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Old August 19 2011, 05:52 PM   #91
jerriecan
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Finally got caught up with the story so far! Poor Polly - all trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey (although she seems to have quite the kinky side ). And a survivor from the Patton - I was not expecting that. Nicely played! Can't wait to see what other surprises you have in store.

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Old August 20 2011, 03:25 AM   #92
Trelane
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Give me a picture of the desired "ringship" and I'll redo the e-book cover for you, if you'd like.
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Old September 4 2011, 10:36 PM   #93
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

UES Enterprise. Orbiting Galador III. October 28th, 2151.

The stabbing pain in her lower right shin reminded Hernandez as to why exactly it was unwise to traverse the corridors of Enterprise at speed. The various pipes and conduits that criss-crossed the passageways could catch a hurrying crewman---or officer---unawares. She swore under her breath and kicked angrily at the offending obstruction.

Brilliant. Now her foot hurt as well.

Ignoring the pain as best she could she set off once more towards the sickbay. Impatience welled within her. Impatience...and hope.

It can't be possible, she told herself, the odds against it must be...astronomical. And yet the evidence was there. The survey team had found a human on the surface of the planet. The only explanation was that he was a survivor of the earlier expedition, the one she herself had been on. He couldn't have been brought to this system by the Axanar, they had captured humans during the war, but that had only been during planet bound conflicts. None were relocated to other worlds. And she was fairly certain Trip Tucker had been joking when he suggested the survivor was long missing pioneer Zephram Cochrane.

So, a survivor from the raid. Hence her impatience. Hence her hope. It wasn't as if she knew everyone from that mission. The chance of it being a familiar face was low. And as for it being one of her friends...Well, the survivor was male, so it couldn't be Diana. Nuyen? That was possible. Nuyen worked in the engine room of Destroyer D-11, and the body they found in the wreckage had yet to be identified, so maybe it wasn't him, and maybe her old classmate had somehow made his way to the only habitable planet in the system, and maybe....No. Stop. Stop thinking like that.

Just to add to the irritation, she knew she could have done this sooner. After receiving the distress call from the landing party Enterprise had raced at maximum impulse back to the planet. Beowulf Two was already in flight, docking as soon as possible. She had stayed on the bridge, hearing the reports of two casualties being rushed to sickbay. She could have left Moshiri in charge and gone down to see for herself there and then, but rather she waited until checking with the captain.

There was a guard on duty outside sickbay, a marine. She was surprised when she recognised him.

"Trooper Dumont? What are you doing here? I thought all the landing party personnel were off duty for the time being."

"Ah, yes ma'am. I volunteered. Until we know more about the survivor he has to be considered a potential risk."

Hernandez's brow furrowed. "But why volunteer? This could be done by any Security trained crewman...ah. I get it. It's your penance, right?" She'd remembered what Reed had told her about how they made up for mistakes.

He looked baffled for a moment, then his face cleared. "Ah...yes ma'am. You could call it that."

"Carry on then."

The interior of sickbay was dark, the lighting subdued, but it was bright enough to make out that only one bed was occupied. She turned to Millington, Locke's assistant, who was sat at the desk. "Where's the survivor?"

Millington gestured to a connecting hatch. "He's still in the isolation ward for the time being. The doctor wants to keep him under close observation for the time being."

Hernandez grunted, and inclined her head towards the occupied bed. "How is she?"

"Recovering. It was a close run thing though. Good thing Locke was with the landing party. A few more minutes with that concussion, well, the effects could have been permanent." He lowered his voice and leant closer. "Maybe even terminal."

"Oh, Lord. I didn't realize it was that bad. Are you sure she's alright?"

He nodded. "Should be. Though it'll take a little time before she's up and about again. Plenty of rest, that's all she needs. You can talk to her if you want, she's awake, though heavily medicated. Just for a few minutes, mind."

Hernandez wasn't really in the mood, but she couldn't really refuse, so she made her way over to the occupied bed. Professor Partridge looked somehow smaller as she lay there. She wore pale green hospital pyjamas, and a bandage was wrapped round her head. The area around her right eye was swollen and purple, it was the only colour noticeable on her face. Although she normally sported ivory white skin, that somehow seemed natural for her. Now, the almost grey hue looked dreadful.

