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Old July 4 2012, 05:25 PM   #76
CeJay
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Agamemnon, 2372


“Lieutenant Redmond O'Shaughnessy?” said Maya Donners as she glanced over the padd and then looked to her right were Arden Texx was leaning casually against the bulkhead of her ready room.

He too held a padd and began to nod as soon as he had found the officer’s service jacket on his device. “Absolutely capable,” he said. “High recommendations from his last assignment. Also, won the Academy sharpshooting contest two years in a row.”

Maya turned her head to glance at the other two officers in the room.

Both Lure Mer’iab and Beatiar Sh’Fane stood at full attention in front of her desk, keeping their eyes focused straight ahead without making eye contact with either the captain or the first officer. They had remained in that uncomfortable position ever since they had been summoned there minutes earlier.

“What’s your impression of Mister O’Shaugnessy, Lieutenant Mer’iab?” she asked, glancing at the tall avian.

“The commander is correct, sir, he is a very capable officer and even though I have known him for only a few days, I would have to say that he has shown great potential in the security division,” he said. His voice betrayed at least a slight irritation as he wasn’t entirely certain why he and his Marine counterpart had been asked to the captain’s office to discuss members of his team.

Maya nodded and glanced back at her padd. “Good,” she said and then found another personnel file. “How about Second Lieutenant Fabrizio Lombardi?”

The captain didn’t miss the small flicker that crossed Sh’Fane’s features.

“I like Fab,” said Texx. “Met him the other day in the crew lounge. Very personable fellow when off-duty. We had a couple of drinks shared a few laughs, he’s good people.”

Maya smirked. “Ok but is he a good Marine?” she said and her facial features hardened as she aimed a pointed look at the Andorian. “Lieutenant?”

“I would not have chosen Mister Lombardi as my executive officer if I were not completely convinced that he was good Marine, ma’am. His off-duty antics notwithstanding,” she said and allowed herself a quick look at a grinning Texx.

“I tell you something,” he responded. “He’s definitely a lot more fun having around than certain people I know.”

“Commander,” Maya warned.

He held up a hand defensively. “Sorry.”

The captain focused on the two officers standing at attention. “So do you think these candidates would be able to lead your respective teams then?”

That was enough to cause both the security officer and the marine to exchange surprised glances before quickly focusing on the captain.

“I’m waiting.”

Sh’Fane went first. “Lieutenant Lombardi has enough experience and training to take over the company if necessary.”

“That is true for O’Shaugnessy and the security division as well,” he said. “Should the need arise,” he added quickly.

Maya grinned and leaned forward slightly. “That’s good to hear. Because the way things are going I’m seriously considering having O’Shaugnessy and Lombardi replace you both as heads of your departments.”

“Captain, you cannot be –“

“Serious?” she said and cutting off the avian in mid-sentence. “I’m dead serious, Lieutenant. The CnC is keeping close taps on this little experiment we’re running here herself and I’m not going to be the one telling Admiral Blackwell that this whole thing was a big waste of time because two of my senior officers were unable to work together.”

“Captain, if I may –“

Donners was not going to let Sh’Fane get a word in. “You may not, Lieutenant. I want this to be perfectly clear. You are not irreplaceable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’re both perfectly capable officers in your own right and extremely good at what you do. But to be frank, I neither have the time nor the inclination to keep you around if you cannot make this work. So, last chance. Get on the same page or I’ll give somebody else the opportunity to dazzle me.”

She let those words sink in for a moment and was gratified to see that they had been stunned into silence.

“Dismissed.”

They snapped back to attention and then beat a quick retreat out of the ready room.

Maya sighed as soon as they had left. “I really don’t like using threats as a motivator,” she admitted.

“Sometimes it’s the only thing that works. You were right, they’re both good at what they do but they’re also hopelessly wrapped up in their own egos that they cannot see that they’re better together than on their own. A healthy dose of self-preservation may change that,” said the Bolian first officer.

She offered him a little smile. “You’ve been spending too much time with our new counselor.”

He shrugged. “The man knows what he’s talking about.”

“That he does,” she said and then: “Don’t tell him I said that. We have enough inflated egos on this ship.”

“My lips are sealed.”

Maya nodded and looked at the now closed doors. “You think they can make it work?”

Texx considered it for a moment. “I really hope so. Their second-in-commands are decent officers but they’re not as good as they are.”


* * *


“Commander, may I have a word?”

Texx had only just stepped out of the turbolift and upon hearing the familiar voice, instead of slowing down, he actually hastened his pace.

It didn’t discourage Tess Allenby who quickly caught up with the first officer.

“A little busy now, Lieutenant,” he said.

“I was just wondering, sir, what you have decided to do about Ensign DeSoto?”

“Do?” he asked without slowing or gracing her with as much as a glance.

“You must have heard about the incident in the deflector room,” she said and raised her previously injured hand even though none of the burns remained visible. “This is exactly the kind of thing I warned about. Due to the ensign’s blatant negligence I’ve come to great personal harm. The man is a risk to himself and the rest of the crew.”

The Bolian shot her a quick sidelong glance. “I wouldn’t call second-degree plasma burns great personal harm.”

“I was lucky,” she shot back. “Next time I may not get away with something so superficial. I could have been killed, Commander.”

Texx took a deep breath and then stopped and faced the operations officer.

“Something has to be done, sir. If you and the captain don’t feel that he should be transferred, at this point I think you need to at least consider a temporary suspension of duty and –“

“Tess, I like you, I really do.”

Her eyes grew wide at the unexpected personal tone. “Sir?”

“You are a very accomplished officer and from what I can tell you have a bright future ahead of you in Starfleet,” he continued.

It didn’t help to dispel her confused expression. “Uh … thank you, sir.”

“I would hate for you to throw that all away.”

That hit a nerve and where she had looked puzzled before she was positively panicked now. Her career, it was obvious, was not just incredibly important to her, it was what she lived for. At least it was what she told herself, Texx thought as he considered the young blond-haired officer for a moment.

