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Old August 18 2011, 07:32 AM   #1
Cobalt Frost
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Location: seduced by The Coolness in Phineas & Ferb's backyard
August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

The Players-

David Tennant as Captain Gabriel Frost (human male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...brielFrost.jpg

Kinoshita Ayumi as Commander Connie Taylor (human female)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...nnieTaylor.jpg

Kate Beckinsale as Challenger’s computer voice and holographic avatar (appears as human female)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...gersavatar.jpg

Frank Welker as the voice of LCDR K’kon (K’krothan male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...ofLCDRKkon.jpg

Hugh Jackman as the voice of CDR R’riel (Tas-Bestonian male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...ofCDRRriel.jpg

Dee Bradley Baker as the voice of Lt. D’negel (Tas-Bestonian male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...ofLtDnegel.jpg

Garret Hedlund as Lt. Mokul (Romulan male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...dasLtMokul.jpg

Harold Perrineau as Challenger’s COB (‘Chief of the Boat’, human male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...ineauasCOB.gif

Morena Baccarin as Major T’sera (Vulcan female)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...carinasMaj.jpg

Vin Diesel as Sgt. Makto (Klingon male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...asSgtMakto.jpg

Michael Clarke Duncan as Kyu-Syubi (Orcanoch male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...keDuncanas.jpg

Sir Anthony Hopkins as Kromm (Klingon male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...insasKromm.jpg

Sam Waterston as Fleet Admiral Robert “Phaser Pants” Durham (human male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...antsDurham.jpg

Judd Hirsch as Admiral Michael Rosenthal (human male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...lRosenthal.jpg

Melina Kanakaredes as Admiral Anemona Nikolakis-Costopolous (human female)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...Costopolis.jpg

William H. Macy as Ensign Lynch (humanoid male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...nsignLynch.jpg

Julia Ormond as Rear Admiral Mary Catherine MacAllister (human female)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...Allister-1.jpg

Irfan Khan as LCRD Bahri Kumon (human male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...sLCDRKumon.jpg

Hank Azaria as Darozan the Skug (Skagganak male)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...a_11904_17.jpg

Sanaa Lathan as Lt. Erika Priest (human female)-
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u...rikaPriest.jpg
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Last edited by Cobalt Frost; August 18 2011 at 07:44 AM.
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Old August 18 2011, 07:43 AM   #2
Cobalt Frost
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

"Dramatis Personae"

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Starbase 136, Location [Classified RECURVE ARBOR]

CAPTAIN GABRIEL FROST stood to the side, arms folded across his chest. He’d done his part, and now it was out of his hands. Chief Engineer R’riel tapped a string of commands into the master systems access terminal – the so-called ‘pool table’ – that more often than not served as the hub of activity in Challenger’s Main Engineering. As he typed, Commander R'riel’s clawed fingers echoed in the unusual quiet that hung in the air. After an interminable pause, his efforts were rewarded with the computer’s pleasant contralto stating:

Flow sensor operating within normal parameters.

Several of the engineering crew broke into smiles and high-fives, and Gabriel breathed a sigh of relief. Finally… He looked over at the stocky, muscular Tas-Bestonian.

“Commander, at your leisure.”

“Aye, on your word, sir,” R’riel replied. “Computer, begin warp core initialization.”

Acknowledged.

Within moments, the familiar rhythmic thrum of Challenger’s mighty warp core permeated Engineering, more felt than heard. Once the core warmed up to full power, the thrum would be noticeably more audible. Gabriel tapped his combadge.

“Commander Taylor, please advise the Harbormaster that initial startup was successful. Challenger will be ready to depart in one hour Standard.”

“Aye, sir.” Connie, on the bridge, quickly enabled the captain’s chair’s comm protocols. “Challenger to Dock Command, come in please.”

“LCDR Bahri Kumon here; go ahead, Challenger.”

“Engineering reports warp core initialization and startup successful, advises departure in one hour.”

“It’s about damn time,” LCDR Kumon said, not quite under his breath.

“ExCUSE me?” snapped Connie, putting the full weight of her rank and years of service into her voice (and her frustrations with Gabriel, for good measure). The Harbormaster visibly recoiled.

Challenger is, um, cleared to depart, all departure lanes are clear. Starbase 136 out.” The Harbormaster cut the channel before Connie could really lay into him. She growled in frustration, then took a deep breath and went back to her pre-launch duties.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Slightly less than one hour later, various umbilicals detached from Challenger, retracting back towards the dock arms. Challenger’s running lights came up, followed by jets of ionized plasma from her RCS thrusters, pushing her away from the station. As Challenger picked up speed and backed away from the berth, another starship hove into view, tended reverently by a Bulldog-class tug and several heavy-lift shuttlecraft. Despite the catastrophic battle damage she wore, she was instantly recognizable. There was only one ship of that class still in service, only one ship with that unmistakable profile.

