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|October 13 2009, 07:53 AM||#1|
Location: Norfolk UK
Star Tre : Starfleet Academy
C&C are always welcome.
|October 13 2009, 08:02 AM||#2|
Location: Norfolk UK
Re: Star Trek : Starfleet Academy
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
PRESIDIO CAMPUS – SHUTTLE PORT
September 14th 2370
Jase looked up to the high ceiling of the Academy Shuttle Port where the sound of arriving and departing shuttles was captured and attenuated by strategically placed baffles. The effect was to make the port an unusually quiet place on most occasions, though today was somewhat different.
Most of the noise this morning came from the main concourse below the shuttle and tram pads where crowds of arriving Starfleet hopefuls milled in confusion at the start of their first semester. It was Jase’s job to collect his small group as soon as possible so that they could drop off their luggage before attending the welcoming brief from the Superintendent.
The problem he faced at the moment was that the congestion of arrivals and departures had already delayed several shuttles and trams, one of which just had to be the one he was waiting to meet.
His gaze drifted out across the bay where the morning sun was painting the Golden Gate bridge in startling crimson highlights and then looking up he caught the eye of another quad leader standing on the concourse next to his.
“Hey Jenny!” he called, “Y’all too huh?”
“Same old thing every year Jase. It was like this when I arrived and they still haven’t got it sorted…”
“…but they can get a starship to Vulcan on time, yeah I know!” They both laughed at the joke that was probably older than the shuttle port itself.
“Think we’ll make it on time?” asked Jenny.
“Ah we usually do, depends how fast they can sprint.”
“Jase Gillings you are such a taskmaster you know that?”
Laughing in return, he nodded. “Comes from herding cattle.”
Looking up he saw an air tram slowly descending on to the platform and blew out a sigh of relief.
“Catch y’all later Jenny!”
“Yeah, and if I’m not at lunch, it’s ‘cos I’m still here!”
Laughing again, he jogged up the concourse as the tram disgorged it’s cargo of passengers and he quickly pulled up the list of names on his PADD.
Amidst the bustle of arriving cadets, his voice was almost lost. Taking a deep breath, he tried again.
A slim strawberry blonde stepped forward, hand slightly raised.
“Come on Ms Dixon, I won’t bite”, smiled the quad leader. “Take this PADD and wait by the door over there please.”
Wheeling her carry on case behind her, she gingerly took the PADD and stepped in the indicated direction. While she waited for the other new cadets to be called forward she briefly scanned the cover page on the PADD.
WELCOME TO STARFLEET ACADEMY
Please ensure that you keep this PADD with you at all times as it carries copies of all documentation required for your orientation brief.
Please try to keep any questions you may have until after the briefing as much of the information you require will be covered then.
Your Quad Leader for your first semester is Cadet 1st Class Jason Gillings who will provide your initial arrival brief.
Once again welcome.
Rear Admiral D Gibson
As she had been reading, Vonny had been joined by three other young women. She nodded and smiled to all three, receiving sheepish smiles in return and they were finally joined by Cadet Gillings.
“Ladies, I realise y’all must have a hundred questions already”, he said in a deep Texas drawl, “but for now I’ll ask y’all to put ‘em on hold until we get to the quad. Sorry if that sounds a little brusque, but your tram was late in which means WE are late for the briefing. Not your fault, don’t worry, but we do need to get a shake on so if you’ll follow me?”
He opened the door, graciously waving all four young women through into the warm San Francisco September morning. He indicated they should enter a compact monorail car outside the shuttle port which lead to a cluster of towers to the South, then carried on his rehearsed spiel.
“I’m Cadet Jason Gillings in case y’all haven’t had time to check your PADDs yet. I’ll be your quad leader for this semester so any problems, questions, donations of money, just come see me”.
He smiled reassuringly sensing their nervous attempts to take it all in.
“Look, while we’re talking informally, Jase will do fine ok? And don’t look so worried. This is my final year here and I’ve loved every minute. It’s all about what y’all make of it. OK so now you have the advantage on me so…?” and he nodded encouragingly to each of them, eyebrows raised.
Self conscious grins were his only reply from all four.
My god was I ever this nervous? He wondered. Looking at Vonny, he held out his hand and said “Cadet Jason Gillings ma’am and you are….”
Vonny reached out taking Gillings tanned hand in hers. His grip was firm without being the crush she’d expected.
“Siobhan Dixon, from England sir, but Vonny works better for me”, she managed.
His blue eyes crinkled in amusement.
“See that wasn’t difficult was it? And like I said, y’all can hold the sir part until we’re in higher company OK? Thanks Vonny. So our other ladies would be?”
The first girl held out her hand and smiled.
“Silvana Herac”, she said in a firm but smooth voice. “Born in the Emirates but I’ve lived most of my life on Caldern V”.
Set in a heart shaped face, her eyes were so dark as to be almost pools of black; her hair was short, raven black and had a sheen that Vonny envied.
He nodded and smiled, shaking Silvana’s proffered hand before moving to the next girl. Jase bowed from the waist.
“I assume that’s right?” he said smiling.
The second girl bowed in return then held out her hand, smiling.
“Thank you Cadet Gi….” and trailed off at his mock scowl. “Jase, my apologies. I am Hiroshi Misaki, New Tokyo”. Taking in all their looks she finished “I am pleased to meet you all”.
Another petite girl, Vonny noted, with a fair complexion and dark hair held up in a Japanese style. She had an infectious smile and her almond eyes sparkled with what might have been mischief, or perhaps just the thrill of being here.
Difficult to say but the effect was very disarming. Misaki’s movements were precise and lithe as if choreographed and she sensed a physical power belied by her petite exterior.
“And finally”, said Jase as they approached the second of the towers.
The last girl in line stepped forward. The only one of the new recruits as tall as Vonny, she had long dark hair and eyes that were bright blue yet seemed soulful and sad.
I wonder what the story is behind those eyes, thought Vonny.
When she spoke, it was in a firm but wistful tone.
“My name is Tevara Sheron and while my time here may be short, I am your servant and friend”. She fell to one knee before them before freezing in place. Worriedly, Misaki bent to offer help but Jase stopped her mouthing wait.
Seconds before they were about to alight from the monorail, Tevara stood and smiled broadly at them all. Jase was the only one not taken aback and as they stepped down to the platform, he also bent to one knee replying, “As we would wish to be yours.”
Tevara beamed at the response and the smile transformed her whole countenance, yet the smile never quite reached as far as her eyes.
“I’m sure Tevara will explain later,” smiled Jase, “but for now we need to hustle. Leave your luggage by the reception desk and it will go up to the quad ahead of you. Don’t forget your PADDs PLEASE? Last semester I had to work off a demerit for allowing two new cadets to forget them. This way”, and he swept through into the broad foyer of Quad Tower 2.
The airy and open foyer was discretely broken into smaller areas by beds of Camarian ringing fronds and small, rippling pools teeming with fish of all varieties. Wide sweeping bridges crossed the pools connecting the open spaces and walkways between, and the air carried a wonderful smell of life. It was a smell that would return to Vonny in the years to come triggering memories of her time here.
Leaving their carryon bags by the porter’s desk, they followed Jase through a glass covered connecting tunnel that opened out into an auditorium where rows of seats rose in tiers like an ancient Roman amphitheatre. At the front of the hall a large screen projected the UFP logo above a single dais.
Seeing the occupants of the other seats, Vonny suddenly felt that she’d really arrived. Among the liberal mix of future Starfleet hopefuls were Andorians, Tellarites, Chekmothy, Vulcans and others that she didn’t immediately recognise. The air was filled with a dozen tongues and as many different shades of skin, and with a thrill Vonny hadn’t expected, she felt at home.
They took their seats by the centre aisle and the lights almost immediately dimmed. The logo on the screen changed to that of the Academy and a spotlight fell on the empty dais front and centre. Seeing Jase stand, Vonny followed suit and others did likewise as they nervously glanced around. An amplified voice announced – “Cadets, please welcome the Superintendent of Starfleet Academy, Rear Admiral Deborah Gibson”. A ripple of applause swept the auditorium starting from the senior cadets at the outside of the seating and working its way through the ranks of newcomers.
Stepping up to the podium was a middle aged woman who carried her years well. Wearing a short brunette bob in Starfleet approved style her face was open, honest and immediately recognisable by all the recruits in the hall. Each one of them who had successfully completed their application process to Starfleet Academy had received a communiqué directly from the Superintendent congratulating them on their entrance to “a proud and venerable institution”.
As the applause faded, the Superintendent spoke.
“Please be seated cadets and I’ll try to keep this short and painless.”
A chuckle ran through the auditorium at that, with only the Vulcan contingent remaining stony faced.
“The year was 2161. In the shadow of the recently concluded Earth-Romulan war the UFP was formed, and it was in the same year that Starfleet Academy was instituted. We took applicants from every UFP member race and trained them in the art of exploration. Our core aim has always been, and always shall be, that of seeking new life and new civilizations. Our very motto - "Ex astris, scientia" - translates to “from the stars, knowledge". But as the UFP expanded, so did its sphere of exploration and time and again the knowledge we gained came at a price.”
A shadow crossed the Rear Admiral’s face as she continued, though her voice remained firm and impassioned.
“That price, more often than not, has been the lives of those at the vanguard. Young beings like you.” Her eyes scanned the seated ranks of recruits. “Eager to expand the knowledge of the UFP, Starfleet pushed outward and the membership of that august organization increased exponentially. But as we expanded the borders of both our knowledge and our territory, so we realised that not all civilizations welcomed us. Whatever their reasons were for declining our advances, the UFP was content to bypass them in peace. We also learned, however, that to some, peace was not an option. Our explorers soon had to be trained as warriors as well”.
Each and every being in the auditorium followed the speech as if the Rear Admiral was speaking to them personally; a reaction to the oratory skills of somebody they all knew was a survivor of the Battle of Wolf 359 just three short years ago. She spoke with passion and conviction. A passion for the continued search for knowledge and the conviction that if she had to put young lives in the way of danger, she would at least ensure they were prepared to meet it.
“Recent years”, she continued, “have seen us lose more brave souls. But few who graduate from Starfleet Academy would be willing to give less than their all in pursuit of peace. This is what we ask of you now. With the way open to the Gamma Quadrant, vast new territories are open for exploration. That of course means more challenges to meet, and many of you will be travelling further than you ever imagined possible. I know you have all worked much of your young lives towards this day. Some of course may have made their choice later in life. Whichever you may be, we are proud to have you serve and all the Academy asks is that you give the best of yourself. Nobody can ask more.”
Lifting her face fully into the spotlight, she raised her hand to the projected logo of the Academy. Without raising her voice, the simple undiluted passion of her speech stirred each and every cadet to stand as she simply said “Welcome to Starfleet Academy”.
Vonny and the three young women followed Jase back to the foyer of Tower 2 deep in thought. Rear Admiral Gibson’s speech had moved them all.
“Quite the leader ain’t she?” said Jase.
“It is good to know that there are those who recognise the need to defend peace,” replied Misaki thoughtfully, “even more so that she is in a position to apply that knowledge.”
Vonny agreed. “She certainly knows about ‘paying the price’ that’s for sure.” She bit her lip before saying “Didn’t she lose her son and brother to the Borg?”
“S’right, both on the Princeton at Wolf 359”, said Jase.
Vonny hoped that nobody had caught the pained expression that crossed her face.
The silence endured until they reached the porter’s desk once more. Jase pointed them in the direction of the nearest turbolift.
“I need to go check in with security with your documents but if y’all head up to floor 17 I’ll be there in about an hour or so OK?”
Receiving a nod from each of the girls, he left them alone for the first time since entering the Academy grounds.
“So this is really it then?” Vonny said. The other three cadets looked how she felt; awed, excited, maybe a little scared. But Vonny knew that right now, there was nowhere she would rather be than here.
Without a thought, she excitedly grabbed Tevara’s hand and headed for the turbolift. Tevara stiffened slightly but followed Vonny along with Misaki and Silvana. It was only as they waited for the lift that Vonny noticed the apparent discomfort Tevara was trying hard to conceal and looked down at her hand in horror.
“Tevara, I’m so sorry. I hope I haven’t offended… I mean…” Vonny trailed off quickly letting go of the girl’s hand. She suddenly realised she could have broken any one of a dozen taboos relating to personal contact and was mortified. On my first day as well, she thought.
For her part, Tevara at last smiled and this time it did reach her eyes.
“No Vonny, I am not offended. Surprised I think, but not offended. On my home world friendships rarely form quickly. Our communities are widely separated and often we see few other than family for long periods. It may take me a while to adjust but thank you.”
Tentatively, Tevara placed her arm through Vonny’s and smiled again.
Heading into the turbolift, Vonny realised that her education about the big wide galaxy had already begun. The thought made her smile.
|October 13 2009, 02:22 PM||#3|
Location: Norfolk UK
Re: Star Tre : Starfleet Academy
PRESIDIO CAMPUS - T2Q17
September 14th 2370
“For the love of Cardish! No! No! NO!” The basso rumble was the first sound the girls heard as they stepped out of the ‘lift on to the landing signed T2Q17. It emanated from an open door at the end of the corridor and sounded more exasperated than angry. Still, Vonny had learned to think before judging now, and looked nervously at the other girls.
Before she had chance to gauge their reactions a mountain of a figure appeared from the room and rumbled towards them like a bipedal avalanche. He stopped mid-stride, turned and bellowed back to the open door “Try cross routing the circuit and see if it stil….” At which he trailed off and turned back to face the obviously shell shocked girls.
His character shifted from that of man-mountain to affable cadet in the blink of an eye.
“Ladies” – he squinted myopically to ensure he had it right - “my apologies! You must be our freshers? Welcome to Quad 17!” Turning to the doorway he’d just left, he called (somewhat more softly to Vonny’s ears), “Jo, our new batch of inmates has arrived!”
A dark haired girl around Vonny’s age appeared from the room and with a mischievous grin said “All females as well LJ! Oh dear the boys are suddenly outnumbered!”
Stepping around the bulk of the Remvellian cadet (at least Vonny thought he was Remvellian), Jo extended her hand and rolled her eyes.
“Don’t worry about LJ, he would have stood there all day gawking rather than think to introduce himself”, and added in a not too quiet stage whisper, “He’s lined up for Security you see” and grinned that wicked grin again as they introduced themselves.
LJ rumbled forward and grumbled “One day Jo you’ll be grateful that you’ve got backup like me when you’re too busy looking at some alien…thing…to notice that its hungry parent has just appeared behind you! Humph!”
The last came out as a grunt of satisfaction that he’d made his point.
Reaching over Jo’s head he gently took each cadets hand in his own huge grip. A grip that was firm yet surprisingly gentle considering the size of his hands. They each reached up and introduced themselves as they had to Jo, though his given name came out as if somebody had mixed a bag full of consonants at random.
“Whatever” chuckled Jo. “He loves to feel useful. You might even grow to like him” and she ducked as one of the large, shovel sized hands swatted at her.
“Jo Wicks, second year cadet, studying alien…things…as LJ would put it! WE like to call it exobiology but obviously LJ can’t pronounce that!”
LJ turned on his huge heel and called over his shoulder, “I MAY return when the insults stop”, but the rumbling chuckles belied any offence taken.
“Much as I love to tease him though, he’s right. There’s absolutely nobody I would prefer to be my backup. LJ’s third year security and they’re predicting big things for him if you’ll pardon the pun! By the way LJ is way easier to pronounce than his real name unless you want to risk spraining your larynx!”
She rolled her eyes again saying “Sorry, you’ll get used to me running on at warp speed. Let’s show you to your rooms then I’ll try and finish this coursework project before lunch!”
Walking back down the corridor she pointed the first room on the right out for Misaki and Silvana, and the end room on the right for Tevara and Vonny.
“I’ll leave you to settle in guys. LJ and I are still trying to break down a circuit problem but Jase should be back soon to take you all down to lunch. Any problems just follow the sound of shouting!”, and with that she returned to her own room.
Vonny felt like she’d just been hit by a whirlwind, but any other thoughts were pushed from her mind as she entered the dorm room. Spacious and light, it was completely unlike she had expected it to be. A partition which could be made opaque divided the room into two with a bathroom at the rear of the room to serve both occupants. It was the view that grabbed her attention though.
Floor to ceiling transparisteel windows faced north across the landscaped Presidio Campus. Beyond a group of classroom buildings, she could see the transporter centre, the shuttle port and further still, the Command School Campus. In a misty haze, but towering above them all was the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a sight she had sometimes felt she might never see and she drank it in now so as not to forget a single fleeting moment.
Turning and expecting to see Tevara equally awed, she was surprised to see that, instead, she was sat on her unmade bed with a small transit case balanced on her knees. Her earlier exuberance now gone, Vonny was torn between offering companionship and waiting for Tevara to make the first move.
If it comes to a choice between making a fool of myself and letting her know that friendship isn’t that hard, it’s probably time to be a fool she thought.
She poked her head around the partition and cleared her throat hesitantly.
Tevara looked round as if surprised that somebody else was in the room.
“Vonny I apologise. It’s difficult to remember that I am now amongst so many people.” Pausing uncertainly, she said “I must seem quite ignorant.” Her gaze fell once again to the case on her knees. Vonny was suddenly aware that it was the only luggage in Tevara’s half of the room.
“No don’t be silly, we’re all a little awed by today. Look if you want a little privacy that’s fine honestly”.
She smiled and was about to turn back to unpack her own things, wondering at Tevara’s lack of luggage, when Tevara said “No, please stay. It would be… nice, I think, to talk.”
Tevara moved up the bed and gave Vonny space to sit.
“Tevara, I’m way out of my depth here. With customs and things I mean. You need to promise that if I speak out of turn or offend you by anything I do, please tell me. It’s like earlier, when I took your hand? It never crossed my mind that I might have overstepped a boundary I didn’t even realise was there.”
Vonny’s hands fluttered self consciously in front of her as she spoke, not quite knowing where to rest.
“Vonny, when I arrived on Earth I knew nobody. I was terrified that spending my life among crowds of people would be unbearable after the solitude of my home. I knew intellectually that I could adjust, become used to it I suppose. But suddenly I am among people who treat me as an equal with no preconceptions. This I did not expect to happen so quickly and for that I thank all of you.”
Squeezing Vonny’s hand, she continued, but now the look of sadness had given way once again to a nervous look of gratitude.
“It may not be easy for me to adjust, but I know now that it is something I can do. Please, I have something for you.”
Tevara opened the case on her knee and took out a bracelet; a milky white band shot through by gold coloured filigree with a gold attachment halfway around.
“This is one of our customs. It is a sethdan, a traveller bracelet. The Machek carry them when on important journeys. It is said that should we meet a fellow traveller who shows us kindness or understanding, this gift is a way of honouring that. I wish for you to accept it.”
Vonny was stunned at the gift. “It’s beautiful Tevara, but I’m not sure it’s fair to accept it. I mean Jase greeted you properly, and the others have been just as nice I…”
Tevara squeezed her hand again.
“You are correct, they have all been nice. But Jase had obviously had time to prepare himself for my cultural greeting whereas you acted on instinct. The gift is yours if you will accept it.”
Vonny smiled broadly.
“Yes, of course I’d be honoured to accept it. And this is one of our customs between friends. If it offends I apologise but…” and she threw her arms around Tevara.
Tevara’s hair smelt of citrus and Vonny was pleased to feel the hug returned.
“An embrace is never offensive when both giver and receiver freely exchange the gift. Something my mother used to say.”
Vonny stiffened slightly at Tevara’s words.
“Was that the wrong thing to say Vonny? I didn’t….”
Vonny pulled back eyes moist.
“No, please, it’s not you. I mean…you weren’t to know Tevara.”
She closed her eyes, and the pain she’d staved off all day returned.
“It’s just…” Vonny took a deep breath and tried to swallow the lump in her throat. “Tevara, I lost my parents three years ago.”
Tevara looked crestfallen. “Vonny, I am so sorry. If you do not wish to talk about it…”
“No, I think maybe I need to. I kind of bottle things up sometimes, you know? I haven’t really talked to anybody for a long time about this.” She looked at Tevara who nodded encouragingly. “It was just before the Borg attack at Wolf 359; my parents were travelling home on the SS Wolferton after a terra-forming survey working with Gideon Seyetik in the Regis sector. It was just a small commercial vessel and the report said that when the Borg cubes came out of trans-warp, the subspace disturbance was enough to drag the Wolferton out of warp as well, right in their path.”
Her eyes screwed shut as her imagination filled in details she would never truthfully know.
“The wreckage was only discovered after the battle. Parts of the vessel looked as if they had been assimilated. The coroner’s conclusion was that it’s likely all passengers and crew had been as well. They’d been travelling home for my sixteenth birthday.”
The torment of never knowing the truth spilled forth in the shape of tears and shuddering breaths as Tevara put her arms around Vonny and held her tightly. Vonny realised Tevara’s silence was more soothing than any words of compassion had ever been and the solace eventually eased the biting pain.
After what seemed an age the tears subsided and sitting back on the bed, Vonny smiled damply.
“I’m sorry Tevara, I haven’t cried like that since…Well to be honest since I don’t know when.”
“Then it is good that it has happened now” she replied. “They would be so proud of you Vonny, you should know that.”
Before Vonny could reply, the door chimed. She answered it, forgetting her red rimmed, puffy eyes and mussed hair.
“OK time for…” Jase trailed off before his greeting ended. “Vonny, you ok?”
Much to Jase’s astonishment she smiled and said “For the first time in a while I think I will be. Can you give us five minutes just to freshen up?”
Jase grinned. “Sure thing.”
Down in the tower diner, Jase handed each of the new cadets a red isolinear chip.
“These are your pre-programmed meals ladies. Each one of y’all provided your dietary requirements before arrival, so if y’all ain’t supposed to eat it, the chip won’t provide it. Other than that though, the choices are balanced to your own metabolism. Enjoy!”
They followed him across to the bank of replicators on the back wall and watched as he ordered a chicken salad and orange juice.
“OK, your turn but don’t pig out. It’s uniform fitting this afternoon!” He winked and sat down at the nearest table. As the girls, one by one, collected their assorted meals they sat down around the table.
“So any problems ladies?” Jase seemed to look at Vonny as he asked the question but she wasn’t sure.
“Erm I think I may have a problem with my bed”, Misaki said.
Jase slapped his hand against his head nearly making Tevara drop her fork.
“Sorry, oh sorry Misaki. My fault. Y’all were swapped out last minute for a no show. Don’t tell me. There’s no bed, just a mat right?”
Vonny and the other girls looked puzzled until Jase said “We were expecting a Habani in this semester. They reject comforts like beds and chairs; reckon it makes a fella soft apparently. I’ll get that changed before y’all pick up your kit this afternoon.”
“I suppose I should really be grateful you weren’t expecting a Horta then!” Misaki giggled, just as LJ and Jo arrived.
“You guys have all met right?” said Jase.
“Yep, LJ scared them all earlier”, quipped Jo.
“If I’d wanted to scare them I would have shown them a picture of you first thing in the morning, humph!”
LJ didn’t have a plate. Instead he held a large tankard in one hand. Taking a sip from it he scowled fiercely then drank some more.
“LJ’s upset because the meds think his metabolism needs sorting so he gets to drink some mush instead of eating Lamra steaks” said Jo prodding his considerable bulk. Jase nearly choked on his salad as LJ rumbled something unintelligible.
“So is there an eighth cadet in our dorm?” asked Silvana.
Jo exchanged looks with both LJ and Jase. To Vonny’s mind it looked like a “we might as well tell them now” look.
“That’ll be my roommate, Anjar Endricson” Jase finally said.
“Spelt like THE Endricson?” asked Vonny.
“Not just LIKE, Vonny. This is the one and only if y’all believe all he says. Heir to an industrial empire, no reason to work ever, expects it all on a plate.” Jase grimaced. “I dunno, I get the feeling that underneath all that bluster there’s a good kid but y’all can make your own minds up later when he gets back. Don’t build your hopes up though.”
Jo and LJ nodded in silent agreement.
“Still, no need to spoil a sunny day guys. We’ll deal with the Big E when it happens. You ladies, in the meantime need to get some gear issued. Y’all meet me in the foyer at 13.30 and don’t forget the PADDs OK?”
Jase stood, excused himself, and recycled his dishes before saying “Let’s see if we can get Misaki a real bed”.
“Is Endricson really that bad?” Silvana asked.
“Worse” rumbled LJ. Vonny wasn’t sure if it was the mush or the thought of Anjar Endricson that put a sour look on his face.
“Don’t worry guys, we hardly see him half the time. Far as we can tell he’s just biding his time so the Academy kicks him out before he has to leave voluntarily.” Jo’s face carried the same expression as LJ’s.
Wasn’t the mush then Vonny thought, but she noticed the thoughtful look on Tevara’s face as she ate.
|October 13 2009, 02:28 PM||#4|
Location: Norfolk UK
September 14th 2370
Jase met the girls with the good news that Misaki would have a proper bed by the time they got back from the Quartermasters. With half an hour to their appointment time Jase said they could walk and take in some of the campus en route.
“Your PADDs all have a map with a location indicator, but give it a week or so and you’ll probably never look at it again” he grinned.
“OK, let’s see. Right, over there is the botanical gardens” he said pointing to three large biodomes to the south. “Never was much on green stuff, but I guess Texas can do that to a fella” he grinned.
They turned north on to a large looping walkway and headed towards an impressive building.
“That, ladies, is where all the hard work seems to get done round here, the Academy Administration Centre. Though they don’t get it right every time” he said smiling at Misaki.
It certainly looked the part thought Vonny. A mixture of fluted columns, chrome, glass and beautifully tended flower beds. Vonny stopped to look at one particularly impressive display which traced the Academy logo in Deltan star flowers of all colours. The smell was intoxicating and Vonny was surprised when a voice beside her said “It’s nice somebody appreciates hard work”.
“Sorry cadet didn’t mean to make you jump there. Name’s Boothby, head groundskeeper here. And you would be…”
Before Vonny could answer, Boothby finished by saying “Cadet 4th Class Siobhan Dixon. Well, hope your first year is a good one cadet.”
He walked off leaving Vonny speechless. She quickly caught up with the group and Jase winked conspiratorially.
“Well, well. First day here and Boothby takes an interest. Vonny, y’all are honoured.”
“But he knew my name and the fact it was my first year!” she whispered in awe. “Who is he?”
“Hmmm,” Jase mused. “See, some folks think of Boothby in a kinda mystical way. Seems if there’s something to be known, Boothby knows it.”
“On the other hand, he probably read your name and class from the back of your PADD” he said pointing to the instrument she’d been clutching to her chest.
Vonny rolled her eyes in embarrassment as Jason chuckled.
“Yep, deeply mystical” he laughed as they walked on.
A little further and Tevara pointed to a large, predominantly glass structure.
“Is that the library Jase?” she asked, suddenly seeming animated.
“Certainly is Tevara. If there’s a text out there”, he waved his hand skywards, “that ain’t in there, it’s probably not worth reading. Between you and me, they have a great science fiction section too”.
Finally, at the end of a row of detached buildings by the administration centre, they reached the QM stores.
“Well ladies, this is where y’all become cadets. Oh and by the way,” Jase added, “it’s back to Cadet Gillings in here. The QM gets a little itchy about protocol.”
Stepping inside the cool building, they all handed there PADDs to the stores receptionist. As she downloaded there authorization forms a voice from behind a screen bellowed “Cadet Gillings is that you?”
“Yes ma’am!” snapped Jase springing to attention.
“Has Endricson returned his assignment gear yet?”
Jase closed his eyes, muttering something obscene under his breath.
“Ma’am Endricson informed me that he’d already returned it. I’ll chase it up ASAP ma’am.”
A small woman appeared from behind the screen; small in height at least. She’d obviously been born on a high grav world as she was almost as wide as she was tall, but none of it was anything less than solid muscle as far as Vonny could see.
“Make sure you do cadet ‘cos it’s your cojones on the line if I don’t see it here by tomorrow morning, ‘scuse my Ferengi ladies. Let’s move down the line here, your kit awaits you.”
It seemed the QM only had one volume and that was loud.
“By the way,” she continued, “just in case Cadet Mother Hen here didn’t inform you, this kit is sacrosanct. That means you nurture it like a baby so that when it’s time to hand it in, I get to recycle it for the next batch. Now let’s move it, some of us have work waiting!”
The QM looked skyward as the girls tried to quickly get into the same spot simultaneously, creating a huddle of bodies and not a lot of order.
“Saints preserve us. Gillings, sort out your team, I need a coffee,” and with that she disappeared behind the screen again.
Smiling sheepishly, he got the girls into line telling them to take one item from each pile and then put it all in the named holdall at the end that held their pre-measured kit. Each girl signed off on their kit list just as a group of male cadets arrived.
“Boys, looks like the angels were here first! Ladies, I hope your official Starfleet underwear has been tested for fitting?” crowed the largest one.
Jase suddenly closed his eyes and stepped back, knowing exactly what was about to happen.
“Would you mind repeating that Cadet?” came a very quiet voice from behind the screen.
“What?” The cadet looked around for the source of the comment.
As the QM appeared with murder in her eyes, he blanched.
“Cadet, a watt is some scientific doodad measurement that interests me not at all. YOU on the other hand interest me a great deal.”
By the time she stood in front of the withering cadet, her nose was barely level with his chest but Vonny hoped he had the good sense to stay quiet.
“Obviously your lobotomy reversal is not yet complete cadet, but I suggest until it is you keep that dirty mouth of yours sealed except to say yes ma’am, Do. You. Understand.”
The last three words could have been photon torpedoes for the effect they had on him. Now almost quaking - much to the amusement of his peers - he managed a faint “Yes ma’am”.
“I am so glad that at least your speech recognition centre is intact cadet. I will issue this warning once and once only.” Her voice took on a mean edge as she stared the cadet down. “The behaviour you just exhibited is not what is expected of a future Starfleet officer. Should it come to my attention that that kind of comment has been expressed again, I WILL remove whatever you have inside those expensive shorts and recycle it as chicken feed. I hope that is crystal clear?”
Turning quickly from the unfortunate loud mouth before he could reply, she looked at Jase.
“Gillings are you still here? You’re cluttering my stores, now move it out!”
Vonny could have sworn that before the QM turned back to the cowed group, she winked at Jase.
“Cadets”, he murmured “our cue to leave”.
Toting their kit outside Vonny was astonished to see Jase bent double trying to stifle his laughter. Recovering somewhat he took a deep breath.
“That, ladies, is how loud mouths are dealt with old school. Not even Fleet Admirals cross a decorated Starfleet veteran!” and he led them off back to the dorm, chuckling most of the way.
By 20.00 hours, the girls had finished their orientation briefing, been given their initial class assignments, a list of rules that Jase swore nobody had EVER read all the way to the end and finally instructions to meet in the mess at 08.00 in the morning.
After saying goodnight to everybody, Vonny and Tevara returned to their room. Having unpacked earlier, Vonny’s half of the room seemed a lot fuller than Tevara’s. More worryingly to Vonny, Tevara seemed to have very few clothes.
As they sat and talked about their first day, Vonny noticed how Tevara had changed in the space of just a few hours. She was more animated and the sadness in her eyes seemed now to have been replaced with a look of dazzled excitement. She’d insisted that Vonny should call her Tev, a name that her few close friends back on Machek used.
Vonny bit the bullet while Tev was in such an affable mood.
“Tev, I don’t want to intrude but your wardrobe seems a little empty. Are you still waiting for luggage to arrive?”
Tev seemed confused before realising what Vonny meant.
“Oh no, not at all” she replied. “The clothes I owned at home seemed unsuitable for the Academy so bringing them would have been a waste of luggage space. I would like to ask you to assist me in buying the right items when we get the chance? Yours are so…well, I would appreciate your help in filling my wardrobe Vonny”.
Vonny laughed, “Now shopping I can help with! We’ll head into San Francisco proper this weekend. Probably the last free time we’ll get for a while. In fact I could do with some retail therapy. It’ll be fun!”
Tev yawned, triggering the same reaction from Vonny. Standing and stretching, the light caught the bracelet on Vonny’s wrist.
“Tev thanks again for this. After what you told me, it means a great deal to me.”
Tev smiled. “The sethdan usually finds the right owner. Good night Vonny”.
Tev gingerly leaned forward to hug Vonny, and then quickly turned away to her bed. Vonny, being tired, never noticed that Tev seemed to be concealing something beneath her robe.
Climbing into bed, she turned out the light but left the windows clear for now. Staring up through the transparisteel, she watched the twinkling lights of arriving and departing shuttles and air trams before falling into a deep, warm sleep.
Vonny’s dream began as it always did; a malevolent, green tinted Borg cube dwarfed the insignificant SS Wolferton before reaching out with a sickly green tractor beam to ensnare it. This time though, instead of the fear, loathing and helplessness she usually felt, a need to act coursed through her.
Reaching out with hands that seemed the size of planets, she grasped the cube. She knew she had the power to crush it, prevent it ever returning to hurt anybody, but for reasons even she didn’t understand she chose instead to hurl it into the depths of space and the Wolferton sat released from its grasp.
Her parents stepped naked from the tiny airlock, oblivious to the fact that they were in the vacuum of space. Borg implants atrophied and fell from their bodies as they smiled at her. Reaching out they seemed to tell her without words how proud they were.
The silence of the void was blissful…
…until it was shattered by the sound of shouting and swearing in the corridor outside her room. Blearily Vonny sat up and checked the chrono by her bed which blinked a discouraging 23.55.
Jase and LJ had obviously been roused by the noise too. Vonny heard LJ’s distinct rumble and all became clear.
“Ah, Mr Endricson deigns to honour us with his presence”, scoffed LJ, “and five minutes before curfew? Must be a new record, humph”.
“Frack off, you Neanderthal. Once you stop dragging your knuckles come back ‘n’ have a chat”, was followed by the thud of something hitting the floor.
By the inebriated sound of Endricson, it was likely him that had hit the floor though Vonny wasn’t sure whether it was because he was too unstable to stand or whether he’d been ‘helped’ there by LJ.
“Damn it Endricson, why do y’all have to drag the whole quad down just because you got no idea what the word team means.”
It was the first time Vonny had heard Jase raise his voice in anything like anger though it seemed their assessment of Endricson hadn’t been too wide of the mark after all. Tev poked her head round the corner of the partition, eyes wide, and Vonny mouthed ‘Endricson’ to her. Tev nodded her understanding and slipped back to bed.
The shouting had died away by this time and by the sounds coming from the hallway, Endricson was out cold and being carried to his room.
Even after LJ had quietly – at least for him - returned to his room and the dorm was once again silent, it was some while before Vonny managed to slip back into an uncomfortable sleep.
|October 14 2009, 07:46 AM||#5|
Location: Norfolk UK
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
September 15th 2370
The members of Quad 17 gathered at breakfast the following morning and all were obviously aware of the previous night’s altercation. Endricson was conspicuous only by his absence.
Jase waited until they were all seated before he spoke.
“Guys we have a problem.” Taking in the new cadets with a worried look, he explained. “I know y’all have only been here a day, but this one falls squarely in your lap ladies. Endricson busted about four campus rules before LJ here helped him to sleep last night.”
LJ humphed as usual but it wasn’t a happy sound.
“The problem we have”, continued Jase “is that if I do the right thing and turn him in, the odds are that the whole quad receives a demerit on his behalf. So far we’ve managed to steer clear of it but it’s fast approaching the time where if we DON’T act, then we could end up with a demerit for not doing the right thing.”
He looked at the girls worriedly.
“Look, a demerit is bad enough for us but you’ve been here less than 24 hours. That may work in your favour, but probably not. Faculty look on this kind of thing as a team effort. If we’re all good boys and girls it’s because the team work well together, but one idiot like Endricson says poor team support to them.”
Looking around the table, meeting each one with a firm gaze, he said “I’ll take a majority decision about how to handle this. Think about it and let me know at lunch OK?”
Endricson had certainly managed to sour the day and it had only just begun. As they all left the mess, he was just entering. Dark ringed eyes, a bruise the size of a dinner plate that disappeared below his uniform collar and a general inability to navigate the mess were obvious results of the previous night.
He quickly sidestepped LJ who simply growled at him. The girls avoided eye contact until they’d decided what needed to be done, though it’s doubtful he would know - or possibly care - who they were anyway.
Outside Tower 2, a sea breeze had brought ashore a fine mist that left a hazy if weak sun to try and raise their spirits. Until they’d spent time at the parade grounds they’d be walking to classes as a group rather than marching but it was a very quiet walk, each wrapped in their own thoughts.
When they reached the Zephram Cochrane Warp Sciences Building on the east side of the campus they joined the queue waiting to enter. Basic Warp Theory was a required subject for every first year cadet at the academy, and one that Vonny relished with her chosen career track of engineering.
As the line began to filter into the lecture hall, Vonny turned to her quad mates and asked the question she knew was distracting them as well.
“So any suggestions about how we deal with our friend Endricson?”
Silvana had obviously made her mind up and she spoke first.
“I know he made a poor impression last night, and the others have obviously had to suffer his actions longer than we have. I would feel remiss though in not at least trying to sort things out. As Jase said, we should be a team”.
“Perhaps so Siv”, said Misaki, “but if Jase is right the damage may already be done. If we do not report this, the consequences may actually be worse for us. While I think a concerted team effort may change him, is it too late?”
Despite her nature Misaki looked troubled that she may be condemned no matter what her actions.
Vonny was equally divided on the subject and said so.
“Well it’s certain that if we don’t do something, we’re failing as a quad. My first thoughts this morning weren’t too charitable I have to admit, but standing in line here with you guys suddenly brought home the reason why I’m here.”
As if recognising for the first time where they were and what they were just beginning, Vonny saw the same realisation dawn on their faces. A four year road of uphill struggle lay ahead with some destined not to make it, but without support would any of them?
“Vonny is right I believe,” said Tev thoughtfully. “If one of us was facing problems, it would be nice to think that at least we would be offered not just the benefit of the doubt, but the help to overcome those problems. I see no reason why we should not extend that same courtesy to somebody who may have the same hopes and dreams as we do.”
By now they’d reached the lecture hall and there was no longer time to talk it over, but Vonny felt a silent consensus had been reached. She only hoped Endricson proved worthy of the risk they might be taking.
As they took their seats and prepped their PADDs, the lights dimmed and a Commander in the gold of ship’s services took the stage.
“Cadets, welcome to Basic Warp Design, Engineering 107 on your PADDs. I’m Commander Beddows your lecturer and although we’ll be running over theory that most will be familiar with, I’m aware we’re not all Zephram Cochranes ok? Any questions just chime in or see me post lecture.”
Many of the cadets smiled and nodded at that. As the lecture commenced, Vonny forgot all about Endricson for the time being and joyfully began soaking up the knowledge she hoped would propel her into a new life.
By the time they left the lecture, the mist had lifted to reveal a warm September day and the campus greens glistened with evaporating droplets. Any doubts Vonny may have held about how they should deal with the problem of Anjar Endricson seemed to melt with the mist and by the time they reached the mess hall her mind was made up.
Jase was there ahead of them, and LJ and Jo were just collecting their meals. The mess was much busier than it had been the day before with cadets from all years discussing their lectures or the latest Starfleet scuttlebutt. The noise and bustle was a welcome element Vonny thought, making the Tower feel more alive.
“Ladies, LJ”, nodded Jase. “OK no point chasing tumbleweed I guess” he said, obviously puzzling Tev.
“Sorry Tev, just an old family saying. What I should have said was, no point wasting time.”
“Ah” said Tev. “Though of course you now have wasted time in having to explain your saying to me and then suffer a protracted reply”.
Jase stared open mouthed until Tev’s face broke into a grin.
“Busted” chuckled Jo.
Jase rolled his eyes and accepted defeat.
“OK, put simply, it’s decision time. Do we support Endricson or turn it over to the Academy? Ladies, y’all probably got the biggest stake in this so we’ll start there. Misaki?”
Misaki looked thoughtfully at her meal for a moment before looking back up to Jase.
“I hope I am not making a mistake but I believe Starfleet needs all the officers it can muster, even if one of them starts out as an idiot. I think we should act as a team and try to support Mr Endricson”.
“I agree with Misaki, though should Mr Endricson fail to respond I would need to revisit my decision. A person can only receive so many chances before they prove unworthy of them”.
LJ nodded approvingly at that.
“Tev? Any more pearls of wisdom from y’all?” Jase teased.
“Wisdom is not always conversant with common sense Jase. That’s one of my family sayings, by the way. To be honest, I do not know much of Mr Endricson other than what I heard last night in the corridor, and that was not particularly endearing.” She frowned as she continued. “But to paraphrase a well known saying for a change, I do not wish to judge this book by its cover. If Mr Endricson cannot, or will not, be helped, it certainly will not be because of a lack of effort on my part. I say the quad team should support him,” and with that she went back to her meal.
Jase turned to Vonny.
“Looks like y’all could have the casting vote here Vonny. Thoughts?”
“No pressure then?” she replied raising her eyebrows. “To be honest Jase it’s all been said. What really decided me was something Jo said yesterday about LJ. How she knew she could rely on him for backup? I’d like to think people would want to say that about me; that they could believe in me, trust me to be there if they needed me. If I didn’t at least try to offer support, I’d feel like I was letting myself down as much as anybody else I guess. We have to at least try.”
Looking at the brooding visage of LJ, Jase smiled. “Well big guy, what’s rattling round in that empty sports stadium y’all calls a skull?”
“Humph” he said, placing down his tankard. “The man is a walking disaster. He seems intent on self destruction and would appear happy to take out anybody who happens to be at his own ground zero. I do believe though we’ve got a quad team again.” Pausing, more for effect than actual thought, he finished with “My vote goes with the ladies.”
Jo feigned a swoon along with an awful southern belle accent. “The mighty LJ siding with the fairer sex, why I do declare I feel quite feint!” and she used an Academy napkin to fan herself dramatically before ducking the inevitable friendly swipe.
“Seriously Jase, I’m ok to give him this last chance with the proviso that he has ground rules and he realises that this is as far as it goes. His dad’s influence is only going to protect him for so long before the guy implodes. Like LJ says, when that happens, anybody in his close proximity goes down with him and I’d prefer it not to be one of us.”
Jase closed his eyes before blowing out a long breath.
“If it was my choice alone, I’d just as soon dump him in the Bajoran wormhole and have done with it but as that ain’t an option it looks like plan B. Team support it is.”
With the decision made, Jase stood and said “Quad meeting at 20.00 if you’re all free. I’ll chase down Mr Charisma and make sure he attends.”
He turned to leave, but then turned back again.
“Thanks guys. LJ’s pinned it, we got ourselves a quad team again.”
As he left and everybody else stood to recycle their plates, Vonny quietly hoped he was right.
|October 14 2009, 07:47 AM||#6|
Location: Norfolk UK
Chapter 4 (cont)
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
September 15th 2370
The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur of deuterium mixture ratios, intermix chamber maintenance and warp field calculations followed by a study period in the library. In fact it was only after they’d returned to the quad that Vonny recalled the meeting that evening.
“Vonny, do you have a moment please?” Tev’s voice broke into her reverie and she popped her head around the partition. Tev sat on her bed in her robe.
“Sure Tev, sorry I was chasing Jase’s tumbleweed I guess.”
“Vonny, there are things I need to tell you. About me I mean.” Tev rushed on as if she were afraid she might not have the courage to continue if she spoke slowly.
“I need to tell you because I think our friendship deserves it. It may seem silly to you but….” Tev trailed off looking to Vonny for encouragement to continue.
“Whatever it is Tev I won’t think it’s silly alright? You want silly I could tell you a dozen thi….”
“It is personal Vonny” Tev interrupted “and for all I know it could even affect my sharing a room with you. I hope that it is me being silly but…It is my body.”
Tev blushed deeply and looked down at her nervously twined fingers. Vonny was confused.
“If it’s a matter of privacy Tev, just opaque the screen.”
She naturally assumed that Tev had a problem with nudity. With the beaches Vonny had been to it didn’t worry her at all, but knowing that Tev would be unaware of that, she certainly had no wish to embarrass her.
Tev was silent for a moment before looking at Vonny and quietly saying, “It is more than that.”
Vonny sat on the bed beside her and said, “Go on”.
Drawing a breath, Tev stood and paced back and forth in the small space for a moment making one or two false starts on what she wanted to say.
“Vonny, I know unisex and unispecies accommodation is standard. Perhaps that is the starting point to understanding and working with others.”
Closing her eyes and forging ahead, Tev said, “May I remove my clothes?”
Vonny saw Tev bite her lip, seemingly expecting Vonny to be shocked or worse still, angry.
Vonny smiled. “Tev if you want to parade around here naked all day long, it wouldn’t worry me honestly.”
Hoping that she had set her friend’s mind at rest she stood, but Tev hesitated.
“Thank you but that is not what I meant…I need to show you.”
Vonny sat back down, now puzzled and just a little concerned for Tev.
With her back to Vonny, she slipped off her robe and stood naked. As she turned Vonny realised exactly what Tev saw as her problem. She had the well toned body of a young woman; tanned smooth skin, long legs, and firm breasts. She also had all the equipment to qualify her as a well endowed male cadet as well.
Tev had kept her eyes tightly shut, the blush deepening, and Vonny’s lack of response seemed all the answer she needed.
“I understand if you wish to change rooms Vonny. I am so sorry that this had….” But her words trailed off as she felt Vonny wrap her arms around her. And she was trying, fairly unsuccessfully not to laugh!
“Tev, I know all about it!” She stepped back, giggling at Tev’s open mouthed confusion.
“You know? But…how?”
Vonny controlled her chuckles, but continued to smile as she stared into Tev’s eyes. “After yesterday, I felt I’d made too many mistakes by simply not knowing enough about the person I’d probably be spending more time with than anybody else here. I’d pretty much aced today’s lecture so during study period I looked up the Machek.”
Tev’s expression changed to one of understanding.
“Then you know that….”
“….that about one in every ten Machek birth is hermaphrodite, yes. I know that because of your races evolution, it’s sparse population, the need to ensure the continuation of the species etc etc etc, blah blah blah. Tev it was all in there, and I’d be more than hurt if you even considered changing dorms ok?”
This time, Tev didn’t try to hold back from a proper hug and the tears flowed freely.
“I was so worried Vonny, I honestly thought you might be shocked!”
“Hey,” she smiled, “I have to earn this traveller bracelet you know!” and she pecked Tev on the nose. “Now get dressed, we have a meeting to get to!”
Tev put her hand to her mouth, suddenly realising that she was still naked.
“I’d forgotten all about it!” and she dashed into the bathroom.
Vonny smiled feeling that for the first time in years, she had discovered a friendship that seemed as if it would last beyond the immediate now. It was a realisation that warmed her.
Quickly changing out of her uniform, she waited for Tev to re-emerge from the bathroom and then they both headed down to the common room at the end of the hall.
All heads turned as the common room door slid aside to admit Jase and Endricson.
“Looks like a lynch mob” he said eyeing the group of cadets.
Jo bristled. “Why does everything have to be a confrontation for you Anjar? This lynch mob is putting its neck on the line for you if ….”
Jase quickly stepped in before it became an all out slanging match.
“Ok Jo, leave it for now. Let’s try and sort this like the adults we’re supposed to be.” Turning to Anjar he finished “And that means all of us ok?”
He sighed and sat down next to Siv.
“Jo’s right about one thing though. We are living on borrowed time here. Anjar, I just don’t understand why y’all can’t accept people’s offers of help or friendship. Let’s face it; how you’ve scraped this far without getting yourself or one of us into something nasty escapes me.”
For his part Anjar looked troubled but unrepentant.
“And it escapes me Jase why you feel you need to worry about me. Fine, turn me in if it’s that big a problem. Besides, the way my grades are going it won’t be long before they kick me out anyway, so why bother.”
He stared at the ceiling, hands behind his head, attempting an air of nonchalance.
Before anybody else could speak however, Tev stood.
“If you actually bothered trying, it might help.”
Vonny was shocked at the steel suddenly apparent in Tev’s voice.
Whoa, where did that come from? She wondered.
Jase almost interrupted again, but Anjar got there first.
“You might try introducing yourself before you care to comment on me lady”.
His reply wasn’t sharp but he was obviously disturbed that a seeming stranger would challenge him.
“You see!” said Tev. “Everybody has to come to the mighty Anjar Endricson, but then your life has always been that way hasn’t it? If you ever wanted something, you got it. No need to work for it, it was just…. available.”
“And what would you know about my life?” snapped Anjar.
Ooh raw nerve thought Vonny, becoming more intrigued by the minute.
“Because in many ways Mr Endricson, you and I are very much alike. Though in just as many other ways, we are poles apart.”
“Alike? What makes you think your life in any way compares to mine? You have no idea….”
“Oh but I do” interrupted Tev. “Does the name Sheron mean anything to you?”
Anjar looked up sharply, obviously recognising the name.
“Yes”, she said, “as in Sheron Dilithium Consortium. My father owns it.”
That got everybody’s attention.
“So you see I do know about money and privilege and all that goes with it Mr Endricson, but that is where our lives diverge. I worked hard for the money. You, on the other hand, decided to let the money work for you. If you couldn’t buy it, it simply wasn’t worth having was it?”
“Now just wait a…”, but Tev didn’t. Instead she leaned in close and her voice dripped venom.
“And then you came here thinking that your wealth and influence would see you through the same four years that everybody else had to EARN? It must have come as a shock when it didn’t happen, isn’t that right Anjar?”
His mouth hung open but nothing came out. His face, previously sullen or smug, now took on a shocked look of acceptance.
Tev sat down in front of him and though her voice never changed volume, it lost the edge of anger.
“Why do you think these people are trying to help you Anjar? They don’t want your money or your thanks. They want to achieve and they want it - we want it - for each person in this room, including you. Not because it will make us wealthy, or at least not how you perceive wealth. It is because it is worth doing.”
Tev sat back and said no more but watched as the emotions warred on Anjar’s face. For his part, Jase stared in wonder at Tev. LJ humphed appreciatively and everybody else was frozen in the moment.
“Don’t take our support Anjar, earn it. Otherwise it is just a crutch that will never bear the weight. If you can still be here after your first year without being re-coursed, your grades cannot be such a major problem.” Smiling she said “Influence can only go so far you know.”
Misaki, who had until now been following the conversation like a Parrises Squares spectator, spoke for all of them.
“It has to be your choice Anjar.”
“And our support will be conditional,” warned Tev. “Live your life as you wish off campus, but while here we would expect you to live up to the standards that are expected of all of us.”
Anjar buried his head in his hands before speaking.
“I SO hope you’re going into the diplomatic corps Tevara Sheron.”
When he lifted his head, his eyes were moist when he looked at Jase then LJ and finally Jo.
“And it should never have taken the words of somebody I’ve just met to sort this out should it? I heard everything that you guys told me but I just didn’t listen did I?” Drawing a deep breath he said “I’m not sure I can do this. You’re right; I’ve done nothing but threaten the quad’s standing since I’ve been here. I could tell you I had my reasons, but that wouldn’t excuse anything.”
“But unless y’all try to change, and try hard, you’ll never know”, said Jase.
“If we’re willing to take the risk, so should you be” finished Tev.
Without another word, Anjar stood and left the room. Jase stood to follow him but Tev took his arm.
“Jase, I suspect he has much to consider. Though I think I know what his answer will be.”
With a look of respect, Jase said “Y’all are one whole kitbag full of surprises Tev, and that’s a compliment believe me.”
Turning to look round the group of cadets, he smiled.
“Looks like my last semester might not be the drag I was expecting. Thanks – to all of you.”
As each one filed out and said good night, Tev and Vonny were left alone.
“You were bloody wonderful Tev!”
“I”, she grinned, “was terrified.”
“What?” squeaked Vonny, but by that time Tev was heading for their room.
|October 18 2009, 07:39 PM||#7|
Re: Chapter 4 (cont)
Turns out I'm really digging this Academy adventure so far and I'm very curious to see how these young cadets will blossom into Starfleet officers. I'm holding off reading your Angel series until I've caught up with this.
|October 18 2009, 08:00 PM||#8|
Location: Norfolk UK
Re: Star Trek : Starfleet Academy
So how do I adjust the title?????
|October 18 2009, 08:09 PM||#9|
Location: Norfolk UK
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
PRESIDIO CAMPUS – ADMINISTRATION CENTRE
September 16th 2370
Anjar stared up at the beautifully preserved façade of the Academy Administration Centre knowing that he was in full view of the Superintendent’s office on the top floor. The vibrant smell of plants and earth soothed his raw nerves but they remained raw nonetheless.
It was now 07.50 and after leaving a message requesting to see the Superintendent at her convenience last night, he was stunned to find a communiqué on his PADD this morning requesting he be at the admin centre at 08.00 hours. As far as he was aware NOBODY got an appointment that fast unless it meant trouble.
Yet here he was, and his speech was well rehearsed.
“Difficult choice son”, said a voice next to him just as he was about to enter the building.
For one bizarre moment Anjar thought Boothby had been reading his mind until he pointed to the barrow full of flowers.
“Not sure if I should just plant new azaleas in there or take a risk on the fire fronds. I mean the azaleas are easy and won’t take so long, but those fire fronds sure impress. Might take more work though.”
Boothby looked seriously at Anjar and realised he was only half listening.
“Better get on inside son, don’t want to be late today of all days.”
“You got that right Boothby”, said Anjar distractedly before heading inside.
“I usually do son”, he frowned. “I usually do.”
He entered the outer office at exactly 07.55 and was told to take a seat by the attractive young adjutant. Normally his eyes would have followed her as she knocked on the Superintendent’s door to announce his arrival, but his thoughts were elsewhere.
The adjutant returned and ushered him into the large round office that was the heart of the academy. His eyes were fixed straight ahead, focused on the crossed banners of the UFP and the Academy as he stood to attention waiting to be addressed.
“At ease please Mr Endricson. Take a seat.”
“Ma’am I’d prefer to stand if that’s alright”.
There was a brief pause as the Superintendent turned her chair to face him.
“It wasn’t a request cadet, so please sit. I’m uncomfortable enough as it is this morning without having to stare up at you.”
Surprisingly to Anjar’s ears, it hadn’t sounded like a rebuke so he took the proffered seat.
“Much better Mr Endricson, now to what do I owe the pleasure.”
His throat was dry and his voice felt scratchy as he began.
“Ma’am, I needed to see you with reference to my continued attendance at the Academy…I…” His well prepared speech fell apart as he recalled Boothby’s seemingly innocent words outside.
Was it to be azaleas or fire fronds? The easy path for an average result, or the harder task for something worthwhile?
He must have mouthed the word Boothby because the Admiral seemed puzzled as she asked “Boothby? Mr Endricson, I hope we can dispense with the twenty questions game. I’m tired enough as it is so if we could move on please?”
“Ma’am, I’m well aware that my career so far has been less than stellar and I accept that’s my own fault. More importantly, I have friends in the quad that have also suffered because of my own pig headedness. The point is Ma’am, I came here to put an end to all that.”
“A resignation speech Mr Endricson?” asked the Admiral as she stood and walked around the desk to his left.
Anjar could hear her shoes clicking across the polished oak floor behind him.
“Ma’am, request permission to speak freely?”
“Permission granted Mr Endricson.”
“Before last night I might have possibly considered resigning. It was the easy way out. Fortunately there are people here with more sense and patience than me who’ve made me realise that anything good in life is worth working for. I wish to stay, and if necessary repeat last year.”
The clicking stopped briefly, and then continued to his right.
“Let me tell you something in confidence before I answer that, cadet. I’m in the office early this morning because I’ve just received a communiqué from Starfleet Headquarters; the worst kind. We’ve just lost contact with the science vessel USS Equinox. No ship’s marker buoy, no wreckage at their last know location. Nothing. Search and rescue operations are ongoing but at this time Command believes her to be lost with all hands.”
Sitting down behind her desk once more, she pinched the bridge of her nose before continuing.
“We had three third year cadets on her Mr Endricson. It’s a danger that every Starfleet officer faces but rarely talks about. Staying with Starfleet puts you right there with them Mr Endricson. The choice is still yours.”
Her eyes watched him intensely as he glanced around the office. He saw holopics on the wall of crews that the Rear Admiral had served with, a dedication plaque for a fictional ship with joke names on it, a faded Academy pennant in a frame.
Looking back at her, his face gave away his answer.
“The request remains Ma’am.”
“Then request granted cadet. Consider any outstanding reprimands null and void for you or your quad. A fresh start Mr Endricson, so let’s not waste it. Dismissed.”
He stood to attention and was just about to leave the office when the Superintendent spoke again.
“Good call Mr Endricson, but remember second chances don’t come a third time. Work at it. Oh and I’d prefer it if the report about the Equinox remained in confidence until an official release is made.”
“Yes ma’am, and thank you.”
As he closed the door behind him, Rear Admiral Gibson picked up the three files from her desk and allowed herself a moment of regret that she’d just allowed another young life to be put in the way of danger. Writing letters of condolence never got any easier.
Anjar stepped out of Administration with the odd feeling that the campus had changed since he entered. Smells were sharper, colours were brighter.
He smiled to himself.
Guess what, he thought. You’ve just managed to create a parallel universe with one decision!
Smiling at the absurdity of the thought, one part of his mind wondered just where the alternate Anjar would end up after walking out and failing his quad mates.
That’s his problem. My life’s just got a lot less complicated.
It seemed that if he was in a parallel universe though, Boothby was still a part of it.
“Hey Boothby”, he called walking past the flower beds,
“Azaleas or fire fronds?”
“Pretty obvious choice don’t you think?” the grounds man smiled back.
“Right again, Boothby”, he tossed over his shoulder and headed at a jog to classes.
“I hope so boy”, he said quietly “for all our sakes”, and returned to the delicate work of setting the fire fronds.
|October 18 2009, 08:14 PM||#10|
Location: Norfolk UK
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – ADMINISTRATION COMPLEX
SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
December 6th 2370
The shipyards of Utopia Planitia seemed to stretch on forever as far as Misaki could see. Standing with Tev and Vonny at the transparisteel window, they watched the winking lights of work bees and travel pods flitting between the huge skeletons of dry docks and around the gleaming hulls of ships under construction or repair.
The yards took their name from the lava plain above which they orbited, literally translating to ‘Nowhere Plain’. Site of the Viking 2 landing in 1976, it was now home to the Utopia colony on Mars which itself supported, and was part of, the yards above it.
They were currently waiting for an instructor to collect them for transfer to the accommodation facility having been transported over a short while ago by the USS Odyssey, now en route to the Cardassian Border. Jase was aboard the starship as part of his final year ship assignment detail and they had made him promise to keep in touch with all his news.
Their trip had little to do with the yards though; it was the Academy Auxiliary Training Facility that they were here to experience. Based in a series of disused construction complexes that had been refitted to include mock starship and facility interiors, they were utilised for basic tactical training as well as some of the Advanced Tactical Training scenarios that LJ had been sponsored to attend next year.
“Cadets Dixon, Hiroshi and Sheron I presume?”
They turned to see a dark skinned commander in a TAC jumpsuit smiling at them and immediately snapped to attention.
“Thank you ladies, at ease. If you’d like to follow me we’ll grab a coffee then you can settle in to your quarters. I ought to warn you, they may be slightly more austere than the Academy but the view more than makes up for it.”
Shaking each of their hands, he introduced himself as Commander Daniel Fishlock and he proved to be an informative and affable guide as they headed deeper into the complex.
“Sir,” asked Tev as they entered the rec room, “why does Starfleet use real facilities such as these for training when a holodeck simulation at the Academy would presumably offer equally adequate resources?”
He pondered the question a moment while ordering a raktajino from the replicator. Vonny had tried the Klingon beverage just the once before deciding she’d rather drink deuterium slush.
“Several reasons really”, he continued as the cadets selected their drinks then sat down by one of the expansive windows. The facility had a slow rotation built into it so that the complexes of the yards passed by the window in a stately procession.
“Firstly, it kills several birds with one stone. You’re quite right that a holo simulation might provide the same training experience, but this way you get to spend time on a Starfleet vessel and experience a field trip here to the yards. Both educational opportunities I’m sure you’ll agree.”
They all nodded in agreement. A tour of the Galaxy class USS Odyssey had been far too short lived but then the cruise out to Mars wasn’t the longest journey.
Commander Fishlock seemed amused by their fresh faced enthusiasm and smiled in return.
“It also means that the Advanced Tactical Training syllabus takes on a slightly more realistic air, if you’ll pardon the pun, when you realise that there’s real vacuum behind the walls!”
His grin spread at their wide eyed acceptance of his story.
“Don’t worry, please. You’re in safe hands here. What I should have said was, it gives us a chance for EVA procedures to be practiced for real within the relative safety of the yards. Of course it helps that Starfleet hate to have facilities standing empty so we help to use up the budget.”
As they were talking, an enclosed construction dock had swung into view.
“Why is that particular dock enclosed Sir?” asked Misaki.
A cloud crossed the instructors face as he said “That’s the Accident and Incident Investigation Facility cadet. Any incident where a starship is damaged or suffers a catastrophic failure of any kind usually ends up there. Well, whatever might be left of it does anyway.”
“It’s not the nicest job in Starfleet, but understanding what caused an accident and learning how to prevent it happening again makes it a real important one.”
Vonny nodded understanding. Until that moment she’d generally thought of engineering as a career that revolved around preventing that sort of incident happening in the first place. The knowledge that it could still happen despite the intervention of engineers was tempered by the fact that there were those in her chosen profession who were working to reduce the risks, ex post facto at least.
“Back to business however.” Fishlock issued each of the cadets with a tactical PADD. Designed for heavy duty use mainly by engineers in construction areas or in tactical situations where a standard PADD simply couldn’t take the knocks, they were hardened against the rigours of use making them heavier but more durable.
“Class schedules and facility guides are all on there so settle in and get acquainted. It’s a two week course, and I ought to remind you that it’s an Academy requirement to pass the EVA section before you’re allowed field trips outside the Sol sector on any Starfleet vessel. Having seen your faces earlier” he grinned, “I’m fairly certain you’ll want to do that one in a single go!”
Saving the best till last, his eyes twinkled when he said “I didn’t think you’d mind using a travel pod rather than the transporter to get to the dorms?”
Tev smiled while Vonny and Misaki barely managed to stop themselves leaping out of their seats!
“Thought so!” he laughed. “Ok, it’s shuttle bay 7 and they’re waiting for you now. That’s all cadets, pre-course brief at 08.30 sharp. Enjoy!”
They collected their holdalls and following the route on Misaki’s TacPADD, they were met at the shuttle bay by a young ensign who showed them into the travel pod.
Much as a turbolift carried people on short convenience journeys around ships or facilities, the travel pod was the equivalent for moving between facilities in close proximity in near orbit. Short trips meant little use for seats which hardly mattered as the cadets were crowded around the large viewport anyway.
The ensign rolled his eyes as the cadets spent the next ten minutes marvelling at the bustling activity in the yards. It had become commonplace to him but he remembered his first few months here and recognised how awe inspiring the place could be.
As they docked at the habitat facility, he nodded as they thanked him.
He winked as the door closed and said “Glad somebody chose the right career!”, and pointed to the gold colours of his uniform.
Vonny unconsciously ran her fingers over the broad gold band that crossed her shoulders, and looked at the teal blue of Misaki’s and Tev’s. How far they seemed to have come in just a month she thought.
Anjar, back at the academy, had not only improved but was actually excelling with the support of the quad, especially LJ and Jo. LJ himself had recently risen to temporary quad leader as Jase was now on extended starship assignment, and Jo had received a merit for an exobiology thesis that had even caused a stir at the Vulcan Academy of Science. Siv, the final member of the quad, was currently on a field assignment studying lunar geology and loving every minute of it. Vonny briefly felt a sense of melancholy as she wondered where they’d all be four years from now following graduation.
While the quarters were indeed slightly less luxurious than the Academy, they were still comfortable and the commander hadn’t lied about the view. Alternating between rolling vistas of the yards and the vast orange-red curve of Mars, Vonny spent the next half hour madly taking holos through the viewport.
Tev and Misaki shared a secret smile. Vonny never seemed to do anything at less than warp speed these days. It seemed that she got a thrill out of any small experience, wanting to record it and keep it safe on her PADD.
When Tev had asked her about it in one of their extended late night chats, Vonny had explained. After the death of her parents, she’d felt lack lustre. Nothing held any interest for her and it became difficult to actually face each day knowing she had nobody close to her that could share in her achievements, even if she made any.
Counselling eventually pulled her up from the pit of her despair. She realised then and there just how important memories were and vowed that every worthwhile moment of her future would be committed to holo or data stick. One day she would have somebody to share them with.
There were four double bunks in the dorm but only the three of them were scheduled in for this course. Vonny had thought that unusual, but Jase had said there were rarely more than ten on a course at any one time anyway. With so many freshers still settling into campus lectures and routine, or away on field assignments, plus the fact that the three girls were ahead of the curve on their courses, they’d been selected as the first ones through.
Each selected a bunk and unpacked their clothes. Vonny smiled watching Tev store her new wardrobe. Tev’s side of the quad room back at the Academy had now become as cluttered with memorabilia as Vonny’s and her locker almost as full of clothes.
Settling back after their evening meal at the mess hall, they studied their schedule for the course. Range practice alternated with tactical planning and exercises. Everything from ship defence to perimeter guards would be practiced in the next two weeks.
“And EVA is first on the list tomorrow!” squeaked Misaki.
Vonny knew that Misaki relished this kind of activity. Tev and Vonny were slightly less enamoured by it but knew it was these kinds of drills that could save their lives. The fact that they needed to pass the course to get a field or ship assignment outside the Sol system was an added incentive.
“I’ll be happy if I don’t barf in the suit” said Vonny.
Tev wrinkled her nose and threw a stylus at Vonny.
“Cadet Siobhan Dixon, you qualify as the most disgusting member of Quad 17. Do not expect me to help you clean it out if you do!”
Vonny laughed so hard she could barely breathe.
Good times, she thought. Don’t ever forget them.
|October 18 2009, 08:23 PM||#11|
Location: Norfolk UK
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – ACADEMY AUXILIARY TRAINING FACILITY 3
SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
December 7th 2370
Following breakfast, they transported across to the main training facility and met Commander Fishlock.
Before their first EVA exercise there would be an exhaustive lesson on safety protocols and equipment. Vonny wasn’t sure if she preferred delaying the inevitable or would sooner get the whole exercise completed.
Just don’t think sick she reminded herself.
Each was issued a standard white EVA suit specifically designed for training purposes with the commander pointing out each safety item in turn.
“OK first and most essential item is your tether.”
Reeling out a length of cord from the hip of the suit, he clipped it to a nearby black and yellow rail that simulated the one they would use in the airlock.
“This is the one thing that I cannot stress enough. When you enter the airlock, the maglocks on your boots will activate like this.”
He rocked first one foot forward and back on to the heel, then the other.
“Check the indication in your helmet heads up display and then clip the tether to the black and yellow safety rail. Only then will you be allowed to leave the airlock is that understood?”
He looked seriously at each one of them and received a “yes sir” in return.
“Remember, seeing space up close and personal in a suit is way different to seeing it through a viewport. You may suffer vertigo or feel nauseous” - thanks thought Vonny, and Tev winced empathically - “and at that point,” he continued, “the tether is your lifeline. Even though the training facility looks stationary, don’t forget we’re turning with Mars. While you might not drift too far, I can guarantee it won’t be a pleasant experience flailing around in free fall.”
“So you’re tethered and maglocked and ready to exit the lock. The black and yellow bar will have extended and connected with the external rail as the lock opens. Check that the red connector collar has engaged before stepping out. This means your tether will now slide along the rail and outside the lock with you.”
Pressing a small button on the wall, the device replicated the movement of the airlock rail and the tether slid freely along it.
“Once you’re out just wait for the others on the platform. If at any stage you feel ill or the vertigo kicks in I want you to tap this button on the arm of the suit”.
He indicated a green disc at one end of the small control pad attached to the suit’s left arm.
“I’ll get an indication on my heads up display that you have problems and you’ll get a nice cool shot of neat oxygen. Breathe deep, close your eyes and hold the rail. Never known it to fail ok?”
He looked reassuringly at all three of them and once again received nods.
“By the time you open your eyes I’ll be there and if we need to come back in and try again, that’s not a problem. With just you three guys on the course we have the time so don’t try and be a brave little space cadet today. Let’s just have a dry run here first.”
Each girl slipped into the lower half of their EVA suit then stood with the clasp of the tether in their right hand.
“Ok remember; enter the lock, make sure the boots are activated and tether. First live run will be Hiroshi, Dixon then Sheron so we’ll do it in that order.”
Misaki stepped into a free standing airlock that had obviously been part of a ship at one time but now led from nowhere, to nowhere.
She pressed the close pad and the inner door slid shut behind her. Rocking her feet forward then back on to the heel one at a time, she felt the resistance in pulling them free and mentally checked the signal that would now be showing in her helmet heads up display to confirm the boots were activated.
“Boots active” she chimed “and tether…attached”.
“Well done cadet,” Fishlock responded, “lock cycling.”
As the outer door slid aside Misaki went to step through.
“Whoa, Ms Hiroshi.”
Fishlock stepped forward and pointed to her tether. Because she had stepped out of the lock before the door had cycled fully open, the safety rail hadn’t had chance to extend far enough and her tether had slipped through the ensuing gap.
Misaki was crestfallen. Fishlock, however, wasn’t fazed.
“Don’t worry cadet, that’s why we don’t go near a real airlock till this is second nature. As long as you never become complacent, you’ll be fine. If you know you’re in a holo simulation, the consequences don’t seem immediate. Just remember what I told you”, and he slapped his hand against a bulkhead. “Beyond these walls it’s Mother Nature’s vacuum. Ok Cadet Dixon you’re next”.
For the next three hours they practiced exiting and entering the airlock until all were happy, particularly Commander Fishlock. They learned how to unjam the tether if it got trapped in the joint of the door rail. They hopped and slid clumsily to simulate a single boot failure. They practiced activating the oxygen release and even simulated applying patches from the thigh pocket to plug a suit tear.
After they had all individually completed a fully suited test for the procedures they had learnt, Fishlock authorized each of their TacPADDs to indicate they were ready for a live EVA.
“Well done ladies, right on schedule. Ok the obvious question is do you want to do this before or after lunch?”
Both Tev and Misaki looked to Vonny who then turned to the commander.
“Sir, I’m as ready as I can be and my fellow cadets here have already threatened to have me thrown out of the quad if my stomach misbehaves out there.”
“Best we strike while your stomach’s steady then Ms Dixon. Suit checks cadets, buddy system. Cadet Hiroshi, you’re with me.”
Fishlock donned a well used black TAC EVA suit before checking all the seals and attachments on Misaki’s suit as Vonny did the same for Tev. After a reciprocal check from their partners they headed to the main airlock.
The comm frequency buzzed and the commander’s voice sounded in their helmets.
“Ok the exercise is live as of this point. Anybody have any suit discrepancies?”
All three cadets reported green – Vonny hoping she didn’t actually sound it – and Fishlock nodded to the Chief at the panel.
“Mr Jeffries, inner door please.”
The door slid back, the commander stepped through and it sealed behind him.
“Right, boots active…tether connected. Lock cycling.”
The indicator above the air lock went from green to red and the cadets felt as much as heard the pumps removing the air from the lock.
“Outer door is open, rail engaged. Ok I’m on the platform. Chief if you’d be kind enough to recycle the lock. Cadet Hiroshi, you’re next.”
Misaki beamed at Vonny and Tev before stepping to the lock entrance. Air was pumped back into the lock and the indicator turned green, confirming it was safe to open the inner door.
It slid aside and Chief Jeffries gave Misaki the thumbs up. Misaki nodded her thanks and as the door slid shut, they heard her chant the air lock mantra.
“Boots are active, my tether is connected and…the lock is cycling.”
Once again, the pumps engaged and the light turned to red.
Eventually they heard Misaki say “Outer door is open, the tether rail is engaged and I’m stepping on to the platfo…Oh!”
Tev looked at Vonny in alarm but she needn’t have worried.
“Take a moment to enjoy it Ms Hiroshi. I can guarantee it’s a thrill that never pales. Chief, recycle please and Cadet Sheron you’re next to join the party.”
Vonny mouthed good luck and Tev squeezed her hand with thick gloved fingers before stepping up to the door.
The operation repeated itself as Tev followed the procedure to the letter, eventually stepping on to the platform and gasping.
“Oh Vonny, you will so love this!”
Mortified that she had forgotten about her comm being permanently active, the blush was in her voice as she apologised to the commander.
“Not a problem Ms Sheron”, he chuckled, “but make room for Cadet Dixon. Chief, once more please.”
Vonny drew a breath and stood in front of the door. The indicator turned green, the Chief gave his customary thumbs up and mouthed “enjoy!” She tried a confident smile and returned his thumbs up then stepped into the airlock.
Rocking her feet to activate the boots, she looked to the lower left of her visor confirming that the indicators for her boots glowed green – “Boots active” – and then pulled the tether out, clipping it to the rail – “and tether connected.”
She reached out and pressed her gloved hand against the cycle panel – “lock cycling” - and the sound of air hissing out of the airlock almost made her jump. By the time the pumps stopped throbbing through the soles of her feet, there was no sound other than her own breathing.
Finally the outer door slid aside to let in the warm orange glow reflected from the surface of Mars.
“Outer door now open, rail engaged,” she said, checking that the red locking collar was in place.
She finally stepped forward, feeling as if she were walking on hot tarmac as her boots reluctantly released their grip with each step.
To her right stood Tev and Misaki, and tethered but floating free of the platform in front of them was the commander. He waved as he took her picture but Vonny only had eyes for the majesty of the vista spread out before her.
A Nebula class ship sailed past seemingly mere centimetres below her feet, individual windows clearly visible and the registration gleaming fresh from dry dock. The panorama of the great red planet swallowed space behind it and she could see the Utopia colony glimmering in the twilight.
Releasing a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding, she also realised that she didn’t feel either the vertigo or nausea she’d been dreading.
“Wow”, she breathed.
Glancing at Tev she recognised the look that she was sure was on her own face. Reverence was a close description.
“Welcome to the world of EVA ladies”, grinned Fishlock and took a picture of all three of them staring into the future.
They were eventually coaxed back inside by Commander Fishlock, simply reversing their exit procedure without any problems. They debriefed the exercise over a small lunch, before a second excursion. This time Tev was out first followed by Misaki and then Vonny.
On the second EVA they moved further along the platform to peer out over the rear end of the facility where they beheld the bizarre sight of half a starship. Bereft of warp nacelles, it hung seemingly just out of reach.
It carried no markings, though Vonny recognised it as one of the older Niagara class ships and it was connected to the facility by several umbilicals, lights glowing through the visible windows.
“That, cadets, is tomorrows exercise. Sadly she’ll never fly again, but she’s airtight, generating her own power and much of her internals are pretty much functional. We get to use her for several different ship based exercises and she’s fitted with holo emitters at crucial points to simulate extra crew or boarding parties. I won’t spoil the surprise though, you’ll just have to wait and see.”
“Besides”, he deadpanned, “one more EVA and you’re free to roam the galaxy so let’s get to it!”
Once again they crocodiled back in through the airlock and debriefed the exercise.
Finishing, Fishlock said, “Well, this is it. Your compulsory third and final EVA. Once I’ve signed off on this, your records are endorsed and any further EVA training takes place on field or ship assignment.”
“It just doesn’t feel quite real though”, said Vonny. “I mean three short walks….”
“But one giant leap for most cadets Ms Dixon” he said. “If any one of you had shown any kind of problem with the exercises, your endorsement would have been appended with an annotation to that effect. Safety is the overriding factor here; not just for you, but the crews you may work with as well.”
Fishlock pointed over his shoulder. “Chief Jeffries here will back me up on this. It only takes one crew member to freeze on a forced evac and suddenly the risk to life goes up exponentially. I know from your records that none of you have ever been out in hard vacuum before, but nobody hesitated; not once. Not every cadet can say that, and those are the guys that need the extra time either here or back in Earth orbit.”
“Still,” he said standing, “if you ladies want to earn your passport to wonder and adventure, we need to make this last EVA, so - same as before. No rushing, step by step checks and in an orderly manner out on to the platform. Go right again and this time we’ll take a full circuit of the facility. Any questions?”
There were none, and they donned the EVA suits for the last time. Each followed the buddy checklist and finally stepped towards the door.
“This time it’s Cadet Dixon followed by Cadet Sheron, and Cadet Hiroshi picks up the rear. Thank you Chief.”
The commander exited through the lock and Vonny soon joined him outside on the platform. As she listened to Tev making her way through the airlock checks, she once again drank in the wonder of standing on the edge of the abyss. Ships large and small moved about the yards and Mars bathed it all in a ruddy reflection.
She turned to see Tev just exiting the lock and at exactly the same moment, a bloom of silent, blinding white light threw up the filters in her helmet effectively blocking her vision, and the world around her went mad.
|October 19 2009, 08:27 AM||#12|
Location: Norfolk UK
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS - ACADEMY AUXILIARY TRAINING FACILITY 3
SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
December 7th 2370
Accidents happen in ship yards and, mercifully, most are low key. The worst accident in space though, and perhaps the most unforgiving, is that of containment failure in a ships warp core. If a crew is lucky they may have a limited period of warning enabling them to either shut down the reaction or, if need be, eject the core into space.
Occasionally, that period of grace is not given and the unbalanced mix of matter and anti-matter is both swift and devastating.
It was an Oberth class science vessel that had been in dock for decommissioning when the failure occurred. There was no chance of a warning before it was consumed in a reaction so fierce that pieces of the ship and surrounding dry dock were hurled outwards through the yard.
As the flare of the explosion died, Vonny’s faceplate slowly turned transparent again. Just in time for her to see a glowing piece of hull slam into the underside of the facility. The platform lurched beneath her feet and the airlock door twisted on its mountings, not only slamming Tev in the back but separating the tether rail connection.
Vonny had time for a single scream as Tev sailed past her, flailing to find a purchase on the platform railing but missing by a hairs breadth. She sped out past the edge of the facility and crashed hard into the framework that semi-supported the Niagara class ship at the rear.
Wide eyed in fear, Vonny searched for the Commander. His black TAC suit made it almost impossible to find him amongst the debris and broken gantries expanding out from the explosion and she had to cling to the platform for support as smaller but equally deadly projectiles peppered the facility.
Below them, tugs were quickly moving in from around the Yard to support the broken frame of the dock and what little remained of the Oberth class ship with tractor beams.
While smaller pieces of debris stilled rained down to the surface of Mars, most of it seemed to be in trail of the yards and appeared to have missed the colony, but the bulk of the wreck had to be restrained and, if possible, moved into a higher orbit.
Vacuum had quickly snuffed out the flames, but Vonny felt sick at the sight of the disaster.
After what seemed an age, the bucking of the platform stopped and Vonny heard heavy, laboured breathing through her comm.
“Units”, Fishlock gasped, “check in.”
“Chief Jeffries here, sir. Cadet Hiroshi is with me inside, no injuries. Power is out on all decks and the airlock is jammed. Inner door secure and I don’t think the facility is compromised. Comms are out along with the power though; all I have is short range TAC suit to you and the cadets and that’s patchy at best.”
“Thanks Chief. Cadet Dixon, check in”
Vonny thought the commander sounded in a bad way even through the distorted comm signal. She forced her mind to calmness and remembered the emergency protocols.
“Sir, still tethered to the station platform. No injuries and suit uncompromised. Oxygen supplies in the green. I’m not sure about Cadet Sheron though. She’s free of tether and I can see her in the gantries about 20 metres away. I can’t see movement.”
“Ok well done Dixon, standby. Cadet Sheron, check in”, and he gasped again.
Vonny strained her ears and thought she heard mumbling but nothing more.
“Cadet Sheron, this is Commander Fishlock, check in!”
For a moment there was silence, then a grunt and Tev reached around to grasp one of the cross members on the gantry, but still no response.
He was just about to try again, when Tev’s voice came thickly over the comm.
“Vonny I can see you…Unh…on the platform. Can you hear me?”
“Yes”, said Vonny waving.
“I am not receiving anything but I believe I am transmitting. Note: no obvious injuries other than having bitten my tongue and severe back pain. Suit is compromised and the patches are gone. I believe the pocket must have torn when I hit the gantry. Oxygen is not yet critical but I will be into reserves in approximately…..” She checked the suit readouts. “15 minutes if the compromise does not worsen. I have clamped it with the end of the tether but I am…not sure that will prevent oxygen loss. If you received, please wave with your right hand.”
Vonny waved frantically.
“Got all that Dixon,” said Fishlock. “Chief note all that, and for the record my position is much the same…as Sheron’s. I believe my right arm is broken with suit compromised b-but I’ve got it patched. I’m almost into reserves already though; confirming eight…minutes of oxygen.”
He gasped again.
“Ok Vonny, no time for formalities; I’m switching my suit lights on. Tell me if you can…unh…see me. I should be below…your position, slightly to the right.”
She looked down and quickly spotted the emergency strobe on his suit.
“Got you sir; 20 metres down and to the right.”
There was no reply.
“Sir I have your position, acknowledge.”
“Chief, are you receiving me?”
“Got you Vonny”, acknowledged the Chief with evident concern in his voice. “I’m sorry to do this but you’re going to have to take charge out there now by the sounds of it; I’ve got no means of egress from this point. First thing, I want you to give me a sitrep on everything around you ok?”
Vonny closed her eyes momentarily to focus her thoughts.
“The commander is still in sight, I can see his strobe but no movement. Tev is still in place as well,” she said looking up at her friend who had sensibly remained silent since her last transmission.
Vonny felt a strange calm settle over her as she looked around the shambles floating about her. Pieces of metal silently bumped and nudged each other in spinning chaos, some as small as tricorders, others the size of a shuttlecraft. None posed an immediate threat to the facility it seemed.
Looking to the left she saw the fragment of hull protruding from below the edge of the facility, sparks emanating from dying circuits but no obvious signs of escaping atmosphere from the facility itself. The Niagara class vessel at the rear of the facility had swung nose up and turned towards where she stood, its bridge dome almost touching the distorted platform. It still appeared attached by the umbilicals as far as she could tell. All this she reported to the Chief.
“Ok I need you to stay in place. If the search and rescue guys can pick up your strobes they’ll be here fast, but with no entry in or out of here and the transporters down with the power out, it’s a waiting game now. Acknowledge”
“Got that Chief”, said Vonny, “but there are strobes all over this section of the yard right now.”
There was no reply and Vonny knew it wasn’t because the comm was down. What could he say? Their lives were just three amongst hundreds in peril in the yards at that moment. Transporter sensors and suit comms would be limited in the aftermath of the matter/anti-matter blast and waiting was the only hope they had.
Vonny raised her hands and made a “stay there” gesture to Tev.
“If you mean I am to remain…here Vonny, raise your right hand again,” she replied.
Vonny did so, and her bottom lip began to tremble as the adrenaline rush she’d felt just moments before began to dissipate. She recognised the onset of the first stages of shock and looked around her hoping to stave it off.
The Niagara had now swung up almost vertical to the platform, and Vonny could see some yard wit had painted the title “The Dodo” by the starboard bridge access port. Starting to turn, she almost missed the importance of what she had just seen.
She quickly gauged the distances between the end of the platform and the bridge access port. Less than five metres she estimated.
“Chief”, she said quickly, “what’s the overall length of these tethers?”
“If it’s intact, about 15 metres, why?”
She quickly explained what she had in mind.
“To be honest Chief time’s not on our side. I’m fine but Tev is suffering and the commander must be even worse. I think it’s worth the risk.”
“Vonny, you’re the only one with the options so do what you think best. Just don’t try the hero thing, it’s not worth it.”
Looking at Tev up on the gantry, she suddenly realised that if anything was worth it, she was. All she said though was “Chief, I’m too terrified to be a hero.”
Screwing her eyes tightly shut and thinking fiercely she said “Chief, during the brief, the commander mentioned a tether kit in the air lock.”
“Yep, three spares and there should be a mag clamp as well.” Seeing where she was going he said quickly, “Come back into the lock and they’re behind the red access panel by the cycle switch, but watch your tether if the railings broken.”
Vonny shuffled back to the lock hoping Tev didn’t think she was deserting her. She cautiously watched to make sure her tether didn’t slip free of the broken rail connection, then popped the panel open to reveal three tethers, a mag lock and better still a harness.
Grabbing one tether and the mag clamp she ducked back out on to the platform ensuring her own tether was still attached and moved until she was directly above the commander’s flashing strobes. Activating the mag, she clamped it to the facility hull and fastened the spare tether to it. She then detached her own from the rail and reattached it to the end of the spare, looking over at the drop down to the commander. With 15 metres of spare tether and 15 of her own, she should have far more than enough to reach him.
Now firmly attached to the hull, she didn’t have to worry about the broken rail and ducked back in to the lock to grab the harness. She moved back out and, screwing up her courage, peered out over the edge. Below she saw the still form of the commander among the bent and twisted framework, and way beyond him the red surface of mars, pitted now with numerous fresh craters.
Suddenly it seemed as if her bravado petered out and her hand locked on the rail, stubbornly refusing to let go. Her breathing quickened and the vertigo she’d feared earlier hit her like a sledgehammer. Up became down which became sideways and she closed her eyes as the Yards seemed to swing about her.
No, she thought, not now. I won’t let this happen NOW! Her mind flashed back to the brief, and she reached across with her right hand and slapped the green control on her panel. The hiss sounded loud in her helmet and breathing deeply, she felt the invigorating rush of undiluted oxygen enter her system.
Slowly opening her eyes, Vonny saw that the Yards were once again firmly locked in their proper places and tentatively peered over the edge once more. In the place of the vertigo she’d felt moments before was a cold, hard determination to see this through to the end. Looking up at the still form of Tev above her, she knew why.
Saying a silent prayer, she stepped through the broken guard rail where the platform had buckled and felt slightly foolish to realise she was simply hanging there.
Of course, she thought action and reaction.
Somewhat clumsily, she inverted herself so she was facing head first towards the commander then pushed gently against the bottom of the platform. She floated freely towards him and snagged the stanchion he was laying against arresting her downward motion.
Looking through his faceplate, she saw how pale his face was and a trickle of blood ran from his nose. His suit panel indicated that the oxygen level had almost bottomed out and he was close to breathing foul air. Re-patching his suit seemed pointless now, likely taking more time than her attempted rescue would, so she slipped the harness around his torso and made a loop from her tether which connected them together. She was tempted to try and splint the obviously broken arm but realised that time simply wasn’t on her side.
Taking a firm grip on the harness, she aimed at the hull of the nearby starship and pushed off from the stanchion with her feet. It was only as she neared the plates of the hull that she realised she had no way of slowing their approach. She twisted as best she could, putting herself between Fishlock and the fast approaching hull and exhaled a whoosh of air as they collided.
“Cadet Dixon,” came the Chief’s worried voice, “report.”
“Sorry Chief”, she grunted, “forgot about the rules of mass and momentum in zero G.”
Catching her breath she hauled the commander’s limp form to the lock and saw the access panel glowing healthily, but it didn’t respond to her input.
“Enter 2161 Vonny. It’s the exercise override code” replied the Chief when she explained the problem.
Vonny could have cried when the port irised open and she pulled Fishlock inside. It was then she realised that she needed to remove the tether to get the outer door closed and the inner door cycled open. But that meant breaking the connection between her tether and the one attached to the facility. If she did that the odds were it would drift away outside the lock leaving her no way to reach Tev.
She hurriedly explained the dilemma to the Chief, seeing the commander’s suit panel begin to flash amber.
“Check to the right of the outer door Vonny”, he said thinking quickly. “There should be an umbilical port there. You should be able to wedge the tether clasp inside it.”
Ducking halfway out of the port, she found the port and snaked a good meter of tether into it. She eased herself back inside and slapped her hand against the cycle pad, eventually hearing the rush of air as atmosphere started to fill the lock.
The cycle was almost halfway complete when Fishlock’s panel turned red. Knowing she no longer had time to complete the cycle, she pulled down on the override handle and the inner door slid back. As pressurised air from inside blew into the lock she was knocked backwards against the outer door briefly stunning her. With stars still spinning before her eyes, she groped for the harness and dragged the still form – and now dead weight – of the Commander into the ship.
Quickly twisting the release latches, first on his helmet then her own, she leaned over and realised he wasn’t breathing. The only CPR she knew was the basic class she’d been taught at school, but at this stage anything was better than nothing.
Quickly removing the torso section of his TAC suit, she alternated between breathing and heart massage, trying to remember the ratios, until at last she saw colour begin to return to his cheeks. Finally he drew a ragged breath of his own, coughing and opening his eyes.
He looked up in surprise at her and was about to speak, but Vonny quickly interrupted.
“Sir I’m really sorry but I still need to get back out to Cadet Sheron. I have to leave you here but I’ll be back as soon as I can I promise.”
Blinking rapidly and trying to shake both the surprise and grogginess from his mind, he nodded and feebly waved his hand that she should go. Placing his helmet close to him, she nodded her thanks and re-entered the airlock, praying that she wasn’t too late.
|October 19 2009, 08:33 AM||#13|
Location: Norfolk UK
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – ‘THE DODO’ - ACADEMY AUXILIARY TRAINING FACILITY 3
SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
December 7th 2370
Tev had started to drift in and out of consciousness by now. She vaguely realised that during her last blackout Vonny had disappeared from the platform. Another wave of pain from her back dimmed her vision again and she began to hallucinate.
Vonny appeared to her as a flying angel, arms outstretched to embrace her. Her mouth formed words that Tev couldn’t hear but that was ok - just having Vonny there was enough.
Her face filled Tev’s vision for one glorious moment and she could at last hear what she was saying. As lucidity returned, she suddenly realised the angel was real and Vonny had her faceplate pressed against Tev’s.
“Tev! Wake up please, come on!”
With her comm out, Tev was hearing Vonny directly from the vibrations transmitted by their helmet contact and it was perhaps the most wonderful sound she’d ever heard.
“Vonny”, she croaked, “I cannot move very well. It is…unh…my back.”
Her eyes fluttered closed again as the wave of pain swept over her.
Vonny looked about frantically. If Tev’s back was injured and she took her back inside the artificial gravity field of the ship unsupported, who knows what damage she could cause. Amongst the floating detritus that had collected around the facility, Vonny saw what looked like a corridor access panel within reach. Careful not to drift too far from the girder, she snagged the panel with one hand then moved around behind Tev.
Checking there were no sharp corners that could tear Tev’s suit, she placed the panel against her back and used the harness to secure it in place as best she could. Realising she couldn’t afford the impact shock of hitting the hull with Tev, Vonny pushed off gently this time and floated slowly towards the glowing docking lights around the hatch of the starship.
When Tev opened her eyes again, Vonny had gone and the stars were moving slowly across her field of vision. She tried to look around but realised she now seemed unable to move at all. Her last thought before darkness closed in was that she wasn’t afraid of dying. The only thing that scared her was not having had the courage to tell Vonny how she felt about her.
Vonny gently guided the improvised spinal board into the lock and made sure it was firmly against the floor before hitting the cycle pad. The grav plates kicked in and the cycle began as Vonny monitored Tev’s pained breathing. Her suit panel glowed amber but at least it hadn’t started flashing yet.
As the inner door slid aside, she saw the commander had taken the comm unit from the helmet and was busy talking, presumably to the Chief. Carefully sliding the litter into the hallway, she cycled the inner door shut and quickly bent to remove Tev’s helmet.
Breaking from his conversation, he looked to Vonny with a concerned expression.
“How is she?”
“Not good sir”, she replied, eyes brimming with tears. “She’s breathing but unconscious, and she told me she couldn’t move because of back pain.”
Returning to the comm he said “Chief, both cadets are back with me. Stand by”.
“Vonny we’re almost out of the woods here, but I need you to hold it together just for a little while longer ok?”
Vonny felt control return reluctantly, but eventually managed a small nod.
“Right, let’s do this quickly but calmly,” and he explained what he needed.
Leaving the commander to monitor Tev, she ran through the short access way and partway around the circular corridor that surrounded the outside of the bridge, finally entering via the main rear door.
It was dimly lit but most of the consoles were active and she turned to the nearest one. Entering a five figure reference code, followed by the commander’s override, the lights brightened and the computer responded.
“Simulation Sierra Alpha TAC3 standing by.”
Vonny stared up as she unconsciously did when speaking to one of the computers.
“Computer, this is Cadet Siobhan Dixon requesting emergency medical override of current simulation.”
“Standby”, said the computer and Vonny was afraid for a brief moment that the computer would not acknowledge the override of a cadet despite the commander’s assurance.
She needn’t have worried though. “Simulation terminated - currently scanning for personnel. Please state the nature of the emergency.”
“There are two injured crew in the access corridor to the starboard bridge airlock. Both require immediate point to point transfer to sick bay. The female crew member requires….” Vonny’s mind went blank. All she could see was the pale, strained face of Tev and she felt her control slipping again.
“Awaiting details” reminded the computer, and with that her mind cleared.
“Female crew member requires immobilisation due to spinal injuries. Transport and activate sickbay, priority one.”
Seconds later, the computer intoned – “Transport complete, sickbay activated. Warning, there are currently no medical personnel aboard.”
“Computer, scan for further personnel in the adjacent structure,” she hurried on, wanting to run to the sickbay but knowing her duty lay here for now.
“Initiate transport directly to sickbay, personnel do not require treatment”.
Again there was a brief pause before the response,
“Transport complete, personnel are currently in sickbay. Warning, there are currently no medical personnel aboard.”
She had one final task to perform and said, “Computer, scan for comms status.”
“Comms are operating aboard ship though there is local short range disruption.”
She scanned the LCARS sub directories, accessed comms, and set the automatic distress call before transferring all command functions to sickbay.
Running from the bridge, she took the turbolift down two decks and hurried into sickbay. The commander was being tended to by the Chief and Misaki was by Tev’s biobed. The blue glow of a stasis field threw harsh shadows across Misaki’s face as she looked up at Vonny.
“The Chief has administered pain killers but Tev is… she is not…“ Misaki trailed off as Chief Jeffries and the commander came over.
“Vonny,” said Commander Fishlock, “first I need to thank you, for Tev and for me. Your actions out there saved both our lives, and that’s a debt that can never be repaid.”
Looking down at the blue shrouded form of her friend, his face clouded as he continued.
“You did all the right things Vonny but sometimes everything we do is sometimes…right now I have to tell you it’s possible that the spinal injuries Tev suffered are life threatening. That’s why I increased the power of the stasis field. If I can keep her immobile until real medics get here she has a chance; but I can’t lie, it’s serious.”
Vonny was aware of the Chief catching her as her mind eventually succumbed to shock and despair and she tumbled into blackness.
|October 19 2009, 08:39 AM||#14|
Location: Norfolk UK
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – HABITAT MEDICAL WING
SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
December 9th 2370
Vonny dimly recalled regaining consciousness several times, the blues and greens of vaguely seen medical staff drifting around her. Each time Tev’s face had been there to haunt her, drawn in pain inside the blue cocoon of the stasis field before Vonny once again fell back into drug induced oblivion.
As she woke this time though, her mind felt refreshingly clear of medication, though her body still ached in its entirety.
“Morning hero”, smiled a doctor, leaning over to wave a med scanner across her. “You have a visitor, and as we figured you’d had enough beauty sleep, we didn’t think you’d mind seeing him?”
Before she had chance to object or even ask about Tev, the doctor moved off smiling and Commander Fishlock appeared by her bed. Other than his arm in a stasis sling and a nice bruise across his forehead, he seemed fine.
“I wasn’t sure if they’d taken you off the happy gas yet.” he said. “How are you?”
“Aching but I think I’m ok. Still a little shaky though. Sir is Tev….”
“She’s going to be fine thanks to you young lady. She left for Earth a short while ago. According to the medics, it seems the fact that you had the presence of mind to use that panel as a spinal board may have saved her life. You really were something out there you know?”
Vonny shook her head.
“Sir I don’t like all this hero stuff. I remember reading somewhere that “heroes are just people who do what has to be done”. It’s not something I really planned on doing.”
“Yet”, he said, “you did it anyway. Two lives saved, five recovered. Nice tally if you ask me.” He smiled and placed several packages at the foot of her bed.
“I can’t stay but there are some things I need to leave with you. The facility’s in a real mess and things are pretty stressed around the yard right now.”
“What happened sir? With the ship I mean.”
His expression saddened.
“There’s no official word yet. Something tripped a matter/anti-matter containment failure, that’s all we know. 32 crew and engineers lost, 15 still critical and maybe 60 or 70 injured.”
Seeing Vonny’s expression of horror he stepped closer.
“Vonny, just remember, you played an important part in making sure that number wasn’t higher.”
Brightening a little he finished “Oh and you ought to know both Chief Jeffries and I have recommended you for a commendation. Listen I have to go but stop in to my office before you leave ok?”
He left her contemplating the packages on her bed. Tev was safe, that was the only thing that mattered to her and the tears that ran down her face now were of joy rather than despair.
She asked a nurse with the name patch MORGAN if she could pass the packages, her body still too stiff to bend too much. As the nurse did so, she smiled and said “I just want to add my congratulations and thanks cadet.”
Seeing Vonny’s face fall a little, the nurse stepped back and said “Don’t underestimate what happened out there. I know serving officers who would have frozen in the same circumstances so accept your time in the limelight and understand there are people who are grateful. Just in case you’re wondering, Commander Fishlock is my fiancée.”
She squeezed Vonny’s hand and was about to leave her with the packages.
“He’s a good man,” said Vonny awkwardly.
“Better still,” replied the nurse beaming, “he’s a good man who’s still alive” and she quietly left.
Vonny opened the first package, a slim envelope. Inside was a hastily written note in Misaki’s neat script.
“Vonny, not sure when you will receive this but hope you are feeling better. I called in several times but the doctor said he needed to keep you sedated so I simply sat with you for a while.
Tev has left you a PADD with a message. She missed being able to say goodbye, but I’m with her now and she sends her love. We’re both travelling back to Earth; me to the Academy and Tev to Starfleet Medical. I won’t steal all Tev’s news so hurry back and see you soon.
Vonny quickly searched for the PADD that Tev had left finding it carefully wrapped in one of the brightly coloured scarves they’d bought and laughed about in San Francisco. It suddenly seemed a lifetime ago to Vonny instead of mere weeks.
Activating the PADD, the Academy symbol appeared with a time stamp of about three hours ago and then a wobbly picture of Tev.
“Please Misaki, if you could keep the PADD still I wouldn’t have to keep stopping and re-recording!”
She mock scowled and Vonny couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Vonny, this is only a short message. A PADD is not the appropriate way to convey all the things I need to say to you.”
“I’m still wrapped up like a baereg beetle but the doctors say they can repair my spine.” She beamed.
You idiot, thought Vonny fondly, it sounds like you’re talking about a machine!
“Misaki says that you have been sedated much of the time as have I, but when you return I wish to talk to you. There is much I need to say and…” She looked off camera.
Vonny heard Misaki say “It’s time to go Tev.”
Looking back at the hand held PADD, her eyes glistened and for a moment she seemed to be looking deep into Vonny’s soul.
“Please, hurry back. I need you here. Love be with you Vonny,” and the PADD flicked back to the Academy logo.
Love be with you mouthed Vonny, and her heart sang.
Picking up the smallest package and opening it, she found a small silver collar pin. It showed two hands cradling a generic starship against the background of the UFP symbol and carried the legend ‘SEARCH AND RESCUE – SOL SYSTEM” in a scroll below it.
A small card lying underneath the pin read:
“Presented in honour of the actions of:Below that, written by hand, was the message, “We’re keeping a bunk free for you!”
Cadet 4th Class Siobhan Dixon
In recognition of her brave actions in the true spirit of the
Search and Rescue organisation of
When the nurse returned, it took her a short while to prise the packages from Vonny’s hands without waking her, but at least her sleep now seemed untroubled.
“Thank you”, whispered Nurse Megan Morgan.
|October 19 2009, 08:53 AM||#15|
Location: Norfolk UK
NO infringement is intended. All other material is copyright to Unusualsuspex 2009.
UTOPIA PLANITIA YARDS – HABITAT MEDICAL WING
SYNCHRONOUS MARS ORBIT
December 10th 2370
Vonny awoke the following morning to commotion outside her door. She stepped out of bed feeling achy and a little woozy but refreshed. Opening the door, the nurse who’d spoken to her the night before said she should check the newsfeeds. Her grim expression told Vonny it wouldn’t be good.
Flicking her PADD on, she set it to download as she quickly dressed, pinning the SAR pin with quiet pride to her left collar.
The PADD pinged signifying it had completed the news feed download and she set it to play, watching as the FNS logo faded to the Earth news anchor’s solemn face. Superimposed on the screen behind her was the Bajoran sector logo.
She sat and listened in horror as the story unfolded.
“This is the Federation News Service, and I’m Melissa Theuria bringing you an update on the breaking story that a Bajoran colony has been destroyed by enemy action in the Gamma Quadrant. This just in from Aresh Tybron on Federation Station Deep Space 9 in the Bajoran sector.”
The scene cut to a briefing room crammed with reporters crowded around a table at which sat three Starfleet officers. The room fell quiet as the commander sitting in the centre began speaking.
“Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Commander Jenak Tol, Starfleet press liaison officer for this sector. I now have a full briefing on the events which took place recently in the Gamma Quadrant. It is my sad duty to confirm that the recently established New Bajor colony has been totally destroyed in an unprovoked and vicious attack by a collective now known to us as the Dominion. The details have been delivered to us by a representative of their military arm, the Jem’Hadar.”
The screen filled with the image of a scaled and vicious looking alien.
“His name is Third Talak’talan and we will shortly be releasing a full transcript of the message he delivered. However the salient points are as follows.
The Founders appear to be the ruling race of the Dominion in the area of the Gamma Quadrant that recently opened up to us via the wormhole in the Bajoran system. During our initial exploration we had heard many rumours of the race but had no contact.”
“That contact arrived in the form of the Jem’Hadar warrior you just saw. His message from the Founders is simple. They have been watching our exploration of the Gamma Quadrant closely and now demand that all incursions into their space cease immediately.”
A rumble of disbelief passed through the assembled ranks of press at that.
“We can also confirm the loss of several Federation vessels in the Gamma Quadrant which has also been attributed to the Jem’Hadar and ordered by The Founders. We have advised the Founders that as of now, we need to conduct Search and Rescue operations in the region of the attacks but have so far heard nothing.”
He paused to shakily take a drink of water before continuing.
“I remind you that all these attacks have been pre-meditated and came with no warning at all. Loss of life has been horrific and our duty right now is to ensure aid and support is given to any survivors. As of 10.00 hours Federation Standard Time, Starfleet has suspended all access to or from the wormhole until further notice. The United Federation of Planets is already sending delegates to the station to clarify the situation and any further developments will be notified to you as soon as we have them. Ladies and gentlemen, that is all I currently have. Are there any questions please?”
A member of the press corps raised his hand and asked the question that was foremost in Vonny’s mind and, she suspected, everybody’s who was watching the story unfold.
“Aresh Tybron, FNS. Sir, is this war?”
The officer paused.
“Right now Mr Tybron, we’re simply trying to contact the Founders. There has been no official declaration of war from them, just the demand to cease incursions through the wormhole and as far as we are aware there have been no further attacks. The Federation’s objectives in the Gamma Quadrant are now, as they always have been, to extend the hand of friendship to any new race or civilization we contact. Until the official UFP delegation arrives and establishes diplomatic contact, I would say the answer is no sir.”
Another raised his hand and the officer nodded towards him.
“Anton Manders, SSN. Sir when are you expecting aid to be despatched to the Gamma Quadrant?”
“Mr Manders, I’d rather not give details at this early stage. Much depends on the Founders response but of course once anything is known, we’ll release the information.”
Standing he picked up his PADD and indicated a junior officer standing by the table.
“As you’re aware things are moving swiftly but as soon as we have more information, we’ll hold a further briefing. The lieutenant here will provide you with the transcript of the Founders declaration and background details on the colony of New Bajor, but for now there’s work to do as I’m sure you’ll appreciate.”
Nodding to the silent reporters, he left the table and the lieutenant began handing out briefings as the picture cut back to the studio.
“And we’ll have more from Deep Space 9 as it’s released. Grave news indeed, so let’s turn to our political correspondent……”
Vonny flicked the PADD off and stepped out of her room to the nurse’s station. One nurse was in tears, being comforted by a counsellor and as she led her away to a nearby room, the counsellor told the head nurse she should be prepared for more such responses to the disaster.
Vonny realised the medical staff might soon have their hands full so acted quickly.
“Nurse Morgan?” she called waving to the visibly shocked young woman.
“I think I should be returning to the Academy,” said Vonny, “what with the… everything….” She trailed off not knowing what else to say.
Crossing to a nearby console, she tapped in Vonny’s details and drew up her records.
“I’ll need a doctor to sign off on this, but certainly I can see no reason not to release you out to the station. If everything’s clear I’ll download the discharge documents to your PADD.”
Looking up at Vonny she managed a brief haunted smile.
Vonny pointed to the closed door of the Counsellor’s office.
“The nurse, is she alright?”
“Her husband was on the New Bajor colony helping to set up the medical facility there. All reports are saying no known survivors. We’ve got other off duty staff with relatives and friends out there as well, it’s not good.” Looking at Vonny, the nurse placed a hand on her shoulder. “It might have been me in there after yesterday. I…just, thank you.”
Vonny was still discomfited by the praise, but accepted it gracefully. With a swift hug, she picked up her bag and headed for the office of Commander Fishlock.
As the door to the commander’s office slid open, she heard him finishing a call to Yard Central.
“…and if we can swing the ship down, it’ll free the supporting frame from the umbilicals. Let me know how it looks ok?”
A brief “aye sir”, and the signal terminated as the screen flicked back to the Utopia Planitia logo. Fishlock looked up and smiled, waving Vonny to a seat with his good hand.
“I see you managed to escape the clutches of our resident Dr Crippens’ then?” he grinned. At Vonny’s puzzled look, he said “Old reference, don’t worry. I assume you’ve heard the news?”
Nodding, she noted he was clenching his fist tightly as he spoke.
“That’s why I thought I ought to try and get back to the Academy sir. Who knows where this is all heading? The Dominion don’t really seem like the negotiating type do they?”
“Perhaps not”, he grimaced, “but for now we have to hope that will change. Still, if you’re heading back to San Fran you’ll need a lift I guess.”
Turning to the screen, he pulled up a list of ship movements for the next 48 hours. It was good news with at least four ships transiting back to Earth and he sent provisional reservations out to all of them.
Closing the screen, he stood and extended his hand to Vonny.
“I just want to thank you again. I realise you’re weary of the plaudits Vonny, but they’re all deserved. I just hope that this is the last time you ever need to exercise those kinds of skills. That is unless you intend to take the Search and Rescue team up on their offer?” he said, indicating her silver collar pin.
“Maybe; not just yet though”, she smiled.
“Well, until such time as we get the facility back on line the courses are on hold but your EVA endorsement has been processed. I’m not even sure I’ll still be here if and when you return to finish the course, but good luck.”
She smiled and grimly acknowledged that luck was something the galaxy might need in large amounts.
When she finally arrived back at the dorm, her discharge papers had arrived on her PADD. Checking in with Commander Fishlock, he confirmed a berth aboard the USS Chedrah, a Starfleet cargo hauler heading back to Earth that afternoon.
Looking around the empty dorm, she realised how quiet and lonely it seemed without the company of her quad mates; especially Tev.
It was only after beaming aboard the Chedrah that she caught the latest update from the Bajoran Sector. One of the Starfleet vessels destroyed in the Gamma Quadrant had been the USS Odyssey. She had been lost with all hands on a search and rescue mission, obliterated in a Jem’Hadar suicide attack.
Her hand flew to her mouth as she whispered in disbelief Jase!
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