“I don’t … understand.”

“Let me give you a little hint then,” he said. “I’ve just come out of a meeting in which the captain has threatened two senior officers who shall go unnamed with relieving them of their duties because they have shown an unwillingness to work together as would be expected. Now what do you think would happen if you keep pushing your little dilemma with our helmsman until you give the captain no other choice?”

“But sir,” she protested immediately. “I’ve tired to –“

“Have you really?”

That stumped her for a moment.

“Tess, the captain has just decided to brief the entire senior staff on what I understand to be a highly classified mission which may have severe consequences not just for her own career but if we fail, potentially for the entire sector,” the first officer said. “Do you really think anyone on this ship has the time to deal with your current spat with Ensign DeSoto?”

It was a rhetorical question of course.

“I need you to handle this yourself, Tess. And if you need my help with a solution that doesn’t involve somebody been thrown out of an airlock or re-assigned, you may come to me. Once this current mission is over. Until then, do your job and don’t let yourself get distracted.”

“I …” she actually had no other words.

Texx gave her a nod. “Observation lounge in twenty. I’ll see you then,” he said and moved on, leaving Allenby by herself in the middle of the corridor, looking after the first officer with a pained expression on her face.

“Yes, sir,” she mumbled to herself.


_ _ _ _

In some real world news, as Zha’Thara hinted at in an earlier chapter, scientists have indeed discovered the real God Particle, the Higgs Boson, a major breakthrough which helps to explain why objects in the universe have mass: 'God Particle' 'Discovered': European Researchers Claim Discovery of Higgs Boson-Like Particle

Happy Forth!
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Old July 4 2012, 05:41 PM   #77
DarKush
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Haven't caught up yet, but I did want to compliment you on the scene between Daystrom and Donners. I think you really captured the man's dilemma as well as laying out the pros and cons of both of their positions. I liked the idea of the Eugenic War being like an old argument, or old to some at least. The way Daystrom responded to the captain when she brought it up had a nice ring of authenticity to it. Like the man has had this argument over and over again.

I also like the idea that maybe more people know about the Omega molecule than I thought. It will be interesting watching the effect it has on Wayne whenever Agamemnon reaches the molecule.
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Old July 6 2012, 08:30 PM   #78
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

I very much appreciate the way Maya and Texx handled the quarreling Marine/Security chiefs. As much as Maya is loath to use threats to get them to tow the line, Texx is right… sometimes it’s the only thing that works.

And again Texx demonstrates his command talents as he refocuses Allenby on what’s really important here, and puts her academy-esque squabble in proper perspective.

Wonderful character work as the ship prepares to come face-to-face with the most destructive force in the known universe.
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Old July 9 2012, 07:26 PM   #79
Tribble puncher
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Can you replicate living things?
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Old July 9 2012, 08:28 PM   #80
CeJay
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Tribble puncher wrote: View Post
Can you replicate living things?
Not sure what you are referring to specifically but the short answer is no.

In an early chapter we do see DeSoto program the replicator to produce seemingly live gagh. I took creative license on that occasion. Even tough it's wiggly and all, presumably it's not really alive.
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Old July 10 2012, 03:58 AM   #81
Dnoth
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

I agree that the captain (and XO) handled that well. It's very 'real' that you put those squabbles in. A lot of so-called professionals do not act the part. Fortunately, some develop it over time...or with a swift kick in the a**!
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Old July 10 2012, 06:14 PM   #82
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

^ Ditto that! As the more militaristic members of the crew, Mer'iab and Sh'Fane would be used to seeing things in terms of potential threats. It's what they understand, what they deal with. And as such, 'cooperate, or else!' would have more resonance to them than 'cooperate for the good of the team'.
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Old July 11 2012, 05:27 PM   #83
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Khazara, 2372


She would never have admitted it to Subcommander Rekar, the Tal Shiar liaison and her temporary second-in-command, but Commander Toreth felt anxious about operating on the wrong side of the Neutral Zone.

The last time her vessel had been outside the Empire a couple of years ago, it had ended rather badly for her, facing off with a Starfleet vessel and having been compromised by a Federation spy who had been in cahoots with her own people to smuggle defectors into Starfleet’s waiting hands.

It had been an embarrassment from which she had not easily recovered. Her standing with the Imperial Guard had been severely damaged after that incident and it had bordered on a miracle that she had been able to cling to her command.

Her past experiences were not the only reason why she felt anxious over this mission. She had in fact voiced her protests to what she had been asked to do before they had set out, it wasn’t as if she still had a reputation to defend, but it had fallen on deaf ears to both the Tal Shiar and Admiral Tomalak. It wasn’t often that the Romulan intelligence community and high-ranking military officers saw eye-to-eye on anything but Toreth suspected that both parties saw this mission as their own means for redemption.

It had been less than a year that the ubiquitous intelligence service had been handed a sound and humiliating defeat by the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant, a fact that the remaining Tal Shiar had tried to keep hidden from the general populace but had failed to keep a secret from many in the military.

And Tomalak had suffered his own series of embarrassments over the years, especially at the hands of Starfleet, which had many left wondering how exactly he had managed to get himself promoted to his current rank. Some had speculated that the Senate had felt that he could do less damage to the Empire as a flag officer on Romulus than in command of a warbird patrolling the neutral zone.

Toreth knew that somebody had seriously underestimated the admiral’s drive and ambition as well as his determination to try and deal the Federation payback for the humiliation he had endured at their hands.

“Commander, we are now entering our destination star system,” reported the uhlan in charge of piloting the majestic D'deridex-class warbird.

The ship lurched as it encountered sudden resistance to its forward momentum.

“Report,” Toreth barked as she steadied herself in her chair.

“We are encountering increased gravimetric distortions the closer we get to our destination,” the uhlan at the helm said.

Toreth uttered a heavy sigh. They had travelled at full impulse for the last five hours to approach the Iota Crucis system and now that they had finally gotten close, another obstacle had been put into their path. “Tell engineering to double our output to the engines, I do not want to lose any more time than necessary. Keep us at full sub-light no matter what.”

“Yes, sir,” he said and began to contact the engineering compartment.

“We should be in communications range by now,” said Sub-commander Rekar. “Hail the Xenarth and let me begin my negotiations.”

The commander shot the man on her right a dark glare. Toreth had no love for the Tal Shiar and their overbearing officers, something that hadn’t changed after she had been fooled by a Federation spy who had impersonated herself as an intelligence officer on her ship. “Sub-commander, I do not know what kind of assignments you are used to and frankly I do not care,” she said in a sharp tone. “On this vessel I am the person giving the orders and I will be carrying out the negotiations.”

He took a step closer to her chair and spoke to her softly. “I do not care for your tone, Commander.”

“Nor do I for yours,” she shot back in an equally low tone. Her crew was well aware of her dislike for the Tal Shiar but she also understood that open conflict with Rekar could potentially lead to an early grave once this mission was over.

Rekar held his tongue, for now deciding it best to give the ship’s commanding officer some leeway in carrying out the mission how she felt best. Toreth had no illusions that he would swoop in again once he thought that things were not proceeding in the best interest of the Tal Shiar.

“Centurion, have you established communications with the Xenarth leadership?”

The second officer nodded sharply. “It appears our intelligence reports were accurate, Commander and I have been able to open a direct line to Scholar Queen Klestra, the current leader of the Xenarth Aggregate.”

Rekar had a self-satisfying smile on his lips. “You doubted the accuracy of our reports?”

“It wouldn’t have been the first time the Tal Shiar was wrong,” said Toreth.

The dark scowl on the intelligence officer’s features told her that she had gone too far and she made a mental note to reign in her distaste for the man. She glanced back at her second officer. “Put her on screen, Centurion.”

Moments later the distinctive insectoid face of a presumably female Xenarth appeared on the main viewer at the front of the bridge. It took all of Toreth willpower not to show her disgust for the clearly non-humanoid creature’s appearance. She couldn’t help herself, the Xenarth reminded her of the vile insect-like race which infested the Romulan world of Aranthka IX.

“What is the meaning of this intrusion? Who are you?” the female insectoid said with a noticeable clicking noise in her speech, her feelers twitching in angry excitement.

The commander rose from her chair. “My name is Toreth and I represent the Romulan Star Empire,” she said. “We have observed your recent embrace of advanced technology with great interest and believe that you may be ready to become a significant ally to our people.”

Toreth couldn’t be certain, of course, but she thought those large and dark compound eyes considered her with suspicion. “We have no interest of foreigners meddling with our affairs.”

She smirked at this. “I’m afraid you have no choice in this matter if you value your continued existence.”

“You threaten us?”

Toreth quickly shook her head. “Absolutely not,” she said resolutely. “I simply wish to warn you of the dangers of pursuing an isolationist policy in this region of space. You may not be aware of this yet, seeing that you have only recently developed technology able to probe deeper into space, but you are surrounded on all sides by powerful forces, some reasonable and friendly like the Romulan Star Empire and some corruptive and hostile like the Federation.”

“The Federation,” she nearly spat. “We have had dealing with them in the distant past.”

That threw Toreth off for a moment and she allowed herself a quick glance towards Rekar. His reports had not indicated that the Xenarth had made previous contact with other races. As far as she had been told the Xenarth had been an insignificant pre-warp civilization until very recently when they had suddenly developed space-faring technology and more importantly commenced work on synthesizing a power source far beyond what even the scientists in the empire had ever successfully achieved. To Toreth it had sounded like an improbable scenario from the first time she had heard of it and secretly she was pleased that the Tal Shiar had clearly not been as knowledgeable of Xenarth history as they had claimed.

That much was obvious upon studying Rekar’s now blank expression. But before he could suggest a remedy for this lack of intelligence, Toreth decided to gamble and she turned back towards the screen. “So you must know then of their contemptible attempts to try and corrupt all people they encounter.”

It was difficult to tell if she was on to something or not, the Xenarth’s face was not easily read and the queen remained silent.

“I expect that they have noticed your recent technological advancements just as we have and that they have dispatched an invasion force as we speak. However if you agree to ally yourself with us, the Star Empire will protect you from their meddling influence.”

“What guarantee do I have that you will not do the same?”

At that she smiled. It was a good-natured smile, one she had spent countless times practicing in her mirror. “If you tell me now that you do not wish our assistance, that you’d rather deal with the Federation and their powerful military apparatus by yourself, I will order this ship to turn around immediately and we will never bothered you again,” she said. She could hear a nervous Rekar take a step forward, clearly not happy about the way she was handling these so-called negotiations. She held up a hand towards him in a way that Klestra couldn’t see from her vantage point, keeping the Tal Shiar agent at bay. “However, I must stress to you that this is the only offer of assistance that we shall make. We have our own resources to consider and we expended quite a few of to come here today. If you wish to face the Federation by yourselves and you eventually realize that you don’t like what they have to offer. The Star Empire will be in no position to help you fight off the foreign soldiers which by then will certainly have invaded your sovereign lands.”

Queen Klestra uttered a number of clicking noises in quick succession. The fact that the translation matrix did not provide an interpretation in Romulan led Toreth to believe that those hadn’t been actual words. The insectoid fell silent again for a moment, then glanced off screen before eventually focusing on the Romulan commander again. “My predecessors were foolish,” she said. “They believed that they needed no allies while the Colony was at its weakest and most vulnerable. Then, when we were almost destroyed because of Federation intercession we turned away from the very technology which could have made us great again. I will not let the past repeat itself. The Xenarth will once again rise as a power to be reckoned with.”

