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Old December 30 2012, 04:50 PM   #121
CeJay
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

New Xenarth (Iota Crucis IV), 2372


Chaos reigned in the central command room.

A massive shockwave had hit New Xenarth just minutes earlier and it had brought with it significant structural damage as well as seismic instability all along the planet’s northern hemisphere.

Two workers and three warriors had been crushed and had died instantly when chunks of debris had reigned down from above.

The wraparound windows were smashed in many places and the sight of the city in which the tower stood was not encouraging. At least one dome had noticeably cracked under the pressure of the shockwave and hundreds of Xenarth inside were scrambling back and forth, desperately trying to evacuate before the transparent partition which protected them from the hostile atmosphere of Iota Crucis IV collapsed entirely.

Warrior Queen Samma was less preoccupied with the damage on the planet as her gaze was fixed upwards, looking through the cracked skylight and towards what had once been one of New Xenarth’s moons but was now nothing more than a broken up shadow of its former self.

“What happened?” she asked as she kept those dark eyes on the destroyed satellite.

Queen Liphra was busy trying to dig out some of her fellow worker from underneath debris, using all four of her hands to try and get to those unlucky enough to have been crushed under the weight.

Samma’s feelers twitched with impatience as she turned her glance to Liphra. “They are dead,” she said sharply. “We can tend to them later. I need to know what has happened.”

The Worker Queen stopped her efforts and appeared to consider the futility of her efforts for a moment before she moved on to one of the few still functioning monitors. “Apogee is destroyed. Completely destroyed,” she said after a moment. “The facility is gone.”

“I can see that,” Samma shot back. “But why?”

“I … I cannot say,” she said as she tried to make sense of the readings. Then she looked around the room to find somebody else still alive who could assist with the task of interpreting the data. “We need scholars. Where are all the scholars?”

“Most of them left with Klestra,” said Samma and looked back towards what remained of the moon.

Liphra followed her glance. “All-Mother no,” she said when she understood. “They’re all gone. The Supreme … is dead.”

Those who remained in the control center fell silent as they considered the implications of their leader having been killed in whatever disaster had befallen the planetoid above.

“What do we do now?” asked the Worker Queen.

“The Artisan Queen is next in the line of succession in the Aggregate,” said Nadelphi who had survived the damage with noticeable bruising. “So says the God-Queen.”

Samma turned angrily on the Cleric Queen. She had secretly hoped that she had been killed or at least incapacitated following the destruction wrought onto New Xenarth and now found to her disappointment that she had been spared. “There is no Artisan Queen. Ket has been stripped of her title and declared a traitor to the Aggregate and the Colony. Appointing a new Artisan Queen has not been a priority.”

“Then one must be found,” she insisted. “It is the way of the All-Mother. An Artisan Queen must be the new Supreme.”

Samma uttered a sharp and annoyed whistle.

“Look,” said Liphra urgently and advised one of her surviving workers to enhance an image on the monitor and to send it to the other still functioning displays. “The weapon, it was successful.”

The Warrior Queen stepped closed to the displays to see for herself. Indeed one of the vessels which had entered their system without permission had apparently been ripped in half and now seemed entirely useless as it drifted in space. The sight immediately filled her with renewed hope and determination.

“The others still remain?” she asked.

It took the Worker Queen a moment to have their sensors recalibrated before she looked back at Samma and nodded.

“Then our work is not complete. I want all the foreign vessels destroyed. They have only seen a small taste of our true power. Soon they will all tremble at our might.”

“But the facility,” Liphra protested. “It was obliterated after the weapon was used. We need a Scholar Queen to determine exactly what happened and how to avoid another accident.”

The Warrior Queen didn’t appear interested. “We have the second facility on Zenith. As to what happened, isn’t it obvious? They made a mistake. One that shall not be repeated. I shall send my best garrison to Zenith to ensure the scholars and workers there are properly motivated,” she said and pointed at the image of the destroyed vessel. “The weapon works. It is time that the Xenarth Colony reclaims its former glory as the greatest power among the stars.”
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Old January 2 2013, 12:12 AM   #122
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Bad, meet worse. I'm sure the two of you are going to get along famously!
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Old January 2 2013, 11:25 PM   #123
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

A short chapter, but a good 'un. Weaponising Omega isn't really a smart thing to do, but they're not going to let that stop them!
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Old January 9 2013, 09:09 PM   #124
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Agamemnon, 2372


“According to our sensor scans, the Omega facility is spread out over four subterranean levels with each level roughly three hundred square meters in size. The first level is made up of a shuttle hangar and storage bays. The second level holds science labs and administrative offices. We have located traces of boronite on the third level and the lowest level contains three separate Omega generators which we believe are in the process of synthesizing the molecule as we speak,” explained Wayne Daystrom as he stood at the far bulkhead of Agamemnon’s observation lounge next to the wall-mounted monitor currently displaying a digital rendering of the facility he was talking about. Pointing at the various levels of the green-gridded diagram, the picture expanded further to show additional details such as the layout and floor plans.

His audience included his own captain, Arden Texx, Terrence Glover, Queen Ket, Security Chief Mer’iab, Beatiar Sh’Fane as well as his counter part from Cuffe, the Alshain science officer Lieutenant N’Saba and Cuffe’s head of security, Lieutenant Meldin.

“What’s that structure on top?” asked Maya Donners.

The science officer tapped on the tower to zoom in closer on the spire which stood at least two hundred meters tall and was shaped not unlike a huge flower vase with a broad base which slimmed towards the middle and then bulged out again at the top. “We’re not entirely certain as to the exact function of this device but it appears to be a conduit of some kind. Presumably it channels the Omega molecule for the purpose of an unknown practical application of its power,” he said.

“It’s a Star Portal,” said Ket.

“Come again?” Terrence Glover said.

“It’s how my people first came to be here. We used a similar device over one hundred of your years ago to transphase our Colony to this place. Or at least those who survived the journey.”

“You think your people are trying again?” said Commander Texx and then looked at Donners. “Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, if they were to succeed in beaming themselves into another galaxy it sure solve some of our immediate problems.”

“Nadelphi has been pushing hard for another attempt to transphase the Colony to Xendaru, the mystical realm of the All-Mother. But the Cleric Queen’s influence in the Aggregate is not as it used to be, especially now that Klestra is dead,” said the former Artisan Queen.

“Wait a minute,” said Maya. “The Supreme is dead?”

Ket jerked her head to the side to communicate a positive response. “She was killed by the destruction of the primary Xendaru facility on Apogee.”

Texx and Donners exchanged a surprised look before the captain turned back to their Xenarth refugee. “That’s information you may have wished to share with us sooner.”

Her feelers drooped in an apologetic fashion. “I ask for your forgiveness. I have only learned of this a few short minutes ago while monitoring New Xenarth’s radio frequencies.”

“OK, so the leader of your people was killed,” said Glover. “I think the most important question now is, what happens next and how does it change things?”

“I’m afraid the change will not be for the better. I have no doubt that the Warrior Queen will convince the remaining Aggregate that she should assume power and Samma is much more belligerent than Klestra ever was. She will abandon the Star Portal and instead try her best to utilize the Xendaru particle as a weapon.”

“And we’ve seen how that turned out,” said Mer’iab.

Daystrom cleared his throat. “If their second attempt will be anything like the first, the damage will be far worse. Not only may Iota Crucis itself not survive losing another satellite, subspace may rupture completely in this system, swallowing up every last matter molecule within a light-year and making warp speed impossible, potentially in half the quadrant, perhaps even further.”

The room fell silent for a moment as this doomsday scenario was being digested by the men and women in attendance.

The Andorian Marine was the first to break it. “Do we know how the weapon is deployed?”

When Daystrom didn’t appear to have an immediate answer, the lupine Alshain Science Officer spoke up. Maya had suppressed the urge to shudder as she consider the man who with his wolf-like features looked more like a beast than a man. His azure-colored ocular implants gave him a cold and impassionate expression which stood in contrast to his otherwise wild and feral look. Donners’ discomfort lasted less than a second and until she remembered that she had an avian security chief, an insectoid chief engineer and a Vulcan le-matya as a pet.

“It must be the Star Portal,” he said as he studied the structure still displayed on the screen. “They must have adapted it so it can harness and release concentrated energy directly from those Omega molecule generators.”

