bastion that as yet had proved impossible for the Zalkonian Alliance to crack. His mind was torn between the two puzzles so perfectly that he found it impossible to view them one at a time. On the right hand side of his monitor he had met with some success in viewing the invading force as a biological agent and attempting to anticipate its response to treatment and head it off, before it could take hold elsewhere. On the left he made slower progress; the latest iteration of the display represented a possible key to the reversal and regeneration of his father’s frontal and temporal lobes as they degenerated progressively as a cause of his dementia. One war was public, shared by those on his crew and those of the other commanding officers now based at the third fleet’s headquarters. The other was internal, private and excruciating. Tearing himself away from his ongoing quandary, he studied the message from headquarters. The Vigilant’s actions had helped the second taskforce, led by the Tiger and the Thunder, to a victory as they defended the ‘northern’ border from a combined Zalkonian and Klingon assault. The Apollo and Discovery were holding a secondary wave of ships in check along the Klingon border with the third taskforce. An addendum indicated that the Victory stood point with a defensive fleet at Starbase 118, prepared and ready to defend themselves against a counter-attack from phase-cloaked vessels. Such tactics had led to the fall of Starbase 173, the upgraded stealth technology just one of the many spoils from the eradication of the tattered Romulan Star Empire. The Vigilant’s newly-reported status also appeared in the communiqué; they were now acting on orders to rendezvous with taskforce one. Fleet Admiral Nechayev had laid out detailed plans for a counteroffensive in the last command meeting aboard the starbase and, despite objections from Fleet Admiral Wolf, had insisted in committing a sizeable reserve of ships to the effort. Their target was to be a shipyard that had been constructed some two years ago in the Luxis system. Destroying the communications satellite had given them the rarest window of opportunity in which to strike. Many of the captains had been in agreement with Nechayev; the chance to mount an offensive after being pressed back so hard and for so many years striking a chord with them. Some had been more reserved. Irrespective of their reactions, every piece now stood on Nechayev’s board exactly where she wanted it, ready to press home her advantage. Closing the report, his screen returned to its bifurcated display. Eyes left and he considered something new. The condition from which his father was suffering was believed to be caused by a mutated gene that produced an overabundance of tau proteins, leading to degradation of neuron function. For a long time now he had been considering ways in which to inhibit the production of those proteins but the problem was so deep-seated that it was incorporated into his father’s DNA. Resequencing had been tried, to no effect; the problem had reasserted itself after a matter of weeks. Eyes right and he remembered to check the chronometer. The time for the rendezvous was fast approaching. His first officer was more than capable of handling it but it didn’t seem right for the commanding officer to be hidden away in his ready room at the start of such an important operation. Whatever else was happening, the crew needed to see him sat in the centre seat. As another famous captain had once asserted, you had to be “larger than life” for the crew and that was just how he would play this out. The bridge was quiet. Only the infrequent chirp of a readout or keystroke punctuated the assiduous atmosphere. The carpeted floor muffled the sound of Diego’s footsteps as he approached his command chair. His Laudean first officer moved across to his own station, a well-rehearsed response to the captain’s appearance from his ready room. Both men were former counsellors and had been trained to be observant; as the retractable centre-mounted command console began to rotate into position, it became clear that Greir Reinard was by now quite used to Diego’s obsession with that same display. It had been easy to pass off as a minor side-effect of wartime stress. All of the crew had presented various low-level symptoms over the years but they were managing them, keeping them in check. The numerical nature of the protein display had initially been presented as such so that Reinard, who had majored in Psychology and Counselling at the academy, might not identify it immediately. He was a resourceful, intelligent man and a good friend. Most likely, he knew what the series of numbers meant by now but if he didn't then it was only a matter of time. “Open a channel to the USS Beaufighter. We have an old friend to check in with.” Strictly speaking, it would have been wrong to attribute an emotion to the computer’s resultant tone but if Diego hadn’t known any better he could have sworn it sounded irritated. He waited for an explanation from Hanson at Ops. “We’re unable to raise them, sir. Shall I contact Engineering and report the problem?” There were a few instantly explicable reasons for their failure to communicate. It was possible that comms silence was being preserved as a means of preventing the enemy from listening in on their intentions. Had there been a serious issue with the ship’s comm-system, it would have been flagged up already on Hanson’s console. “No,” replied the captain, calmly, “Dueld and Kael will have enough to do when we cross over into Zalkonian space. We’ll try again when we’re at closer range.” He shot a resigned look over to his Laudean friend, his rich-blue pigmented forehead accentuated by the furrow currently in his brow. “I guess we’ll just have to wave at Leo through a viewport.” The light-hearted comment was fresh air to the bridge crew. Half a conversation later, they arrived at the rendezvous co-ordinates, the prominent figures of the Achilles and Avandar at the head of a column of ships. As Lieutenant Commander Fox brought them into position alongside the Mercury, Diego looked once more at his screen. Something was tugging at the back of his mind but he was unable to force the thought to coalesce into something tangible. Shaking it off, he called for contact with the Beaufighter once again. He expected that Leo Handley-Page’s indefatigably chipper attitude would lift spirits considerably more. The briefest of