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Old March 24 2013, 07:49 AM   #181
Gibraltar
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UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 7 continued)

Chapter 7 <cont'd>

Commander Xerix stared at the assembly of Ferou ships with hooded eyes, leaning forward very slightly in his chair like a perched bird of prey. He hadn’t tasted combat since the end of the Dominion War, a conflict he’d been secretly ecstatic at entering when the star empire had finally joined the fray.

He was a soldier, bred to war and honed like a fine blade through decades of training to a razor’s edge. Never to employ such a specialized weapon would have been a waste of resources and talent, and in combat Xerix had at last found himself in his element. Where others experienced indecision or fear, Xerix saw the raging battles with a kind of hyper-acute clarity, and was able to divine the enemy’s plans even before they’d put them in motion.

The end of the war had left Xerix feeling somehow crippled, as though he was no longer whole without the furor of warfare raging around him. Days, weeks, and months crept past as though in slow motion, one day melting into another with nothing to differentiate them but an endless string of meetings and mind-numbing data-work.

The desperate mission to the Delta Quadrant to stem the tide of refugees was a new lease on life for Xerix. More than the accolades and medals awarded for his exploits, Xerix yearned for the adrenaline and action of combat, the opportunity to match his skills and intellect against that of alien commanders in a frantic winner-takes-all contest.

“Commander,” the ship’s sensor officer addressed him, starting him from his reverie. “There’s been a forty-seven percent increasing in the strength and duration of sensor sweeps on our location by the Federation starship. I’m also seeing an increase in sweeps in the vicinity of Tolovana.”

“They’ve seen us,” Xerix breathed. “Still, we are nearly in position.”

Vexam and Roakel report that they’re approaching the other side of the fleet at one-eighth impulse. Distance, twenty-three million kilometers.”

“Understood,” Xerix said as he assessed their tactical situation. “Maintain distance to Europa and have Tolovana do the same. If they’re busy watching us, perhaps they’ll be less apt to see the others.”

Moments passed, and despite their being on the cusp of initiating hostilities with a well-armed opponent, Xerix’s crew maintained admirable discipline in the tense atmosphere.

“Now detecting sensor sweeps in our vicinity by multiple Ferou vessels, Commander,” reported the sensor officer, breaking the thick silence of the bridge.

Xerix’s jaw rippled with barely repressed outrage. He glanced at his first officer, murmuring in a low voice, “Our allies have apparently given away our position to the Ferou.”

“Signal incoming from Vexam, Commander.”

“Put it through, audio only.”

Chalois’ spoke, the urgency in her tone unmistakable. “Commander Xerix, if we do not launch our attack quickly, the Federation diplomatic team will have transported aboard before our strike.”

“They’ve already betrayed our presence to the Ferou, Sub-Commander,” Xerix replied icily.

“We can’t know that for certain, sir,” Chalois protested in vain. “If we attack and Federation lives are lost—“

“Enough!” he barked. “We will wait until the others are in position, and then we will strike. I will not sacrifice our tactical advantage for a handful of Starfleet lives.” He jabbed the comms control angrily, severing the link and ending the conversation abruptly.

Yowaen and Suralar are moving into flanking positions, Commander. Another five minutes until we’re all in place.”

Xerix let out a slow, deliberate breath, steadying himself for what was to come. “So shall it be.”

“I’m detecting a Federation transporter signal…”

*****

The near weightlessness of the Ferou’s environment was disconcerting enough, but the electrical field by which their species moved and manipulated their surroundings caused significant static electricity throughout the ceremonial chamber that literally made the away team’s hair stand on end.

The Ferou themselves were beautiful, elegant creatures that moved like wraiths through the great chamber. Though they possessed a definite physical form, their tissues were sufficiently elastic that they undulated and drifted gently along not unlike a sheet blown free from a clothesline by the wind.

The cavernous compartment was ovoid in shape, and the rounded floors and walls only served to heighten the Starfleet contingent’s sense of disorientation. Try as they might in their first few minutes to control their bodies in low-g, the humanoids drifted awkwardly off the floor whenever they jostled into one another.