Daystrom nodded along. “That makes sense.”

“Then our first priority is to blow the portal to pieces,” said Glover.

But Mer’iab shook his head. “It’s not an option. We’ve discussed targeted orbital bombardment of the facility to neutralize it but we are now fairly certain that the risks of accidently damaging one of the Omega generators and risking an accident are far to high.”

“Alright,” said Texx. “How about beaming those generators right out of there?”

“We thought about that, too,” said Wayne Daystrom. “Problem is that we cannot get a clear transporter lock on the generators or the molecules themselves due to the strong Omega radiation prevalent within the facility. And to be honest, the risk of something going wrong during transport is not one I’d like to take.”

“Would’ve been too easy,” mumbled Terrence.

Donners fixed his security chief with a pointed look. “I take it you have a plan, Lieutenant.”

The tall avian swiftly rose from his seat and replaced Daystrom by the monitor. “The good news is that we’ve already anticipated the need for a ground assault on two separate facilities. As only one remains it will simplify our mission.”

“What’s the bad news?” Glover wanted to know.

The security chief tapped a few control panels to show a small flotilla of cylindrical-shaped ships approaching the moon. “Our sensors picked up these vessels which we believe to be troop transporters landing at our target location less than an hour ago.”

Terrence looked at Maya. “They send in reinforcements.”

She nodded. “Is a ground assault still feasible?”

The Marine commander responded before Mer’iab had the chance, causing the security chief to frown noticeably. “We think so. We expect about four hundred armed hostile troops guarding the facility by now. We’ll have access to the full security complement of both Agamemnon and Cuffe, that’s 124 security personnel plus 87 of my Marines.”

“That’s still 2-to-1,” said Maya.

This time the Aurelian managed to beat Sh’Fane to it. “Our people are significantly better equipped. And thanks to Queen Ket we were able to gain valuable intelligence on Xenarth weaponry, equipment and physiology.”

“Perhaps there is another way,” said the Xenarth queen.

Maya gestured for her to continue. If there was a way in which she could avoid putting troops onto the ground, she wanted to hear it.

“I could try and reason with the Aggregate. Make them understand that if they do not voluntarily give up the Xendaru … the Omega molecule, that they would not survive a Starfleet assault to shut it down.”

Silence befell the observation lounge again and judging from the pained expressions on most faces, nobody seemed to be particularly convinced of this plan. But then again none of the assembled officers wanted to be the one to tell the only Xenarth in attendance that they had no other choice but to go to war with her people.

Lieutenant Meldin ultimately was the one to break the bad news. The blue-skinned Benzite slowly shook his head. “We cannot risk warning the Xenarth of the impending assault or we lose the element of surprise.”

Glover nodded, coming to his officer’s defense. “Agreed. There is enough resistance in the facility at the moment already. If we tip them off now, they may send further reinforcements making this option no longer viable.”

Maya could tell that Ket was disappointed by that response, judging by the way her feelers and mandibles twitched slightly, even if she tried an awkward nod to show her understanding.

She knew of nothing else to add and considered the security officers and Marine again. “I still don’t like the odds here. We’ll have about 200 men taking on 400 armed Xenarth. How do we avoid this becoming a blood bath on either side?”

Mer’iab, having expected this question, was quick to field it. “Simple, we don’t take on their entire force at once,” he said and referred back to the display. “The majority of the hostile troops are stationed on the second level. Our targets are the boronite on the third level and the generators on the fourth. The facility is too heavily shielded to beam directly to the third or fourth level.”

“Instead,” continued Sh’Fane. “We will deploy a number of tactical drones to simulate a frontal attack by beaming them directly onto the first level. In the meantime Agamemnon and Cuffe will carry out a highly orchestrated orbital bombardment sequence which in reality will function as cover for drilling four deep cavities into the surface of the moon at strategic locations at the outer edges of the facility, allowing four teams to penetrate the lower levels from the outside.”

Maya was still not entirely pleased with this plan and while she didn’t put this into words, everyone in the room could tell by her stern expression that her doubts had not yet been alleviated.

Sh’Fane picked up on this first. “Obviously we have to be quick about this. The diversion will not last long and eventually the Xenarth soldiers will realize that we are already inside. Again thanks to Queen Ket’s information and studying her physiology, Doctor Rass has been able to determine phaser frequencies which are more likely to show a result against their hardened exoskeletons. In fact we also found certain weak spots which if targeted will allow us to take down and neutralize any Xenarth solders quickly and efficiently.”

Ket stood from her chair, causing everyone in the room to look her way. Her mandibles were twitching much more noticeably now which Maya interpreted as resentment. Before she could think of offering any words to calm the former Xenarth queen, she spoke up. “If you … if you would excuse me,” she said and quickly headed for the doors.

The officers in the room looked after her.

Mer’iab shot the Marine commander a frosty look. “Well done, Lieutenant. Real tactful.”

The Andorian flushed slightly, clearly embarrassed by this incident. “I’m sorry I didn’t think–“

Donners held up her hand to cut Sh’Fane off, not willing to discuss this matter further now. Instead she turned to look at Daystrom. “We’ve heard the tactical plan of how to get our teams into the facility. What do we do once inside?”

“The boronite is straight forward and we should be able to destroy it with our phasers. As for the Omega generators, our plan is simply to interrupt the main power supply for each generator which should immediately stop the Omega molecule formation process. We should even be able to scan the generators so that we could potentially copy the process the Xenarth have employed to synthesize the molecule ourselves,” the science officer said.

Glover frowned. “Our mission here is to destroy the molecules, Lieutenant, not create our own.”

“I’m aware of this, sir, but we do have an opportunity here to better understand what we are up against. We shouldn’t waste it.”

“I freely admit that there are some orders I openly disagree with,” said Terrence. “But this isn’t one of them. Our mission here is to take out Omega no matter what and I intend to do just that. I’m also concerned of what to do with these generators if they have already created any molecules. Will pulling the plug be enough to destroy them?”

Daystrom looked visibly uncomfortable by that question. “No,” he said after hesitating for a moment. “We’d risk a loss of containment if we were to do that. The result could be catastrophic.”

“Just what I thought,” said Glover with a smirk. “That’s why we have a plan B. A specially designed resonance chamber. We use pattern enhancers to beam the molecules in, activate the chamber and voila. No more molecules.”

The science officer shook his head. “We considered this but building such a chamber would be too time consuming.”

At this N’Saba spoke up. “Expecting this kind of problem, we’ve already started building it on Cuffe. Commander Rojas, our engineer, is confident the chamber will be up and ready within the hour.”

Daystrom looked as if he wanted to protest but Maya spoke up before he had the chance. “Sounds to me like we have a decent plan in place including a contingency,” she said.

“The only issue left to resolve, sir, is who should lead the assault team,” Mer’iab said. “I believe the obvious choice would be me.”

As expected Sh’Fane took issue with this. “I don’t see how you are the obvious choice at all,” she shot back and then considered the captain. “This is clearly a military operation and as such I should handle this.”

Terrence Glover couldn’t suppress a large grin coming over his lips. “Are these two always like this?” he asked his counterpart.

Maya rubbed her forehead. “You don’t even know the half of it. Wait until you get to have Marines stationed on your ship and ask your security people to play nice with them,” she told a clearly bemused Glover.

Both Mer’iab and Sh’Fane averted their glances.

“A third of the people taking part in this assault are from my team,” said Lieutenant Meldin. “I am more than capable to lead this mission.”

Judging by the looks from both the Marine commander and Agamemnon’s chief of security, neither one of them liked that suggestion very much.

Glover nodded. “I agree. Lieutenant Meldin is the right man.”

Maya looked over the assembled officers. “That’ll be all for now. I will advise you shortly on who will lead the away team. Captain, Commander, would you mind staying behind for a moment.”

Everyone except for Glover and Texx cleared the room.

“Well that was interesting,” said Glover the moment they had the observation lounge to themselves. “Are you sure they’re not going to turn on each other instead of fighting the Xenarth?”

“We’ll put them into different teams. They’ll be fine,” said the first officer.

Glover grinned. “Separated like school children.”

“If they weren’t as good at what they do I would have them both relieved of duty but I don’t think we can afford to do that considering what we’re up against,” said Maya and stood. “As for who will lead the away team, that’s easy. I’ll do it.”

Both officers shot the woman astonished glances.

“Cap, that’s not a good idea. Putting aside for a moment that it goes against regs, this is a high-risk mission and the chances that you could be injured or worse are simply too great. If you want a command officer on this, I can take the lead.”

“Spoken like a true XO,” said Glover.

Texx aimed an irritated look at the other captain. “You’re not backing me up on this?”

He shrugged. “I don’t want Maya in harm’s way any more than you do but I’ve never been a big fan of the ‘let’s-treat-the-captain-with-kid-gloves’ rule. I’d be a hypocrite if I tried to talk her out of it now.”

“Thanks,” said Amaya.

“I just hope you’re not doing this because you feel you have something to prove. That’d be stupid. It’s your first mission. You don’t have to go and try to get yourself killed to gain the respect of your crew.”

Maya shook her head. “Nothing to do with that,” she said and took her seat again. “The truth is that I’m still struggling with the whole concept of what we are trying to do here. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the dangers of the Omega molecule but sending troops against a sovereign government to destroy their technology stands against everything I believe in. It goes against the oath I swore when I first put on the uniform,” she said and looked up at Glover. “I can’t tell my own people to carry out such a mission and sit back in my comfortable chair pretending it has nothing to do with me. I have to be there for myself as much as for my crew.”
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Old January 26 2013, 10:03 PM   #125
CeJay
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Agamemnon, 2372


“Please come in,” the voice said after the door chime to her quarters had been activated.

The doors parted to allow the ship’s counselor and chief engineer to enter.

“Chen,” said the former Xenarth queen. “Mister Vej.”

“Please,” the counselor said with a smile. “Plain Vej is more than sufficient.”
Ket jerked her head slightly to the side and then considered the both of them.

“May we sit?” the counselor asked, pointing at seating arrangement near the slanted windows.

“Of course,” she said and took the couch while her two visitors took two of the other seats facing her.

“What, if I may ask, brings you here?”

Chen’s feelers were standing almost fully erect, a sign of his own anxiety which apparently Ket was quite familiar with herself.

“If you are concerned about me, you shouldn’t be,” she said.

“Ket you are actively helping us trying to fight your own people,” said Vej. “Any anger or anxiety you may feel because of this is absolutely understandable.”

The Artisan Queen focused her large compound eyes on the Ulirian
and while he couldn’t be certain, he thought they were mirroring irritation. “People who have cast me out as a traitor. People who do not wish to listen to reason and instead blindly follow a path that is leading to their own destruction.”

Vej nodded. “Yes. But nevertheless your people,” he said. “And while you may have fallen out of favor with the current leadership, am I not correct in pointing out that you harbor no ill-will or animosity towards your people in general. Towards the very individual Xenarth we will be meeting in battle.”

At that she promptly diverted her eyes, looking off into the empty room instead.

Chen leaned forward. “The captain fully understands your distress, Ket. I understand it. I don’t think anyone on this ship would not feel the way you do now if the situation were reversed. And the captain wants you to know that she is determined to make every effort to use only non-lethal means against the Xenarth.”

“And what if that is not enough?” she said and looked at Chen. “I may not be an expert yet of understanding your people but I can tell what they are thinking. The security chief and the Andorian, they are warriors and they will do whatever it takes to secure victory.”

The chief engineer didn’t have an immediate response and Ket stood from her chair to step towards the window. “I don’t blame them for that. After all I was fully aware of how they would use the information I volunteered when they questioned me. I knew exactly why they wished to probe and study me when I allowed them to do so,” she said. “Perhaps that is why this is so difficult for me. I was almost too eager to let them know everything I knew about the warrior caste and the Xenarth in general. But deep down I knew they would use this to hurt my people.”

“But you also understand that it is not our wish to hurt them,” the counselor said and stood. “In fact by assaulting the Omega particle, we are hoping to avoid a disaster befalling New Xenarth as well as the entire quadrant.”

“And yet I am not allowed to try and talk to them first and attempt a diplomatic solution,” she said without turning to face her visitors.

Chen also stood. “You know this Warrior Queen who I understand is now in charge better than any of us,” he said and took a small step towards her. “Do you really think she would listen to reason? That she would agree to stand down from trying to synthesize the Omega molecule and turn it over?”

The Xenarth did not respond to this and her silence appeared to be an answer in itself.

“You needn’t be here when this begins,” the counselor offered. “We don’t have the time to take you away from here but the captain is more than happy to lend you a shuttle and a pilot to take you to Starbase 10 until this matter has been resolved.”

That caused her to turn to face him. “Run away?” she said. “And what do you suggest I do there?”

“We discussed this before,” Chen offered. “After all this is over the Federation will be very interested to try and open diplomatic channels with the Xenarth. And who better to speak for your people than you?”

Her feeler dropped noticeably. “An outcast?”

“A good-will ambassador,” Vej said.

“And while I cannot join you now, I promise I will come find you after this is over and together I will show you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Federation. And we can convince them to make every resource available to try and heal the rift between the Federation and the Xenarth.”

At that the counselor shot the chief engineer a surprised look. Clearly Chen had not shared the promise he had made Ket earlier with anyone else.

She stepped closer to him. “I still want to do that,” she said. “I still want to see all these marvelous worlds that make up this Federation of yours. I still want to try and educate my people and try to make them understand that isolation is not the answer and to embrace the diversity that is waiting right by our doorstep.”

“Then do it,” the chief said. “Let’s do it together.”

Her mandibles closed tightly and then she lowered her head until they rested against her chest. “No.”

“Ket.“

She looked up at Chen. “Not like this. I’m not going to run away now that I have betrayed my people. I am not going to turn my back on this assault of yours when I am chiefly responsible for it. I will remain on this ship and watch closely what I have done to my own people. And afterwards, if I can bare it, I will take you up on your offer and go see your Federation,” she said and turned away from her two guests.

It was clear the conversation was over and both Chen and Vej excused themselves before they left her quarters behind.

Once outside the chief engineer turned to look at the counselor. “Will she be alright, you think?”

He considered that for a moment. “You care for her a great deal, don’t you?”

Chen diverted his eyes, saying nothing.

“It’s alright, Commander. Your secret is safe with me but you should be aware that the attraction is plainly obvious and clearly reciprocated.”

He didn’t look at him when he spoke. “At first I thought it was merely biological. Pheromones perhaps and the fact that I have never encountered another race so much like mine and yet also so different. But it is more than that.”

The Ulirian nodded. “And you are willing to give up your career in Starfleet for her.”

He looked right at him when he responded. “For her. Yes.”

Vej put a hand on his shoulder. “She’ll be fine, Chen. It won’t be easy for her to watch us go into battle with her kin, knowing that we’ll use the knowledge we’ve gained from her against them but eventually she’ll come to grips with the fact that it was necessary. Intellectually she already understands this. Eventually she will do so emotionally as well. And she won’t be able to ask for a better guide to steer her through that than you.”

Chen’s feelers peaked up. “Thank you, Counselor.”

He gave the Xindi a warm smile before they headed out in opposite directions. Vej had another patient to see and he was fully aware that his next appointment was going to be an entirely different kind of challenge.


* * *
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Old January 30 2013, 08:28 PM   #126
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Counselor Vej found Lieutenant Lure Mer’iab in cargo bay two where he was in the middle of organizing what must have been the largest single assault force the Ulirian had ever seen. Scores of security crewmembers wearing black flack jackets with a golden stripe across their chest were being equipped and seemingly assigned into different teams. The entire thing looked like chaos to the counselor at first until he realized the efficient logic behind it. The process was surprisingly quiet considering the number of people involved save for Chief Holly a couple of his NCO colleagues shouting out names at regular intervals. The crewmember in question quickly stepped up to pick up his gear and then was pointed to one of four groups at each corner of the cargo bay.

Agamemnon’s chief of security was overlooking the entire affair from above, standing on the upper walkway which surrounded the cargo bay.

Vej found a ladder and climbed upwards to join the avian.

“I suppose you are used to seeing things from a higher angle,” he said with a little smirk.

The Aurelian considered the counselor for only a second, aiming a rather annoyed, sidelong glance his way.

