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Old September 29 2013, 05:38 PM   #46
CeJay
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

The Ocampa have arrived. Now, the question is who can get to them first? If it's the Talarians, without Kes to watch over them, this could quickly become the shortest mass exodus ever.
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Old September 30 2013, 01:48 AM   #47
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Kes made the ultimate sacrifice so that her people might not only live but enjoy a peaceful existence.

Unfortunately, she had no way of knowing about the Talarians.

As CeJay said, it will be a race to see who can reach the Ocampa first - the militaristic (and rather ticked-off) Talarians or elements of the Third Border Squadron.

Personally, I'm hoping for a tie. Good stuff, Bry - looking forward to more!
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Old October 7 2013, 06:18 AM   #48
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Who could have guessed the most dangerous part of their journey would take place after they arrived in the Alpha Quadrant?

Fantastic storytelling here, Bry, a yarn with heart, as demonstrated by Kes' final gift to her people.
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Old October 11 2013, 10:43 AM   #49
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Thanks for the kind words gentlemen, it was always Kes' fate to give her all to get her people away from the danagers of the DQ--a more fitting send off than what she got in the series, IMO

Now, on with the story. Things are heating up and will be coming to a head very soon.

* * * * *

Gymnasium, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470
Routine Patrol, Beloti Sector, Alpha Quadrant

Susanna Leijten breathed deep, wiping sweat from her brow as she ran at a steady pace. As part of her morning routine she was nearing the end of her five kilometre run, which came after her circuit on the various weights equipment the gym was stocked with. Starfleet had strict fitness requirements that every officer and crewman had to abide by, which included time spent working out in some manner, but for Border Dogs it was even more important—due to the hard physical labour they could often face on assignments—so Leijten had worked out a routine with Doctor Mbeki the first week she’d arrived onboard the Silverfin and stuck to it. Even after eight years onboard she still did the same circuit, which kept her in trim shape—probably better than when she was a cadet (a thought that always made her smirk).

The running machine she had chosen looked across the mats, where Syva was running her morning martial arts class which was open to all onboard, regardless of department or rank—the morning class was for beginners/intermediates whilst the evening one was for advanced levels. Leijten was constantly astounded by the Vulcan’s stamina, able to run two classes, between which was a full eight-hour shift, outside of which she would work with the beta and gamma shift security guards for additional training, but somehow always managed to looked rested and centred. Before she had met the Chief of the Boat, Leijten had always thought that she pushed herself, but compared to Syva she was a rank amateur.

As she watched, Petty Officer Edris came to the front and stood opposite Syva. The young Trill was well over thirty centimetres taller and at least twenty-five kilos of muscle heavier than the wiry Vulcan, some may have seen the pairing as a little unfair. Eight seconds into their spar and Edris landed with a resounding thud on the padded deck. Leijten winced for the poor man. She’d been on the receiving end of Syva’s drops, so she knew what it felt like—fortunately she didn’t have quite as much mass as Edris though.

The running machine beeped, signifying the end of her selected distance, and then started to slow down. She slowed to a walk and let her breathing and heart rate get back to normal. Once it stopped she would head to her quarters, shower and change, then it was off to the ward room for breakfast, before she got to the Bridge.

“Bridge to Leijten,” called Lieutenant Frixa, the watch officer on duty.

“Leijten, go ahead.”

“Sir, you are receiving a priority one transmission from Rear Admiral T’Rona.”

Leijten stopped the treadmill and hopped off, heading for the exit. “Patch it to my quarters. Anything on sensors?”

“Nothing sir. All clear as far as we can tell.”

“Keep an eye on them. Leijten out.”

Speeding up to a trot, she darted into the nearest turbolift and went down a level. Her quarters were located at the front of deck three, giving her a great view of space, and fortunately the designers had been on the ball when they’d built the Silverfin, as there was a turbolift stop just a few meters from her door. Less than ninety seconds had passed by the time she reached her desktop terminal, on which the Border Service crest was flashing.

“Computer, open comlink, Leijten-four-two-alpha-tango.”

Immediately the image of Rear Admiral T’Rona appeared, her appearance immaculate (unlike Leijten who was a little flushed and sweaty) with her customary air of detachment and calm about her that could be both reassuring and unsettling.

“Admiral?” she said by way of greeting, with a questioning tone. She had served under T’Rona for long enough to know that priority one transmissions always meant something bad was going down, and that the Silverfin was about to be dropped right in the middle of it.

“Captain Leijten, an hour ago one of our listening posts picked up an energy wave in unclaimed space. Preliminary analysis shows it to be similar to the displacement wave that abducted the starship Voyager. They have since monitored a fleet of thirty ships appearing where the wave dissipated. Using Voyager’s records, they were able to identify several Kazon destroyers, though the profiles of the others are unknown.”

Since contact had been re-established with the missing starship, currently traversing the Delta Quadrant, their journey had been well covered by both Starfleet and the Federation News Service. She’d only been able to have a quick glance through some of the reports and briefings—they had amassed terraquads of data in just seven years which was broadcast back in burst transmissions when conditions allowed—but she did recall something on the Kazon, enough to know that what they were dealing with could get very bad, very quickly.

“You are to intercept the fleet, conduct a threat assessment and attempt to make contact. If their intentions are hostile, you are to fall back and await reinforcements. I am sending you the position of the fleet and all the telemetry the outpost has gathered so far. The Silverfin is the closest cutter we have, but you’re still almost sixty hours away. I am also dispatching the Lobo and the Kukui, but they are at least ten hours behind you.”

“What is the fleet doing?”

“Nothing so far. They are holding their position, they aren’t making any attempts at communication either. We are at present unable to ascertain their intentions.”

“Any Talarian interest?”

“The outpost did detect a frigate leaving its assigned patrol route just after the wave dispersed. It is unclear if they called in reinforcements. They will reach the fleet in fifty-four-point-nine-seven hours.”

“Understood Admiral. I’ll report in once we intercept.”

“Good luck, Captain. T’Rona out.”

The screen reverted to the Border Service logo with a small window displaying the position of the fleet. She quickly routed that information to the conn.

“Leijten to Bridge. I’ve sent you a new heading. Get us on it, warp nine.”

“Acknowledged,” Frixa complied promptly.

“I’ll be up in ten minutes. Leijten out.”

Taking a moment to let out a long breathe, her mind was already racing. Six months ago the Squadron had taken a thrashing from the Talarians, two cutters destroyed and two others requiring a massive amount of repair work. That incident had seen their numbers swell by five new ships and steeled their resolve, they knew what the Talarians were capable of; but now they had a new threat on the horizon, one that had come all the way from the Delta Quadrant.

“Leijten to Amorin, can you meet me on the Bridge in ten.”