Hernandez cleared her throat. "Hey. How you doing?" she asked softly.

Partridge's good eye opened, and after a moment focussed. "Oh, hi Maria. Nice to see you. How have you been?"

It seemed absurd, the injured woman asking after the healthy one. Hernandez laughed slightly without quite knowing why. "Not too bad. What about yourself?"

"I could have been killed, Maria." A look of fear came across Partridge's face. "I could have died. I should have stayed at home, where it's safe. But....I saw ducks, Maria. And trees, and grass. Not the ones from Earth, but entirely new to us. I stood on a strange new world. If I stay, I could die. But the things I'll see...the wonders...I don't know what to do."

Feeling sympathetic, Hernandez shrugged. "You'll figure it out Polly. You are the smart one, after all."

Partridge closed her eye. "Yeah. Hey, let's see if my brain's still working after that bump on the noggin. I've worked something out. You let me know if it's true or not, OK?"

"OK."

"You didn't come all this way to see me, did you?"

Hernandez hesitated. "Ah, no. But I am glad to see you're OK, though." she added quickly.

A faint smile. "Thank you for not lying to me." She lay back. After a moment the screen above the bed changed, a helpful green message stating 'SLEEP' for those who couldn't follow the life-signs displayed.

"I hope you're not disturbing my patient." a voice rumbled behind her. She turned to see Locke at the hatch to the isolation ward.

"Doctor. Ah, I know this may be...somewhat unusual...but, ah, I'd like to see the survivor. If I may."

Locke grunted. "You can't go into the chamber, but there's an observation window. He's resting now so don't you go bothering him. Right, I'm going for a smoke." he added, fishing a pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket.

She went through the hatch, into a short dimly lit corridor. To her left was a wide thick window. There was a communications panel next to it, though remembering Locke's instructions she had no intention of touching that. At the far end of the corridor was a thick hatch that led to a small chamber for donning, or removing, hazmat suits. Access to the ward itself was via a small decontamination chamber come airlock, as it was here that infectious or unknown diseases would be treated. There was no evidence of that here. It was simply being used as a convenient and secure place to hold a potentially hostile patient.

He was asleep in the bed, surrounded by life support equipment. A saline drip fed a tube in his arm. A computer display showed a rotating molecular model, a red pulsating message reading 'Unknown Compound Detected'.

She watched for maybe a minute, maybe an hour. She couldn't tell.

Eventually she stepped back from the window.

"No." she said softly. "No, I don't know this man at all."
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Old September 5 2011, 10:14 PM   #94
jerriecan
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

I feel so much for Hernandez - her past is literally coming back to haunt her now, and she can't even give it a name. A powerful installment, if all too brief (as always, Badger ). Looking forward to more!
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Old September 26 2011, 09:49 PM   #95
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

UES Enterprise. Orbiting Galador III. October 30th, 2151.

"His name is Alphonse Stucchi." Hoshi said, looking down at her note pad. "He was a crewman, a sensor operator, on the destroyer D-19."

Archer sat back in his chair, looking round the briefing room as he silently digested the information. In many ways it seemed nothing had changed from that first briefing just prior to their arrival in the Galador system. There were two notable differences however. Trip Tucker was now present, looking grave. And Professor Partridge sat huddled between him and Hoshi, as if seeking protection. Her normal exuberance was gone, and she spent most of her time staring blankly down at the table top.

"Stucchi...name doesn't ring any bells." Hernandez said, shaking her head. "But then, there were lots of people on that mission. I only knew a couple from that ship, and none of them that well."

Travis asked "So how did he get to the planet? It's a long way to walk."

"OK," Hoshi said, taking a swig of coffee, "we've only got his recollections here, and for various reasons they might be pretty unreliable---"

"I'll say." Locke interjected.

Hoshi gathered her thoughts. "It seems that the D-19 was damaged in the battle against the Axanar ships. There was a hull breach, and Stucchi was blasted clear of his ship by the sudden decompression. Good job it's common practice to wear spacesuits on destroyers. He drifted for hours, eventually losing consciousness as the oxygen supply ran out. When he recovered, he was on a small Axanar ship."

Archer nodded. "They can be violent in combat, but Axanar culture requires that any prisoners they do take are well treated."