Toreth was in the inevitable position in which she had no clear understanding as to what the insectoid queen was referring to. Clearly there was much more to the Xenarth than the Tal Shiar had been able to learn. She decided to go along with it. “The Romulan Star Empire can help you to achieve greatness again, Queen Klestra. All the Federation has ever been interested in is to keep those they conquer and corrupt in line with their narrow-minded morals and ideology. We on the other hand want to see you fulfill your entire potential.”

“You are welcome to approach New Xenarth,” she said. “And we shall discuss your proposed alliance in more detail.”

Toreth smiled. “I’m looking forward to meeting you in person, Queen Klestra.”

That smile and appearance of confidence disappeared from her face along with the image of the insectoid on the screen as she let herself sink back into her command chair.

Any reasonable observer may have guessed that Toreth knew exactly what she was doing. The truth however was that she was heavily improvising. Neither Tomalak nor Rekar had told her much about the true nature of this mission or what it was exactly that made the Xenarth so valuable as to risk open confrontation with the Federation. She hated to be left in the dark and she was determined to remedy this situation as soon as possible.
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Old July 13 2012, 01:57 AM   #84
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Well played by Toreth, who’s already dancing on the edge of a razor and taunting her Tal Shiar minder. Leave it to the Romulans to stumble blindly into an already dicey situation and make it ever so much worse!
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Old July 17 2012, 04:09 AM   #85
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Just got completely caught up. This is a great story, CeJay! I'll add my kudos for your great character work in this story.

Captain Donners is having to walk a razor's edge between following her orders and following her command instincts in a situation that is becoming more complex with each chapter. Now with the Romulans in the mix, the chance for a catastrophic outcome has grown by geometric proportions.

Maya seems up to the task - she's shown herself willing to deal with recalcitrant senior officers while listening to the counsel of her senior NCO and of course, the Counselor. Texx is also showing his moxie as First Officer. But the relatively young and often volatile crew may be facing a challenge that will stretch them to the breaking point. Truly a tense and dramatic tale with major consequences not just for the Federation but the entire quadrant.

And I'm also enjoying the flashback to the Lexington and Commodore Wesley and co. You're doing a great job portraying them as well!
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Old July 18 2012, 05:54 PM   #86
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Lexington, 2267


“The swarm ships have detected us and are altering course. Two minutes to intercept,” said Terrence Lawford while peering through the sensor hood on the navigation console.

“Steady as she goes, Ensign,” said Wesley, once more starring intently towards the screen were a small cluster of flickering space indicated the presence of hundreds of tiny ships heading straight for Lexington. The commodore toggled his comm unit. “G’arv, are the shield modifications ready?”

“Ready as they’ll ever be,” he responded sharply. “They should hold for about five minutes. After that all bets are off.”

“Bring the shield online and siphon every last bit of energy you can spare into the grid.”

Not a moment later the lights on the bridge noticeably dimmed and Wesley could hear the telltale sounds of power being rerouted from all non-essential systems around him.

“Shields are up,” Lawford said.

“How long until we reach the planet?” Wesley wanted to know.

“Four minutes and thirty-two second until standard orbit if we maintain full impulse,” said Zha’Thara.

This prompted the first officer to step next to his captain and slightly lean into him. “No guarantee they will let up once we get there,” he said in a whispered tone of voice which for the man known as the Bear turned out to be not much of a whisper at all.

Wesley simply nodded, already fully cognizant of the risks inherent of this plan.

“Here come the bugs,” said Aliz Bathory and instinctively held on to her console.

She didn’t need to have bothered. The shield modifications held and while Lexington began to shake and tremble once more, it was much gentler this time around.

“They’re on top of us and opening fire. Shields are holding but not for their lack of trying,” said the Andorian who monitored the swarm ship’s effort through her sensor viewer.

Wesley turned in his chair until he faced his communications chief, sitting behind him and next to the turbolift entrance. “Lieutenant, any sign of communication from the planet?”

Oudekirk held her earpiece a little tighter and manipulated a few buttons on her console as she looked over her shoulder. “I’m picking up a lot of chatter between the swarm ships and Iota Curcis IV. I cannot make out what they’re saying yet but the UT is starting to catch on. Whatever they are saying to each other, it has become a lot more urgent in the last few minutes.”

“They’re getting nervous,” said Kuznetsov.

“Can you blame them?” asked the science officer, turning from her own station. “They have an unknown, well-armed and seemingly unstoppable ship on direct course to their world. I’d be nervous, too.”

Wesley considered that for a moment and then nodded. “They see us as a threat,” he said and then to Oudekirk. “Open another channel, Lieutenant, this time directed towards the planet.”

She gave him a quick nod to know he could speak.

“Attention, this is Commodore Robert Wesley from the Federation starship Lexington. We come in peace and only wish to talk to you. We do not have hostile intentions. I say again, we come in peace.”

He waited a moment and then looked back at the Dutch comm officer. But she shook her head. There had been no apparent reply.

“If we can’t understand them yet, perhaps they can’t understand us,” the first officer suggested.

“Keep sending that message in a continuous loop. Perhaps their translators are more efficient than ours.”

Oudekirk nodded and went to work.

Just then the bridge trembled sharply almost causing Ketteract to be thrown to the deck before he could grab hold of the railing. “God, I thought those shields were going to hold,” he said.

“This is what you asked us to do, Doctor,” Kuznetsov shot back, showing zero sympathy for the man. “Get to this planet, no matter what.”

“The swarm ships have picked up the pace, sir,” said the Andorian after checking her readings. “I don’t think we have as much time as we thought.”

Moments later Commander G’arv from engineering put a much finer point to it. “Bridge, whatever we’re doing, we’re making them angry. We don’t have enough juice in our circuits to keep those shield modifications up for more than a minute or so. Commodore, I strongly suggest a new course of action or you won’t have a ship left to worry about.”

Bob Wesley left his chair and stepped up right behind Cilla Oudekirk as if his physical proximity to the communications console could will the other end to respond to their hails. “Anything on the UT yet?”