“I’ll see you there, Captain,” her XO confirmed without question.

She headed into the sonic shower for a few short minutes, then stepped out and pulled on a clean uniform. Tying her hair back in a quick braid, she headed out the door and back into the turbolift. When she emerged onto the Bridge, she wasn’t surprised to find Amorin already there standing with Frixa in the middle of the deck talking quietly. The towering Benzenite straightened when he saw her enter and she motioned him over to the MSD at the aft bulkhead, which was unmanned. Before he reached her she brought up the sensor readings the listening outpost had logged.

“Frixa was saying we’re heading into unclaimed space,” he stated, the question obvious from his gravelly tone.

“An alien fleet of thirty ships has just appeared out there. Using what records we’ve got it looks like they’ve come from the Delta Quadrant.”

“I take it we’re not dealing with friendlies.”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t look like it. We’re to conduct a threat assessment and attempt communication. The Little Cousins also know about them, they have a frigate en route as we speak.”

“Just the one?” he sounded puzzled and rightly so. A single frigate, even with their new weaponry, wasn’t a match for thirty ships—unless they were doing the same as the Silverfin, investigating the situation for a larger force to deal with.

“We’re getting backup as well, but they’re ten hours behind us. The problem is even at warp nine we’re still going to get there about five hours after the Talarians.”

Amorin glanced at the sensor display, which included the last position report of the alien fleet, the frigate and the Silverfin, which clearly showed the cutter was two and half days away. They could get up to warp nine-point-three, but could only sustain that speed for twelve hours (which was even pushing the safety protocols) after which they needed to shut down their warp drive and put the warp coils through a cool down procedure. Even behind the breather mask and goggles that covered much of his face, she could tell Amorin was scowling, the engineer in him trying to work out a way to get more speed out of their warp drive. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to come up with some miraculous solution, as he shook his bulbous head and looked back at her.

“The best we can hope for is to kick it up to maximum when we’re twelve hours out, then just hope the new coils can take it.”

It had been the installation of new warp coils and power transfer conduits that had kept the Silverfin from being able to do their part during the Incursion, they had been benched for over two weeks due to the complexity and sheer scale of the work that needed to be done. Now it looked as though they would be putting their new hardware through a proper shakedown.

Leijten nodded. “Agreed. I’ll start pulling together all the tactical and intelligence information I can on the Kazon, we can start to devise defensive countermeasures if it comes to that. I want you to supervise a full diagnostic of the warp assembly, make sure it can hold up, and then keep an eye on it. We can start running readiness drills once I’ve briefed the rest of the senior staff.”

Amorin bowed his head. “I’ll go get started now.” With that, he headed for the turbolift.

Leijten glanced at Lieutenant JG Ngrahthik at ops. “Set up a secure telemetry link with Star Station Freedom and route it to my ready room.”

“Aye sir,” the young Ktarian complied and set to work.

“Frixa, the Bridge is yours. Keep me appraised if anything appears on sensors.”

“I always do, Captain,” the Denobulan said with a faint smile.

Leijten couldn’t help but smile, despite the situation. She had a good crew, all of who knew just what needed to be done, sometimes even before she issued an order. Heading into her ready room on the starboard side of deck one, she had a lot of work ahead of her, which she wanted to get through before the rest of alpha shift came on in just over an hour.

* * * * *

Bridge, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
Neutral Space, Argaya Sector, Alpha Quadrant

Their journey had been rough, but fortunately damage and casualties were light. Even before they had left Ocampa, it had been decided that once they arrived wherever Kes was sending them, the flotilla would remain together. Though in truth the decision had been forced upon them rather than decided by themselves; there were few who knew how to properly work the ships they were now onboard, and the behemoth transport that was carrying over half their population was limited to impulse—and none of the others could manage a warp tow.

So the thirty ships sat still in space, waiting. Daggin’s own sense of nervousness was compounded with the feelings of so many others in close proximity, as all those who had been living in the subterranean city for years had never set foot on a space-faring ship, let alone been out among the stars, especially stars that were totally alien to them. He was doing his best to reassure the people, trying to project an air of calm though finding it difficult to maintain for too long. They were all coming to him asking what they would do next, where they would go, and countless other questions that he simply had no answer for.

All he could do was give them empty platitudes about how everything would be alright, that they would soon find help, and that they would soon be back on a planet that they could call home. But that would only placate them for so long until they wanted something more substantial.

He had faith in Kes and what she had done for them all...her gift to the Ocampa. A small smile tugged at his lips as he felt his eyes moisten at the memory; the familiar presence in his mind, so much like the girl he had known, but tinged with sadness and loss. Though he hadn’t spoken to Tanis about his last conversation with Kes, Daggin knew that she had given too much to get them away from the dangers of their home region. He knew that she was gone.

Blinking back tears, he knew that he couldn’t show how he felt with so many others around him. Just prior to their departure, he had been named the transport’s ‘captain’ and so was seated in the middle of the long, narrow bridge. All of the fourteen other chairs were occupied though, aside from two, all those seated were staring out at the blackness of space. The two who were at the sensor and communications stations were from the city station and knew how to operate the controls. They were in contact with the rest of the flotilla, getting status reports and updates from each ship, whilst also watching to see if there was anyone approaching their position. Fortunately all was quiet.

Daggin could only wonder how long that would remain so.

He was so engrossed in his own thoughts he never heard the entry hatch open or the soft footfalls of someone approach. It was only when he sensed the welcome presence did he glance back and see Linnis walking towards him. Her eyes were fixed on the large windows that sloped upwards and above his head. He couldn’t help but notice how they picked up all the tiny points of starlight.

“It’s breathtaking,” she gasped when she stopped next to him.

Still looking at her soft face, he agreed, “Most certainly.”

She glanced at him and smiled softly, before blushing and looking away coyly. He looked away as well, feeling guilty. She was young, with her whole life ahead of her—possibly far longer than just nine years if Tanis’ people began utilising their technology on the other Ocampa—and he was old enough to be her grandfather.

When she rested a hand on his forearm he felt his heart skip a beat and looked at it for a moment, before following up her arm, to her shoulder and then to her face. Her expression had hardened slightly, her expression worried and her eyes pleading.

*Daggin,* she sent telepathically, *are we safe here?*

*I wish I knew, Linnis,* he admitted—he didn’t want to lie to her. *I hope so.*

She held his look for a moment, then glanced back out the windows, though her look was no longer one of awe but of trepidation—a feeling he shared and more.

* * * * *
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Old October 11 2013, 04:04 PM   #50
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

There are so many ways this could go wrong. Starfleet and the Border Service have no way of knowing that the Kazon ships are filled with peaceful Ocampa. And while the Silverfin and her crew will proceed cautiously, the Tallarians are more apt to shoot first and ask questions later.

Here's hoping they can coax a bit more speed out of Silverfin's new warp coils!
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Old October 12 2013, 05:18 PM   #51
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Chapter Seven


Ward Room, U.S.S. Silverfin
En Route to Armada, Beloti Sector

With the stakes high and the situation unknown, the air in the ward room was tense—Kolanis Daezan didn’t need his telepathic abilities to know that. In his two years onboard the Albacore-Class cutter, he had experienced his fare share of tough assignments and near-impossible jobs, but they had always managed to pull through (and not always by the skin of their teeth). This however was a potential threat from the other side of the galaxy.

After they had come on shift, Captain Leijten had briefed the senior staff on the current situation and told to start reading up on all the reports that she’d downloaded from Freedom, whilst she went on the intercom and informed the rest of the crew as to their new assignment. From that moment on, everyone onboard tensed up. Daezan knew that there weren’t many Betazoids in the Border Service, simply because of the strong emotions they would face on a regular basis—it was a lot to deal with and those who served in the Border Service didn’t stay for very long, so he was something of an oddity in the statistics (which suited him just fine).

The crew were now doubling their efforts to prep the ship, whilst the rumour mill was going at warp fourteen. The department heads, meanwhile, had been called into a meeting to address the situation and begin strategising. Looking around the table, he made sure to keep his telepathic abilities under strict control, the last thing his friends and comrades needed was him peeking in on their innermost thoughts and feelings.

Leijten was at the head of the table, a look of concern on her face whilst Amorin next to her was unreadable as always (though somehow he was lousy at the weekly poker game). Ling-Na was in her element, just by looking at her he knew she was going through a dozen different tactical scenarios in her head at one time. Mbeki looked pensive and thoughtful, stroking his goatee as he sat quietly. Th’Shaan’s mind would definitely be set more on the Silverfin than what they were meeting to discuss; obviously he was worried about his engines being up to the demands being placed on them. Llewellyn-Smyth was always a tough one to call; she could appear reserved, but was bristling with anticipation just under the surface. As hard as English Rose was, Master Chief Syva was impossible; her Vulcan detachment and control was the stuff of legends onboard.

“What’s our present status?” Leijten asked, calling the meeting to order.

“Starfleet Intelligence has granted us direct access to the telemetry from the listening post,” Daezan began. “We’re getting all of their scans and readings in real time, though combining that with our own data hasn’t done much to provide us any more answers. The ships are still just sitting there; none of them have attempted to move.”

“The crews could have been overcome by some kind of energy field of pathogen,” Mbeki theorised. “Which of course provides a whole new set of problems; we could be facing a disease that no one in the Alpha Quadrant has ever seen before.”

“Doc, prep for full biohazard containment, just in case,” ordered Leijten. “I’ve requested all the medical logs that the Voyager has compiled; they should be with you shortly.”

“We are fifty-seven hours thirty-two minutes away, sir,” Llewellyn-Smyth stated in her Cambridgeshire accent and perfect elocution. “At present speeds, the Talarians however will get there five-point-four hours before we do.”

Everyone looked towards th’Shaan before Leijten posed the question they were all thinking. “Can we get there any faster, Elak?”

“With the Commander’s help,” he said, his antennae pointing at Amorin, “we’re completed a full diagnostic of the propulsion systems. We can’t go to maximum for fifty-something hours, even out new coils couldn’t handle that. The best thing I could suggest would be to punch it up to nine-point-three when we’re ten hours out from the armada, that extra jolt of speed would shave some time off of our ETA.”

“I thought that we could maintain our maximum warp for twelve hours,” Daezan asked—he had passed warp mechanics, but it wasn’t something he kept up on.

“Under normal conditions we can, but this would be asking for maximum warp after two days at warp nine—the system is going to be under strain as it is. I will try and eke out a little more, but I can’t rewrite the laws of warp physics.”

Daezan nodded in understanding. He knew the young Andorian would be doing everything he could and didn’t envy him the task ahead. Th’Shaan and his staff had to get the ship to where it was needed, without burning out their warp drive and ensuring that every system was fighting fit as well—a lot of work for anyone to stay on top of.

“For what I’ve read so far in the Voyager logs,” Ling-Na interjected, “the Kazon are little more than thugs, however they have access to heavily armed ships. Just one of their large destroyers would be more than the Silverfin could handle. They’re bigger than a D’deridex-Class Warbird, outfitted with over sixty distruptor banks and have a crew of between fifteen hundred and two thousand. Their shielding isn’t great, around a quarter of a Galaxy-Classes output, so we have the edge there. Their warp drive is also slower than ours, it looks like at warp eight we’d be able to outrun them, and of course we have the advantage with manoeuvrability.

“If this erupts into a fire-fight, we can keep them off balance for a while and maybe get in a few good hits, but we won’t hold out for long against eight of them—not to mention what the capabilities of those other ships are.”

Leijten listened intently to the tactician’s assessment. Once Ling-Na was done, she leaned forward on the table. “Hopefully it won’t come to that, this is a recon mission. We are to assess the fleet and then await reinforcements. My main concern is that Talarian frigate that’s on an intercept course. They may attempt to establish a diplomatic overture—from what I’ve read on the Kazon, they too are a male-driven society. The last thing the Republic needs is more alien technology.”

“Even with their new weaponry, we can handle a frigate, sir,” stated Ling-Na confidently.

“Talarians are like Tribbles, where you have one you’ll soon have a dozen,” Daezan quipped.

The only reason the Talarian Militia had proven to be a threat in the past (before the Incursion) was their sheer numbers, where Starfleet had one ship the Talarians had anywhere between five and ten. They may not have been strong, but enough hits and even Starfleet shielding couldn’t hold out indefinitely—it was like being pecked to death by ducks, it wasn’t quick but it would happen eventually. Then of course were the dah’je, ships sent out on suicide runs, whose crews were hell bent on completing the mission.

He noticed Leijten smirk slightly. “That they are, Kolanis. I’ll need you to monitor the border as much as the fleet; I don’t want to find us with Kazon on one side and Talarians on the other.”

“I’ve already got my sensor crews on it, Skipper.”

Leijten gave him a nod and then looked at the senior non-com, who had so far been quiet. “Master Chief, what’s your assessment?”

As the officers in the room turned to the COB, she remained quiet a moment longer, fingers pressed together, her expression passively neutral. Syva was a woman of great experience and knowledge who, despite being the lowest ranked in the room, held the respect and admiration of all those present.

“My observations are as such, Captain. We can approximate how these ships arrived, though we must ask why are they here? What events in the Delta Quadrant has led to the Kazon and four other species to travel seventy thousand light-years—especially when the logs of the Voyager crew shows considerable hostilities between most of the species in that region of space?”

“Perhaps some kind of catastrophe has occurred that forced them to work together,” Mbeki suggested.

“A possibility, even the most adversarial of neighbours can work together against a common threat. So far, all of our precautions have been for facing an invasion force, however their actions since arrival would seem to disprove that. I would suggest that we approach with no preconceptions, otherwise we may cause hostilities where none exist.”

“Very well put, Master Chief. We should try to stay as open and loose as possible, something about this whole situation just seems off.”

“Captain,” Llewellyn-Smyth spoke up.

“Yes Harriet?

“I’ve been taking a closer look at the sensor readings of the fleet and comparing what we’re seeing with what Voyager has encountered. Though there are no direct matches in their database, they have included metallurgical and compositional analyses of ship’s they’ve made contact with. Comparing those results with our telemetry and it looks like Voyager has encountered two of those species before. Six ships appear to belong to the Talaxians, a species they have had peaceful and constructive relations with—in fact they have a Talaxian onboard. Another six are of Vidiian origin. When Voyager encountered them, the Vidiians were suffering from a disease called the Phage, which destroyed their cellular structure and body tissues—this led them to aggressive secure replacement tissue from other races.”

“I take it these ‘donors’ didn’t willingly part with their organs,” Ling-Na stated.

“No. It appears they would regularly target other ships, use the crews as slave labour and then harvest material when it was needed. There was a notation in one of the logs, staying that the Phage had been cured—though there was no corroborating evidence.”

“Thank you, Harriet, very impressive work,” Leijten said with a supportive smile at the helmswoman.

“Thank you, Captain.”

Leijten looked around at the others. “We’ve now got two other avenues of research to pursue; I suggest you read up as much as you can. We’ll start running readiness drills to cover as many different scenarios as possible, make sure that all your staffs are ready for any eventuality.

“Questions? Comment?” There were none. “Amorin, I’ve got a few more points to discuss with you, everyone else is dismissed.”

The crew quickly filed out of the ward room and then split into two groups. Mbeki, th’Shaan and Syva headed for a turbolift that would give them fasted access to the decks below, whilst Ling-Na, Daezan and Llewellyn-Smyth made their way to another and headed for the Bridge. In the privacy of the turbolift carriage, he and Ling-Na shared a look and then turned it towards the Lieutenant.

“Someone’s aiming for promotion,” Ling-Na commented, a grin barely contained on her face.

“What?” Llewellyn-Smyth asked defensively. “Once a course is locked into the navcomp, there is only so much monitoring of heading and speed I can do, and I wanted to be helpful.”

“Sure you did,” he said, sound unconvinced whilst privately admiring her initiative—with all his attention on sensors and keeping a close tab on several different things at once, he’d never had the chance to do any full analysis of the ships.

“If I didn’t know better, I’d say English Rose was trying to show us up,” added Ling-Na, who was failing to maintain her stern look.

“I would never dream of doing such a thing to such a thing to my superiors, sir.”

Daezan chuckled and then threw his arm around Llewellyn-Smyth’s shoulders. “That’s one of the great things about you, Harriet. You always know when to bail us lieutenant commander’s out.”

“Here to help,” she replied just as the turbolift stopped on deck one. Daezan removed his arm and headed out the door, never noticing the look the two women shared or the fact that the colour of Llewellyn-Smyth’s face now matched that of her uniform collar.

* * * * *
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Old October 13 2013, 08:19 AM   #52
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Map Room, Frigate Deskott
En Route to Armada, Argaya Sector

The map room was located just behind the bridge, so as to give provide the Major with quick and precise data whenever needed for strategizing. It was Sub-Lieutenant Sami Taneth’s job to ensure that all sensor data gathered was produced in quickly and concisely, a lot of responsibility for a young man—but he wasn’t about to buckle under the pressure, he took great pride in his work. If he focused on the sensor data that came through from every array on the frigate, the reports submitted by the sensor analysts and operators, it was a lot for him to work on—almost enough for him to lose himself in. There were brief moments when it worked and he forgot about Yahn for a few moments, sometimes even as long as five minutes, but it would never last and Yahn’s handsome face would once again spring into his mind, his piercing green eyes, night-black hair, neatly trimmed beard that accentuated his strong jawline.

Hearing the door open behind him, Taneth shook the forbidden thoughts from his mind and turned to see who had entered. He was surprised and unsettled to see Major Inahk stride in, his face set hard. For the briefest of moments he was worried that his Commanding Officer knew of the secret passion within him, but knew otherwise when Inahk tossed a tablet onto the map table. Taneth had sent him the results of their latest scans, which showed a Starfleet ship on a direct course with the alien fleet.

“How accurate is that?” Inahk demanded.

“All scans show the same, Major. A Starfleet Albacore-Class ship is heading for the armada; however they are several hours behind us—”

“It doesn’t matter if they are several days behind us, Sub-Lieutenant, I’ve been told by many astrocartographer’s that this region of space was beyond the range of their sensor buoy’s. How then is it that they knew about this fleet at almost the same time we did?”

“Either they have vastly improved their sensors or they have a spy station in the vicinity, sir. They shouldn’t have been able to detect—” a chirp from the map table cut him off. “One moment, Major.”

He turned away from the Major, but could feel Inahk’s cold eyes burrowing into the back of his skull as he addressed the updated readings. What he saw knotted his stomach, as he knew Inahk wouldn’t like what he had to say.

“Sir, we are also detecting two other Starfleet ships shadowing the first. They are ten hours behind the Albacore.”

Inahk moved to the side of the table and looked at the graphical representation of their sensor readings. He scowled at the two other ships. “Types?”

Taneth glanced at the readouts. “One is Griffin-Class, though the other isn’t in our databanks. It might be the newest class of border patrol ship they have dispatched to the region.” He had heard about the new class, smaller than most others on the border, though very fast and reportedly well-armed. There hadn’t been any involved in their latest invasion into Federation space and all the reports they had were more rumour than hard fact.

The Major growled with anger then shot him an icy look. “What reinforcements do we have available?”

Entering a quick sequence into the keypad, the star map shifted to show the position of the closest Militia ships. “The frigate Nalqa and two corvettes are within sixty hours of the unknown fleet, sir.”

He could see that Inahk hated the idea of calling in reinforcements; no doubt he wanted to use this situation to carry some favour with Militia Command after his invasion plans had failed. Taneth would never question the Major’s orders, though he had wondered what a single frigate could hope to accomplish against thirty unknown ships. Now with Starfleet heading towards them they would need support to hold their ground. The Nalqa would reach the fleet eight hours after the Deskott, but just three hours after the first Starfleet ship arrived on scene which would give them tactical superiority.

Of course as an experienced combat officer, Inahk would be weighing up all that information. Taneth remained quiet and focused intently on the display, which showed the progression of the Deskott and the three Starfleet ships, whilst displaying the latest readings on the alien fleet—so far he’d been able to identify five distinct ship designs, so different from one another he could only assume they were all from different species.

“Sub-Lieutenant,” Inahk snapped, starling Taneth, “prepare to transmit the position reports of the fleet and the Starfleet ships, do not include any in depth readings of the alien ships—I will still claim the glory for this.”

“Yes Major,” Taneth responded promptly, even though Inahk was already heading onto the bridge to open up the comlink.

Taneth prepared the information requested and sent it through to communications, then breathed a sigh of relief when he was alone once again. Despite the damaged reputation of Major Inahk, he was still an intimidating man. Taneth could only imagine what he would do if he discovered he’d just had a conversation with a ‘deviant’, and just how Inahk would choose to put him to death. He shuddered at the thought and tried to push it from his mind. After they were finished with this tour of duty, he had decided to request reassignment so that he wouldn’t have to deal with Inahk again.

* * * * *

Medical Centre, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
Neutral Space, Argaya Sector
Stardate: 54617.7 (August 14th, 2377)

Their first day in a new region of space had been long and drawn out, tension and fear the dominant feelings among all those who were aboard, as all of them—from both the city and the station—had no idea what to expect. But all had been quiet.

Linnis found the stillness to be a little unsettling. She had been told that space was vast and mostly empty, so had anyone picked up their convoy then it could take days or even weeks to reach them. Still, she would have liked to have heard from Daggin that someone was approaching or even attempting communications—something so that they weren’t quite so alone.

With their sensors clear and no immediate threat apparent, Daggin and the other leaders had decided to start some sort of routine, something that the people could focus on other than their own trepidation and anxiety. Tanis and his people had offered to begin preparing the other Ocampa for their specialist treatments, which would see their lifespans drastically increased. There were those who were wary of such an offer and worried about undergoing something so radical. If there was one thing that could be said about most Ocampa, they were frightened of change.

Not willing to sit around any longer and worry about what may or may not come, she had volunteered for the first group. When she had entered the medical bay, she wasn’t surprised to see it the same smooth chrome as was present throughout the rest of the ship. There were a long line of beds in the main ward, as well as many pieces of equipment the medics were still trying to discern. She had been greeted by a nurse and asked to follow him, then led on a grand tour through the extensive facility, passing specialist diagnostic rooms, surgical suites and also a room filled with empty cylindrical tanks—all of which she paused to look at. The nurse stopped as well, giving her time to look at all the foreign technology built by her ancestors, realising that had it not been for the Warming then her people would most likely have been out in deep space long ago.

The nurse led her into a diagnostic room with a dais in the middle and several terminals arranged around it, facing the circular ledge. In the room were two others, Tanis stood at one console connecting up a piece of technology that obviously hadn’t come from the ship, it was darker in colour and not quite as flawless in its finish. The other was a physician from the city, a mousy-haired woman with kind eyes.

“Hello, I am Doctor Navi and this is Administrator Tanis,” she stated, her soft voice almost lost in the room.

“Linnis,” she said by way of introduction.

Tanis looked up and gave her a small smile. She had met him several times, whenever she was either with or looking for Daggin. At first she had found him to be distant and a little cool, but he’d changed considerably in a short space of time.

“Hello Linnis. Why am I not surprised to see you here?”

She returned his smile. “I’m just that kind of person. I can’t let my fears and doubts hold me back.”

“Glad to hear it. I’m just getting finished up here, give me a moment.”

Navi appeared by her side. “Would you please step up onto the scanner platform,” the physician directed.

Linnis followed her instructions and took her place on the dais, looking around the room a little more but nothing stood out to her. She would have to learn more about the ship, she decided, how it worked and what all the technology onboard did—this could very well be her home for quite some time, so she needed to make herself useful.

Tanis finished integrating his hardware and then stepped over to the scanner. Being on the low pedestal put Linnis are eye-level with the station leader.

“Now Linnis, we are going to conducting a series of biometric scans of you. They are needed in order to adjust our treatments to your individual physiology; some say they feel a slight warming of their bodies though others have no sensation whatsoever. Doctor Navi will be monitoring your current status, so that you aren’t under any undue stress.

“Do you have any questions?”

She shook her head. “No.”

“Good. Now just relax and breathe normally. This will take several minutes to complete.”

Tanis returned to his console and Navi stepped to one on the opposite side of the room. Linnis couldn’t help feel a little silly, all the fuss being taken over her. Just before he activated the scan, Tanis looked up at Navi and then at her.

“Initiating scan.”

There was a faint hum and the dais lit up with a blue hue as the sensors came to life. She didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary as she stood there. The two operating the controls were engrossed in what they were looking at.

“Just a few routine questions,” Tanis stated. “You are one and a half years old, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Any ailments in that time?”

“No, nothing.”

“What of your parents?”

Linnis felt a pang of sadness, but kept her voice even as she answered, “I never knew my father and my mother…she died a few days after I was born, due to birthing complications.”

Tanis looked up at her, a hint of sympathy on his angular face. “I am sorry to ask, Linnis, it is just part of the process.”

She gave him a nod. “I understand.”

He gave her a few moments to compose herself before continuing with his questions, ranging from her diet to how she’d felt since she’d been in space. She’d answered truthfully, from how her diet was simple but fulfilling (though bland) and that she had felt just fine since leaving the surface of Ocampa. The entire process took around five minutes to complete, then the scanner was deactivated and the room went quiet once more.

“Thank you, Linnis. You may step down now,” he instructed.

“Do I check out?” she asked, stepping off the scanner.

“Most definitely, you are in extraordinary shape,” he told her sounding a little impressed.

“I’ll call for someone to show you out,” said Navi before stepping out of the room.

“May I ask, Linnis,” Tanis began, “since you are old enough to decide what to do with your life, what vocation do you see yourself going into?”

The question made her pause and think. Of course she had had lots of ideas about what she wanted to do, but had yet to truly decide. There was one thing she had always been sure of.

“I want to help others,” she told him.

“A selfless ambition,” he said with a smile. “If you would like, I could ask if the medical centre could use another assistant—they are likely to be very busy in the immediate future.”

“I would like that. I need to feel useful onboard this ship.”

He gave her a nod. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Navi returned with the same nurse who had shown Linnis in. “Basen will escort you out.”

“Thank you.”

* * * * *
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Old October 13 2013, 10:05 PM   #53
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Well the tension is racked up all the way to eleven here as we anxiously await first contact with the refugee fleet. Right now it looks as if the Talarians have the upper hand and will get there first. This could spell disaster for the Ocampa sitting duck.

Silverfin is well prepared but if they can't get there in time it will be all for nothing.
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Old December 10 2013, 05:23 PM   #54
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Engine Room, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470
En Route to Armada, Argaya Sector

Elak ko’Parr th’Shaan stood on the balcony that overlooked the main floor of the Engine Room, his eyes closed, ears and antennae perked. He had learned long ago that the warp core on the Silverfin had distinctive vibrations, whether everything was running smooth, underperforming, or being taxed beyond her limits. Whenever too much was being asked of his engines, he would always pause and listen whenever the opportunity arose—just to make sure things were as they should be. For now the core was purring like a Cercassian kitten, but he knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long.

“Everything alright, Lieutenant?” Chief Pazai asked.

He opened his eyes and glanced round at the Denobulan diagnostics specialist. She was one of the few who knew of his ritual and although she preferred a more technical approach, she would always run whatever check he wanted on the system—just to be on the safe side.

Chuckling sheepishly, he scratched the back of his head and looked back at the pulsing core. “Yeah, everything seems fine so far.”

“Just to be sure, I’ve scheduled periodic diagnostic scans to be carried out on each shift.”

He looked back at her. “Thanks Chief. Hopefully we’re just being overly cautious.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more, Lieutenant, though a healthy dose of paranoia is good for one’s constitution.”

“I’ll need to remember that,” he said, studying the core for a moment longer, before turning back to the MSD she stood at. “How’s everything else looking?”

“The impulse and environmental crews have reported in that everything is running smoothly. The last diagnostics of computer, communication and sensor systems check out. Shields and weapons at full readiness,” Pazai ran through the ship systems and he was pleased to hear everything was at optimum efficiency.

He glanced over the display and then noticed a little orange dot where there shouldn’t be. Stepping closer, he tapped on it. “What’s this?”

“A glitch in EPS juncture gamma-eighteen-K. It’s still within spec, just running a little slower than usual.”

Th’Shaan stroked his chin as he looked at it. Gamma-18-K was linked to the power transfer grid, notably the section of the grid that cross-connected secondary and emergency power. Looking at the readouts, it was still well within the engineering regulations for Albacore-Class ships, though he had his own set of standards and it didn’t quite measure up. Considering what they were about to face, he wanted every system at one-hundred percent.

“It’s a quick swap out, an hour tops,” he muttered, more to himself than Pazai. “I’ll go deal with it.” Over the railings he yelled, “Blackwolf!”

“Yeah?” came the instant reply.

“Grab your kit, an EPS juncture tap and handful of J20 chips.”

“You got it.”

Smiling to himself he looked back at Pazai. “Engineering is yours, Chief. I’ll be on the comm if anything crops up.”

“Sure thing, Lieutenant.”

His staff had long since come to terms with his high standards—many of them had served under Amorin when he’d been the Chief Engineer—so it wasn’t a surprise for him to go off and do whatever work needed to be done himself. Th’Shaan was generally pretty easy going, having a good relationship with each and every engineer and specialist under his command, and was always willing to give them the benefit of the doubt when it came to their area of specialty, that was so long as they pulled their weight when the time came—which they always did.

Leaving the upper level, he slid down the ladder and found Claudia Blackwolf prepped and ready. She handed him a repair kit, on which “th’Shaan” had been engraved on the handle (something Amorin had done on th’Shaan’s third day onboard the Silverfin). He’d chosen the young crewman as she was knew EPS systems like no one else he had met, so she would most likely pick up on whatever the problem was before he’d even set the panel on the deck plating.

Leading the way through deck seven, he explained the glitch he’d noticed, to which she’d simply replied, “Hmm,” as she mused over the possible causes and remedies. Reaching the appropriate Jefferies tube access, he opened it up and climbed inside, Blackwolf close behind him. They progressed at a steady pace, climbing and crawling in silence—which th’Shaan had noticed since the ship had altered course—until they reached the juncture box and came to a stop.

As th’Shaan pulled the tricorder from his belt and ran a quick scan, Blackwolf opened up her kit and took out the sonic screwdriver they’d need to open up the metal casing. His scans showed no energy surges or radiation leaks, so flipped the scanner closed and set it on the grating next to him, before holding out a hand for the tool. Blackwolf handed it to him and in under a minute he had the panel off and was setting it on the deck. When he turned back to hand the tool to the crewman he found her sitting, staring at the open EPS tap but not seeing it. He could tell that her mind was light-years away.

“Claudia, you alright?” he asked softly, his voice still echoing though the tube.

She blinked and looked at him, unaware that she’d spaced out. “Huh?”

“Are you okay? Usually by now you’ve located the problem and are half buried inside the panel getting it sorted.”

“Sorry Lieutenant. I was just thinking about the Captain’s announcement, about what we’re being sent out to deal with this time.” She paused for a moment, thinking again. “It sounds big, I mean like really big.”

He couldn’t help but nod and agree with the young woman, though he had been trying not to think about what was ahead of them, instead he wanted to give his all to prepping the ship—which was part of the reason he’d decided to tackle such a small problem himself.

“Is it as bad as people are saying?”

“What are they saying?”

“You know how things like this go, th’Shaan. I’ve heard everything from a fleet of exploding or plague-infested ships, to a secret pact between the Kazon and the Talarians, to the vanguard of an invasion force. People are letting their imaginations run riot.”

He chuckled humourlessly. Having been on the Silverfin for six years, he knew how scuttlebutt started and spread, how there were those who made it so fantastic and unreal that others believed that it had to be true. He also knew—as did most others—that ninety-nine percent of the time it was just nonsense made up to prepare themselves for the worst case scenario. However there was always that one percent that would come back and bite them in the ass.

Looking her straight in the eye, he told her honestly, “We don’t know what’s out there, or just what we’ll face. All we can do is prepare for the worst—”

“And hope for the best,” she finished for him (a human saying he’d heard in his first week at the Academy and had become his personal mission statement). She smiled to herself. “I should know better.”

“If you weren’t nervous, Claudia, I’d think there was something wrong with you—even Syva seems a little overly-cautious.”

She whistled is surprise, which reverberated throughout the metal tube they sat in. “If the Master Chief is feeling it, then things must be bad.”

“So let’s make sure everything is shipshape, then that way all we have to focus on is external forces and whatever they decide to do.”

Her response was to open up her tricorder and start to crawl into the open panel, looking for the minor irregularity. Th’Shaan opened up his toolkit took out his hyperspanner and micro-callipers, and waited for her to hold out her hand.