Enterprise,” whispered Gabriel. “Gods above and gods below.” Everyone on the bridge stopped and stared at the main screen as the shattered ship was oh-so-gently moved into the berth next to the one Challenger had just barely vacated. Acting on a gut feeling, Gabriel used his internal connection to Challenger’s computer to direct a power spike to the starboard lateral sensors, all but one pallet. Everyone on the bridge winced at the screech of feedback.

The face of LCDR Kumon abruptly appeared on the main screen. “Challenger, what the hell was that?”

Gabriel turned to the MSD at the back of the bridge while Connie consulted the Sciences station; it was Connie who responded first.

“Some sort of power surge in the EPS grid.. not sure why. No effect to ship systems, though, other than some audio feedback. Anything on your end?”

“No. Did those sensors record anything?”

That’s an odd question, Gabriel thought. “Just a bunch of static,” he said. “I can send you the data-tracks.”

“That won’t be necessary,” LCDR Kumon said. “But make sure you, um, delete them.”

“Delete them?” asked Gabriel. “On whose authority?”

“Adm. Durham’s,” Kumon responded, a little too quickly. “That ship was involved in a classified engagement, and, um, per his orders – which we received just 15 minutes ago – no records of any kind pertaining in any way to the, um, incident are to be kept. You’re not even allowed to talk about it. The authentication code is, um, Durham Tango-Six-Four-Epsilon.” He paused and glared in a feeble attempt to appear menacing. “You saw nothing, Captain.”

“You’ll excuse me if I call the Admiral to verify this.”

“Go ahead. Just, um, get out of the system before you do.” Just as suddenly as he’d appeared, LCDR Kumon was replaced by the view of the starbase as Challenger continued to back away.

“Helm, set your course for the star system’s outer edge, one-half impulse.”

“Set my course for the star system’s outer edge, one-half impulse aye,” Lt. Mokul replied crisply. “On your word, sir.”

“We’re just going to run off?” Connie asked, incredulous. “Sir, that was the Ent…”

“I know exactly what that was, Commander,” said Gabriel. “Once we get out-system, I’m calling Unified Command and getting answers. Until then, we assume the orders are valid. No one talks about it.

“Helm, execute.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Cut and print,” the director said. “OK everyone, that’s lunch. One hour, people!” The cast and crew of Star Trek: Flight of the Challenger began wandering off in various directions, though most of them headed for the craft tables or the restrooms. A couple of stagehands headed for the bridge set with cloth rags and Windex in hand, to make the set look perfect for the impending round of press photography. The director stood and stretched, looking over at the visitors to his set that were trying to remain as unobtrusive as possible.

Which would include me. I’m here representing the trekbbs.com website, one of a handful of Trek fan sites selected to visit the set of the newest television incarnation of Star Trek. Unlike previous versions of Trek, this newest show was picked up by the cable network Starz, and that means significant differences from when Trek was on broadcast TV. For starters, the season is comprised of six two-hour-long episodes; only one season is on order, but the fans are already clamoring for more. Considering that this is the pilot that’s filming now, the clamor is a bit premature, but we can hope.

Also, the show has a significant budget increase over broadcast TV; in fact, the pilot’s budget is near feature-film levels. Not to mention, due to the show being on cable, the stories are promised to be more “mature”, “deeper”, that sort of thing. From what we’ve been teased about the scripts, it looks like that’s the case. And if that wasn’t enough, the production has been able to land some big – and I mean big – name talent. We’ve been promised a few minutes with the cast who are on set today, which unfortunately means no one-on-one. Still, I’m very excited. Who wouldn’t be?

First on the list is David Tennant, who plays Captain Gabriel Frost. David is no stranger to sci-fi TV, having played one of the most well-regarded Doctors in the history of the record-setting run of Doctor Who. Some chairs are set up in a relatively quiet corner of the set for David and those of us from the various websites. After a round of introductions, the first question is posed: why Star Trek?

“Ah, you see, I had just finished shooting the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special with Matt Smith, Christopher Eccelston, and Paul McGann, and had gotten that old science-fiction itch.” It’s amusing to hear David drop Gabriel’s American accent for his natural light Scottish brogue. “I read the script, loved it, and besides, to be part of one of America’s biggest sci-fi franchises? I couldn’t pass it up.”

The next question came from me: what drew you to the character of Capt. Frost, and what can we expect from him?