calls proved him right and the comm-system functional. All questions about its reliability were answered moments later when a call from the Achilles informed them that there were ten minutes remaining before the operation was to begin. There was definitely something forming in Diego’s mind… if only he could catch it. Drawn as if chasing a will o’ wisp, he tried to follow it, looking under one set of thoughts and behind another. His eyes focused on the right hand side of his display. The sandbar. He had served at the Embassy before. The Luxis system was his first officer’s home. For Greir, this was a chance to liberate his people from Zalkonian occupation and he had a personal stake in its success. The more he thought about it, the more the sandbar played on his mind. It turned the Luxis system into a cul-de-sac, allowing entry and egress from only one direction. Unless the Zalkonians were constructing phasing cloaks in that system, or at the very least stockpiling them there, it was going to be very easy for the taskforce to pin down any enemy ships and destroy them before moving on to their intended target. Even though they had needed to remove the communications relay, which served as an early-warning system, in order to make the strike, what if the Zalkonians had developed the technology to navigate the sandbar? That turned an easy win for Starfleet into an ambush. There would be no way to get a clear reading on exactly how many vessels lay in wait for them. Rising from his seat, Diego turned to face the Ops station with a calm, clear instruction. “Hanson, contact Fleet Captain Turner aboard the Thunder.” She was close enough to that area of space that she might be able to help him rationalise his concern. Her officers had navigated the sandbar a hundred times. She had even taken Britta Daysa and her children aboard ship during the evacuation of Duronis II at the Prime Minister’s request, although by the time a fielder entered range of the sandbar, the ship they were on would be too close to escape a surprise attack. A frustrated shake of Hanson’s head indicated another lack of success. “I’m sorry, sir… we’re unable to get through. There’s nothing wrong with the comm.” Scenarios played through Diego’s mind. Had the Thunder been destroyed? He couldn’t very well proceed under that assumption and instead followed his training. “We’re obviously not under comms silence and we couldn’t have contacted the Beaufighter if our signals were being jammed. What could be stopping us from communicating long range?” Hanson puffed his cheeks as a precursor to a sharp expulsion of breath. He was noncommittal as he listed random phenomena from the top of his head. “A problem with the subspace antenna, a flotilla of ships generating a jamming frequency at range, any one of hundreds of subspace anomalies including a subspace disturbance, rift… you name… Sir?” Diego stood looking at him, but his eyes were seeing that display once again. He didn’t need to consult his monitor to know that once taskforce one began to move, it would create a narrow corridor through which phase-cloaked ships could avoid the scant detection grids that Starfleet had managed to erect. And that path led straight to Starbase 118. The Zalkonians had no shipyard at Luxis. This was a ruse, calculated by Zakdorn strategists, that had taken years to come into fruition. They were going to launch a massive assault on the starbase then turn and annihilate the remainder of the third fleet before they could reunite into one cohesive unit. There was no question that Nicholotti and the Victory would give them a hell of a show when they arrived but the recent pattern of assaults indicated that they would be facing insurmountable odds. Even with the Victory’s formidable war record, no-one could be expected to fight against eight to one odds, or worse. About to take action, Diego found himself frozen in place as the left side of the display muscled its way into the equation. Target the source and destroy all resistance before it has a chance to develop into a problem. That was it! A combination of DNA resequencing with the introduction of a michrochemical agent to inhibit serine and threonine phosphorylation could halt the progression of his father’s frontotemporal dementia. Maybe not reverse it, but… There was a hand on his forearm. Greir Reinard was standing alongside him. Had he just spoken his name? A chronometer on the view screen showed that the ten minute countdown was well underway. He didn’t have time to stand around thinking about cures while there was so much at stake. It would have to wait. Clearing his throat and turning back towards the view screen, he regained his composure. “Mr. Hanson, I think you’d better open a channel to the taskforce.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The ready room was in darkness. Silhouetted against a backdrop of ornaments and personal possessions by the light of his monitor, Captain Herrera stared on. The unified display was uncomfortable and difficult to process; he kept glancing to one side as though there was more to see. But there wasn’t. He had read through the same schedule on autopilot for hours. Since the Vigilant had docked at the Starbase after its successful defence and the reception of a communiqué from Santander, Earth, he had elected to remain concealed there. Commander Reinard’s concern had been clear when Diego had asked not to be disturbed. And yet, there it was as plain as day. A debrief for all commanding officers with Fleet Admirals Wolf and Nechayev, no more than two hours away. There was cause for celebration, of course. Fleet Captain Mar’s taskforce had arrived back at Starbase 118 in time to lend Captain Nicholotti some timely reinforcement. The return of the second and third taskforces had then tipped the scales. And while good people had been lost, while there were memorial speeches to be written, the name of one man turned a narrow escape and a priceless victory into the most bitter defeat of them all. Carlos Herrera. A ten year game had finally met its resolution. He had held the means to victory in his hand but his feet had been too slow to carry it across the finish line. Millions would no doubt benefit from his discovery, as was always the case with a new medical breakthrough, but it was too late. Such was the cost of failure. Captain Diego Herrera Commanding Officer USS Vigilant NCC-75515    
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