"Right. I guess the Axanar must have known about Galador III, as they headed straight here. They managed to make planet fall in the mountains."

Tucker said "Now that would ha' been tricky. We found their ship earlier today. From the images the landin' party sent, it looks like it were one of the shuttles they sent down to the gas giant to pick up deuterium. They can fly through atmosphere well 'nuff, but they ain't got no landing gear or terrain sensors. Musta' had a crackerjack pilot on board."

Hernandez lifted a laconic hand. "Why didn't we detect the ship from orbit?"

She'd directed the enquiry at Partridge, who gave no indication she'd even heard the question.

Tucker cleared his throat. "Most of tha' ship is made from a high density ceramic. Don't show up too good on radar. They stripped off 'most all of the metal components, hid 'em in caves nearby. Guess they were worried tha' humans might get there before their own people did. With all the metallic ore in those rocks, an' with vegetation growin' over the ship, it'd be darn difficult to spot from orbit. 'specially if you got no reason to be lookin fo' a ship."

Hernandez nodded. "Very well. Carry on, lieutenant."

Sato glanced at her pad again. "Right. It seems that after the initial culture shock, Stucchi was accepted into the group as they struggled to survive. Luckily they were in a temperate area, with clean water and plentiful hunting. Things weren't exactly perfect though. Several times they were attacked by creatures native to the area. Those boar like animals you saw captain tended to avoid confrontations, unless cornered. But shortly after planet fall two of the Axanar were badly injured by a pack of vicious dog like creatures."

"The ones we kept finding the bones of?" Archer asked.

"Yes sir. It seems they were so dangerous, the survivors had no choice but to wipe them out. They managed to lure most of the pack into an ambush, killed them all, and hunted down the rest."

Locke reached for the packet of cigarettes on the table in front of him, caught Archer's expression, and diverted his hand to his coffee cup. "That explains a lot. Quite apart from the remains we found, we did spot a number of species that should have had natural predators in that ecosystem."

"And since that time, they'd been getting by as best they could." Hoshi said. "After a few years, though, the Axanar, started getting sick. Really sick. Stucchi did his best to look after them, but they all died over a space of a couple of weeks. He's been on his own since then."

"What, they just died like that?" Reed asked. "Is there some sort of medical risk we should know about?"

Locke shook his head. "The fact that Stucchi survived on his own for so long suggests that, if there is any risk, it is not one that humans are susceptible to. Axanar physiology is very different to our own, remember, and our own survey found no evidence of significant risk to humans."

"But didn't the guy actually think he was an Axanar?" Tucker said. "Somethin' screwy goin' on there."

"A combination of many factors. Trauma, isolation, stress....plus this." Locke placed a small zip-lock plastic bag on the table. A brown, thin rectangle lay within.

"What is that?" asked Moshiri.

"The captain should know, he discovered it."

Archer leant closer. After a moment his face cleared. "Ah. The fungus."

"Indeed. Archer's Fungus, we're calling it. A nutritious little substance, with---"

"Hallucinogenic properties." Mayweather interrupted. "Mild hallucinogenic properties, I seem to recall."

"Mild, yes," Locke said, "but as this has been a staple of his diet for eight years, it would have a significant effect." He lifted the bag and regarded it's contents gravely. "You know, it's just occurred to me. Given the nature of Axanar neurotransmitters, this may have been acting as a toxin on them. They might have been fine until they reached a critical level, and then..." He trailed off.

Hernandez said "So, he becomes so confused that he thinks he is an Axanar. And then a human landing party turns up. And the last he knew humans and Axanar were at war."

"Right." Sato said. "He thinks we're a scouting party, looking for him and his friends. So he starts planning military action against us."

"And as part o' that mil'tary activity, he goes dumpin' the last o' the ship's fuel into the nearest river. Hopin' to poison the landin' party." Tucker put in.

Locke shook his head sadly. "A futile act. Even if we had been taking our drinking water from the lake, even if it hadn't evaporated as it had warmed, it would have diffused too much to cause us significant harm."

"It did a fair bit of harm to Corporal James." Reed said stiffly.

"And to that boar we found." Mayweather added.

"True, but both ingested large amounts of concentrated compound. The boar was very close to the point where the contaminant was introduced to the river. James was further down stream, which may well have saved her life. Even so, I don't think she'd have suffered so badly if she hadn't over exerted herself. Damn fool idea, going for a run like that."

