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Old July 13 2012, 12:49 AM   #31
Fleet Captain
Location: In the illusion, but not of it.
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

I agree, the banter is great (and in my opinion) hard to write. You do it well.
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Old July 15 2012, 03:59 PM   #32
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Glad you're liking the banter CeJay and D'noth. The Erickson crew has grown me more than I suspected. Almost feels bad seeing what might be in store for some of them.

************************************************** *************

The Burning Claw
First Mate’s Quarters

First Mate Gedrik sat up in his bed, his thoughts finally coalescing into answer for the questions that had been plaguing him ever since they left the alien starship. Stumbling out of bed, he rushed to the communicator attached to his wall. He slapped it hard, and croaked into the intercom.

“Gedrik to Captain Deoch,” he nearly shouted.

“What is it now Gedrik?” The captain didn’t even attempt to hide his annoyance.

“We’ve got to go back to that ship.”

“I told you before that we have a rendezvous with the Orions and we’re already behind schedule due to this accursed nebula,” Deoch groused. “We don’t have time to satiate your scientific curiosities!”

“Perhaps you wouldn’t feel so if I told you that on that ship lies the answer to saving our homeworld.”

“Do you take me for a fool?”

“If I did, would I bring this to you now, or even be part of this crew?” Gedrik asked.

“I see,” Deoch said slowly, and the first mate could tell his commander was mulling over what the man had said. With Deoch it didn’t matter so much what one said, but how one said it. He admired confidence, assertiveness, boldness.

“Are you certain of this?” Gedrik wisely kept silent. He knew any further attempts to bolster his argument would only come across as seeming less sure of himself.

The tactic worked. “Turn this ship around!” He heard the captain bark. Then: “Gedrik, get to the bridge immediately!”
************************************************** ***********

Shuttlecraft Oyekan

Ensign Kittles wished she felt as confident as she had sounded with Roland. She was generally good at talking a good game, she always killed during Lt. French’s poker tourneys in Birdland, but this was a far bigger gamble that she had just taken on.

It could go wrong for her in so many ways, just losing her life being at the top of a very long list. And she had put Roland’s ass on the line too, so she better make good or be quick about returning.

The cabin shook as Oyekan brushed against another astral eddy. They had increased the further she went into the expanse and it forced her to readjust her course and speed, slowing down her search.

It was just as well. Her visibility, from the port window to ship’s sensors was nearly shot, and all she could see before her was a thick, colorful soup of strong reds, purples, oranges, and blue gases. The warp trail she had detected was fading rapidly, as if being gobbled up by the expanses’ roiling stew.

“Perhaps I should just quit now,” she thought. Turn back and head back to the alien ship. Roland would understand, she knew. Hell, he would be relieved, and she knew he wasn’t the type that would gossip about her failure.

“No,” she answered herself. “I’m doing this,” she said, pushing forward. If nothing else she would collect as much information as she could and at least have something to show for her recklessness.
************************************************** ************

Alien Vessel
Engine Room

“Now this is interesting,” Lt. Ramlo remarked as he swept his tricorder over the large octagonal structure dominating the room. Shashlik was no engineer, but even she figured out that the octagon must be the ship’s main propulsion system.

And Ram was correct, it was an interesting design, to say the least. Even though she also suspected that he wasn’t talking just about how it looked. “What are your readings picking up Ram?” She asked. But the man ignored her. He walked around the structure, his nose pressed against his scanner.

“Ah,” he said, “Handholds,” he added. The Kaylar trudged quickly after him. By the time she reached him, he was halfway up the structure.

“Do you think that’s wise Ram?” She asked, looking up.

“I’ll be fine,” he said, with a distracted tone. She knew how easily and completely he could get wrapped up in his scientific memories. She thought to follow him, but decided to leave the science officer to his toys.

Shashlik took out her own tricorder and made her way over to the databanks encircling the octagon. Perhaps there was more information she could glean from them.

Finding an access port, Shashlik set the thing to work, and then tapped the combadge attached to her suit’s chest plate. “Lt. Shashlik to Greenaugh.”

“Ensign Fryer here,” the reply came a slowly for her taste. And did she detect a note of concern in his voice, or was that just her imagination?

“Is everything all right up there?”

“Uh, yes sir, of course, why do you ask?”

“You don’t sound so sure. Would Ensign Kittles also say the same thing?”

“I’m sure sir,” Fryer hastily responded. “There’s no need to ask her.”

“I’ll determine that Ensign,” she snapped. “And I’ll do so now, Shashlik out.”

“Wait!” the ensign’s shout made her wince. “Uh, I mean, sir…”

“Great Bird of the Galaxy!” Ram’s unusual exclamation drew her attention away from the flustered Fryer.

“We’ll discuss this later Ensign,” she said quickly before disconnecting. She looked up at the octagon to see the Arkenite peering over it, his slash of mouth forming a smile. “What have you discovered Ram?”

He waved the tricorder at her, like he had discovered a Hyterian Lost Relic. “What is it Ram?” growing a bit annoyed. She wasn’t sure if it was the science officer’s goofy spout of joy or Fryer’s evasions that had set her down the bad mood path.

“The magneton scan confirmed it,” he gushed. “We’ve found a stable polaric ion energy propulsion system!”

“Okay,” she said, less than enthused. “I’m coming up.” She quickly scaled the structure. When she reached the top, Ramlo was still frowning.

“Don’t you get how important this find is?”

“No,” she admitted. “How about you explain it to me,” she said, as she looked around the device. The Arkenite had mentioned polaric ion isotopes before, but hadn’t elaborated. Now finally the man might just put her out of her misery.

“Polaric ion particles generate an inordinate amount of power, and many nations have tried and failed to harness this power, including the Romulans. After their research facility was destroyed on Chaltok IV over a century ago, they signed onto the Polaric Test Ban Treaty, which has been in effect since 2268.”

He paused briefly, to gauge her reaction. “I guess you weren’t paying attention that day in history class huh?”

She shrugged, nonplussed, “It was only the wars that caught my attention. Not peace treaties that the Romulans probably violated even before submitting their signatures.”

“That’s just the thing,” Ramlo said, “Polaric ion energy has been proven to be so unstable, producing subspace chain reactions, in addition to having temporal effects, that the treaty has been one of the few that has held. No one has seemed to want to open that Pandora’s Box.”

“Until they find out about this contraption,” Shashlik pointed out. She looked across the propulsion system. The corners of the octagon contained what she suspected were the depleted power cells. Walkways connected each power cell to a central alcove, and whatever had been inside of it was missing.

“You see it too don’t you?” Ramlo said, stepping onto one of the catwalks that led to the alcove. “I believe this is the vinculum or plexus, the nerve center of the propulsion system. It had to have housed the polaric ion stabilizer or processor, which made the use of the energy manageable.” He turned back to her, his joy dimming again. “I think someone took it.”

“The same people who attacked this vessel?” She said, with equal parts fear and excitement.

“Or maybe some of the crew survived and spirited it away because they knew how dangerous it could be,” Ramlo surmised. “In either event, we have to find it. The idea of a hostile power having such power at their command…”

“Now that I get,” she said, nodding with confidence. “We need to tell the captain. I’ll have Fryer relay the message on to Erickson.”
************************************************** **************

Tholian Trade Ship
Antedean Space

Spinel’s entire being vibrated as the message trilled through hir. It was of Tholia, but at the same time not, and s/he knew that the questions surrounding that would be beyond it to answer.

Focusing hir mind, Spinel sent hir thoughts out into space, knowing they would skitter along the mind line into the very minds of the High Magistrates themselves and that they would uncover what s/he had found. Spinel knew it was a severe breach of caste to do so, but s/he was certain that what had just happened to hir would be of utmost importance to the rulers on Tholia. And they might even reward hir with greater license to do more business with non-Tholians.

Once that was completed, Spinel continued on hir task. The cargo hold of Tholian silk the ship contained wasn’t going to sell itself after all.
************************************************** ***************
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Old July 18 2012, 03:47 AM   #33
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Location: The void between my ears
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

DK - I'm still working to catch up on all the UT: TFV and RC stories. I very much enjoyed the first two installments of "Stealing Fire." This promises to be a great story - glad you're back to writing again!

(Now, if I could just light a fire under my muse so I can resume my own RC story. )
"You are beginning to damage my calm." - Jayne Cobb
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Old July 18 2012, 05:47 PM   #34
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

This is starting to go into interesting places. Now these pirates have run of with what is essentially a super-weapon. I feel a hunt coming on.

BTW, love the little references to Star Eagle. I catch'em all, you know.
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Old July 19 2012, 05:52 AM   #35
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Wow, quite a lot going on here, and very little of it good from the Federation's perspective.

I hope our ambitious young ensign survives her little foray!
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Old July 29 2012, 09:09 PM   #36
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting again. I'm glad you are still enjoying the story. TLR, I definitely can relate. It's hard for me to keep up with all of the stories. CeJay, I'm glad you are enjoying the Eagle references. Thanks for making up some cool stuff to reference. And Gibraltar, I like Kittles too. But of course you know how much I like a character doesn't spare them. We'll see with Kittles.

************************************************** ***************

Alien Vessel
Engine Room

The tricorder squeak stopped Shashlik from tapping her combadge. She looked down and unlatched the rectangular device from her belt. “The translation is complete?” Lt. Ramlo asked, a curious gleam in his deep, iris-free eyes. Unconsciously he reached out, his curiosity wanting to take the tricorder and the data it had uncovered from himself.

Shashlik wagged a finger as she held up the tricorder and quickly skimmed the readings coursing down its small screen. Her teeth clenched, a growl emitting from her throat. Ramlo’s curiosity quickly turned to concern. “What is it?” He asked.

The Kaylar didn’t answer. Instead she activated the volume. The halting, modulated electronic voice was a good approximation of a standard Starfleet audio interface program. “Whoever it was has audacity, to pretend to be the Enterprise,” Ramlo remarked, shaking his head.

Both officers knew that Erickson was the only Starfleet ship in this sector. “They did this because of how well known the Enterprise was,” Shash remarked, teeth still clenched. “They figured whoever fell into their trap would know and be comforted by the fact that they were about to be rescued…by the Enterprise itself no less.”

Ram dipped his head, his curiosity returning. “Shash, you know who did this?” She shook her head, the tremble running from her neck throughout her body.

“Brigands!” she spat, “I’ve seen this kind of deception before,” she added, “They even had false transponder signal backing up their lie. The practiced eye would know better, but civilians or visitors from another quadrant, they stood no chance. We’re dealing with a cunning and brutal foe.” She finished, a feral grin slashing her features. Her ferocity made Ramlo take a step back. “I am looking very forward to meeting them.”
************************************************** **************

The Burning Claw
Command Deck

Gedrik winced as the captain’s claws scrapped loudly against the metal finish of his armrest. He looked up to see Deoch glowering down at him, black tongue licking the air as if seeking out his fear.

“I’m waiting,” the captain hissed, his leathery, pink face pinched with annoyance. The first mate sighed inwardly. He had barely sat down at this station, before the captain was on him. “I still have time to turn the Claw around and make our rendezvous if this vital information you have to tell me is rubbish,” he said, fondling the disruptor latched to his thigh, “Of course if that is the case, you won’t me making the return trip.” This statement drew some hisses, clicks, and chuckles from the disparate crew.

Though The Burning Claw was manned mostly by fellow Venturi, like Gedrik and the captain, Deoch never refused capable hands, tentacles, or claws as it were. A K’normian sat at the helm and a grim, fearsome Capellan woman hunched over the weapons console. A comely, twelve-fingered Nuvian was curled in the seat beside the captain’s, the latest ‘captain’s prerogative’. The bridge was dank, dim, and cloistered. Normally Gedrik preferred it that way, but now it only made him feel trapped.

Gedrik swallowed down his fear before replying, “The energy readings I detected while onboard the ship, I knew I had seen them before,” he paused, remembering where he had seen them. It had taken him so long to realize it because he had tried to bury those memories. “My wife…” he paused, and Deoch respectfully gave him a moment. His eyes flickered as the bridge melted away…to heated meetings among the Venturi Science Council.

As their sun, Alpha Venturi Major continued to cool, and wreaked greater havoc across their planet, the Venturi had turned inward, against a Federation that they had helped to build but had proven ineffectual in their greatest time of need. Gedrik and Berae were among the latest generation of Venturi scientists whose life missions it had become to save their homeworld.

And as solution after solution gave way to the inevitable, looming disaster, the ideas had become more desperate. Precept Qeux had enlivened debate, suggesting the use of polaric ion isotopes to reignite the dying star. Both Gedrik and his wife had argued against it, citing that the Venturi remained members of the Federation, if nominally, and had to abide by the Polaric Test Ban Treaty. Instead he had backed Berae’s idea of using protomatter to restore the star. It had been the worst decision of his life.

“Perhaps I didn’t recognize the polaric radiation readings at the time, because I just didn’t want to see it,” he forced the words out, fighting against the clutch of memory. “Those aliens…that ship…it was powered by polaric ion energy, stable polaric ion isotopes,” he paused, waiting for the import of his words to sink in.

Deoch looked down at him, perplexed. The rest of the crew was similarly confused or nonplussed.

“None of you learned much about Federation diplomatic history I see,” Gedrik replied, “Well, let me make it simpler to grasp. Polaric ion particles can generate power on a massive scale, enough to light up an entire planet, but they are highly unstable and can wipe out all life on a planet in seconds, not to mention causing subspace fractures.”

“A superweapon,” Deoch’s eyes gleamed, and he stroked his leathery chin. He turned to the dark skinned Capellan. “And you knew nothing of this Runt?” She glared back at him and shrugged her massive shoulders. Even though the Capellan was taller than just about everyone aboard Burning Claw, she would’ve been considered small for her size and Deoch enjoyed needling her about it. He had taken to calling her Runt, but no one else dared follow his lead.

“It’s more than that, or it can be,” Gedrik chanced touching the captain’s bare forearm. Deoch often preferred sleeveless tunics to show off his muscled arms. The captain pulled back, his hand ready to strike. The first mate didn’t shrink from the gesture. He was too excited now.

“Old Qeux might have been right all along!” he gushed, “Whatever generated that stabilization field could be used, maybe, to save Alpha Venturi Major!”

Deoch snorted, his laughter harsh. “That old foolish dream of yours rears its head again?” The captain shook his head, “I thought you had given up such things after I picked you up off the floor of that bar on Vega Colony? I gave you a new life, new purpose, but yet, you persist in thinking you can change the universe!” He threw up his hands, and stomped back to his seat, drawing more laughter from some of the crew.

Gedrik sat up in his seat, clearing his throat before he spoke, “This isn’t an idle dream. This could be the answer. We could be heroes, the saviors of our race!”

Deoch sat back in his chair and stroked the cheek of the eager Nuvian concubine now pressing against him. “Or we could be rich,” he retorted.

Gedrik sighed inwardly again. He wished that the captain acted was compelled by more altruistic motivation, but he had to use whatever worked. “That as well, but those riches will remain beyond your grasp until I can retrieve whatever produced that radiation.”

“I told you we should’ve destroyed that probe,” the Capellan grumbled. “What if those aliens hid whatever the First Mate here is so ecstatic about inside of one of it?”

Deoch turned halfway around in his seat. “It was a communication buoy, a feeble cry for help that would never be heard in time due to the nature of the expanse. It was a waste of power to destroy it.” Now it was his turn to shrug. “But going back to the derelict is a good place to start trying to piece together the direction of that probe, if the generator isn’t still there, and was just overlooked by your boarding party.”

The Capellan hissed, almost as a good as a Venturi. “Never question my thoroughness,” she warned. The captain was more amused than threatened.