* * * * *


Bridge, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
Neutral Space, Argaya Sector

Daggin liked the bridge of the Ocampan ship, its flawless finished shimmered in the light, whilst its layout felt organic, with the design of the consoles flowing into one another. It had also proven remarkably easy for those onboard to operate, the ancient Ocampan it was written in easily translated into modern script, whilst the interface panels themselves responded with the lightest of touches in an almost symbiotic manner—he couldn’t say with certainty but it felt to him as though they responded on an almost psychic level. Due to how easy the ship was to operate, Ocampa from both the station and the city were able to work the controls, which had gone a long way to help the two sides integrate.

He smiled to himself, thinking how that was just what Kes would’ve wanted. Not for the first time he couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to his old friend. He had seen with his own eyes how using her advanced abilities took their toll on her, so after sending so many across the galaxy what would that have done to her? Would she have survived it? Or was it a step too far and she had died giving the Ocampa a new start? He doubt he would ever know the truth, but could only hope that wherever she was, whatever had happened to her, she had found some measure of peace.

Blinking back tears, he kept his emotional guard up, not wanting those near him to sense his grief—some were already mourning friends and family who had opted to remain on the homeworld, he didn’t need to add to it. He would deal with his feelings after the convoy was safe and he had some privacy, until then however he needed to focus on the present and future of his people.

Daggin felt an unfamiliar and unpleasant prickle on the back of his neck, as though cold fingers were just millimetres from his skin. Before he could focus on the sensation to identify it Tula, the woman at the sensor console, turned towards him.

“Daggin, our sensors have just detected something coming into range.”

He moved closer to the station and looked at the display, which showed a single dot on the edge of the screen. By no means an expert, it was clear to him that the object was moving towards them; it was a ship.

Jeneth at communications next to Tula looked at them. “The other ships are signalling, they’ve spotted a ship and are asking for instructions.”

Slowly everyone on the bridge turned to look at him expectantly. He had known that they would eventually be noticed, he’d just hoped they’d had more time. In a foreign region of space they had no way of knowing just who it was, or if they would be friendly or not.

“When will they reach us?” he asked, trying to keep his voice steady and calm.

“Forty-five hours, present speed.”

“Continue to monitor their progress. Put the convoy on alert and call together all the representatives, we’ll need to decide how to proceed.”

Tula and Jeneth confirmed and set to work, whilst the others looked among themselves and back at him—all of them with questions on their worried faces. He beat a hasty retreat, not wanting to be left alone to make such an important decision, as it wasn’t his alone to make. This would be their first contact with the natives of this new and unknown region, they had to decide how to proceed, as well as fortify themselves to take action if it proved to be a hostile encounter—not something his people had ever had to do before.

Kes, I could’ve used your guidance now.


* * * * *
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Old December 10 2013, 06:31 PM   #55
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Terrific character interplay between th’Shaan and Blackwolf, underscoring the crew's tension with the uncertainties of their assignment.

And it's obvious the emotional toll on Daggin and the other refugees is enormous, and they've only just arrived in the AQ! The worst, I fear, is yet to come for them.
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Old March 23 2014, 04:54 PM   #56
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Great story.
You plan to continue or this is it ?
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Old March 23 2014, 06:02 PM   #57
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

It shall be continued. Unfortunately its refusing to write itself, though I've been trying to push through this little blockage and get it going again.

Stay tuned.
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Old March 24 2014, 05:36 AM   #58
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Keep up the great work. No matter which period of the timeline it is, I always enjoy reading your work. You'll get it done when you can. If you have to, move onto something else and come back to it later. The Crisis will still be there when you get back.

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Old May 16 2014, 02:55 PM   #59
Bry_Sinclair
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Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Chapter Eight


Bridge, U.S.S. Silverfin
En Route to Armada, Beloti Sector
Stardate: (August 15th, 2377)
ETA to Fleet: 10.05 hours

Frixa continually glanced at the chronometer above the viewscreen. In the watch report she’d been handed by Lieutenant Sholi (her equivalent on beta shift) had been a set of orders from the Captain. At 0400 hours she was to increase their speed from warp nine to nine-point-three, the increase would shave off some time from their ETA at the alien fleet, so as the minutes ticked steadily closer she could feel her stomach clench tighter.

Three minutes to go, she told herself. From the corner of her eye, she caught Ngrahthik look up from the multiple sensor feeds he was studying to glance at the chronometer as well.

She tapped the companel on the armrest. “Bridge to engineering.”

“Engineering, Jeyn here,” replied the officer-in-charge.

“How’re things looking down there, Tiris?” she asked, trying to keep her voice sounding calm—even though she didn’t feel it, all of the crew was aware of what they could be facing once they reached the fleet.

“Everything is looking good, the new coils are holding up better than I expected. We’ll be ready when you give the order.”

The Denobulan smiled to herself. “Stand by then. Frixa out.”

With that she rose to her feet and stepped down to the curved flight control console, where Ensign T’Nuri looked up at her. The chronometer ticked to 0400. She clasped her hands behind her back and nodded at the Vulcan. “Ensign, take us maximum warp.”

“Aye sir.”

Frixa watched as T’Nuri increased the warp plasma flow which gave the Silverfin the extra boost in speed. The three points of a warp factor may not have seemed like much, but it would make a difference. She stayed where she was for a few moments, as T’Nuri ran a quick level five diagnostic to ensure that everything was stable. Satisfied that the warp assembly was functioning as it should, Frixa turned her back to the viewscreen and returned to the command chair.

Perching herself on the edge of the seat she picked up the duty PADD and tapped the display. “Gamma shift watch log, supplemental. We have increased to maximum warp. Warp drive is operating at optimum. ETA with the alien fleet is in ten hours.”


* * * * *


Bridge, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
Neutral Space, Argaya Sector
U.S.S. Silverfin ETA: 4.6 hours

Tanis stood in the middle of the bridge, just before the commander’s chair, Daggin standing to his left and Yun (his former security advisor) to his right. Following the leadership conference, it had been agreed to have the convoy represented by a single voice, a position he had found himself thrust into. It was a daunting position to be given, to be the envoy of thousands—the majority of whom he had never met—which was why he had asked for Daggin to be beside him, so as to better understand the views of the other Ocampa, whilst Yun’s role was fairly self explanatory.

The alien ship would be on them soon. They would have to learn all they could of the inhabitants of the region they found themselves in, if they would help the convoy, or if the Ocampa had left one hostile sector for another.

Kes had been utterly devoted to her people, her final actions was proof enough of that, however he also suspected that she wouldn’t be able to determine precisely where they convoy would wind up—only that it would be somewhere far away from the aggression of the Kazon and the tyranny of the Vidiians. But now, in a foreign quadrant, facing an unknown, potentially hostile, race, he found himself missing the assurance that familiarity brought.