Taiee couldn’t suppress a fit of giggles as Shanthi lost his balance and grabbed frantically at Lar’ragos for support, sending the both of them spiraling into the air with their arms flailing helplessly.

“This,” Lar’ragos muttered sardonically, “is going to go down in the annals of diplomatic history as how not to represent the Federation.”

Shanthi was unable to reply, struggling gallantly to keep from vomiting as his inner ear and visual cortex sent conflicting messages to one another.

Delicate carts moving along rails set into the walls began to slide into the great room, filling the chamber with the alien scents of various exotic foodstuffs.

“For obvious reasons,” said GentleFriendSeeker-(Diplomatic-caste), “our physical limitations make it awkward and painful for us to visit higher gravity environments. We understand that it is equally unsettling for you to suffer the indignities of low gravity in order to be among us, and we are grateful you have been willing to do so in the name of friendship and peace.”

“Our Federation is comprised of hundreds of diverse species,” Lar’ragos answered as casually as possible as he drifted slowly towards the floor head first. “So we are experienced at meeting others in a variety of environments. We are honored that you have allowed us to stand among you so that—“ he pushed off the floor with his arms, tucked, and rolled upright, “—we could explore one another’s cultures.”

StarGuideFarSeer-(Navigator-caste) asked, “Do these Romulans you spoke of not feel similarly? Is that why they have chosen not to contact us?”

Counselor Liu, the only one of the team who’d insisted on wearing gravity boots, stood fixed in place as the others fought to stay upright. He replied, “The Romulans are our allies, but they do not always share our willingness to extend the possibility of friendship at first meeting. They are a cautious people who likely wish to project strength through silence.”

“So they mean us no harm?” FleetGuardianStalwartDefender-(Protector-caste) inquired pointedly.

“It is typically not their way to strike without provocation,” Lar’ragos answered. “But I cannot speak for them with absolute certainty. At present your fleet’s projected course does not take you into Romulan territory, and as we’re enjoying this friendly get-together as they watch, I can’t see any reason they’d have to harbor you ill will.”

*****

The tight-beam encrypted signals flashed between Vexam and her sister ship, Yowaen.

“Are we really going to allow this to happen?”
Chalois wrote to Commander Ejiul tr'Aimne. “Europa has already spotted us. If we attack with their crew aboard the Ferou ship, they’ll have no choice but to engage us to safeguard their diplomatic party.”

“I, too, regret that it has come to this,”
Ejiul replied, likewise by text. “However, Xerix is carrying out the explicit orders of the Galae. We must set our personal objections aside and do our duty. As has been often said, ‘obedience is our portion.’”

“And if the starship opposes us by force of arms?”


“That would be most unfortunate,”
Ejiul answered, “for them.”

*****

All six Norexan-class warbirds decloaked simultaneously, raising their shields an instant before disgorging a withering volley of torpedoes that swarmed downrange among a brilliant wash of green disruptor bolts.

The lead Ferou vessel was savaged, and despite the strength of their hull composition, the ship’s superstructure blistered and ruptured in the face of such sustained aggression. Gouts of flame and escaping atmosphere jetted from the stricken ship as the lights from its many large viewports flickered spasmodically.

*****

USS Europa

“Six Romulans warbirds,” 2nd Lieutenant Tiedermeyer announced from Tactical. “Their weapons and defenses are active.”

The ensign manning the Ops console blurted, “They’re firing on the Ferou!”

Juneau stood abruptly, her jaw dropping open at the sheer absurdity of what she was witnessing. “Get a transporter lock on our people and get them out of there!”

An agonizing few seconds groaned past as they watched the great cylindrical Ferou ship mauled by the Romulans’ opening salvo.

“We can’t get a lock,” Ashok growled from Engineering. “The interior portions of the ship that aren’t burning are rife with EM interference, and all the weapons discharges are creating a—“

Juneau shouted in reply, cutting off Ashok mid-thought, “I don’t care why. Just find me a goddamn alternative!” She blinked, clearly overwhelmed by the dynamic pace of events. “Raise— raise shields… sound red alert.”

“Incoming signal from the Romulans, Lieutenant. They’re ordering us to stand down and withdraw.”

*****

USS Masada

“It would seem their First Contact mission has taken an unfortunate turn,” Parlan observed coolly as he and Ramirez watched the pyrotechnics on Masada’s main viewer.

“Oh, but it’s about to get so much worse,” Liana Ramirez chuckled darkly. “Set course to three-two-nine, mark zero-four-zero. Bring us right in on top of the lead warbird and prepare to decloak. Warm up the quantum torpedoes and phasers, gentlemen, we’re going to draw some green blood today.”

Parlan looked askance at her, his expression troubled. “What of the events we’ve set in motion aboard Europa?

“The timing couldn’t be more perfect, my mechanical friend. First we start a war with the Romulans, and then we’ll bring Sandhurst and his crew to their knees.” She made a show of glancing all around. “I think we need some new digs, don’t you? This little ship really is rather claustrophobic.”

Parlan actually looked impressed for a fleeting moment. “For a biological,” he noted, “you never cease to surprise me, Ramirez.”

*****
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Old March 24 2013, 05:56 PM   #182
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

I really appreciate how you set up the First Contact situation and how inventive you've been concerning the Ferou. The way the past segments have been structured with the preparations for attack by the Romulans made the story even more exciting.

I had forgotten about the Masada being there. Everyone is in for a nasty surprise it seems.
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Old March 24 2013, 07:09 PM   #183
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

Ante: Up'ed.

Gotta hand it to the Romulans. They have lousy timing. Now we gonna see what kind of stuff Juneau is made off. And this time there ain't no hidden consciousness that can take over. This is the real deal and her options are severely limited.

And of course trouble never comes alone. Evil Ramirez is back and at the worst possible time. Let's hope there's a Europa (and crew left) after all is said and done. Don't think they made all the payments yet.
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Old March 24 2013, 07:54 PM   #184
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

Oh. Crap.

Saw it coming (well, didn't see Masada coming) but still, it was a shock to see the Romulans attack in such a blatant manner with Europa on scene. Guess I bought into the whole "alliance" thing a bit too much.

So much for a successful first-contact mission. Looks like TFV just evolved into a war between the Federation and teh Romulans.

Just another day at the office . . .
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Old March 25 2013, 01:12 AM   #185
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

Dang....You don't believe in letting your characters catch a break do you?
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Old March 26 2013, 10:21 PM   #186
Gibraltar
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

Count Zero wrote: View Post
I really appreciate how you set up the First Contact situation and how inventive you've been concerning the Ferou. The way the past segments have been structured with the preparations for attack by the Romulans made the story even more exciting.

I had forgotten about the Masada being there. Everyone is in for a nasty surprise it seems.
Yeah, there's plenty of unpleasant shocks to go around here. Thanks for commenting!

CeJay wrote: View Post
Ante: Up'ed.

Gotta hand it to the Romulans. They have lousy timing. Now we gonna see what kind of stuff Juneau is made off. And this time there ain't no hidden consciousness that can take over. This is the real deal and her options are severely limited.

And of course trouble never comes alone. Evil Ramirez is back and at the worst possible time. Let's hope there's a Europa (and crew left) after all is said and done. Don't think they made all the payments yet.
Oh, yes, but fortunately Europa is still under warranty... for all the good that does them all the way out here.

TheLoneRedshirt wrote: View Post
Oh. Crap.

Saw it coming (well, didn't see Masada coming) but still, it was a shock to see the Romulans attack in such a blatant manner with Europa on scene. Guess I bought into the whole "alliance" thing a bit too much.

So much for a successful first-contact mission. Looks like TFV just evolved into a war between the Federation and teh Romulans.

Just another day at the office . . .
Keep your friends close and your enemies in your bed. Or, something to that effect.

Tribble puncher wrote: View Post
Dang....You don't believe in letting your characters catch a break do you?
Hey now, I'm not Dark Territory bad yet! Yet.
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Old March 26 2013, 10:37 PM   #187
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UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 7 continued)

Chapter 7 <cont'd>

The other Ferou ships were painfully slow to react to the sudden Romulan assault, and by the time they opened fire on their attackers, the Ferou command ship was already coming apart, wracked by explosive death throes.

Juneau stumbled backward, collapsing awkwardly into the command chair. “Helm, ahead full impulse, get us as close to that ship as possible.” She looked across at the enormous Bolian hunched over the Engineering console. “Ashok, give me something… anything.”

“Still no transporter lock,” he rumbled in his deep basso.

On the viewer, massive detonations began to consume the Ferou vessel, annihilating the ship from the aft forward in great, shuddering spasms of flame and debris.

The deck lurched crazily, nearly throwing Juneau from her seat and causing numerous startled cries throughout the bridge.

“Weapons impact!” Tiedermeyer broadcast from where he clung to the Tactical arch with both hands. “The Ferou have targeted us. Shields holding, but those phasers of theirs pack one hell of a punch.”

“Auxiliary power to shields,” Juneau said breathlessly. “Ashok, I don’t care if you can’t get a solid lock on them, beam out whatever we can get!”

Lightner called back to Juneau from the helm, not daring to take his eyes of his board. “If we lower shields for transport, we’ll be a big fat target for anyone and everyone.”

“Do it!” Juneau overrode him as the forward section of the Ferou command ship began to fly apart. “Drop shields and beam!”

The engineer grunted in reply to Juneau’s order, dropped the shields and executed an area transport, grabbing anything humanoid sized from within the ceremonial chamber. “Energizing… we’ve got—“

Another strike from a Ferou phaser bank impacted Europa amidships, sans shielding. The ship’s ablative armor refracted a portion of the blast as its composite structure fractured under the onslaught of energies, but the remaining collimated beam lanced into the hull.

Bulkheads collapsed, power conduits ruptured, atmosphere boiled into the void, and humanoid flesh vaporized throughout the port sections of Decks five and six.

The blow knocked the ship off course, sending Europa spiraling away in a flat spin amidst the frenetic battle.

Despite being fixed to the command chair by the safety restraints, the impact to the ship had momentarily overpowered the inertial dampers, causing a whip-saw lurch that knocked Juneau unconsciousness for a moment. As she came to, she yelled over the din of alarms and excited comms chatter, “Ashok, do you have them?”

“No,” he replied brusquely, his large hands moving across the surface of his console with speed and precision as he fought to reroute compromised systems and initiate the fire and damage control processes.

“What… what do you mean, ‘no’?” Juneau exclaimed, retracting her safety restraints and rising shakily from her chair.

“Ashok, get me those shields!” Lightner called from Helm as he struggled to regain control of the stricken ship.

At Tactical, Tiedermeyer’s eyes were riveted to the image of the exploding Ferou ship on the main viewer. “She’s going!” he cried, toggling the intraship PA and announcing, “All hands, brace for impact!”

Ashok reinstated the shield grid less than two seconds before the force of the detonation slammed into Europa, this time sending the ship tumbling end over end as all attitude control was lost. On the bridge, personnel clung to whatever consoles or supports were nearest as the inertial dampers fought to prevent the crew from being liquefied by the horrific g-forces.

“Where is the away team?” Juneau screamed above the shriek of stressed hull plating as she clutched a safety railing support

“There was precious little to grab hold of,” Ashok snarled, angered by her continuing interruptions as he was trying to save the ship. “And whatever we managed to get was lost when the port-side transporter buffer was destroyed.”

*****

Romulan Warbird Cinecaar

Xerix studied the three-dimensional battlespace display hovering before him as he called out a litany of orders that send his attack squadron wheeling around for subsequent passes. The Romulans used their superior maneuverability to good effect, darting through the Ferou formation so as to only present a minimal target, and then for only fractions of a second.

The Ferou ships were formidable, but the destruction of their command vessel had panicked the others, and fire discipline was breaking down among them. Powerful weapons strikes meant for Romulan warbirds were striking other Ferou ships, adding to the confusion and mayhem.

Xerix noticed Europa spiraling out of the combat area and inquired, “Status of Federation ship?”

“Seriously damaged, Commander. A significant hull breach, internal fires, power disruptions, minimal shields, and their weapons systems are offline. They present a negligible threat at this time.”

“Continue to press our attack until we force them back into warp.”