A knowing smile crosses David’s face. “There are things I know that of course I can’t tell you. Spoilers, to borrow a phrase.” We all share a chuckle. “Gabriel is a very conflicted man. He’s thrust into this position he doesn’t want, but for reasons as-yet-unknown is forced to keep. Not to mention, his superiors seem to be involved in a nefarious plot, and Gabriel wants to be in a position to stop it.” David puts his hands up to forestall the rush of questions. “Sorry lads, I think I said too much.”

One of the assistant directors indicates that there’s time for just one more question. Someone asks about the chance for romance between Captain Frost and Commander Taylor, Challenger’s XO.

“Oh, I’d have no idea about that,” David smiles. “What are the Starfleet rules on fraternization?” Another group chuckle. “Still, Kinoshita-san, I mean, Commander Taylor is rather attractive. I’m sure Gabriel wouldn’t mind…” David stands, indicating our little Q&A is over.

“Thanks so much,” he says, flashing that million-dollar smile. “Enjoy the show!” David heads for the bridge set for some publicity photos. We all stay seated; we’re supposed to talk to Kinoshita Ayumi next. She’s no stranger to science fiction either, having starred as the Yellow Ranger in the sentai program Dekaranger (mangled for US audiences as Power Rangers SPD). After a couple of minutes, though, the director pops by to say that she had to take a call from her family in Japan and would be unable to talk to us. He indicates that we should follow him to another part of the set.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
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Last edited by Cobalt Frost; August 18 2011 at 11:05 PM.
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Old August 18 2011, 09:14 PM   #3
Admiral2
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

Fair warning: Breaking the fourth wall like that will tend to dissociate the portrayer from the character in the mind of the reader, which is the exact opposite of your goal. I'm not saying don't do it, but as you progress you should have at least as many actual "Challenger" scenes as these interviews.

The concept itself I like. A special for a new Trek series on Starz has a nice "wish fulfilment" feel to it.

Also, you only need to cast the most prominent characters. It's fine if you cast all of them, but then you should have them appear, or else putting them all in the credits is just making more work for yourself. (Another reason why there should be more "Challenger" scenes...)
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Old August 18 2011, 11:04 PM   #4
Cobalt Frost
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

Starbase Prime, Earth orbit

Admiral Durham, you have an incoming transmission from Starbase 136, his desk-mounted computer stated. He tabbed the channel open.

“Admiral,” said LCDR Kumon nervously. “Um, the cookies from grandma just arrived.” At that, Adm. Durham sat bolt upright. He quickly entered a code sequence, then looked back at the screen.

“The channel is secure.”

“Sir, the Enterprise arrived, um, approximately one-half hour ago. She is secure in a berth, and the, um, camouflage is in place. To anyone arriving, she’ll look like a Nekktonian proton trawler.” He swallowed audibly. “Just, um, just as planned.”

Adm. Durham’s eyes narrowed. “So why do I get the feeling there’s something you’re not telling me? You’re more nervous than a Gungan in heat.”

“Admiral, um, I…”

“Now, Lieutenant Commander.” Durham’s voice was steel. “While you still can.”

“Sir, there was, um, a ship at the station when the Enterprise arrived. She’d been due to depart two days earlier, but the, um, primary flow sensor in the starboard warp plasma manifold registered as defective. If that sensor doesn’t read nominal, the, um, warp core will not initialize.

“And sir, we used the, um, cover that was prepared. The captain will be calling you shortly to verify the orders.”

“You’re still hiding something, Mister Kumon, and my patience is wearing very thin. I’ve noticed that you’ve very carefully neglected to mention the name of the ship that was not supposed to be there!”

“Um, it was, well, um…”

“Choose your next words very, very carefully, Mister Kumon.”

Challenger, sir. It was Challenger.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Adm. Durham stormed into the private lounge at the top of Earth’s Starbase Prime, where Admirals Rosenthal and Nikolakis-Costopolous sat playing tri-D chess.

“Scotch,” he hissed.

“And hello to you to, Robert,” Adm. Rosenthal said with exaggerated cheeriness. “But I’m not your farkocktah barmaid.”

“I was talking to the replicator, Michael. Scotch!”

Please specify type and year of vintage.

“Glenfiddich, 1946, neat.” The replicator hummed, and seconds later Adm. Durham pulled the glass from the opening and slugged the amber liquid in one smooth motion.

“Another.” The replicator complied; this time, Adm. Durham took the glass and sat down next to the other admirals. Adm. Nikolakis-Costopolous had her uniform tunic off and was wearing only a branch colored (Command red) tank top underneath that displayed her ample cleavage.