From all the senior officers on board, Vej had found Mer’iab to be the most difficult individual to approach. Part of that he had expected, fully cognizant that security personnel often didn’t have much use for counselors. Their solution to most problems involved picking up a rifle and getting ready for a fight whereas his job was to find a more diplomatic resolve. In this instance, with the safety of the entire quadrant at stake and facing a belligerent and xenophobic opposition, he had given up early to try and sell Donners on a peaceful solution. That was not to say of course that he hadn’t tried.

Vej suspected that the avian’s reason for his dislike went further than their professional difference however and it didn’t take long for the security chief to confirm those suspicions.

“This area is off-limits to civilians,” he said but having already redirected his focus to what was happening below.

Mer’iab didn’t care for the fact that Donners had decided to bring in a civilian counselor. As far as he was concerned you either wore the uniform or you didn’t belong on a Starfleet ship. And certainly not on the bridge or other sensitive areas and having the ear of the captain. Vej couldn’t completely fault the security chief for thinking that way.

“The captain wanted me to make sure that you’re alright,” he said.

At that Mer’iab turned back to look at the Ulirian, his eyes noticeably growing larger. “The captain is concerned about my ability to carry out this mission?”

“I’m sure you have found by now that the captain is concerned about all the officers under her command,” he said and quickly raised his hand before he could respond. “And I don’t mean to say that she questions their competencies, merely that she is still getting to know everyone. As all of us are.”

Mer’iab turned to look below again. “You may tell the captain that there is no reason to be concerned about me. I will carry out the mission exactly as ordered and to the best of my abilities.”

“I don’t think she is worried about your abilities.”

“Then may I ask what you are doing here?”

“I said the captain is not worried.”

This earned him another dark look.

“I’ve seen your file, Lieutenant. I know you are more than capable. Over your career you’ve fought in numerous engagements including against the Cardassians and the Tzenkethi, both of which were probably tougher enemies then the Xenarth. And before that you served two campaigns in the Aurelian Defense Force. Nobody on this ship is questioning your abilities.”

“And they shouldn’t.”

“But this operation is different to anything you’ve ever partaken in before,” the counselor said.

Mer’iab shook his head. “I don’t see how. During the border wars we fought in skirmishes much larger than this.”

“But you weren’t in command, were you? And you didn’t have to coordinate with teams from other starships or even other Starfleet branches.”

“I know where you are going with this, Counselor,” he said and turned to look at him again, unfurling his wings slightly which Vej had already realized was a dead give away of his frustration. “But Lieutenant Sh’Fane, Lieutenant Meldin and I have come to an understanding on how to proceed.”

“And this understanding means that you are keeping your teams separate?” he said. “How does this work exactly? From what I understand the mission requires four teams but you have only three teams. There is no way you can work entirely independently, is there?”

“We have an understanding.”

Vej looked down to take in the sight of the many security crewmembers setting up. “I don’t see any of Sh’Fane’s Marines down there. And I could be mistaken but I don’t think you have anyone from the Cuffe here either.”

It wasn’t difficult to tell that the security chief was getting annoyed with this conversation. “Counselor, do you have any experience in security work?”

“Can’t say that I do.”

“Do you have any tactical training by chance?”

He shook his head. “Nope.”

“Than what makes you think that you know how to prepare for this mission any better than I do?”

“Common sense?”

Those wings unfurled a little further.

“Lieutenant, I know you don’t like me very much and that’s fine but I want you to consider one last thing.”

“Make it quick, I still have a lot of work to do.”

“You’ve quite rightly pointed out that I don’t know much about security work but am I not right in saying that one of your most important jobs is to protect your captain at all cost,” he said. “Of course I could be mistaken about that point.”

It had been like hitting his most vulnerable spot the way he practically whirled on the counselor. He caught himself by taking a deep breath before he started speaking. “Not only do you appear ignorant of my duties, Counselor but also of my people. As an Aurelian I am honor-bound to protect my master and commander at all times, even if it means laying down my own life to do so. I would be disgraced in the eyes of the High Thane if I would willing let harm come to her.”

He nodded. “Okay. Then consider this, Lieutenant. Captain Donners has decided to lead this mission herself, putting her life at great risk and if I’m not entirely mistaken, ignore regulations pertaining to such things. I am convinced that one of the reasons she has decided to do this is because she doesn’t trust you or Lieutenant Sh’Fane to be able to work well together as a team. And considering recent history she has no reason to. Now answer me this,” he said and looked straight in his eyes. “If something were to happen to the captain down there as a direct result of her lack of confidence in your ability to work with Sh’Fane, at whose feet do you think the High Thane would place the blame for this?”

They kept looking into each other’s eyes for a moment while the security chief clearly didn’t have an immediate answer. Vej didn’t need him to have one straight away.

“Good day and good luck, Lieutenant,” he said and headed for the exit.
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Old February 6 2013, 06:50 PM   #127
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Queen Ket's feelings over the upcoming assault are entirely believable and appropriate. Her developing relation ship with Chen is convincing, too.

Vej meanwhile is showing his chops as a counsellor. He's certainly given Mer’iab some food for thought there.
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Old February 9 2013, 10:21 PM   #128
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Cuffe, 2372


“For the record, I think this is a mistake,” said the lithe Kriosian first officer as she stepped into the turbolift next to Captain Glover.

“Bridge,” said Terrence and then shot Nandali Kojo a sidelong glance. “Just because you keep saying that doesn’t mean I’m going to change my mind about this.”

The woman with the cinnamon-colored skin was not willing to drop the matter just yet, she was too much of a fighter to give up so easily and Terrence was hardly surprised. A woman who had once been married to a Klingon warrior knew how to fight her battles. “Donners is inexperienced and untested. Being a first officer on a starbase and your father’s adjutant does not make her qualified to lead men into battle. You should have let me lead the away mission.”

Kojo also tended to speak her mind quite freely. It was a tendency Glover could respect. Most of the time. “I don’t care for your tone, Commander.”

“This mission is too important to allow a novice taking the reigns,” she continued as if she had not just been reprimanded by her superior officer.

“We were all novices sometime.”

“The safety of the entire quadrant could be at stake here. Do you honestly believe this is the kind of mission that suits itself as her proving ground?”

He smirked at that. “Always been big on trial by fire.”

She responded with a serious expression. “All due respect, I think you’re letting your personal feelings for Captain Donners cloud your judgment.”

“Computer, halt lift.”

The turbolift immediately stopped and the broad-shouldered captain of the Cuffe wheeled on his first officer, causing her to flinch slightly by the unexpected gesture before quickly steeling herself again.

“Respect has been sadly lacking from this entire conversation, Commander. I believe I give you plenty of leeway on this ship to speak your mind but you’re dangerously close to stepping over that line,” he said, his voice low but firm. “Amaya is a friend and nothing more and if I were really as concerned about her as you seem to be implying, I would have made sure that I’d lead that mission not you and certainly not her. And if that had been the case, would you have preferred her to be in charge of Cuffe while I’d be gone?”

To her credit, the woman held his piercing gaze and Terrence couldn’t help but admire her for it. “I suppose not.”

“That’s what I thought,” he said and turned back around to face the doors. “Computer, continue.”

“Just a friend and nothing more?” Kojo mumbled under her breath and aimed a furtive glance into his direction.

He had a little smirk on his face. “Absolutely.”

The doors to the lift opened and the two officers stepped onto the bridge.

“Report,” Kojo barked, beating the captain to it by a mere heartbeat.

Lieutenant Commander Bheto quickly rose from the command chair in one fluid motion, her blue antennae sanding at attention. “All shuttles and runabouts are on course and on track to make planetfall in exactly …” she shot a quick glance at the countdown displayed at the corner of the main viewscreen, “seventeen minutes and twelve seconds.”

Kojo nodded and the Andorian returned to her usual station at operations while Glover reclaimed his seat.

Operation Pandora’s Box as Donners had taken to call it, presumably because of both Omega’s and Agamemnon’s Greek connections and more importantly the danger inherent to the unstable molecule, was now well underway and as far as Terrence could recall, it was perhaps the single largest operation he had ever been part of involving only two starships. A total of 200 security personnel and Marines, ferried on twelve shuttles and two runabouts were about to engage a significantly larger force in a ground battle without the direct assistance of transporters or effective orbital bombardment. He didn’t exactly envy Amaya for having chosen to lead that mission.

“Captain, we may have a problem,” said the Andorian only moments after she had taken ops again.

“We’re not even two minutes into this mission, Commander. How about holding off with problems until we are further along?”