*****

The warbird Yowaen decloaked behind the Ferou fleet and proceeded to slalom between the graceful, cigar shaped ships. Her fearsome disruptors dispensed carnage forward as her aft torpedoes accelerated the damage from behind once the attack ship had passed. Imprecise fire from the Ferou only served to traumatize their own sister-vessels further.

A vengeance-seeking Ferou missile weapon finally struck home, flaring impressively against Yowaen’s starboard shields and causing a violent shudder to course through her spaceframe. Her helm officer winged the ship over just in time to avoid follow-on phaser blasts.

As Yowaen heeled hard over and ducked under another Ferou personnel carrier, Masada appeared behind her, once again emblazoned with the holographic registry of USS Gallant. A brief flash was all that announced the deployment of the chronometric weapon that scattered the individual charged particles of the warbird’s shields into the distant past or far future. Less than a second later, Masada’s quantum torpedoes and pulse phasers tore into Yowaen’s naked hull.

The sustained phaser pulses chewed into the interior of the warship, capitalizing on the great chasm opened by the quantum impacts. A final brace of torpedoes unleashed into Yowaen’s innards finished the task, sparking a mighty explosion that sent the forward section and both wings all spinning away on separate trajectories. The burning core of the vessel slammed into a smaller Ferou cargo carrier, and the two vessels, each forged in separate quadrants of the galaxy, died together wreathed in flame.

*****
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Old March 27 2013, 05:07 AM   #188
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UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 7 continued)

USS Europa

“Sons-of-bitches!” Juneau seethed as she staggered across the listing deck of the bridge to seat herself at the vacant Science console. “Romulan sons-of-bitches!”

The violent tumble slowed as Lightner finally gained control over the ship, using the impulse engines and thrusters in concert. The viewscreen centered on the battle they’d been thrown clear from, excited pulses of light and explosions blossoming in the absence of gravity.

“Ashok, get down to Engineering and get things under control. Shields and weapons are your priorities,” Juneau ordered. “We’re going back in there.”

Lightner turned around in his seat to look at her with undisguised disbelief. “Olivia, what the hell for?”

Ashok paused on the cusp of entering the turbolift, looking between the two officers as though wanting to add something. The moment of indecision passed, and he strode into the turbocar, bound for the engine room.

“They killed our people, Brett. That’s what for,” Juneau glowered, plugging away at her console.

Lightner righted the ship, but Europa maintained her position for the moment as the helmsman craned his neck to look over at the Ops board to his immediate right. “Four confirmed dead, eighteen reported injuries, and five more missing. That’s what the Ferou just cost us. Will we be attacking them, too?”

“The Romulans started this, Lieutenant. I aim to finish it.”

As he gestured to the Master Systems Display at the back of the bridge, Lightner pressed, “Look at all the red on the cutaway, Lieutenant. Most of the mains are offline, shields are barely holding, and we’ve no weapons. We’re in no shape to be jumping back into that fight.”

“That’s enough… sir!” barked Tiedermeyer from the back of the bridge. The Marine officer glared forward at Lightner, his expression unyielding. “The XO just gave us an order. Carry it out or I’ll remove you from the bridge.”

Lightner broke eye contact with Juneau just long enough to cast a scathing look Tiedermeyer’s way that fairly begged the Marine to just try it.

“New contact!” the Ops specialist interrupted. “Reading Federation transponder, Defiant-class. Gallant by registry, Lieutenant.”

“Yes,” Juneau confirmed, looking down at her own readings. “And they’ve just opened fire on the Romulans. Score one for the good guys.”

Lightner’s jaw set and he cursed quietly under his breath.

“I’ll take half-impulse now, if you please, Mister Lightner. That is, unless you’d like to leave Gallant in there all on her own?” Juneau said in a passably authoritative tone.

“Half-impulse, aye,” he answered grudgingly.

*****

Another chronometric pulse evaporated the shields of Tolovana, leaving the warbird helpless in the face of the smaller escort’s daunting weaponry. Masada’s pulse phasers stitched a seam of destruction down the length of Tolovana’s starboard wing as a photon torpedo plunged directly into the forward crew section near the vessel’s nose. Masada wavered and vanished under cloak as the compact ship dove to avoid a broadside of criss-crossing Ferou phaser beams.

The grievously wounded Tolovana was left to the tender mercies of enthusiastic Ferou gun crews. She lasted another thirteen seconds.

*****

Romulan Warbird Cinecaar

“Commander, we’re receiving word from Vexam that both Tolovana and Yowaen have been destroyed.” The report was delivered with admirable composure, given the shocking nature of the news.

Xerix turned back toward the holographic battle-map, his face tightening as he noted the pale orange icons denoting the last-known positions of the two vanquished warbirds.

The sensor officer raised his voice to be heard from the far side of the bridge. “We detected a brief appearance by a Starfleet gunship escort, Defiant-class. It looks to be equipped with a cloaking device, Commander.”

Xerix considered this unexpected development as he watched Cinecaar’s forward disruptors savage the dorsal structure of a Ferou civilian carrier whose shields had already surrendered to their torpedoes. The Ferou weapons fire had slackened once they’d realized they were doing more damage to themselves than their attackers, and although Xerix’s tactic of staying within their fleet had worked brilliantly, his squadron had just been reduced by a third in a matter of moments.

“They have opened fire on us,” Xerix announced, a passionate quaver to his voice. “Rihannsu blood has been spilled by the Federation, who add insult to injury by violating the Treaty of Algeron in the process.”

“Commander, the Ferou ships are spinning up their warp engines and extending their navigational deflectors forward.”

“Centurion, withdraw from their formation, best possible speed. Engage cloak and set an intercept course with Europa. The rite of vengeance beckons.”

*****
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Old March 27 2013, 02:18 PM   #189
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

Okay, there's good news and bad news. First, the good news:

*crickets*

And now the bad news:

It's all bad.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled massacre.
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Old March 27 2013, 07:08 PM   #190
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

Gibraltar... this is starting to get depressing. No matter what they do, star fleet and especially the Europa crew keep getting screwed over. Hopefully their luck starts changing for the better soon. I really hope you didn't just kill Pava off. But I have a sneaky suspicion our old friend Chalois may have just returned the favor.
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Old March 27 2013, 10:45 PM   #191
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

It is getting depressing...I have faith though that Gibraltar will gives an ending to this story that will make sense, it may not be happy or whatever, but it will make sense, and not be a "Meh, I made it up as I went along" sort of thing.
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Old March 30 2013, 05:44 PM   #192
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

You've got your allies who aren't behaving at all like allies and then you've got your allies who only appear like allies but are truly enemies and are about to turn those supposed allies against each other.

What a wonderfully convoluted plot.

This looks all really bad and yet I can't help having so much fun with it.
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Old April 6 2013, 10:52 AM   #193
Gibraltar
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

TheLoneRedshirt wrote: View Post
Okay, there's good news and bad news. First, the good news:

*crickets*

And now the bad news:

It's all bad.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled massacre.
Hey, Starfleet never promised them a rose garden!

theonering wrote: View Post
Gibraltar... this is starting to get depressing. No matter what they do, star fleet and especially the Europa crew keep getting screwed over. Hopefully their luck starts changing for the better soon. I really hope you didn't just kill Pava off. But I have a sneaky suspicion our old friend Chalois may have just returned the favor.
Uh... no comment!

Tribble puncher wrote: View Post
It is getting depressing...I have faith though that Gibraltar will gives an ending to this story that will make sense, it may not be happy or whatever, but it will make sense, and not be a "Meh, I made it up as I went along" sort of thing.
I hope to prove worthy of your faith in me, TP!

CeJay wrote: View Post
You've got your allies who aren't behaving at all like allies and then you've got your allies who only appear like allies but are truly enemies and are about to turn those supposed allies against each other.

What a wonderfully convoluted plot.

This looks all really bad and yet I can't help having so much fun with it.
As am I.

Thanks for the commentary, everyone. More to follow... soon.
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Old April 7 2013, 05:56 AM   #194
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UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8

USS Europa


The petty officer manning the Ops console looked back at the empty command chair, sighed, then turned the opposite way to address Juneau at the Science station. “Lieutenant, the Ferou fleet has jumped to warp, resuming their previous heading at Warp seven-point-three. The Romulans don't appear to be pursing.”