"Hey!" Reed snapped. "My people need to keep in top physical condition. It's not easy on a ship, we've not exactly got the room for long runs, and the gym isn't quite what we---"

Archer interrupted. "Gentlemen, let us stay on topic, please! Hoshi, carry on."

"Thank you captain. Well, that's pretty much it. When we sent our expedition into the mountains Stucchi thought we were on to him. He took Polly as a hostage, something to negotiate with if needed, although he himself seems more than a little confused about things. Somehow he'd got the idea that she was in charge, or at least very high up in the chain of command."

No comment, no quip, from Partridge. She is in a bad way, Hernandez thought.

Archer leant forward, both hands on the table top. "Now at first we thought we were dealing with an Axanar. The tracks we were following came from their standard issue boots. But as soon as Red Grant spotted the graves we knew something was up."

"Because Axanar don't bury their dead. They cremate them." said Mayweather, a look of self satisfaction on his face. "Bet you all thought I wasn't paying attention at the briefing."

"At any rate," Archer went on, "once we could read what was on the headstones we could tell that whoever had made them was an Italian, or at any rate an Italian speaker, and a Christian. So I thought having Hoshi recite the Lord's Prayer in that language might have an effect."

"You rescued the Professor and captured Stucchi alive. That seems effective to me." Reed said.

"The question now is what to do with him." Archer said.

Hernandez's brow furrowed. "What do you mean, do with him? We take him back to Earth, of course!"

"What, straight back? Abandon our mission?"

"Of course not!" Hernandez snapped back, temper flaring. "But we can't abandon him either. He's one of us. Living or dead, we don't leave our own behind. He has to come with us, until we return to Earth."

"A noble sentiment, Commander," Locke drawled, "but quite impractical. Stucchi has adapted to his life on the planet. To suddenly confine him within this ship, to surround him with people...in his current mental state that could cause extreme emotional trauma. As in, 'twenty four hour suicide watch' emotional trauma. For months. He may never recover from that sort of shock"

"Maria." Archer said softly, "this doesn't sit too well with me either. There's no ideal solution. The best thing we can do is return him to the planet...hear me out! Please! We return him to the planet, and make sure Earth knows about him. Sooner or later, hopefully sooner, there'll be a follow up expedition. Perhaps a long term survey. With people there Stucchi can acclimatise, get used to humans, to being human."

"We can give him rations, medicine." Locke said. "If he avoids the fungus he should return to normal, given time."

Hernandez felt hollow, drained. "So that's it then. We're leaving him. Like the others."

"The others?"

Hernandez was silent. After a moment Moshiri spoke. "We found...bodies sir, three bodies, in the wreckage of the D-11. We could get them out of the ship, but we've got no practical way to store them sir...." she trailed off.

Sato cleared her throat. "Well. Maybe when they do a full survey they could---"

"No. The D-11 is falling out of orbit." Hernandez interjected. "It'll be too late. Too late. They are lost."

Archer put his hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry Maria, I really am."

"Me too sir. Thank you." She took a deep breath. "But sitting here moping won't change anything. Sir, I must officially protest your decision to leave Stucchi behind, and inform you that I will be considering alternate options."

"So noted. And if you can think of something that works, I'll be delighted. I don't want to leave him behind....We've got a few more days until it's safe to use the warp drive. Use all the time you need Commander."

"Yes sir." A faint smile played round the edges of her lips.

"What's so funny?"

"I was just thinking, it's a bit ironic, isn't it? Professor Partridge, the noted Atheist, saved by a prayer. I bet she'll never live that one down."

"Ah, but I have always recognised the vital importance of religion, when dealing with a disordered mind." came a familiar voice.

"And she's back!" Sato grinned.

Hernandez groaned and looked down the table, to where the professor had regained some of her usual vitality. "Oh, Lord. I didn't know how good her silence was 'til it went away. Perhaps I could slap it back into her again."

"Save your energy Commander Maria, save your energy! You'll need it for kicking yourself. The solution to your problem is quite obvious, both elegantly simple and simply elegant. Really, any world renowned genius could have thought of it."

"Ladies, please." Archer said. "Professor, why don't you tell us your idea...and I'll let you know if it's any good."
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Old September 27 2011, 03:56 AM   #96
jerriecan
Lieutenant Commander
 
Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Another excellent installment, Badger, and well worth the wait. I'm glad we finally got some answers about the toxins in the water and the 'Axanar'. Great stuff! And poor Polly... but at least she seems to be coming out of her trauma-induced shell by the end.

Looking forward to more of this excellent tale!

Jerriecan
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Old September 27 2011, 08:22 PM   #97
Mistral
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Yes, that was great. Consistent and logical in the way it played out-and Polly just gets more sympathetic. I'm liking this a lot.
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Old September 27 2011, 10:16 PM   #98
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

"Professor, why don't you tell us your idea...and I'll let you know if it's any good."
What does he mean "if"?! Of course it's a good idea. Polly's a genius, geniuses never have anything less than merely good ideas. Most of her ideas are bloody brilliant!

And that would also be used to describe this chapter. Well done, Badger.
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Old October 1 2011, 06:22 PM   #99
Malachi
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

A long time ago, a young man by the name of Mal was browsing tvtropes.com, when he came across mention of a Professor Polly Partridge. A quick google search later he found the story of the maiden mission of the UES Enterprise. A week or so and many many laughs after that he caught up to the published chapters, and is now trying to think of a way to carry on this comment without sounding like an idiot.


Anywhos, I just signed up on this site to leave my 'feedback' on your story, something along the lines of: that was ruddy brilliant.

So yeah, thouroughly enjoyed what you've written so far and am now waiting patiently for the next chapter. Keep up the good work. :P
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Old October 5 2011, 06:46 PM   #100
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Glad to have you with us Malachi, and thank you for your kind words! I'll not ask what you were doing on that particular page that mentions Polly...well, it's tvtropes, isn't it? You start off looking at one thing for perfectly valid research purposes, innocently follow a couple of links, and before you know it you're on 'Brains & Bondage'. Happens to us all. (And I do hope Polly lived up to expectations?)

I'm working on the next part now. After that, a wrap up, so this story should be finished fairly soon (that's a Badger definition of 'soon' though). Before attempting another one I'm going to get the basic plot structured much better. Too much time on this one was wasted trying to fit a few vague ideas together. Having a plot already sorted out will leave me more time for the actual writing business.

And then there's that Doctor Who story I've had percolating round in my noggin for ages. See if I can shoehorn a hot chick in a kinky outfit in to keep Duncan happy.
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Old October 7 2011, 11:01 PM   #101
Duncan MacLeod
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Don't go to any trouble on my account, Badger. I never really got into Doctor Who. Not sure why.

On the other hand I'll gladly accept any new Enterprise material you'd care to create.
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Old October 19 2011, 10:47 PM   #102
The Badger
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

OK folks, apologies as usual for the delay in updating. I'm also very sorry for the brief nature of this post. I'm very close to wrapping this up, indeed, I know what has to be done. I've just got no idea on how to get it done.

Any way, rather than leave things longer I'm posting what little I have managed to do. On one level this is the conclusion of the main story, but there's just a few loose ends to tidy up. Hopefully inspiration will strike sooner rather than later.

***

The surface of Galador III. November 4th, 2151.

Maria Hernandez stooped to pick up a fallen leaf from the forrest floor. She turned it over in her hands, examining it carefully. It was shaped somewhat like a maple leaf, though slightly narrower, and with a curious series of small holes running it's full length. Where they made by insects? Did they fulfill some evolutionary role? A random mutation? I'm beginning to understand why these UESPA people are so keen on exploration.

"Good speech, Maria." came Archer's voice.

She turned. "It's what I'd want, when my time comes."

"Not for a while, I hope." Clearing his throat, he held out a pad. "Trip just transmitted this down. He's been going over things, looking for a way to properly store...anyone we lose out here. Seems there's a section near the main telescope array that can be cooled sufficiently well to preserve..." He trailed off, unwilling under the circumstances to use the word 'bodies'.

She took the pad, looked at it critically. "Room for, what, ten, twelve? That should do, if the worst comes to the worst. If we lose any more than that, we're in a lot of trouble."

"Trouble enough losing just one." Archer said. "The thing is, we could now transport the crewmen from the D-11 back to Earth, if you wish."

She paused, thinking it through. "No..." she said eventually. "We're heading the other way. True, we'll go back home in a few months, but who knows what will happen in that time. We may need that storage space...for ourselves. Besides which," she added hurriedly, trying not to dwell on the morbid thought "I don't know about anyone else, but I'm coming round to the Professor's idea. It has given me a sense of ...'closure', as she puts it."

Hernandez looked across the forest clearing. Several Enterprise crewmen were assembled outside Stucchi's cave. Stucchi himself was almost unrecognisable, clean shaven and in uniform. To the side of the cave, the five gravestones of the Axanar.

And next to them, three new graves. The recovered crew of the D-11.

Somehow, Hernandez mused, it felt right that humans and Axanar should be buried side by side. That was a strange thought, one that not too long ago would have offended her. Humans and aliens, her younger self would have proclaimed, didn't belong together in this way. But in the end, they weren't humans and aliens. They were soldiers. That was what mattered.

"I'll admit it." she said. "It was a good idea of Polly's. She's got quite a spiritual side to her."

Archer mock winced. "Given her views on that sort of thing, she'd probably be offended if you told her that."

"Excellent, I'll mention it next time I see her."

They headed back to the group. With the burial ceremony concluded, most of those present were talking quietly amongst themselves, in groups of three or four. Stucchi himself stood to off to one side, conversing with Sato. After his long isolation, he was still uncomfortable around others. Sato's fluency with the Axanar language seemed to reassure him somewhat.

"Good speech, Ma'am." Moshiri said as they approached.

"That's what I said." Archer put in.

Moshiri continued. "We've had a communication from the Enterprise. Mr. Tucker is pre-heating the warp system, he expects it all to be ready by the time we've recovered the planetary probes. Though he recommends we leave the system at impulse, only engaging warp once we're free of significant gravitational interference."

The captain nodded. "A sensible precaution under the circumstances. Anything else?"

"Yes sir. Doctor Locke has cleared both Corporal James and Professor Partridge as medically fit."

"Good news." Hernandez said.

Moshiri hesitated slightly. "Ah...there is a slight risk that the compound James swallowed could have long term health risks. It's a carcinogenic. So he's recommended regular check ups. Fortunately now he knows what it is he knows what to look for, and so it should be caught early. So, fingers crossed."

"Well, the Pathfinders have a good medical service." Archer said. "I think she'll do just fine."

"Fine? Fine?" barked Reed. He'd been close enough to hear the conversation. Pointing to his pad, he asked "Do you know what she's bloody done now? Only gone and put in an official request that her injuries be treated as a result of enemy action! A chemical weapons attack, mind you!"

"What? Seriously?" asked Hernandez, taking his pad to read the message for herself.

"She's only after another bloody medal, that's what it is. That and the pay hike. Bloody compensation culture."

Hernandez handed the pad back. "If you'll excuse me, there's something I need to do."

She made her way over to Stucchi and Sato. "Lieutenant, might I have a moment with the Crewman alone."

"Certainly Ma'am. Good speech, by the way."

"Thank you." She turned to Stucchi, and hesitated. "Crewman Stucchi...how are you?"

His reply was hesitant, halting. He had to think carefully, to plan the words he would use. "I am...well. Thank you. I think..clearly...now."

She nodded. Locke had administered a course of iprovaline, that would counter the fungal hallucinogens. There was no quick fix for the long term psychological effects of his ordeal, but it was a start. "Do you understand what we mean to do?"

He nodded.

"And you have no objections? You'll be left here, on this planet, alone. There'll be a marker buoy in orbit, in case any one comes along, but it'll be months, years maybe, before Earth sends a follow up expedition."

"I understand."

"Don't you want to go home?

Odd, but she knew the answer even before he spoke. "This is home. Home to me. Has been home...for as long as I remember. I have all I need here. Food, water, air....duty.

Hernandez's brow furrowed. "Duty?"

"I watch over them." He gestured to the graves. "My old friends. And now, my own kind. Please, Commander. Someday I may be ready to go to Earth. But not today."

She exhaled heavily through her nose, letting some of the tension flow away. It seemed, despite his experiences, Alphonse Stucchi had at least found a little peace.
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Old October 20 2011, 08:19 PM   #103
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Good segment. I hope you stay with Enterprise-I like your take and look forward to reading each new entry.
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Old November 7 2011, 04:49 PM   #104
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

Captain's Log, November 6th, 2151.
Pre-heating of the warp system is nearly complete, and we will be ready to leave the system shortly. We just have time for one more task, the recovery of the planetary probes. Our initial plan was to send one shuttle to recover all three, however I amended that to allow more of our crew to spend some time, brief as it is, on the surface of this world. Beowulf's One and Two will each recover one probe. The third will just fit into a cargo shuttlepod, accompanied by a standard pod to bring sufficient personnel to transfer the probe from the surface into the shuttle. It is an inefficient use of fuel, but I believe the experience would be good for the morale of all involved.
As a treat for Commander Tucker, who has done sterling work on the engines, I have insisted he go along. I've also arranged for some 'in-flight entertainment'.


The surface of Galador III.

Beowulf Two had not changed externally for it's second visit to the planet, but it had internally. There was space at the rear for the probe they were sent to collect, along with the compact forklift that would carry it onboard. All other free space was taken up with seating. No lavatory, no port side airlock, the bare minimum of stores that could be taken on a mission of this nature. Only two of the passengers had been on the earlier trip, Crewman Scott, the load-master, and Porthos, the in-flight entertainment. The game of 'catch the flying beagle' was enjoyed by all, and Tucker still had tears of laughter in his eyes as they landed.

"Oh, man, funniest thing ah saw inna long, long time!"

Next to him Major Reed unfastened his safety harness. "You're not wrong there sir. Are we taking him with us?"

Tucker nodded. "Yeah, I got his leash here, let's take him for a walk."

They'd seen images of the surface, but that wasn't the same as being there. "Oh, wow. Just look at this place. Like the plains of Africa." Reed said, as they descended the starboard ramp.

"Yeah, not 'zactly the same, but very sim'lar. Oh, word of advice. Don't go mentioning Africa around the cap'n. Not 'less you want your ear chewed off with his 'gazelle' speech. Man, look at those mountains though. That's where Stucchi lived all these years."

Reed looked at them carefully. "He's back up there now, in that cave of his. Wonder if he's watching us?" He turned to one of his Marines. "Cross, the captain left a communicator with Crewman Stucchi. See if you can contact him, make sure he's OK."

Whilst Reed talked Tucker lead Porthos to the aft of the Beowulf, where the rear ramp was just lowering. As soon as it was deployed Scott strode down, followed by the fork lift. Like the quad bike it could be remotely operated, and would follow whoever had it's control box at a safe distance. Tucker took the control box from Scott and thanked her.

He'd been tempted to land at the exact same place Archer and the rest had, to see the site where they had first set foot upon this planet. On Earth's colonies the site of First Landing always held special significance, a strange mix of tourist trap and spiritual pilgrimage. No doubt the camp site would be the same, should humanity colonise this world too. Practicality had got in the way of his intentions. First Landing was a little too far from probe three, so they'd landed a lot nearer. Not too near though. No one wanted to upset the ferrekats. Despite their initial shock at the arrival of the probe, they seem to have gotten used to both it, and humans. Several of the scientists had gone out to observe the pack, and after some initial caution, had been accepted.

It was a walk of five minutes or so, ever so slightly up bank. As they crested the rise they saw the probe sat in the middle of a wide open space. A noise drifted across the plain. "Chup-chiree-chiree! Chup-chiree-chiree!" Others took up the cry, and Tucker became aware of grey-brown shapes flittering through the undergrowth, disappearing into burrows.

"So much for the warm welcome we were promised." he observed wryly.

As they continued onwards, however, he became aware they were being watched. Little furry heads emerged like periscopes from the depths as they passed. By the time he'd reached the probe, one bold ferrekat was perched atop it, raised on his back legs and regarding him steadily.

"Guess you must be the one tha' keeps an eye on things." Tucker said. He'd skimmed through the reports on the creatures. "Well, I sure am sorry 'bout this, little buddy, but we gonna have take this here probe back with us. I'm sure it's a good spyin' spot, an' all, but it is ours an' we need it back."

The ferrekat tipped it's head to one side, and gave him an expression that he had absolutely no idea of what to make of. Other ferrekats approached from the burrows, not getting too close, cautiously watching. Tucker reached into a pocket. He'd come prepared, with a bag of peanuts, which the creatures apparently loved. Certainly this one watched transfixed as he opened the packet.

"Here ya go." He handed one over. The ferrekat took it with it's front paws, turning it over and over to lick the salt off, before bolting the nut down.

"Is it safe to feed them?" Reed asked.

Tucker nodded. "Should be, in small 'mounts at least. Too many won't be good for them."

Reed raised an eyebrow. "I meant, is it safe for us? They don't carry diseases or anything do they?"

"Not 'cording to the reports. One of them bit Polly. Didn't do no harm. Mind you, it didn't get through those gloves o' hers. Prob'ly best if---What the hell?!"

There was a blur of sudden movement, and a high pitched yelp from Porthos. The leash yanked on his hand as the dog tried to run. One of the surrounding ferrekats had gone for the beagle's throat.

Instantly the ferrekat on the probe leapt into the fray. At first Tucker thought that it too was attacking Porthos, but as he pulled the dog free it became clear that it was going after the attacker. The two animals dissolved into a rolling, spitting, snarling ball of violence.

As abruptly as it had started, it was over. One ferrekat lay dead, the back of the neck torn and bloodied. There was blood too at the mouth of the battered but triumphant victor. As Tucker cradled the whimpering dog, the survivor picked up the body of the other, carried it over, and dropped it at his feet. It then climbed up atop the probe.

"Millington! Get over here!" Tucker shouted. As the medic approached he added "I don't know how good you are treatin' dogs, but if Porthos ain't back to his old self by time we get back to Enterprise, the cap'n's gonna make sure we all need medical 'tention."

Reed asked "What the hell was that all about?"

"Ah don't rightly know. 'Cording to the reports, li'l Porthos has met up with these guys before, and there ain't never been no trouble."

"That's a double negative." Reed commented absently. His brow furrowed. "Looks like there may be trouble now."

Half a dozen ferrekats were advancing in a low, menacing line, hissing slightly. For one worrying moment Tucker thought he was the object of their attention, before he realised they were staring at the ferrekat atop the probe. That one raised itself up, baring it's teeth and flicking it's tail, and emitted a deep growl. The on-comers hesitated for a second before glancing at each other, clearly seeking the reassurance of numbers, then continued their approach.

"Right, the report's did say these fellas seemed to be org'nized into factions." Tucker observed. He pointed to the one on the probe. "Guess this one must ha' just killed a member of a rival group, an this lot are spoilin' fo' revenge."

Reed clucked his tongue. "The hell with this." He drew his pistol and fired a couple of low power blasts into the dusty ground, just ahead of the advancing line. The bright light and noise, the sudden bursts of earthy shrapnel, sent them scurrying into the nearest burrow with a high pitched squeal.

"So much for not interferin' wi' local affairs." Tucker said wryly.

Reed shrugged. "No one said anything to me. No, it's OK Cross," he added as the marine ran up, rifle at the ready, "just a bit of trouble with the locals. Not a problem."

"I see sir. Bad enough to require gunshots, but not so bad that you follow standard operating procedures and inform your people that you are going to shoot."

"Er, yes. There's a good reason why I ignored SOP, a very good reason indeed. But it's classified."

"Yes sir, classified. I believe you sir. Honest."

Tucker chuckled, then turned to Millington. "How's the dog?"

"He'll survive sir. It looks like his attacker went for the throat, which could have been very nasty. As it was his collar got mangled badly. There's a few cuts and scratches, nothing serious. A bit of antiseptic will do the trick, I reckon. Though I'd recommend we keep him under observation for a little while.

"Thanks Millington." He took the dog back. "Oh, Porthos. If'n anythin' happened to you John would go ballistic."

The dog wagged his tail faintly.

Still holding Porthos Tucker turned back to the others. "OK, people, daylight's burnin'! Let's get this probe on the forklift an' back to the shuttle!"

He looked around, making sure everyone was present. As he did so his attention was caught by a bright spot in the darkening sky. Glistening like a jewel on blue velvet, the Enterprise.
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Old November 8 2011, 10:16 PM   #105
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Re: Starship Enterprise: Strange New World.

That ferrekat seemed almost intelligent in the description of it bringing the dead one to them....interesting.
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