She shook her head. “Sorry, sir. It’s having a tough time with the alien syntax.”

Lexington’s captain looked back at the screen were he could see nothing but a moving mass of black and brown which had completely enveloped his ship. He had to steady himself by holding on to the back of Oudekirk’s chair as the deck plates under his feet trembled with increasing severity. He thought he could see specks of the sepia-colored planet not far beyond the bug ships.

“We’re beginning to lose main power,” said Zha’Thara and as if to stress her point, the bridge lights began to dim further. A few non-essential console went completely dark, startling the officers manning them.

The first officer found Wesley’s eyes. “Fight of flight time?”

Wesley nodded and then looked back towards Oudekirk. “Open the channel again.”

“Channel open.”

“Attention, this is to whoever can hear me on Iota Crucis IV. We will not be deterred to reach your planet even if you are successful in destroying us in the process.”

This caused a few bridge officers to shoot their captain, the man they trusted with their very lives, surprised glances. Some even gasped openly, not having expected this to become a suicide run.

Most telling of all perhaps was Bendes Ketteract, who judging by his confused facial expression wasn’t quite sure how he should feel about being killed in pursuit of a scientific excursion he himself had practically demanded.

“But note this: If you are successful in destroying this vessel, many more will come to investigate and you will be unable to defend yourself against a dozen ships similar to this one. Your desperate attempts to remain isolated will fail.”

The bridge fell silent except for the increasing sounds of the battered shields and a ship sailing through rough and worsening waters. Most eyes remained on Oudekirk who frantically tried to send and resend the commodore’s last message through whatever channels she could open quickly enough.

G’arv’s angry voice pierce the silence. “Bridge, you’ve had better made peace with your creator. Shields are failing.”

One bridge console after the next began to explode in a spark of flames and a number of officers were thrown from their seats. But as quickly as the chain reaction had begun did it cease again.

And then, as if having cleared a storm, the deck plates stopped rattling and their ride smoothed out. Like dissipating clouds, the swarm ships disengaged to allow a clear view on Iota Crucis IV now just a few hundred kilometers away.

Alexei Kuznetsov couldn’t help himself and an uncharacteristically large grin spread over his face. “Remind me never to play poker with you, Commodore.”

Wesley gave him a blank look in response. “Who said I was bluffing?” he said and headed back to his chair.

Ketteract couldn’t stop his jaw from hanging wide open, not able to quite process how close he had come to being killed before ever getting a chance to get a good look at his wonder particles.

Zha’Thara however seemed to know better and her little smile seemed to give away that she had never once doubted Wesley and his ability to get them through that rough patch in one piece.

“Commodore, we are being hailed,” a clearly relieved Oudekirk announced.

“Put it on screen, Lieutenant,” Wesley said after he had settled in his chair again, looking as stone-faced and professional as ever.

The main viewer shifted for a moment and then displayed an entirely alien face. The person on the screen, and no one on Lexington’s bridge could tell for certain if it was a person at all, male or female for that matter, possessed a body which appeared to have more in common with a large insect than a human. Its toughened skin appeared more like an exoskeleton in some places. Its oblong head had two huge and pitch black eyes which were positioned at its sides. Two v-shaped feelers protruded from its frontal lobes and not too far below sat two large mandibles which looked razor-sharp. Most of the rest of the creature’s body was hidden but it did appear to have at least four arms.

The bridge crew stared at the screen with poorly hidden surprise and disgust.

“It’s hideous,” said Aliz Bathory under her breath before she could even think about her words.

“Ensign, belay that,” Wesley said sharply.

“Sorry,” she mumbled and then forced herself to look down at her station instead.

The creature didn’t appear to have noticed the outburst but instead began to talk in an urgent series of clicks and tones which were incomprehensible to Wesley and his crew. From the way its mandibles and antennae twitched, the insect-like creature was furious.

“Lieutenant, the universal translator,” said he commodore without ever taking his eyes off the creature.

“Coming online now,” she reported. “I think it made a breakthrough.”

No sooner had she spoken, the previously strange voice began to make sense. “… sovereign territory of the Xenarth Colony. You are to turn around immediately and leave this system or face destruction,” said the creature with what the universal translator had clearly interpreted as a female sounding voice.

“I apologize for the intrusion and I assure you we have no hostile intentions against you and your people. My name is Robert Wesley and I represent the United Federation of Planets. To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”

The creature on the screen seemed to ponder those words for a moment, as if considering if they were even worth her response. “You are addressing Warrior Queen Quelphi, representative of the Xenarth Aggregate. You have five lirkiks to turn your vessel around and leave our space before I will order your destruction.”

If Wesley was intimidated by the threat he did an impressive job of hiding it. Instead he only looked more resolute as he leaned forward in his chair, displaying a much more relaxed and comfortable image of himself compared to his agitated counterpart. “Queen Quelphi, I am not certain if you appreciate our situation. According to our records, the planet which you are currently occupying is uninhabited and within the borders of our Federation. So you see, it is in fact you who has intruded into our space and I am duty bound to investigate this matter fully.”

This seemed to irritate Quelphi further. “This is not our concern. This planet and this system have now been rightfully claimed by the Xenarth Colony,” she stopped herself and looked off-screen as if somebody there had caught her attention. Then with something akin to a frown she turned back to face Wesley. “You will hold your position until I contact you again. Failure to follow these instructions will lead to your annihilation.” The channel was closed with no further notice.

The commodore turned his chair to face his senior officers. “Thoughts?”

“She’s aggressive,” said the first officer immediately. “As you would expect from somebody with the title of Warrior Queen. But unsure of herself, that much seemed obvious. Like she knows she doesn’t belong here.”

Wesley nodded. “The question is then, where did they come from and why did they choose to come here. If there had a choice in the matter that is,” he said and then looked at his science officer next.