“Acknowledged,” Juneau answered absentmindedly as she toggled controls in rapid succession.

Lightner blinked at the viewer, frowned, and dropped his eyes to scrutinized his navigational sensor readings more closely. “Uh… where did Gallant go?”

That finally broke Juneau’s concentration on the Science board. She glanced up, “What?” Juneau turned back to her display and opened an active sensor window. The frown that took hold of her features mirrored Lightner’s own. “No debris…” she murmured.

Ops called out, “I just played back the sensor telemetry, it looks like Gallant cloaked.”

“Oh… shit,” Lightner breathed. He turned in his seat to fix his startled gaze on Juneau. “That’s not Gallant.”

A look of realization spread across her face. “Masada,” she said quietly. “What the hell is going on here?”

*****

Romulan Warbird Cinecaar


“Decloak and raise shields,” Xerix ordered.

“We aren’t in weapons range of Europa yet, Commander,” advised the centurion at the weapons station.

“Yes,” Xerix purred, drawing the word out. “I want them to see us coming. It’s important they have time to savor the approach of their impending deaths.”

“As you command. Dropping cloak, activating shields…”

*****

USS Europa

“Romulan warbird decloaking dead ahead,” Ops noted.

"All stop," Juneau instructed.

At Tactical, Tiedermeyer advised, “They’ve just raised shields and activated weapons. Their targeting sensors are locked on us, Lieutenant.” The Marine officer’s eyes narrowed as his gaze bore into Juneau at the Science station. “Perhaps you should retake the command chair… sir?”

Juneau ignored the jibe, choosing instead to toggle the transceiver array. “Romulan vessel,” she called out, “we have identified the escort that fired on your ships as the rogue vessel Masada that we previously briefed you about. You’ve been tailing our ships for months, you know none of ours are equipped with cloaking devices. We have not initiated hostilities. You, on the other hand, have just destroyed a ship hosting Starfleet representatives.”

The lack of response was telling, and Juneau addressed Tiedermeyer without looking up from her console. “What do we have for weapons?”

“Minimal phaser power,” he assessed. “The antimatter injection system in our torpedo launchers was knocked offline, and all we have is two standard photorps hot in the forward tubes. That won’t be enough against their shields.”

Juneau stared at the silhouette of the oncoming warbird on the viewer as she struggled to calm her racing mind. C’mon Olivia, she chastised herself, you’ve seen Sandhurst and Ramirez pull off miracles before in seemingly hopeless situations. What would they do right now? Standard weapons aren’t an option, so what else do you have? She saw the smoking, battered bridge of Gibraltar in her mind’s eye, Sandhurst’s calm presence in the center seat, buoyed by Ramirez’s tactical acumen.

“Lieutenant?” Tiedermeyer urged.

Lightner spared a glance over his shoulder at Juneau, his expression grim.

“Standby weapons,” Juneau ordered. “Manual targeting only, no sensor lock. I don’t want to telegraph this.”

“Telegraph what, sir?” Tiedermeyer asked, an edge to his voice now.

Sandhurst and Ramirez both played to their own strengths, Juneau reflected. He was an engineer, she was a tactician. They both fell back on those roles for inspiration. You’re an Ops chief… what tools do you have? Eject and ignite the antimatter pods? No, our own shields would never hold up to the detonation at this range. Reconfigure the navigational deflector array? No, that would take hours to implement…

It came to her so suddenly that she snorted a strangled sounding half-laugh, prompting startled and desperate looks from the others on the bridge who doubtless wondered if she was losing it. The idea was so deliciously unconventional that for a brief moment she was blind to the raw barbarity of it. That realization slowly sank in as her fingers danced across the console, bringing the desperate gambit to life.

She reached out a trembling hand to toggle open the comm channel again. “Romulan vessel, don’t do this. You’re putting us… you’re putting me in a corner. Please don’t start a war today that neither of us can afford.”

Juneau knew it sounded weak. It was a pleading cry for mercy, yet she could not in good conscience follow through with her plan without giving them one final chance to reconsider their attack.