“Stop staring,” she shot at Adm. Durham, not taking her eyes from the board. She was a mediocre player at best, but she acted as if each game she played was the final match in the Trans-Galactic Invitational.

Adm. Durham took one last long look, grudgingly turning his attention to his scotch. “The Enterprise is at 136,” he said flatly. “But her arrival did not go unnoticed.”

“What?” said Adm. Rosenthal. “We scheduled for no ships to be there for two days on either side of the arrival time. What ship…” Realization hit, and he and Adm. Nikolakis-Costopolous said the word simultaneously.

Challenger.”

“She was at 136 for final fittings, and should have left two days ago. But there was some problem with a flow sensor, and the computer refused to initialize the warp core. Damned stupid safety protocols!”

“That particular protocol is in place for a reason,” said Adm. Nikolakis-Costopolous. “Remember what happened to the USS Thresher?”

Adm. Durham did indeed remember; he was planetside on Mars when the ‘Thresher Incident’ occurred. “Oh.”

“So what now?” asked Adm. Rosenthal. “Do we recall them?”

Challenger is due in the Gateway Sector. Any substantial delay or recall on our part, and Frost’ll start asking questions. That, we don’t want.” Durham took a long pull from the scotch, sighing heavily. “Frost contacted me before I came up here. He bought the cover, and besides, Gateway is about as far out of our collective hair as we could send him.” Another pull on the glass. “Not to mention, we still need to get our scapegoat in place.

“This hand is dealt. Time to let it ride…”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

“That was good, Sam, but I want another take of you and Kumon.” The director is addressing Sam Waterston, best known as the indomitable Jack McCoy from Law and Order. Judd Hirsch, who plays Admiral Michael Rosenthal, pulls a well-worn paperback from under a seat cushion, while the lovely Melina Kanakaredes, Adm. Anemona (‘she goes by Mona’, we’re told) Nikolakis-Costopolous, stands up to stretch. She stands a little too quickly, though, and narrowly avoids a ‘wardrobe malfunction.’ She beckons to a nearby costumer.

“Can we get a little more tape over here?” she asks. As she’s waiting, a stagehand brings her a cup of coffee. It’s clear she and Mr. Hirsch have had long days, so our little group decides to not disturb them. Something has to be reset in the Adm. Durham office set, so while he’s waiting, Sam Waterston walks over to greet us.

“Sorry we don’t have more time to talk,” he says. “After so many years on Law and Order, I’ve learned to appreciate the support of the fans.” Someone in the group mentions that Law and Order doesn’t have a convention circuit, but Star Trek does.

“So I’ve heard,” Sam says. “I kinda knew about that going in to this project, but my best friend’s kids are fans – Trekkies? Trekkers? – and they talked me in to signing on.” I mention that outside of an episode of the relatively recent iteration of The Outer Limits, that Sam’s involvement in sci-fi has been basically non-existent. He nods thoughtfully.

“That’s true. But when the chance came along, besides from my friend’s kids, you know, it’s Star Trek, it’s something we all grew up on.” Someone pipes up: Sam Waterston, closet Trekkie? “Some of us more or less than others, but it’s like an American mythology. Besides, working with this cast is fantastic. I’m probably just as star-struck as most of you.”

The director indicates he’s ready for Sam, so he excuses himself and trots over to the office set. Our group goes back to making ourselves unobtrusive, trying to commit as much of what we see to memory and notebook/iPad/what have you. We’ll get a chance to take some pictures before we leave the set, but since the set is live right now, no pictures are allowed.

Sam nails the next take, and goes to shoot one more with Judd and Melina for good measure. As they’re doing that, we see Sir Anthony Hopkins coming from the makeup trailer, in full regalia. He looks good as a Klingon; we can’t wait to see him in action…
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Old August 18 2011, 11:13 PM   #5
Cobalt Frost
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
Fair warning: Breaking the fourth wall like that will tend to dissociate the portrayer from the character in the mind of the reader, which is the exact opposite of your goal. I'm not saying don't do it, but as you progress you should have at least as many actual "Challenger" scenes as these interviews.

The concept itself I like. A special for a new Trek series on Starz has a nice "wish fulfilment" feel to it.

Also, you only need to cast the most prominent characters. It's fine if you cast all of them, but then you should have them appear, or else putting them all in the credits is just making more work for yourself. (Another reason why there should be more "Challenger" scenes...)
I agonized about breaking the fourth wall, but I wanted to something a little different than just posting more story, so I decided to go for it. The Challenger material will outweigh the 'real life' bits, which was always my plan. