Location: The fine line between continuity and fanwank.
Re: Excelsior Technical Manual - Revived!
Praetor, I have some heavy reading in this thread to catch up on, then I'll start in...
No, seriously, what I have seen thus far just skimming through looks pretty good.
Thanks! And everyone's crits are welcome, otherwise I wouldn't post.
Damn it you scared him away again!
Actually, I just don't feel well today.
Anyway, hopefully this will be the last iteration of chapter five and we can move on to six:
Chapter Five - Shakedown
The dawn of 2286 marked a transitional period for everyone at the ASDB. On Stardate 8205.5, the Excelsior was commissioned during an elaborate public ceremony held aboard Dry Dock Seven. After a bottle of 2245 vintage Dom Perignon was shattered against the ship’s bow, Admiral Morrow hosted a reception in the ship’s recreation deck. There he spoke of the work that had gone into the ship and the potential she exhibited and for the first time, he introduced the public to Excelsior’s captain-to-be, James B. Styles.
Captain Styles was a veteran of Starfleet, known among his colleagues for his pompous attitude. He graduated in the same class as Admiral James T. Kirk, and had always had something of a private rivalry with him. Styles possessed great knowledge of procedure and facts, and was an admittedly competent officer, but he was not very good at the creative thinking Kirk and was renowned for and thus had yet to make Admiral. However, what Styles sometimes lacked in ability he could make up for in eloquence. Members of the press loved him, and responded well to his naming as Captain of the Great Experiment. Styles gave the assembled masses a personal tour of the Excelsior’s advanced facilities, much to the delight of reporters and Starfleet personnel alike, and delivered a long-winded set of speeches in response to questions about Excelsior and the ship’s soon-to-be role in history.
The public reaction to Excelsior was even more enthusiastic than the project's sponsors had hoped for. The public was once again captivated by Starfleet and exploration, and they had good reason to be proud of Starfleet’s latest accomplishment. The members of the press at the Federation News Service were elated by the ship’s design, and marveled at the potential of her wondrous new transwarp drive. The members of the Excelsior Group were soon nominated for the Archer Medal of Excellence in Warp Design. Admiral Morrow and the rest of Starfleet were thoroughly pleased. Excelsior traveled to Spacedock to begin her final flight tests, and soon after, her transwarp trials. The future had begun, and there would be no stopping it.
Meanwhile, the brass at Starfleet made several important and sure-to-be controversial decisions. First, Admiral Morrow quietly slipped into his paperwork for the month an order to decommission the aging Enterprise. She had recently suffered extreme battle damage at the hands of the twentieth century augment Khan Noonien Singh. As Enterprise limped home, no one aboard suspected that her final fate had already been sealed. Morrow and the rest of his allies at Starfleet Command hoped that the hoopla over Excelsior would overshadow any public protest about what they considered finally unavoidable for the forty-year-old ship. Morrow also added to his paperwork a construction order for five more Excelsior-class ships to begin after the completion of Excelsior’s shakedown, two to begin immediately. He was determined that the second Excelsior-class ship would be named Enterprise, NCC-2001.
Soon the battle-scarred Enterprise joined Excelsior in Spacedock. Many people found it a stark and shocking display; one historically conscious FNS reporter compared it to an old, worn Terran B-17 aircraft (Enterprise) sitting next to a sparkling new B-29 (Excelsior) on an airfield during Earth’s World War II. Admiral Morrow soon informed the Enterprise crew of their ship’s fate, and ordered Chief Engineer Scott to report to Excelsior as Captain of Engineering. Morrow hoped that the project’s most vocal skeptic might somehow produce results. Scott went kicking and screaming. For nearly a week, Enterprise sat silent and abandoned next to her replacement, as if consigned to her fate as old news. Then, suddenly one late night, Enterprise began to wearily slip from her berth. A general yellow alert was issued to all Spacedock posts and to Excelsior herself. Someone was stealing the Enterprise.
Admiral Morrow informed Captain Styles that Admiral Kirk was stealing the Enterprise on an illegal mission to return to the newly formed Genesis Planet to somehow resurrect Captain Spock. Excelsior was ordered to pursue. All systems were successfully started and powered up. Captain Styles was confident that Excelsior could easily overtake and recapture the forty-year-old Enterprise; Excelsior’s engines had been fully prepared for the next day’s speed tests. Styles had earlier boasted that he was looking forward to breaking a few of Enterprise’s speed records, but now it seemed he was going to have the chance to beat Enterprise herself. As Enterprise passed through the Spacedock doors, Styles contacted his old rival Kirk to try to dissuade him from his plans, even as Excelsior’s transwarp core came to full power. Kirk was apparently unmoved as the Enterprise gained distance from Spacedock. After one final warning from Styles, Enterprise jumped to warp. Finally, Styles had the moment he had both wanted and dreaded. Excelsior’s helmsman confirmed full transwarp power was available, and Styles gave the order to engage transwarp drive.
The entire ship was alerted to prepare for transwarp speed. Everyone activated their inertial restraints and braced for the jump to transwarp. The transwarp core revved, the engine nacelles pulsed, but… nothing. Excelsior sputtered to a stop mere kilometers from Spacedock. Circuits fused and sparked, and on the bridge the computer offered Captain Styles a cheerful message: “Good Morning, Captain.” Excelsior’s engineers had to manually shut down the transwarp computer system to prevent the circuits from fusing. Styles and his senior staff were aghast. The transwarp drive hadn’t even engaged. No one understood what had happened until someone realized that Captain Scott wasn’t aboard. Styles quickly concluded that Scott had helped steal the Enterprise, and sabotaged Excelsior to prevent pursuit.
Excelsior was towed back into Spacedock by tow shuttles for repairs. Her engineers searched Excelsior’s propulsion systems for hours before discovering that several important computer components had been removed from the main transwarp drive computer. Without these components, the transwarp nacelles had never received the order to activate. It is worth noting that the engineers over-emphasized the importance of what Captain Scott had done. In fact, the ship was not equipped with redundant components to mitigate such a failure, but the engineers chose to overlook this fact for the moment. The fused computer systems were repaired and reprogrammed over the next weeks, and redundant circuits were added. Immediately afterward, Excelsior returned to her postponed transwarp trials. Excelsior began her full systems trials in the Sol System. The Excelsior was doing very well, but many were privately disappointed by what they considered mediocre results compared to what was hyped in the media. The ship’s transwarp drive still had not passed a Level Four Review, despite being continually reconfigured and reprogrammed as other systems were tested. Captain Styles assured Admiral Morrow that the ship was still 'breaking in,' and that they should have some shocking results soon.
Stardate 8381.3, somewhere between the Sol and Alpha Centauri systems. A critical systems failure had caused the Excelsior to fall violently out of transwarp with a terrible jolt. Something had gone seriously wrong. Fiery plasma streamed from the transwarp nacelle field grilles and pylon purge vents. In engineering, klaxons provided an unwelcome reminder of the impending disaster. Excelsior had reached speeds in excess of warp 14 (warp 8.5 on the recalibrated Modified Cochrane Unit Scale) but the transwarp core had developed a coolant leak. Engineers had scrambled to try to fix the problem as the ship continued to accelerate, but the problem only became worse. Captain Styles finally had to order the crew to eject the transwarp core while still at warp. As the Excelsior began to fall to subluminal speeds, the core fell behind andexploded in a brilliant, dramatic display of matter/antimatter annihilation, the shockwaves gently rocking the ship. No critical damage was sustained from the explosion, but the damage that had already occurred to the transwarp coils and related subsystems was serious by itself. Moments later, the Constitution-class U.S.S. Lexington, which had been following the Excelsior from a safe distance to observe the test flight, arrived on the scene to offer aid. Excelsior had to wait over twelve hours for two tow-ships to arrive to tractor her back to Spacedock.
Captain Styles sat disheartened in his chair on the bridge throughout the entire journey back to Earth, maintaining total silence except for the occasional order. This had been the third and most catastrophic failed test of the transwarp drive in the month following the ship's redeployment. Each time, Excelsior had failed to pass the ninth warp threshold jump without an incident. The first two times the power surge and subsequent overload had been contained, but this time was far worse. The Excelsior would have to return to Dry Dock for months of repair and refit to her power transfer conduits and transwarp coils and the installation of a new transwarp core. Styles was beginning to get worried. He feared that Mr. Scott had done them a favor when he had sabotaged the ship’s engines months prior.
Captain Styles wasn’t the only one beginning to feel the strain of Excelsior’s problems. After Excelsior returned to dock, Admiral Morrow faced serious questions from the Federation Council and Starfleet Command. What had begun as a bigger and better replacement for the Constitution class had turned into this “revolutionary” new project, largely under Morrow’s influence as a career-maker, and both authorities were ready for some results. Morrow had used the Excelsior to make his career in the Admiralty, and now it seemed it was going to break it. Soon, a distressed Admiral Morrow announced his decision to step down from his position as Chief in Command, and indeed retire from Starfleet. The strain of the failed project, as well as the political fallout of the now-mounting Genesis Crisis, had taken its toll, and Morrow was beginning to show age. Morrow’s return to civilian life allowed him to find a sense of self-fulfillment at his family’s ancestral home in Maine. Admiral Donald Lance Cartwright was appointed the new Chief in Command. One of Starfleet's directives to Cartwright was to make sure the Excelsior wasn't a failure, one way or the other. Though lacking Morrow's enthusiasm for the transwarp program, he saw potential in the Excelsior. Cartwright had long been a proponent for the increased militarization of Starfleet and recognized the tremendous range, firepower and military potential of Excelsior.
The Excelsior sat idle in Spacedock in late 2286 as the Whalesong Crisis occurred. Once again, Earth was threatened by a massive foreign Threat vehicle, and once again all conventional defenses proved ineffective. The Excelsior project, however, had been given the green light partially in response to the similar V’Ger threat over a decade earlier, but had proven useless partly thanks to her transwarp drive. Patience was beginning to run out in San Francisco. Instead of instantly abandoning her, with the hope of saving face in a project that had become a source of dread and embarrassment to many, Starfleet authorized the design team to use their refit to begin making major refinements in Excelsior’s propulsion systems.
Meanwhile, the decision was made to provide James Kirk and his crew a new Enterprise to replace the loss of the previous ship and honor them for saving Earth during the Whalesong Crisis. Though the original intention was to have the second Excelsior become the new Enterprise, Excelsior's problems had delayed her sisters' construction, and Starfleet's (and the public's) doubts about the class prodded them to rethink their decision. At the same time, an historic moment was occurring as the last production Constitution class ship sat in her dry dock nearly finished, years after the others had been built. Built from reclaimed 'leftovers' after the end of the Constitution refit cycle, she was meant to be a testbed for implementing new technology developed for the Excelsior project to refits for the Constitution class. By executive order, this ship was redesignated U.S.S. Enterprise, NCC-1701-A, and became the unofficial flagship of the Federation, performing exploratory duties as well as various high-level diplomatic and political missions, and setting the precedent for later Starships Enterprise to be declared the official flagship. (As an interesting historic sidenote, due to the presence of the U.S.S. Yorktown in Spacedock at the same time, some came to believe that this was the ship renamed.) Meanwhile, the entire Excelsior line was still facing serious doubts. The second Excelsior's name was changed to Ingram, and major changes were made to her design to incorporate proven technologies and try to give the class a second chance in the event that the transwarp project failed.
"If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross; but it's not for the timid." - Q