The voice-only reply from the Romulan commander was chilling in its brevity. “You have chosen sides against us today, human. History will remember the Federation’s treachery, just as it will remember our exquisite retribution.”

Juneau closed the channel, muttering, “Okay, then. So much for diplomacy.” She went back to her systems reconfiguration as she announced, “Helm, start backing us away, one-quarter impulse.”

Tiedermeyer gestured for a crewman manning a nearby auxiliary console to relieve him at Tactical as he stepped away from his post. “Lieutenant Juneau, I cannot allow you to do nothing while the Romulans strafe us. I’m taking command.”

“I am doing something, and I have a plan,” she replied distractedly. “Resume your post or get off the bridge.”

Masada’s back,” observed the NCO at Ops. “She’s making another attack run on the Romulans.”

“Great,” Juneau grumbled in response. “Only they’re not attacking the ones threatening us.”

Tiedermeyer shifted uncertainly at the far corner of the Tactical arch, knowing that one step further forward would commit him to an act that might either save their lives or end his military career. He stared at the invisible seam in the carpet there that formed his Rubicon.

He suddenly realized that his anger stemmed from fear, and his fear was rooted his distrust of Juneau and her capabilities. He didn’t have a clue what to do in this circumstance, what orders he might give if he chose to sit in the captain’s chair, but he didn’t have any confidence that Juneau did either. Tiedermeyer was first and foremost a Marine, schooled in the sacred necessity of a strong chain-of-command. In that moment he understood with a kind of out-of-body clarity that he could either die flailing madly for control of the ship, or die honorably at his post, like a Starfleet Marine.

Tiedermeyer turned back and resumed his position wordlessly just as Juneau instructed, “On my order, fire a full spread of whatever we have left at them. Target everything against their forward shield grid.”

“We’re now within each other’s weapons envelope,” said Ops. A second later Europa was pummeled by a pair of disruptor bolts that crashed into their weakened shields.

“That was a one-third power discharge,” Tiedermeyer calculated. “They’re toying with us.”

Juneau breathed, “Here we go. Fire weapons.” She gave the order without force, as though by afterthought.

The Tactical board warbled to broadcast their outgoing salvo as brief flashes of phaser fire and two torpedoes arced downrange in a woefully insufficient reply to the Romulans’ opening volley. At that instant, Juneau unleashed the full might of Europa’s grossly overpowered primary sensor array, the most formidable device ever produced by Federation science to be slaved to a starship.

Romulan shields operated on the same principle as Starfleet’s. The shield frequencies rotated constantly to allow certain specific types of energy and matter to pass through, or to increase the effectiveness of blocking them. Thus, the combined phaser and torpedo strike from Europa caused Cinecaar’s shields to commit to a relatively narrow range of frequencies necessary to protect against the incoming collimated energy and photon warheads.

The sudden bombardment of massive amounts of simple microwave radiation emitted from Europa’s sensor array overwhelmed the Romulan shields’ ability to quickly reconfigure to meet the new threat.

On the warbird's bridge, Xerix found himself screaming alongside his crew before he’d even realized what was happening. The commander gasped in agony as he held up his hands to watch in fascinated horror as his skin blistered and bubbled for no discernable reason. The visual evidence of his torment ended when his eyes burst in their sockets an instant before his blood began to boil in his collapsing veins.

The others, Romulans and Reman alike, fell to the deck, writhing in a macabre ballet of death.

And just like that, it was over. Lightner pitched Europa hard starboard, allowing the unblemished but lifeless warbird to fly harmlessly past. Cinecaar was now a smoldering tomb, home to the broiled remains of nine-hundred souls.

Juneau stood shakily and walked over to the command chair, lowering herself into it with a shuddering sigh. “Wow. That actually worked,” she remarked to no one in particular.

*****
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Last edited by Gibraltar; April 7 2013 at 06:22 AM.
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Old April 7 2013, 03:18 PM   #195
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: UT:TFV - Part II - Scorched Earths

*Ding*

Microwave's done. Smells like barbecue.

That was brutal in a most understated way. Hats off to Juneau for quick and unconventional thinking. My estimation of her rose a couple of notches.
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