“Give me a reason not to then,” he said, “and I won’t. But if you did overlook something on that ship, the generator or not…” He let the threat hang in the air. Even though it had been directed at the Capellan, Gedrik felt it rest heavy on his shoulders.

“We’ll see,” the Capellan retorted, her competence now in question. It was the one weak spot in her makeup from what Gedrik could see. Now that it had been questioned, she would be as determined as Gedrik to get back to that ship and discover the location of the polaric ion device.

Which was a good and bad thing, great if she was proven right, but if his quest was as foolish as the captain suggested, there would be no place in the galaxy to hide from the Capellan. Of course if he failed Berae again he would cheat the Capellan of her vengeance by ending it himself.

Deoch chortled, “Good show,” he remarked, reaching out to stroke another section of the Nuvian’s anatomy. “Krendt!” he barked at the helm, “best speed back to that husk.”
************************************************** *****************
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Old August 1 2012, 01:01 PM   #37
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

The build-up is killing me. Something bad is going to happen very soon and people are going to get hurt. Of course that was only a matter of time. This ain't Happy-Go Lucky Trek after all.
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Old August 2 2012, 06:07 AM   #38
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Holy crap but the Burning Claw is a ship full of bad dudes (and dude'ets)! I really hope those green Starfleeters get off the ship before the cadre from the BC get back.
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Old August 11 2012, 07:50 PM   #39
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"


You know I don't do happy-go-luck Trek all that well. I will be bringing the pain soon, I promise.


Glad you're liking the Burning Claw crew. Once I ran across the Venturi on the Memory Beta website I wanted to do something with them. And they felt like a good fit for this story.

************************************************** *****************

They knew of the device before it pierced the sky. “A weapon?” The question shuddered the mercurial sea with alarm.

“Had the organics finally made their true intentions known?” The suspicion caused another ripple as the ocean began to divide itself against those that hoped and those that mocked such things.

Despite the divisions, the great unison had decided as one to allow more travel through their expanse, in particular more Federation exploration of their space.

It had been a highly contentious debate. There had been no unity for a long time during it, and scarce consensus now. Only the slenderest of threads held the great sea together. And now this intrusion from the stars might rip apart their grand unison for a long time to come. The device crashed on the far side of the planet, causing the sea to writhe with pain as it felt the projectile slam into rusted earth.

From the depths, two shapes emerged, ironically in the humanoid guises of those they both intrigued and frightened them. Silvery figures with vague facial features but articulated arms and hands glided among their brethren until they reached the shore. Each faction had produced a representative.

“We must investigate this device, to learn of its intent,” Hope said, its voice deepened by the collective aspirations of its compatriots.

“And what will you be prepared to do if someone has launched a weapon against us?” Fear replied, its voice thickened with distrust.

Hope lowered its head, drawing into it all of the varied thoughts of its faction. When it lifted its head, it gazed at Fear with sightless impressions where its eyes should be. “We will do what is necessary to ensure the propagation of our kind.”

“We shall see,” Fear replied, even doubting that.

“Yes, we shall,” Hope said, ignoring the other’s accusation. “Come,” he held out an arm and it took on the shape of a silvery wing. His body morphed into that of a creature capable of flight and then he jumped into the air and glided on the hot air currents. He paused, turning to look down at the still grounded Fear. “Let us see who is right.” He challenged, before taking wing again in the direction of the downed object.
************************************************** **************

USS Erickson
Main Engineering

Commander Tai Donar blinked rapidly, trying to stay awake as his head swam. The exchange between Norrbom and the Phalkerian assistant chief engineer was rapid fire and near enough over his head to task his patience, but he endured it.

Norrbom had proven her worth, helping A’nurd’s team increase get just shy of the 2,000 millicochranes the captain demanded. It was that last five hundred that had Norrbom and the assistant chief at odds. He didn’t know which one was more accurate so he stood back and watched the match. If anything it would give him an opportunity to see if Helen was as blunt and dagger wielding as she had been with him. If so, that might just be her personal style regardless of how she felt about his arrival on Erickson. And if that was the case, Donar was going to have to do something about it.

“Commander, a word?” A’nurd said quietly, suddenly at his side. If the Angosian’s heartbeat and pulse weren’t chemically regulated, the Munzalan’s appearance would’ve startled him. “In my office?” The furred alien gestured with both hand and tail towards the small office off to the side of the pulsating warp core cylinder, running the height of the ship.

“Of course,” he nodded, following the man, and for once pleased to be talking to the loquacious engineer. Once inside the thankfully soundproof office, A’nurd gestured at a bowl of blue fruit dominating his otherwise clear desk. After Tai declined, the Munzalan took one and began to nibble on it.

“Tulaberries,” he remarked. “I’m so glad that trade was reestablished with the Dominion so that the Alpha Quadrant can continue receiving these delights,” he paused to take another bite. After swallowing, he continued, “Unfortunately the Ferengi have a monopoly on the fruit and they charge exorbitant rates,” he shrugged, “but what can you do? What price perfection?” He asked before finishing the snack. He grabbed another, and held it up to Tai.

“You sure you don’t want one?” He declined again. “Just as well,” A’nurd sighed, putting the fruit back in the bowl. “Addictions can be such nasty things.”

Tai softly cleared his throat. “Did you need to speak with me about something Commander?”

“Oh, not really.”

Donar reined in his annoyance. “Then why did you ask me to come into your office?” He kept his tone measured.

“It looked like you were about to pass out there, being battered down with all of the technobabble being bandied about,” the Munzalan said, “I thought a respite was in order.”

The Angosian first officer nodded, not denying that the engineer was correct. A’nurd smiled, “I was right I suppose. I wish my mother was here, so that she could see that my counseling certification did not go to waste.”

Donar raised an eyebrow, “Counselor?” He hadn’t seen that in the man’s service record. A’nurd chuckled.

“I would think you would be the first one on this ship to understand that sometimes people have lives before Starfleet, after service, and shockingly sometimes during their time in the Fleet,” the engineer answered, unable to resist the lure of the tulaberries. He plucked up the one he had discarded just moments early. He sniffed if, closing his eyes to savor the flavor before digging in.

“Of course I do,” Tai said, without elaborating. The memories of Norrbom’s accusatory take on his past were too fresh. “I only reviewed your Starfleet record.”

“I understand,” A’nurd nodded, “but like you, in a way, I had a life outside the Fleet. A career…a family.”

“I didn’t know you were a family man.” There had been note of that in the records either.

“I was,” A’nurd’s expression saddened and he tossed the half eaten fruit in a waste receptacle at his desk. “I long time ago.” Tai nodded again, understanding intrinsically when to let a matter drop.

“But an engineer was something new, challenging. I had shown an early aptitude for machinery, breaking it apart and putting it back together as a child. My father had worked his way up to craftsman status in one of the major Alshain septs. It’s what allowed me, my entire kin, actually, to escape Munzala and the more naked exploitation of the Alshain there.

“But it also gave me an interest in exploring the nature of sentients, the mental machinery that beings used to exploit and enslave one another. When I returned to my homeworld I became a mental health professional, but my real passion was diagnosing how colonization had damaged the spirits of my people. It, admittedly, was not something that set well with our Alshain overlords or Munzalan collaborators.”

Tai sat back, astounded by the man’s revelations. “Both conspired to stop my research and my kin paid the price,” he looked down, his voice clotting with grief. Summoning back his tears and despair, the man’s eyes bore unwaveringly into Tai’s, and the Angosian saw a fierceness there he hadn’t thought possible. “I was exiled from Munzala. What was left of my life…a shambles, and even if I wanted to go home, there was nothing left there but cinders. So, I had a choice, I could descend or do the opposite. I’ve found a new home in the Federation, in Starfleet. And a new career, in engineering,” he smiled. “Just putting my hands on tools, it reminds me of those simple times with my father,” the man’s smile widened. “It’s the only thing I have left to remind me of him, and my kin.”

“I’m sorry,” Donar said, shocked that he had so underestimated the man so. “I had no idea.”

“Well, it isn’t something I share with everyone,” A’nurd replied, “but I felt you would understand. We all carry a secret pain and it’s what we do to deal with that agony that determines much of the course of our lives. I would like to think that we both have chosen to do something positive, to lessen the suffering of others by joining the Fleet.”

“I, well, I guess so,” the Angosian was nearly at a loss for words. He had never heard anyone say what was in his heart so easily, so plainly. This man understood his fears, his doubts, he got the pains and frustrations of reinvention. “I have misjudged you A’nurd of Munzala.”

The engineer grabbed another tulaberry and sat back in his chair. He held it aloft, allowing the room’s lighting to glint off the fruit’s shiny peel. “Rest assured that you are one of the few men who can say such a thing and still draw breath…but that’s another story.”

Tai chuckled, and it felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He hadn’t expected to find a brother-in-arms aboard Erickson, but now he knew he had.
************************************************** **************
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Old August 11 2012, 08:34 PM   #40
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

************************************************** *************

Jov’k Tholis
Calcite-class battlecruiser

Commander Narskene shut hir mind off from the crew at the behest of the Political Castemoot on Tholia. The High Magistrates wished to speak to hir directly, and alone, so Narskene knew that s/he were about to be given a mission of the utmost importance to hir people.

In addition to the Tholian mind being highly advanced and capable of telepathic communication over wide distances in space, their very bodies could serve as communication devices. Narskene’s body was purposely stilled as she awaited instruction.

Hir head bowed, the information flitted into her mind from the great Lattice that could connect all Tholians across the entire quadrant. Nothing was held back as the High Magistrates revealed their thoughts to hir. Narskene sent them hir response. And then she ordered the Jov’k Tholis to reverse course.
************************************************** ******************
Shuttlecraft Greenaugh

Ensign Fryer came out of the refresher, a smile spreading on his face as he saw his proximity sensor blinking. “Karen,” he muttered, “probably trying to give me a good rattle.” As if she hadn’t shaken him up already with this crazy stunt of hers. But it was all good now, Roland realized, as he slid into his seat. She got it out of her system and neither of their superiors had to know about it.

He shuddered inwardly at the thought of having to face Shashlik. He was so glad she hadn’t called him. Roland didn’t think he would be able to lie to her if she asked about Oyekan’s whereabouts.

The ensign sighed, relieved he didn’t have to worry about that now. Flipping off the alarm, he magnified the shuttle’s main viewer to get a look at the shuttle as it emerged from the beautiful coruscating mass of gases.

“What a minute,” he muttered as an oblong, rust-brown prow poked through the barrier. “That’s not Oyekan!” His heart thudded painfully and his stomach muscles clenched. “Karen,” he whispered, fear nearly robbing him of voice. Had something happened to Karen?

Whoever these guys were, they weren’t Tholians, he realized after the ship pulled itself from the mire. He recognized the make as an old Antares-class design, with a circular nacelle attached to its aft. Though the ship often reminded him of a space worthy penis, its appearance was generally not a laughing matter. It was a ship popular with Corvallen smugglers. Or pirates!

Fryers stomach muscles unclenched, just long enough for the pit of his stomach to drop. The Antares cruiser strode toward the alien craft. He raised shields and brought the shuttles scant weapons online. He tried hailing he ship, but there was no response. “Shit,” he muttered, thoughts racing through his head, as he moved away from the alien ship to confront the larger vessel. “This is the Starfleet Shuttle Greenaugh, please respond,” he asked, forgoing a simple hail and broadcasting a message instead.

The ship didn’t reply nor change course. “I must warn you to desist from approaching the vessel.” Once again, it ignored him. “If you do not desist, I will be forced to fire upon you.” Still the vessel came on. Fryer shifted his jaw and briefly clutched his bubbling stomach, before sending a glancing blow off the other ship’s bow.

The Antares stopped, turning towards the Greenaugh. It raised shields and weapons. “Frinx!” Fryer cursed. He tapped his combadge, “Lt. Shashlik, we’ve got a situation here.”
************************************************** *****************
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Old August 11 2012, 10:30 PM   #41
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

************************************************** *****************

Alien Vessel

Lt. Shashlik nearly pounded a hole through her EV suit as she slapped the compin attached to it again. “Ensign Fryer? Fryer!” she shouted. But static was the only reply.

“What happened?” Ramlo pure green eyes were alit with fright. “What’s going on up there?”

“I don’t know,” the Kaylar honestly answered. That’s what she wanted to know herself, though she had a good suspicion. She activated her communicator again. “Shashlik to Oyekan come in. Oyekan?” She didn’t even get static this time.

She turned to the perturbed Arkenite and made sure to look him straight in the eye. Shashlik had never been one to sugarcoat things. “I think both shuttles have been destroyed.”

“What?” The science officer gasped, taking a step back. “By who?”

“My guess is the same people who attacked this ship the first time,” Shashlik spoke calmly, but inside she raged.

“Why?” Ram asked, shaking his head sadly. He was thinking now not only of the ship of corpses surrounding them but of the sense loss of both Ensigns Kittles and Fryer, two very promising young officers whose lives had been snuffed out as quickly as one blew out candles.

“I think they might have discovered what you did, about the polaric ion regulator,” the Kaylar determined, “and they’ve come to claim the prize.”

“But it-it’s not here,” Ramlo was aghast. “And if it were, I would die rather to see those monsters claim it!”

“That’s the spirit,” Shashlik said as shafts of light emerged around them. She pulled the light mace she carried in the right leg of her EV suit. Though it weighted her down, it always made her feel more comfortable about away missions. And besides she always liked to carry something from home with her, so that no matter where she died, it would be like she had died there, among her clan. Ramlo gripped his phaser.

The beams resolved into a menagerie of masked aliens with an assortment of wicked weapons. Despite herself, Shashlik smiled. She raised the mace aloft and barreled ahead.
************************************************** **************

Shuttlecraft Oyekan

As Kittles guided the shuttle out of the muck, she already knew what she was going to say to Fryer. Her finger hovered over the communications button, ready to beat him to the punch. She smiled, imagining them sharing a laugh…and maybe more after they were both back on Erickson.

She could, and had, done a lot worse than Roland. And she had been cooped up in her quarters too long, studying regulations when she wasn’t on duty, the gym, or the holodeck. She deserved to let her hair down once in a while, Karen reasoned.

And letting her hair down wasn’t the only thing she planned to drop in front of Roland. Unable to stop herself, she hit the communicator. “I know, I know Roland…” she began, her voice catching in her throat, as she took in the wreckage on the main viewer before her. Silvery-white shards and debris were floating around the alien ship. “Oh God, Roland?” she whispered, trying to hail Greenaugh. “Roland!” She cried.

She hurried scanned the area, turning to the ship. “Maybe he’s onboard,” she muttered, “Maybe he beamed aboard, and they’re all safe.” There were no life signs on the alien vessel.” They were all gone. “Oh God,” she closed her eyes and fell back into her chair.

What happened? She asked the silent stars. It’s my fault this happened, the idea slithered into her brain and took hold, its icy tendrils bundling up her grief and guilt and keeping them at the forefront of her mind.

Something, someone had to have done this, someone I allowed to do this, she knew, because I wasn’t smart or quick enough to find them. She ordered the ship to stop scanning for life signs. Instead, she began looking for warp trails. This time, the pathway screamed at her on the small screen. And this time the ship did not go slink back into the expanse. She could find the bastards who had destroyed Greenaugh and killed or kidnapped her friends, and she could set right what she had done.

Unbidden, her finger returned to her communicator. She knew she should contact Erickson, that she should tell the captain what had happened, what she had done, but Karen couldn’t. Guilt, fear, selfishness, and shame all swirled within her. All she had ever wanted was to be a captain and now that dream was over. But if she somehow found a way to stop whoever did this, it could turn a court martial into a promotion.

She hated the calculation, Karen wished her intentions were more pure, but at the moment she didn’t have time to beat herself up about it. Every second she spent hand wringing, the bastards were getting farther away.

She angled the Oyekan in the direction of the warp trail. Karen glanced back over the debris and mouthed a silent prayer for Roland and the lieutenants, hoping she would find them soon. And then, she activated warp engines.
************************************************** **************
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Old August 12 2012, 12:39 AM   #42
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

************************************************** **************

Alien Vessel

“Mr. Donar, do you see any signs of our people?” The captain’s voice was tinny, but still insistent. Tai swept his wrist lamp around the vacant bridge again. He held a rifle in the other hand.

“No sir,” he said solemnly. He quickly reported the carnage he had found before exiting the bridge and into similar macabre scenes. The security officer behind him gulped loudly, prompting the Angosian to whirl on the stocky Axanar. The man pushed down whatever was threatening to come up as he quickly stood at attention. Donar held the man’s gaze for a few seconds, satisfied he could contain himself, before moving on.

The Orion female accompanying them sniggered, prompting the Angosian to hitch his shoulders. The sniggering stopped in a nanosecond. Tai grunted, before activating his compin. “Commander Norrbom, have you found any traces of our officers in the engine room?”

“No sir,” the operations officer crisply replied, her professionalism finally papered over her vehemence. “But we have found something very interesting. I think you’re going to want to see this, the captain too.”
************************************************** ***************

USS Erickson
Observation Lounge

Tai was a little disappointed that it wasn’t Admiral Glover looking back at the assembled senior staff from the inset wall screen. The man had become increasingly, and uncharacteristically withdrawn, since the death of his father. Before that, he had to contend with the divorce from Lt. Commander Mendes, who had also been a former colleague on the Aegis.

It had been a rough time for his former commander and though they hadn’t been especially close, he at least wanted to see how the man was faring. If for no other reason than to report back to Juanita. Glover’s isolation had been extremely hard on her.

But instead of Glover, they got the wizened, yet surly eminence of Cormac Sullivan, the Federation Security Advisor. When the captain had gotten the word that the former admiral would be addressing the senior officers, she had taken it with aplomb, even though they all knew it meant that Erickson had become entangled in something with far reaching and dangerous consequences for the Federation as a whole.

“I’ve read your report,” the white-haired man said, shaking his head, and frowning, even adding more wrinkles to his countenance. He looked no less intimidating in a slate gray civilian suit. “This is most disturbing.”

Captain Redfeather shook her head. “I can do nothing but agree with you sir. The idea that a species has found a way to harness the energy of polaric ion isotopes is both heady and frightening.”

“I don’t see anything to sing songs about here captain,” Sullivan replied, wringing more silence out of the already quiet room. It seemed like the normal noises of the ship, the steady thrum of the engines even lessened before the man’s voice. “What I see is a quick unraveling of the new, hard won peace. Stable polaric ion energy would make the test ban treaty null and void, it would start a round of disastrous testing among the great and small powers, and it would lead to an arms race that would result in a war that would make the one we just endured with the Dominion look like an intense game of hoverball!”

“Sir,” Redfeather said quietly, but with resolve, “I think you are overstating the case here.”

“Captain, with all due respect,” he snapped, “I’m not only a desk jockey, I’ve faced off against the Cardassians and Tzenkethi and I saw too many friends bury their children during this last war, we can’t afford another conflict, and the discovery of this stabilizer, regulator, or whatever you call it is just the right kind of match for the tinderbox.”

“What about the positive usage of polaric ion energy,” she countered. “Properly harnessed, we could solve the energy needs of the Federation and countless other worlds.”

“The operative word is ‘properly’,” Sullivan riposted. “And you know as well as I do that the opposite is just as likely to happen. Could you imagine what this kind of power could do in the hands of the Romulans? Or even minor powers like the Alshain or the Son’a? They could end their war decisively, at the cost of genocide. We can’t allow this to happen. You won’t allow it to happen.”

“What do you want us to do?” The captain said tightly, her lips drawn into unsmiling line. Tension crackled among the other officers.

“First, I want you to scuttle that ship, there can be no trace of that kind of data left for our enemies to find,” Sullivan began.

“But sir, what about those victims? Don’t they deserve a proper burial? The preservation of some aspect of their culture? What if they are the last ones left?” Tai was surprised, but pleased, that the heretofore contemplative Dr. Narsan up this salient point. The captain couldn’t help but smile. Sullivan’s eyes flashed as they focused on the stout hearted Halanan.

But the fire dimmed briefly as the man sighed, “Listen, this might seem cruel, but there is nothing we can do for them now. We have to think about our own survival, and removing all trace of this regulator will make that a bit easier.” His gaze shifted back to the captain. “Once the ship is scuttled, I want you to follow those warp trails to their destination, retrieve the regulator, destroy it and any other data about it you discover.” Erickson had picked up two warp trails leading from the alien ship, one of which had belonged to the Oyekan. That strange twist had deepened the mystery surrounding the alien ship and its tragic fate even more.

“And sir, what if people have read and memorized that data, do you wish them destroyed too?” The captain challenged.

The security advisor sighed again. “You can place them into custody and bring them directly to Earth.”

“So you can kill them?” The captain asked. Sullivan’s mouth twitched with anger.

“How dare you accuse me of such a thing?” His face turned scarlet. “You are burning bridges I suggest you don’t…”

“Right now I’m more concerned with the rule of law than my future career prospects,” Redfeather said, with more steel than the chief engineer. Donar was very impressed with what he was seeing from his fellow crewmen.

“They will receive a fair trial,” he said through clenched teeth. “Just do your job and worry about due process later. The main priority is preventing that device and all data pertaining to it from falling into the wrong hands.”

“Part of my job is worrying about due process,” Redfeather pointedly replied. “Because what good is protecting a Federation that won’t protect its citizens.”

“The monsters who slaughtered those people aren’t worth much protection,” Sullivan said, and Tai was forced to agree with the man.

“If they are sapient beings, they will get a fair hearing, not for them, but for all of us,” the captain rejoined, “We will find the regulator and the get to the bottom of what happened here.” She paused and looked at each other senior officers, her twinkle dimming just a pinch, “And we will destroy all traces of the regulator.”

“Good,” Sullivan huffed, “I’m glad you can see reason captain, as well as respect the chain of command. Good people can disagree about things, but at the end of the day, either you are about protecting the Federation or you aren’t. I will be expecting regular updates,” he said, before signing off.

“What a peach,” Lt. French rolled his eyes. He turned to the man sitting beside him. “Great job Doc,” he clapped the impassive medic on his shoulder, “Didn’t know you had it in you.” Tai hadn’t either, but he didn’t say so.

“Captain, are we really going to go through with it?” Narsan asked. “These orders are outside the chain of command.”

“They are highly unusual yes,” she replied, “but not as suspect as they seem. Sullivan never would’ve addressed us if Command wasn’t on his side, and I think the reason he did so was to hammer home how important this is to the administration.”

“Yeah, to Satie’s reelection prospects,” French snorted.

“Can the political talk,” the captain snapped, and the helmsmen jolted forward in his seat, as if he had eased back on a live wire. “I don’t tolerate that while on duty, and you know that Tim.”

“Yes sir, sorry sir,” the young man looked chagrined.

“Even though I didn’t like Sullivan’s tone, I can understand his trepidation,” the captain added. “This could be a very catastrophic weapon, on par with the Genesis Device if left in the wrong hands. And we do have to prevent that at all cost.”

“Even if that results in death and despair for those that could be saved by this discovery?” Lt. Jilicia, a smooth browed, sallow skinned Boslic, standing in for Ramlo as science officer, spoke up.

“Yes, even so,” the captain gently replied. “Perhaps I’m a warhorse, just not as old, as Sullivan, I can’t help but see the bad in this.” She shook her head in disappointment. But Tai nodded his in agreement.

Jilicia shook her head, her innocence both beguiling and exasperating to the Angosian. “And that’s what I had hoped the war would mean the end to, of seeing the bad in every situation. What happened to the wonders of discovery, of believing in the innate capacity of sentient beings for good?” She asked, not just the captain and her fellow officers, it was as if she was also asking herself.

“We woke up,” Norrbom said, with an almost sadistic relish. “You should too Lieutenant.”

“Helen,” the captain chided.

“I’m only being honest,” Norrbom replied, “I’m not the only one in this room who doesn’t suspect that whoever attacked that alien ship has also captured or killed our colleagues, our friends, and they’ve got to pay for that. I am intrigued by this regulator, no lie, but I’m more concerned about getting our friends back safe and sound, and if the regulator has to be destroyed to do so, or in the process of rescuing them, that’s square with me.”

The captain shook her head, “Not the way I would’ve put it Helen, but I agree.” She clapped her hands and stood up. She eyed them all before saying, “Now let’s get to work people.”
************************************************** ***************
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Old August 12 2012, 02:21 PM   #43
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Oh wow, you really turned an 180 on us here, didn't ya? I really expected Kittles to be the one to buy it. Instead it were those she left behind. Unless of course they were just taken prisoners. But I'm not holding my breath on seeing them again alive.

I don't agree with her call to go after the bad guys by herself. She's just going to get herself killed quicker that way. But yeah, she can kiss her captain's ambitions good bye.

Jilicia should get together with Wayne Daystrom from the Agamemnon. Together they could form the "Let's look a the bright side of doomsday technology"-club.
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Old August 12 2012, 09:11 PM   #44
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

DarKush, you’ve got some phenomenal character work here, aside from the drama unfolding on the derelict ship.

I absolutely loved the fantastic conversation between Donar and the chief engineer, how the two old warriors bonded due to the losses they’ve suffered in their lives.

I also greatly appreciated the moral backbone Redfeather’s crew showed during their briefing with Sullivan. It's good to know that after all the Federation's been through in the past decade, there are still some officers concerned with doing the right things for the right reasons.

Poor young Froyer seems to be a fatality, although we don’t know that for sure, and the other away team members may possibly be as well. I don’t have a lot of confidence in the mercy or restraint of the Burning Claw’s crew.

May the heavens help them when Tai Donar leads the rescue party aboard their ship. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his ire.
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Old August 13 2012, 02:09 PM   #45
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Gibraltar wrote: View Post
May the heavens help them when Tai Donar leads the rescue party aboard their ship. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of his ire.
I'm just waiting for a situation in which Tai and Pava team up to lead a rescue mission. I sure as hell wouldn't want to be in the same sector, let alone planet if those two got mad at someone.
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