“I wish it could wait,” she said.

Glover stood and took position behind Bheto, Kojo quickly joining him at his side. “What is it?”

“Romulans, sir,” she said.

“Toreth is making a move. Now?” asked the first officer.

But Bheto shook her head. “It’s not the Khazara. She has remained cloaked ever since the attack on the Borg vessel. This is worse,” she said and then manipulated her controls to display a tactical map of the sector onto he main screen.

Glover looked up to see the Iota Crucis system along with a number of small blue Starfleet deltas indicating Cuffe, Agamemnon and the shuttles and runabouts approaching the moon. Not too far away was an icon symbolizing the disabled Borg ship. Other than that, he found the map showing nothing else of note.

Kojo seemed to have arrived at the same conclusions. “What are we looking at here, Commander?” she said, her voice betraying a hint of impatience.

“Give me a moment,” she said and worked on her console again.

The screen was overlaid with a higher resolution sensor filter and then zoomed in closer to a position less than a light-year from Iotia Curcis IV to focus on three blurry signals, barely visible with the naked eye.

“Okay,” said Glover. “What’s that?”

“My best guess is that those are three Romulan warbirds on a direct intercept course and traveling at full impulse under cloak.”

“Then why can we see them at all?” said the first officer.

“The recent release of Omega molecules is playing havoc with the fabric of subspace in this system and beyond,” she said. “Commander N’Saba might be able to explain the science better than I can, but to put it in layman’s terms, the Romulan cloaking devices seem to be unable to cope with it when traveling at high impulse.”

Glover nodded, pretending the explanation didn’t bore him. “The more important questions is how much time do we have until they get here?”

Bheto looked up. “At their current rate of travel, I say less than three hours.”

The first officer attractive facial features turned into one of grave concern. “That’s not giving us a lot of time for the away teams to locate and destroy the Omega molecules.”

“There is always something,” Terrence muttered and headed back to his chair. “Glover to Rojas.”

“Commander Rojas here, go ahead, sir,” the chief engineers voice responded over the internal comm.

“Pedro what’s the progress on your fancy resonance chamber?”

“We’ve all but finished with the exterior framework. We’re now in the process of calibrating the actual resonance force fields. It’s a tricky process but N’Saba thinks we can start testing it within an hour or so. Maybe two.”

Glover sighed. “Pedro, I’ve told Donners and everyone else that we’re all but done with this thing and now you’re telling me this? You’re not going to make me a liar now, are you?”

“This is very sensitive equipment we’re talking about. If we don’t get this just right and we try to beam the molecules into the chamber, we might blow us up in the process. Not to mention destroy half the quadrant.”

“Do me a favor and spare me the lecture on the inherent risk of the Omega molecule. Trust me, I’m well aware. Just get this done and done fast. Glover out.”

“Put me through to Captain Donners on the Nelson Mandela.”

Moments later Amaya’s face appeared on the view screen, sitting in the pilot chair on board of her runabout. Glover wasn’t surprised that she was helming the small vessel herself. She was about as hands-on a captain he had ever encountered.

She handed the controls over to her pilot before she turned to face her fellow captain. “I don’t like that expression,” she said, apparently quite able to read the worry lines crossing his brow.

“No reason you should,” he said. “We’ve detected more Romulans on their way to crash our party. They’re limited to impulse thanks to the subspace damage but they are already close enough for us to smell their ale. We have three hours, maybe less.”

“Damn,” she said. “Toreth did mention that her reinforcements were on their way. Once they get here, with the Khazara already lurking, we’ll be completely outgunned.”

Glover nodded. “You may not have time to try and neutralize every single particle you find down there. Which means you may have to beam them right into our resonance chamber instead.”

She looked suspicious. “I’d be more comfortable shutting things down from the ground than start beaming unstable molecules onto your ship. Besides, will the chamber be ready?”

“Yes,” he said with utter confidence.

It was enough to convince her and she nodded. “Alright. We’ll try our absolute best to neutralize the molecules first but if we do run out of time, we’ll use the resonance chamber. Once Omega is out of the picture we’ll scuttle the generators and the Romulans should lose their designs on the Xenarth and this system.”

“That’s the plan.”

She looked pained at that. “You know what they say about plans.”

“All we can do now is let it play itself out and deal with any problems if and when they arise.”

She nodded in agreement. “We’re less than fifteen minutes from insertion.”

Terrence glanced at the view screen. “Orbital bombardment will commence in eight,” he said. He hadn’t agreed initially with the plan that would commence a fake orbital bombardment before the shuttles had even made contact, arguing that it would cause them to lose the element of surprise. But he also understood that it was necessary to mask their true intentions, drilling deep into the surface of the moon to allow the assault teams to attack from below.

“Make sure your aims is true,” she said. “We’re going to be right in your line of fire.”

“I’ll try to remember that,” he said with a smirk. “After all you still owe me that dinner you promised me back on DS5.”

She smiled good-naturedly. “We make it out of this in one piece and you’ve got yourself a date, mister.”

“I’ve already picked the wine.”

She nodded sharply. “See you on the flipside, Captain. Donners Out.”

And with that she disappeared from the screen.

Kojo aimed a rather displeased look at her captain after the channel had closed.

Terrence felt what was coming and pre-empted it. “Stow it, Commander.”
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Old February 10 2013, 04:20 AM   #129
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Good Lord but Counselor Vej just laid the smack down on Mer’iab!

This is a tenuous mission, to say the least, and Maya getting personally involved in the assault is an unwarranted gamble. Adding such an unnecessary wrinkle to an already dicey operation is just begging for trouble.

Which, I suppose, was entirely Vej's point.

Damn fine character work in these last installments, CeJay! I can't wait to see what kind of sparks fly as this assault gets underway.
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Old February 10 2013, 05:02 AM   #130
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Wow, I actually winced when Kojo popped off to Glover in the turbolift. She should know better by now, but I guess in her case courage sometimes trumps good sense.

And here the mission is barely underway and already the plan is close to unraveling with the addition of the Romulans to this already delicate equation.

God Speed to Maya and her little army. Fates know they’ll need all the help they can get.
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Old February 21 2013, 08:42 PM   #131
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Iota Crucis IV, 2267


The underground complex was enormous compared to the relatively small domed habitat which sat on the mountain above it.

The entire thing reminded Robert Wesley of a massive beehive, turned inside out. It had a similar shape and consisted of a huge empty space at its center with at least three dozen individual levels surrounding it. An entire army of Xenarth worked here, all busily heading back and forth the various levels and in and out of the countless doorways which presumably led to other parts of the facility.

He could spot one of the two Iota Crucis’ sun’s shining in the rust red sky through a large clear pane some hundred meters above and at the very top of the subterranean complex.

Another armed contingent of guards had been awaiting their arrival but most of the Xenarth down here looked like workers or researchers of some kind and many wore tunics with a cross-shaped symbol.

Their curiosity was not easily missed and many stopped and stared when they noticed Selphi lead the alien landing party along to their destination.

Wesley was still hard-pressed to be able to distinguish the individual Xenarth. He was reasonably sure that many of the workers were male, which he thought were differentiated by their less curved body shape and the lack of any facial markings.

The Artisan Queen showed them to a lab large enough to rival the size of Lexington’s shuttle bay. It was dominated by a huge blast shield set into the far wall at about ten feet above floor level. Considering how thick and sturdy the shield looked, whatever was kept behind it had to be enormously powerful.

The lab was filled with computer consoles and machinery and dozens of scientists. But the flurry of activity seemed to come to an abrupt standstill when the Starfleet party entered.

“Supreme,” said Selphi and slightly lowered her head in a gesture of respect. “I have brought you the visitors as you have requested.” She hardly had to raise her voice, considering how quiet the lab had become.

It didn’t take Wesley and the others long at all to determine which Xenarth was the leader of her people. Differently to the others, Queen Ergia wore an elaborate cloak with fine golden stitching all along the back. The stitching itself appeared to be a delicate piece of art, commemorating Xenarth history, mythology or both. On the front she wore a prominent moon-shaped symbol.

Ergia was flanked by two armed guards, also with moon-shaped tunics. Bodyguards.

She had been in conversation with another fellow queen, judging from her slightly more elaborate clothes which set her apart from most of the workers in the room. She wore a prominent cross-shaped medallion and appeared smaller and somehow younger than Ergia or even Selphi.

“Please meet Robert Wesley and members of his vessel’s crew,” said the Artisan Queen.

The Supreme stepped towards the landing party, her bodyguards only a few steps behind her. Differently to Selphi she carried herself with much more importance. But to Wesley it appeared to be more than just the presumptuousness that came naturally to a leader of an entire people. He had seen this before among high-ranking members of the clergy of many different worlds. A sense that they had a gods-given infallibility which placed them on a lofty plane far above the rest of their fellow kinsman and one that only they alone were privy to.

Wesley understood that this would make matter a lot more difficult for him. “Queen Ergia, please allow me to officially extend greetings to you in the name of the United Federation of Planets. We consider it to be a great honor to make the acquaintance of new and unfamiliar races and to welcome them to our interstellar community.”

Ergia looked Wesley and his people over for longer than was necessary. She was but a few inches taller than the commodore but held her mandibles up as if she towered many meters above him. “We have little interest in your community, Commodore. You have been invited here for only one purpose. To assist us to reach the All-Mother.”

“And this is exactly why we have come,” Ketteract said, clearly out of turn, and took a step forward, causing the bodyguards to level their spear weapons at him instantly and him to stop in his tracks.

“And you are?” she asked.

“Doctor Bendes Ketteract. At your service.”

“Yes. You are the man who claims that you can be of assistance to us in stabilizing the Xendaru particle. Our Scholar Queen has been eager to make your acquaintance,” she said and used one of her four arms to summon forward the one she had spoken to earlier.

She didn’t hesitate and quickly placed herself next to the Supreme.

“Chelra has only recently been elevated to become a member of the Aggregate and therefore does not possess the knowledge and wisdom of her predecessor, the former Supreme and esteemed Scholar Queen Semunstra who was regretfully killed during our last trans-phase. However, she is eager and I am certain that with your help, we shall be successful in activating the Star Portal once more.”

If the new Scholar Queen felt slighted by the Supreme’s somewhat belittling tone, her insectoid features did well to hide it.

Wesley spoke up before Ketteract got the chance. “We will need a few days to familiarize ourselves with your research and I cannot make any promises as to the end result.”

Ergia did not seem to like what he had said as her large compound eyes focused on Queen Selphi who stood to one side but said nothing.

Then she looked back at the Starfleet officers and Ketteract and spoke, seemingly without addressing anyone in particular. “You have three days to have the Star Portal operational again. If you fail, you will be removed from Xentarra and leave this system. If you do not, you shall be purged,” she turned to Chelra. “Ensure that their scholars get every assistance they require.”

“Yes, my queen,” she responded quickly.

“Selphi, the other aliens shall remain in the main settlement until the scholars have completed their work. See that they are constantly under guard.” And with that she turned away with her bodyguards and promptly left the lab.

“I take it she didn’t become queen due to her winning personality,” said Doctor Vincent under his breath.

Ketteract quickly stepped up to Chelra who took a moment to look the unfamiliar alien up and down carefully. “Why don’t you show me what you’ve got so far. I can’t wait to get started and it looks like we’re on a tight schedule here.”

Chelra nodded. “Follow me.”

Wesley frowned as he watched the two of them heading closer towards the blast shield at the other side of the lab.

“Three days isn’t much time,” said Kutznestov.

“It’s more than enough time to have this planet and half the quadrant accidently blown to high heavens,” said Vincent and looked after Ketteract who was eagerly following his Xenarth counterpart.

Wesley turned towards the New England doctor. “Had we stayed away the Xenarth may have done all that by themselves and a lot faster.”

“Perhaps,” he said. “But the way I see it, we’ve just added fuel to the fire by unleashing Ketteract onto this Omega molecule of his.”

“That reminds me of an old Russian saying,” said the first officer. “You play with fire and you will get burned.”

“That’s not a Russian saying,” said Mtolo.

The Bear gave the security officer an intense look.

“Or maybe it is,” he added quickly.

Wesley and the rest of the landing party joined Ketteract and Chelra, mostly because the idea of leaving the scientist to his own devices around such a powerful force scared them all.

They arrived just in time to witness the massive blast shield being opened to reveal a large tank of swirling cobalt-colored energy within which countless little particles swirled around in a seemingly semi-coordinated dance. It was bright enough to force the landing party to shield their faces for a moment until their eyes had adapted to the brilliant colors, lightening up the lab and dowsing it in dark blue colors.

“My God, it is more beautiful than I imagined it,” said Ketteract who stared at the light show with unbridled fascination. “You can literally feel the power that courses through it.”

“In this state the particles are uncharged and relatively harmless,” said Chelra.

“Yes, yes of course. You keep them polarized so that they cannot bind together and unleash their full power. But how do you contain it all? More importantly, how do you facilitate the final stabilization?”

Chelra’s mandibles twitched slightly and moved upwards in what looked like a semblance of a smile. Then she walked over to another heavy blast door which loudly slid to the side after she entered a code into a nearby panel.

Ketteract had brought his own, heavily modified tricorder which was at least twice the size of the Starfleet standard issue version. He turned it on and began scanning the cargo crates which had been stored in the room behind the blast door. “Boronite,” he said, his voice not having lost its earlier excitement. “I should have thought of that. It makes perfect sense. Its dense atomic composition makes it the perfect mineral to synthesize and contain the molecule. And this must be the purest form I’ve ever seen.”

Wesley had overheard that. “Are you saying that you cannot produce the molecule without your baronite supply?”

Chelra jerked her head in a nodding fashion. “We were fortunate to have a large source of naturally occurring boronite on Xenarth Prime. This is the only stockpile we were able to save following the trans-phase.”

Ketteract turned to Wesley. “This is excellent news, Commodore. They have more than enough here to get us started on stabilizing the Omega molecule. I’m now more convinced than ever that we will be successful in safely harnessing this awesome power both of the Xenarth and for ourselves as well.”

Robert Wesley considered this for a moment. He looked back up towards the eerily beautiful sight of the inert molecules dancing behind the force field, seemingly entirely harmless and then at the impatiently waiting Doctor Ketteract. “Very well. You have three days to make this work, Doctor. I don’t have to tell you that I expect you to follow every possible protective measure necessary. This is not an occasion to be cavalier about safety, if you detect anything going amiss, I want you to shut things down straight away.”

He looked almost hurt. “I have no intention on sacrificing my life to science just yet, Commodore. If we were all to die who would be left to enshrine my name into history,” he said with a little smirk.

“Right,” said Wesley humorlessly. “Commander Zha’Thara will remain here and assist you with whatever you may require.”

The molecular scientists shot the Andorian a quick and not so subtle look, wordlessly questioning her competence for the task but apparently deciding it to be better to say nothing further on that subject. “As you wish. But now I really should get started,” he said and quickly turned back towards Chelra, eager to discuss his theories with her.

Lexington’s science officer stepped up to her captain. “Sir, I may be slightly out of my element here.”

“Telana, the difference between you and Ketteract is that I have complete faith in you. You have a couple of days to catch up on the basics and make sure the man doesn’t blow up the universe while chasing immortality,” he said and then took a step closer to make sure the Xenarth did not overhear their conversation. “If you think that there is any chance that he and his new friends cannot pull this off without blowing us all to kingdom come, I will need to know straight away because I promise I will go to whatever lengths necessary to stop them.”
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Old February 21 2013, 11:07 PM   #132
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Between Ergia's impatience and Ketteract's arrogance, I can't see anything going wrong...

Another great chapter. I'd pressure you to write faster if it wasn't a case of the pot making comments about the kettle.
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Old February 22 2013, 10:44 PM   #133
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

The Badger wrote: View Post
Between Ergia's impatience and Ketteract's arrogance, I can't see anything going wrong...
Yeah, what he said...
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Old February 28 2013, 08:12 PM   #134
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Nelson Mandela, 2372


“We make it out of this in one piece and you’ve got yourself a date, mister.”

“I’ve already picked the wine.”

Maya nodded sharply. “See you on the flipside, Captain. Donners Out,” she said and terminated the link, causing Terrence Glover’s visage to disappear from the screen. She couldn’t quite keep herself from smirking. True, the man was insufferable at times but in a situation like this, even she couldn’t deny his charm entirely. She glanced back towards the forward viewports and that smirk dropped from her face. The Nelson Mandela was just minutes away from making contact with the enemy.

The irony of the situation didn’t escape her. While she didn’t get a chance to pick her crew, Agamemnon’s runabout had remained unnamed when she had come aboard and she had promptly christened it after one of her heroes from Earth history. A man of supreme integrity and more importantly, a man of peace. She had envisioned taking this vessel to make first contact with alien nations, to assist those in need or to carry out diplomatic missions.

Instead its first duty would be taking it into battle. She tried hard not to think what the vessel’s namesake would have thought of this if he were still alive.

She turned away from viewport and looked around the runabout’s cockpit. The vessel was crammed tight with heavily armed security personnel and Marines, most of which showing the kind of stone-faced mask of determination on their faces as one would expect from a group of people trained to fight and kill within moments of insertion into hostile territory.

This made Wayne Daystrom stand out even more. The sole officer wearing a science blue uniform instead of combat fatigues could have otherwise easily been mistaken as another combatant, considering his large frame. But his face mirrored only anxiety.

Maya stood from her chair behind the Xelation pilot and pushed herself through the crowd of armed men and women to get to her science officer. “Lieutenant, you ready for this?”

He looked up at her with a look of all too obvious insecurity and doubt. When he realized that it was the captain who had posed this question, he did his level best to appear more certain of himself. “Yes, sir,” he said after some hesitation.

She didn’t buy it for a moment. “Come with me,” she said and led him into one of the back compartments for a little bit of privacy. Once there she immediately turned to face him, fully aware that they had little time for prep talks. “Wayne, I need to be able to count on you. I know a combat mission isn’t easy and it’s probably not something you ever expected having to do–“

He shook his head. “It’s not that.”

Maya shot him a quizzical look. “What then?”

“Going down there to … destroy Omega. It just feels wrong, sir. I can deal with the fact that we are going into battle, I always accepted that I wouldn’t be able to avoid that in Starfleet, but being the attacker and for no other reason than to destroy technology we don’t think they should have. Are we absolutely certain we are doing the right thing here, sir?”

The captain considered that for a moment, turning to look towards the many armed guards around her. Then she looked him straight in the eye. “If you’re hoping to get reassurances from me that we’re doing the right thing, I’m sorry to say but I cannot help you.”

This had clearly not been the response he had hoped for and his blank expression gave proof to this.

Maya sighed. “Do you think this is what I signed up for? Leading men and women into battle. This goes against everything I believe in but at the same time I know we don’t have a choice. We have already seen what the Xenarth can do with Omega and we cannot allow them to try again. The stakes are too high.”

“I understand this,” he said, nodding meekly.

“Frankly, at this point it doesn’t matter if you do or not. I just need you to do your job. Follow your orders and if you cannot do that, tell me now.”

He seemed taken a back for a moment by her harsh tone, a strong departure from her usually more emphatic attitude. “I can do that, sir.”

She nodded sharply. “Good. What about Elborough and Altoss,” she said, referring to the two other science officers assigned to the teams going after the other generators.

“They know what to do and how to do it,” he said.

Maya placed a hand on his shoulder. “For now, focus on what must be done. Leave your doubts and concerns on the runabout. When all this is over, I know of a splendid counselor you can talk to.”

He nodded again, a little firmer this time. “Yes, sir.”

“Captain.”

Amaya turned and saw two security officers approach her. Redmon O’Shaugnessy was a tall Irishman with a mob of red hair and the bulky kind of build preferred among security officers. He was Mer’iab’s chief lieutenant. By his side was a slender Vulcan woman, hefting a phaser rifle and a stern expression written across her face.

O’Shaugnessy held up a padd. “Lieutenant Mer’iab would like to speak to you, sir,” he said.

Maya turned back to Daystrom. “Get ready, we’ll make planetfall soon.”

The science officer understood he was dismissed and returned to the cockpit while Maya took the padd off the security officer and activated it to find the Aurelian already expecting her.

“Captain, I would like you to reconsider your role in this mission and remain on the runabout after you land.”

She rolled her eyes. “We’ve been over this, Lieutenant.”

“I understand that but I simply do not believe your presence is required on the ground. You can easily assume operational command from the runabout.”

Maya shook her head, growing impatient. “It’s not the same, Lieutenant.”

The security chief looked visibly pained as he spoke again. “Sir, I … I could not forgive myself if something were to happen to you down there. It has been brought to my attention that … perhaps your insistence to lead this away team is due to my disagreements with Lieutenant Sh’Fane. I’d be happy to … cede command to Sh’Fane if you prefer and if it would help keeping you away from the enemy.”

Maya couldn’t help but smile at that offer. Under other circumstances she may have even called the gesture kind of sweet. “I’m glad my safety is this important to you Lieutenant but I didn’t join Starfleet to play it safe. And I’m not here because I don’t trust you and Sh’Fane. I need you both to lead your respective teams.”

Mer’iab knew that the argument was lost. “I have assigned Lieutenant O’Shaugnessy and Chief Petty Officer V’Ner to shadow your every step. They are two of my best and I would greatly appreciate that, once you take enemy fire, that you follow their instructions as closely as possible.”

What went around, came around, she thought. Had she not only just finished giving a similar speech to her science officer? “You’ll find me quite able to handle myself, Lieutenant.”

He was about to speak up again in protest but she preempted him. “Don’t worry, I’ll do as you ask.”

“Two minutes to orbital bombardment,” the pilot called out from the front, causing Maya to glance up momentarily.

“We’re out of time,” she said, looking back at the Aurelian officer on the padd. “I’ll follow my orders and you follow yours, Lieutenant. I want you and every single person under your command to come back from this. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good, Donners out,” she said and closed the channel. She gave the padd back to the Irishman and then looked the two security guards over quickly. “Looks like we’re going to get real well acquainted over the next few hours.”

“Looking forward to it, sir,” said O’Shaugnessy.

“I will be right beside you, sir,” said the Vulcan.

“Good times,” she said and then turned back towards the cockpit, quickly realizing that her shadows were already trailing her.

“How we doing, Ensign?” she asked the Xelatian.

Space-Wanderer looked up at her. He had long and flowing purple colored hair but perhaps the most fascinating aspect of his people was the golden mask covering every last inch of his face except for a glowing blue screen where she assumed his eyes were. Maya had encountered a few Xelatians in her time in Starfleet but the only thing she knew for certain about his people was that nobody she had met had ever seen what their actual faces looked like. The secrecy surrounding their appearance was comparable to that of the Breen. She had learned however that in their culture, mature Xelatians were given names appropriate to their profession.

“Clearing cloud cover now,” said Ensign Star-Wanderer. “The fleet is assuming formation to allow Agamemnon and Cuffe to begin their bombardment.”

She nodded and then switched on the comm that would link her into every shuttle and runabout which was taking part of this operation. “Attention all vessels, make sure you stay in your formation no matter what. And find something to hang on to, this might get rough. Donners out.”

The clouds cleared and Amaya got her first peek at the facility containing the Omega generators. The most domineering feature was the massive tower, easily reaching six-hundred feet into the air. This was what Ket had called the Star Portal. Designed to use Omega to trans-phase an entire population into another galaxy it had since been re-appropriated by the Xenarth Aggregate to function as a massive Omega canon with a destructive yield Amaya had already witnessed with her own eyes.

Otherwise the facility wasn’t much to look at. A few transparent domes and landing platforms dotted an area twice the size of Agamemnon. The few weapon emplacements she could see were not a significant threat. The Xenarth had never expected a direct assault on this facility.

She felt the vibrations before she saw the light show.

Then one phaser beam after the next pierced the sky with ear shattering roars, hitting various pre-arranged targets on the surface. The weapons emplacements were the first to go. Then the domes and the landing platforms were taking hits.

Donners watched the spectacle with fascination. Had those phasers been operating on full power, they would have shredded the facility to pieces and potentially destabilized the Omega molecules being generated within. Instead they did exactly what they had planned, making a lot of noise and blowing up a great deal of dust and smoke. A perfect distraction.

The next strike was the one designed to do the real damage and a layman would have been hard pressed to notice the difference. But Donners, with her engineering background, immediately spotted the more powerfully modulated phaser blasts, seemingly way off target as they hit nothing but empty land just outside the facility’s perimeter.

As those high powered beams drilled themselves deep into the soil, Cuffe and Agamemnon continued their otherwise less effective assault on the facility itself, ensuring that every last Xenarth inside felt as if the sky was about to drop onto their antennae.

“Best light show I ever saw,” said Chief Holly as he watched the spectacle even as the runabout and the rest of the small-vehicle fleet approached.

The assault force split up into four separate groups already designated as Omega One, Two, Three and Four. Maya would lead the first group, Mer’iab the second and Sh’Fane the third. Their objectives were simply enough on paper. Penetrate the compound, reach the Omega generators, shut them down if possible and destroy them before beating a quick retreat.

Omega Four was lead by Cuffe’s security chief Lieutenant Meldin, his job was to locate the boronite storage facility and ensure not a single trace of the material remained after the assault.

If everything went to plan, the four teams would completely neutralize any chance for the Xenarth to generate the Omega molecule ever again.

Maya tried hard not to think of what would happen if they failed as she looked out of the viewport as they headed towards a large cloud of dust which had been blown high into the air following Agamemnon drilling a massive hole into the surface of the moon.

“Please tell me you know where you’re going, Wanderer,” she said. “I can’t see a thing.”

“Sensor resolution is clear, sir. There is definitely a hole there.”

“Hope you’re right, kid” said Holly, straining his eyes to be able to discern anything through the cloud of dust they were heading into. “Otherwise this is going to be the shortest away mission in history.”

The runabout shook slightly as it hit the dust cloud and debris, the absence of a fiery crash however was enough to convince her that a shaft had indeed been opened up.

“We’re below the surface,” said the pilot. “Minus twenty meters and descending.”

The dust cloud had disappeared and given way to complete darkness. Maya found the controls for the external spotlights and was quickly greeted by the sight of a precisely drilled vertical tunnel. “Remind me to congratulate the gunners on Agamemnon and [iCuffe[/i] when we get back. This is fine work.”

“If their Starfleet careers don’t work out, they’ll always have a future in asteroid mining,” said Star-Wanderer without looking up from his controls.

Maya smirked, realizing for the first time that the man behind the mask had a sense of humor. It was impossible to tell if he had smile on his lips however. Or lips, for that matter.

Far below she could see that the drilling beams had ripped right through the outer walls of the underground compound which now lay obviously exposed which would allow her and her team easy entry into the facility.

So far, so good, she thought but with little illusions that everything in the coming hours would be as easily achieved as their insertion.

Trying to remain positive, she followed her own advice and banned any doubts out of her mind as she faced Chief Holly and the rest of her team. “Everyone, get ready to move out.”
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Old March 3 2013, 09:40 PM   #135
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Zenith (Iota Cruics IVd), 2372


There was an adage, she believed of human origin, which had been drilled into her ever since she had first joined the Marines a dozen years ago.

No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.

Beatiar Sh’Fane mentally chided herself for not having been more consciously aware of this truism before setting foot onto the Xenarth moon.

“How many?” The captain’s voice sounded far away and distorted though her head-mounted comm-unit which was supposed to allow her to be in constant communications even when engaged in battle. But the sturdy headgear, sitting on top of her short white hair like a crown, had not been designed for intense melee combat.

The tall Xenarth solider swung his spear-like weapon at her and the Andorian Marine managed to duck underneath it just in time to avoid being decapitated.

She swiped one leg across the smooth floor, cutting out the legs from underneath the insectoid warrior and sending him crashing down.

With no time for subtilties, she brought her boot down hard into his face, feeling the crushed exoskeleton even through the heel of her footwear.

She swung around and pulled free her pistol-shaped phaser to fire three rounds at point blank range at another Xenarth who had hoped to rush her from behind and taking her by surprise.

The ambush was cut short when the near-invisible phaser blasts struck him in his weakest areas and immediately rendering him unconscious.

“I’d say at least two to three hundred more than we expected,” she said in reply and aimed her gun at the next warrior trying to cut her down.

She fired one round before the weapon vibrated slightly in her hand, indicating that the current power cell had been depleted. She uttered a choice Andorian curse and dropped the phaser, knowing full well that she didn’t have the time to reload her weapon.

“Jesus,” Donners said over the comm. “That’s an opposing force almost two thirds larger than we anticipated. Can we still achieve our main objective?”

After her gun had given out, Sh’Fane had quickly picked up one of the spear-rifles dropped by the fallen Xenarth warriors and immediately appreciated its weight and balance. The multipurpose design allowed for it to be used as a long-distance beam weapon, a medium distance stabbing weapon or use it two-handed like a staff to fight somebody at very close range.

She fired a bolt of cobalt colored energy at an enemy warrior barring down on one of her people. As Donners’ orders of using non-lethal force had been made very clear to her, she aimed low, trying to cut the large insectoid down by taking away his ability to stand upright.
Then she swung around and just in time to deflect a blow with a similar weapon which had been aimed at her head. Clearly the Xenarth had not been given the same kind of orders.

“Lieutenant?” the captain said when she hadn’t responded.

It was pure luck that the Andorian found herself in a better position to press the attack against her opponent. If all else would have been equal, she doubted that she could best a Xenarth who had undoubtedly trained many years with his weapon compared to the few minutes she’d had with it. But as it stood, the Xenarth had overextended his spear ever so slightly, allowing her to pry it free from his hand with a quick twist of her own staff.

She couldn’t tell by seeing those large compound eyes if her opponent had realized that he had made a fatal mistake but his feelers jerked up suddenly and just before she brought down the blunt end against his hardened skull in force. She admittedly wasn’t completely sure if he would survive the blow but he certainly wouldn’t get up again any time soon.

“Lieutenant, are you still there?”

She let go of the spear and looked across the long underground corridor, she found that her team had seemingly prevailed with the floor practically littered with unconscious Xenarth bodies.

She fought hard to catch her breath again. “I’m here, ma’am,” she said and then bent over when she found her pistol again. She promptly ejected the spent power cartridge and replaced it with a fresh one from her belt.

“Are you alright?” said the captain, sounding concerned now.

She found Fabrizio Lombardi, her Italian second lieutenant, on the floor picking himself up and she quickly reached out a helping hand to pull him back onto his feet. “We ran into a Xenarth patrol,” she said. “Nothing we couldn’t handle.”

It was an understatement to say the least. In fact the two-dozen strong patrol had come out of nowhere and had nearly decimated Sh’Fane’s advance team which had been surprised by their agility and speed.

Practically everyone in her combined Marines and Starfleet Security team had come away with at least a few scratches and scrapes. Private Santiago had taken a spear tip into his side and the corpsman had already begun treating his wound.

What their intelligence had failed to anticipate, other than the much more numerous hostile force, was the Xenarth proclivity for close quarter melee combat, a strategy that made even more dangerous, especially when taking into account their tough exoskelton which protected them like a natural armor, their razor-sharp mandibles and their extra set of hands.

“Casualties?” the captain wanted to know.

“I’ve got one man down,” she said even as she stepped up to her injured private. The corpsman looked at her and gave the company commander a reaffirming nod. “But he’ll be alright.”

“You didn’t answer my earlier question, Lieutenant?”

The Andorian found her rifle which she had lost moments after the Xenarth had nearly overran them. She quickly checked to make sure it was still operational. “My drill instructor back at Command School tried to part onto us young officers the concept of superior numbers and superior firepower in order to win a military engagement. Shock and awe, he called it.”

“And we lost the superior numbers element.”

“We never really had it in the first place,” said Sh’Fane and then consulted a padd which Lombardi had thrust into her waiting hands. “We always knew that. But the plan was based on us being able to quickly eliminate a token force while the majority of Xenarth soldiers would be busy engaging our drones on the upper level.”

“If you are right about the number of enemy troops in this facility,” said Donners over the comline, “then those drones will be cut down in a matter of minutes after which their main force will move down here and take us on directly.”

“That is correct, ma’am,” she said, still working on that padd.

“Then what are our chances to get to Omega in time?”

She looked up. “Getting there won’t be the problem,” Sh’Fane said.

“I’m not prepared for this turn into a suicide mission, Lieutenant.”

The Andorian handed back the padd to her second lieutenant, motioned for her team to get ready to move out again and then powered up the phaser rifle, causing it to whine slightly. “Ma’am,” she said. “There may not be an alternative any longer.”


* * *
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