Yun stepped forward slightly. In a race of strong telepaths, there were always a few who rose above the rest, and she was one such individual. He stayed quiet and tried to keep his thoughts quiet, so as to not add to the burden she was already facing, trying to quieten the thoughts and feelings of thousands of frightened and apprehensive Ocampa. Daggin watched her closely whilst Tanis focused on the monitor that displayed the approaching ship.

“We have a problem, Tanis,” Yun stated succinctly—she was always a woman of few words. “I’m sensing great hostility and aggression; very dominant and oppressive.”

“So they’re not here to help us.”

“There is also a hint of desperation, as though they are seeking to take advantage of the situation before someone else.”

Daggin looked between the both of them. “But it’s just one ship; that surely can’t be a threat to the convoy.”

“For all we know, this could be the vanguard of their main force. In a few hours there could be dozens of attack ships surrounding us. Aside from the Kazon destroyers, the rest are unarmed. We can keep all the main systems running, but we’re in no position to go into battle.”

“They don’t know that,” Yun said, looking back at them. “Right now, we appear to have the advantage. If we make them believe that then we can at least bide ourselves more time.”

Tanis mused on the matter for mere moments—now was the time for decisive action. “Alright. Have all ships generate a dampening field through their hulls; that should hide our lack of weapons, numbers and power emissions. Then find out which three of the Kazon ships have the best grasp of their weapons array, and have them move into flanking position around us, make it look as though they are ready to attack at a moment’s notice. We want to use them as a bluff, but in case that ship decides to test us we need to be ready and at least show force—even if we can’t back it up.”

Yun gave a single nod and moved over to the communications terminal to begin relaying the orders. Tanis had had dealings with other races, but all ones he knew of—until his encounter with the crew of Voyager—now, here, in this strange place, he didn’t know if what he was doing would keep them at bay or force them to attack the convoy.

He would just need to wait and see what would happen.


* * * * *


Bridge, Frigate Deskott
Approaching Armada, Argaya Sector
U.S.S. Silverfin ETA: 3.9 hours

The starboard monitor showed the Deskott was battle-ready, her shields raised, weapons energised, missiles loaded, whilst the port monitor showed they were fast approaching the alien armada. Every muscle in Inahk’s body was tensed and ready to react after Officer Rohan reported that the fleet had assumed an attack formation.

“Major, we are on final approach,” stated Lieutenant Jaren at the helm.

“Slow us to sublight, Lieutenant,” he commanded.

“Weapons, stand ready,” ordered Commander Othon from where he stood on Inahk’s left.

“Aye sir,” was Sub-Lieutenant Varah’s prompt reply.

The frigate slowed and maintained her course. Inahk had expected them to be fired upon as soon as they were in range, but their approach towards the thirty unknown ships went without incident. Whoever crewed those ships were clearly curious about the Deskott and the men aboard, which suited him—he could find a way to secure their co-operation before the Border Service and the other Militia vessels arrived.

They came to a stop, close enough to be able to use their main disruptors, but still far enough away so they could respond to any weapons fire from the armada. But none of the thirty ships made an attempt to hail the frigate, which made him the one to take charge.

His eyes were drawn to the largest ship of the armada, which was long and silver, shaped like a raka cigar. By the way it was flanked by three other behemoths, it was clearly the command ship.

“Open a channel.”

“Channel open, sir,” replied Officer Saroh.

“This is Major Inahk of the Talarian Republic. We detected your arrival in our space, identify yourselves and your business in this region,” he commanded, knowing they wouldn’t be able to tell his deception—for all they knew, this was sovereign Talarian territory.

It took a few moments, but the image of the fleet displayed on the middle monitor was replaced with three individuals, two males and a female, standing in a glistening silver room with others seated and standing at various consoles he could see. It must’ve been the control room on the command ship, the metal of the interior was almost identical to that of the exterior. He noted that none of them were wearing uniforms, whilst the three standing facing the screen appeared calm, the others were jittery.

Interesting, he mused to himself, slowly stroking his beard, a faint smile tugging at his lips.

“I am Tanis, speaker for the Ocampa. Apologies, incursion was not our intent. We have travelled here from a distant star and were unable to control our ultimate destination.”

Inahk narrowed his eyes. The pleasantness of the alien seemed forced, yet something else that just felt out of balance with the whole encounter.

“We’ve never heard of your people, or seen ships such as yours. Where do you come from?”

“Our homeworld is over seventy thousand light-years from here, so you can see the problem we faced with our arrival,” the lean man in the middle of the trio stated, his polite tone still ringing false in Inahk’s ears. “We are currently running diagnostics. Once completed, we will withdraw from your space. All I ask is that you give us time to complete this task and we’ll respect your boundaries.”

His wolf-like smile widened. “Perhaps we could offer assistance. You are new to this quadrant, we could share our knowledge.”

Tanis looked at the male and female he was with, though no words were spoken. He looked back at the screen; his calm visage remained, though there was a change in his eyes.

“Thank you for your offer, Major; however our systems require precise knowledge to operate. We will expedite the task as best we can ourselves.”

Inahk rose from his seat and took a step closer to the visual scanners. “It would be no bother for us, besides there are many dangerous races in this region that would take advantage of people such as yourselves—particularly the Federation.”

The man on Tanis’ left fidgeted, glancing at his leader for a second, then back at the screen trying to appear as he had before. Got you, his mind snarled—they had heard of the Federation, either they were lying about their origin or Starfleet was more expansionist than he’d ever imagined.

“Thank you for your concern,” Tanis continued, his tone remaining level, “however, as you can see we have our own security covered.”

“If not for your security, then perhaps we could exchange information—I’m sure we have much to learn from one another.”

Tanis looked at his companions again. “I will have to discuss your request with our Council. We shall be in touch once I have convened them. Tanis out.”

The channel closed abruptly, leaving Inahk smiling. He looked down at Rohan. “I want you to run every scan we have on those ships, I want to know everything we can about them—look for weaknesses that we can strike at.”

“Aye Major,” the scanner operator replied instantly.

As Inahk turned back to his chair he noticed the scowl on Othon’s bearded face. Once seated, his First Officer moved closer and spoke in a low voice.

“Major, we are no match for this armada.”

“They are not what they seem, Commander. Everything about them is off. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say they were nothing more than refugees—I doubt they even know what they are doing.”

Othon’s scowl deepened. “We can’t be certain about that, sir.”

“The mismatched ships, the lack of uniformity of the crew, their obviously anxious, and they recognised the Federation. Something is not right with this armada. If we seize their command ship, they wouldn’t offer any resistance. Then all of their technology—including the ability to cross entire quadrants—would be ours!”

Othon’s forehead smoothed as his growing smile mimicked that of Inahk’s.


* * * * *
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Avatar: Captain Susanna Leijten, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470, Border Service Third Cutter Squadron
Manip by: FltCpt. Bossco (STPMA)
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