“Fascinating, as my Vulcan colleagues would say. They are a species of highly-evolved insectoids with a social structure not unlike more primitive anthropoid life-forms. The fact that she referred to herself as a warrior queen seems to imply that she is merely one of many other similar queens to make up their ruling establishment. Judging by the way she seemed to defer to somebody else, I’d say she isn’t the leader or at least not in a position to make final decisions by herself.”

“Commodore, may I remind you that this isn’t an anthropological survey. We’re here to investigate the energy radiation that may very well be prepared for a weapon of imaginable power even as we speak,” said Ketteract, once more injecting himself into the conversation without a second thought.

“I haven’t forgotten, Doctor. But in order to learn more about these energy readings, first we have to gain these people’s trust and that means learning more about them.”

“Sir, they are hailing us again,” Oudekirk reported.

“Put her on, Lieutenant,” he said and swiveled his chair around again to face the main viewer.

Quelphi reappeared. “Robert Wesley, do you intend to challenge our claim to this world?” she asked bluntly.

“On the contrary,” he responded without missing a beat. “I’m perfectly willing to open negotiations between your people and mine so that we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement.”

That seemed to have thrown off the warrior queen who had apparently not expected this response. Wesley quickly understood that Quelphi was exactly who she claimed to be. She was a warrior and certainly not a diplomat.

“We are mostly curious about the events which have brought you to this place. We have detected strange and unknown energy readings emanating from your world and would like to learn more about yourself and this energy you employ.” No sooner had he said this, Robert Wesley came to regret his words. He knew almost immediately that he had pushed too far, too quickly.

The warrior queens renewed signs of alarm were obvious. “None of this is your concern and we are not interested in sharing any knowledge with you. I repeat my previous ultimatum. You now have –“

Wesley decided to become more bullish himself, interrupting this latest threat before it could be fully formed. “This is not getting us anywhere. As I have pointed out, you are technically our guests. I have shown my willingness to open friendly negotiations with you but if you are unwilling to do so you will leave me no choice but to summon my fleet which will treat you as the intruder that you are.”

This prompted another look to somewhere off screen and whatever was transpiring between Quelphi and persons unknown seemed to disturb the warrior queen even more. Finally she turned back towards Wesley. “What is it you propose?”
The captain of the Lexington fought the urge to reveal a triumphant smile. “I propose a face-to-face meeting to discuss this situation further. Myself and a small number of my crew could meet your official representatives on the surface –“

Now it was her turn to interrupt. “Unacceptable.”

Wesley nodded slowly almost as if he had expected this response. “Very well. In that case perhaps you would like to join us on board of my ship to open our negotiations.”

The fact that she didn’t dismiss this out of hand gave Wesley hope.

“Agreed. Expect our representative to join your vessels shortly. You will maintain your position and make no further attempts to approach this planet or you will be –“

“Annihilated. Yes, I get the drift.”

Queen Quelphi feelers twitched angrily one more time and then she disappeared from the view screen again.
“Is this a bad time to point out that I used to burn ants with a magnifying glass when I was a kid?” said Lawrence with a smirk.

Wesley stood from his chair. “Listen up folks,” he began, his voice carrying his usually firm and authoritarian tone across the bridge. “I appreciate that these Xenarth look strange and alien to us and that they have an undeniable resemblance to certain insects we may not be particularly fond of. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that these are sentient and clearly highly-intelligent beings. As Starfleet officers it is our mission to respect all life, no matter what form it takes. I expect you all to live up to those ideals while we negotiate with these people.”

Lawrence and Bathory looked sufficiently chastised and apologetic for their remarks even if the commodore had not singled them out as he spoke to the bridge. Instead it had been the Bear who had shot them both warning glances, making it perfectly clear that he would hold them accountable for whatever inappropriate remarks came over their lips. It was a warning not to be taken lightly.

But Wesley was happy to leave it at that. He had made his views clear and expected no further problems. “Commander Zha’Thara, I want you and Doctor Ketteract to start scanning the planet and the surrounding space for any signs of this mysterious energy. Inch-by inch if necessary. Learn whatever you can from your sensors.”

The Andorian nodded and went straight to work. Ketteract on the other hand did not appear to be satisfied and shook his head. “That’s not going to be enough. We need to get down there and analyze the source of these readings up close.”

“One step at a time, Doctor. For now, find out what you can from here and I’ll see what I can do to make sure you get your name written into the history books,” he said with a dry sarcasm which apparently was lost on the scientist but not on his first officer who couldn’t keep that smirk off his face.
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Old July 19 2012, 06:14 AM   #87
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Okay, and I thought Jim Kirk was good at bluffing!

The commodore’s gambit was as dangerous as it was successful, and one thing is for certain, Bob Wesley knows how to make a First Contact!

After all is said and done, I sincerely hope the Bear has the opportunity to toss Dr. Ketteract down a turboshaft.
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Old July 20 2012, 06:10 PM   #88
The Badger
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

I must admit that as much as I enjoy the Agamemnon segments (a lot!), I enjoy the Lexington scenes even more. Perhaps it's simply due to the rarity factor, most fanfic I've read has concentrated on the TNG era or later.

The crew's reaction to the sight of Quelphi was a very nice touch, showing that in this era humanity is still learning how to accept alien species.
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Old July 25 2012, 06:55 PM   #89
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Agamemnon, 2372


“Hard to believe that Starfleet has been able to keep this a secret for over 100 years,” said Vej after Maya had briefed her senior staff on exactly what they were up against.

It had not been an easy decision to make and in truth she hated the idea that her first significant command decision after receiving her captaincy had been to violate her orders.

She blamed her counselor. After all it had been after one of her regular session with Vej and following his advice to study Commodore’s Wesley’s classified logs of his own encounter with the Omega Molecule, that she had started to believe that she had no choice but to bring in the rest of her senior staff.

Maya aimed a pointed look at the Ulian who sat to her immediate left in Agamemnon’s spacious observation lounge, after he had been the first to speak up. Vej’s inclusion in this meeting could have been seen as an especially grievous disregard of the Omega Directive considering that he wasn’t even a Starfleet officer. As far as she was concerned, she valued his opinion the most.

He understood the look for what it was. “A secret which naturally shall remain absolutely safe with me,” he continued.

She nodded and turned to the rest of her crew, most of which were still focusing on the wall-mounted screen which showed as much information about Omega as Amaya had been comfortable sharing with her crew and she hadn’t held back much. After all if she needed her crews help in dealing with this, there was little point in keeping them ignorant of what Omega was or what it could do.

Judging by their faces, they were all astonished of learning of this immeasurably powerful particle’s existence.

Chen, who Maya noted had chosen a seat next to their Xenarth guest, seemed especially interested in learning about this new power source which was hardly a surprise considering his profession. “The practical applications of a stabilized Omega molecules must be close to infinite,” he said as he mandibles clicking excitingly. “It could revolutionize the way we power our starship, our planets and open up possibilities we’ve never even thought off before.”

“Its power is unquestionable,” said Queen Ket. “My people used it to travel many thousands of light-years in a mere instant.”

Most eyes in the room focused on the Xenarth with amazement.

“How is that possible?” asked Doctor Sessar-Rass

“We call it the Heaven’s Portal,” she said. “Forgive me for I cannot provide you with a technical explanation as to its operation but the device, along with this power source were the means with which we came to be on New Xenarth.”

“Astonishing,” said Allenby. “I’ve heard of the Iconian gateways but I suppose this puts even that technology to shame.”

If Lure Mer’iab’s was as excited by these revelations as the rest of the senior staff, he did a good job at hiding it behind his stern, avian visage. “What about military applications? Weaponizing this molecule could make any power in the quadrant unstoppable.”

“Until your enemies get their hands on it,” said Sh’Fane who sat at the opposite side of the room, no doubt on purpose. “Then what you get is a war of attrition with collateral damage in epic proportions.”

The security chief nodded his head without gracing the marine with a look. “Not necessarily. With two or more nations in possession of weapons of this magnitude, it could result in a balance of power in which the mere presence of such weapons creates a mutual deterrent for war.”

“Right,” she said sarcastically. “And that’s a good thing because?”

The avian noticeably ruffled his feathers in a sign of annoyance before glancing her way. “I did not say that this was a preferable outcome but simply a possibility,” he said and then focused on the captain. “My tactical assessment is that the mere existence of such a weapon would pose a great threat to galactic security and stability.”

Maya nodded.

“I disagree.”

All eyes turned towards Wayne Daystrom but the sudden attention did not seem to bother the young and barrel-chested science officer. “And I think it is a mistake to allow ourselves to merely think of the dangers of a new discovery and let that determine our entire approach to it. There is no doubt the Omega molecule can be dangerous but at the same time it can be so incredibly valuable that we cannot allow our fears to blind us to its incredible potential. Starfleet has kept this a secret for a hundred years but no matter how hard you try to keep something hidden, we all know it will come to light eventually. Why not reveal this now? In a controlled manner and on our terms. As Commander Chen has pointed out, the potential of what this could mean to the Federation, the entire galaxy even, is staggering.”

Maya had worried about precisely this. Daystrom, by now, had had plenty of time to give the matter further thought, and considering his history with Omega and his own reservations which he had raised when she had first approached him, it came as little surprise that he would try again, this time with an audience. Of course there was no doubt in her mind that his carefully rehearsed speech had been addressed at her while trying to pick up supporters in the senior staff.

“Lieutenant, this is neither the time nor the place to discuss Federation policy,” said Texx. “Even if we wanted to, we are not in a position to influence Starfleet’s strategy on this Omega molecule.”

Maya was about to jump in to fully agree with her first officer when Daystrom beat her to it. “Why not? How else do you change something that is so blatantly wrong? You have to start somewhere and it might as well be here,” he said, his voice beginning to reflect the passion he felt for this issue. “And surely Starfleet listens to their captains,” he said and then focused in on Donners at the head of the conference table. “If you were to tell them –“

She interrupted him. “Let me stop you there, Wayne,” she said with a little smile. “I’m flattered that you think I have such influence but the truth is that you have a rather exaggerated view of my importance within the hall of powers. May I remind you that I’ve been a starship captain for less than two weeks.” She shook her head. “I’m afraid I haven’t earned my right to tell Starfleet what to do and rightly so. And quite honestly I doubt even the most accomplished Starfleet officer in the fleet would be able to change the way Command feels about this.”

Daystrom was clearly not satisfied with his response. “We can at least try,” he said. “If we all just give up before even attempting to change the wrongs of the galaxy then nothing will ever change.”

The captain stood from her chair and she felt every set of eyes in the room follow her as she walked over to the screen which continued to display the details on this controversial particle. Next she glanced out of the sloped forward-facing viewports, staring out into space for a moment and towards their destination.
Then she faced her assembled senior crew. “Let’s be clear about this,” she said. “I am not entirely certain that this Omega Directive is the wrong way to deal with something so enormously powerful.”

“Destroying what we do not understand?” the science officer said. “How does that not go against everything we’ve been led to believe Starfleet stands for?”

She nodded slowly to accede to that point. “Starfleet is also responsible for the well-being of billions of life-forms all across the known galaxy and sometimes that means to make difficult and uncomfortable decisions,” she said and immediately held up a hand as Daystrom was looking to butt in again. “The dangers of Omega are well-documented and plain to see to anyone who has studied it. They simply outweigh the potential benefits and that is the reason this decision has been made. Am I perfectly comfortable with withholding information and aggressively destroying Omega wherever we may encounter it? Of course not. But I understand how it is not a decision for any of us to make. And I’m thankful for that.”

She let her gaze wander across the room until it fell on Vej who looked at her with a somewhat troubled expression. Maya immediately understood why. Her speech notwithstanding, he understood better than anyone else in the room that she was incredibly torn on this issue herself and that as a result she had not been as convincing in her argument as she should have been. She had allowed her own doubts to shine through and allowed this conversation to go on for much longer than may have been wise. Perhaps a more veteran starship captain would have ended this entire debate much sooner and much more resolutely.

“If I may speak?” asked Queen Ket.

Maya was thankful for the distraction and graced the insectoid with a warm smile. “You do not need permission. Please go ahead.”

The Xenarth considered Daystrom first but then addressed all the people at the table. “I cannot hide my amazement over your open dialogue which this matter has invited. It would be something unthinkable among my own people, specifically after the Aggregate has made a decision on how to proceed. I find this refreshing. However, I would be remiss if I did not allow you to see my own perspective on what my people call the Xendaru particle. Our scholars have studied it in great detail for many generations, much longer I presume than your own. And ever since the days we have first discovered it, we have attempted to utilize its awesome potential. I am not a scholar but I can tell you that the sacrifices, both in lives and resources that we have had to pay have been near incalculable. And when we were finally at a stage were we thought it could be safely utilized we found ourselves at the brink of collapse following an invasion by an alien force more powerful than anything we had ever encountered before. We were left with no choice but to use Xendaru to try an escape from their single-minded aim to secure it for themselves. Millions of my people perished defending our word and millions more when the Heaven’s Portal transplanted the Colony to New Xenarth.”

It took a moment to let Ket’s abridged Xenarth history sink in with the officers around the table.

It was Mer’iab who spoke first. “This alien race that attacked you? Do you know who they were?”

Texx stepped in. “I think we should remain focused on the core message of the Xenarth’s experience with Omega.”

Maya sat back in her chair. “Agreed,” she said and focused on the insectoid. “It’s disturbing to hear that after everything your people have been through they would attempt to risk everything yet again by synthesizing this molecule a second time.”

Ket jerked her head sideways in a sign of her agreement. “It is the reason I have sought you out, Captain. I’m hoping that together we can avoid repeating the same mistakes.”

She nodded but then her facial expressions hardened. “We have something called the Prime Directive,” she explained. “It means that we are not allowed to interfere with other races internal matters and developments. This Omega Directive overrides this but you have to understand that the Prime Directive is one of our most important rules and has been drilled into us since the very first day we attended the Academy. We have all sworn an oath to uphold it. It will not be easy for any of us to try and stop your people while finding a way of least interference.”

“Nor has it been easy for me to seek you out, Captain, and ask your help to turn against my own kin.”

Maya immediately felt somewhat ashamed of not having considered Ket’s own sacrifice before. She was risking everything by coming here and asking for Starfleet’s help.

“I can only imagine how hard this is for you, Ket,” said Chen as he focused on the fellow insectoid and beating the captain to stress her support. “I am certain that Captain Donners and this crew will do whatever we can to prove that your trust in us has not been misplaced.”

“I wholeheartedly agree,” Maya said.

The Artisan Queen appeared grateful for the sentiment.

“The question then, ladies and gentlemen,” said the captain, “is how do we help Queen Ket and the Xenarth to avoid potentially destroying themselves and half the quadrant along with it?”

Daystrom as expected looked pained by that question and Maya immediately noticed. “Lieutenant,” she said, addressing him directly. “As difficult as this may be for your, we will rely on your expertise with Omega to try and neutralize it.”

To his credit he didn’t delay his response. “Of course, sir, you will have it.”

She didn’t miss his sudden stiffness or the neutral tone in his voice but decided that it had to be good enough for now.

Texx regarded the Artisan Queen. “What can you tell us about the location of the Omega facility?”

“Supreme Klestra is not as careless as our leadership had been when we first meddled with this power. She made the wise precaution to move the facilities charged with synthesizing the particles onto our moons. To my knowledge there are two expansive facilities, one on each of our smallest satellites.”

“Considering the unstable nature of the Omega particle and the destructive force it may unleash in an accident I recommend a ground assault,” said Beatiar Sh’Fane.

Maya turned to look at the security chief, fully expecting a harsh rebuke from the avian.

“I agree that it is our best option.”

Maya and Arden Texx exchanged surprised looks at finding the marine and the security chief in agreement for once.

“And considering the scope of the operation we would probably require a combined force of security personnel and marines,” he continued.

The captain suppressed the urge of cracking a wide smile at Mer’iab’s statement. She found that the Andorian wasn’t quite able to and she noticed the tiniest of smirks on her lips. Perhaps the first she had ever seen on the serious woman’s face. It was gone in a flash.

“I’d be happy to produce a full assault plan,” she said after the brief moment of amusement had passed.

Mer’iab’s head jerked into her direction, clearly not please by her initiative.

Maya spoke up before the little détente between the two officers could be undone by another confrontation. “I need you two to work together on an assault strategy as soon as we have a better idea what we are up against and we have a plan on how to neutralize Omega. To be clear, this is a contingency plan only at this point. I have no intentions of carrying out a full assault unless there is no other way to persuade the Xenarth Aggregate to discontinue Omega-related research. I’d much rather find a peaceful –“

The shrill alert klaxon warbling through the speakers cut her short.

“Red alert. Captain, please report to the bridge,” the voice of Bobby DeSoto called out over the blaring sound of the alarm.

Maya was up and out of her chair in less than a second and already heading towards the exit. The rest of her officers were close behind.


* * *
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Old July 25 2012, 07:57 PM   #90
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Hmmm. Captain Donners really put herself and her career out on a limb by bringing the senior staff into the loop. Still, a Starfleet captain often has to make tough calls far from the bureacracy of Starfleet command. I think she made the right call, but it might cost her.

Daystrom is troubling. He seems almost obsessed with the Omega Particle. I hope he's as committed to obeying Donners' orders as he says, otherwise . . .

And now the ship has gone to red alert. Trouble is brewing and Maya Donners is getting her real initiation as a starship captain.
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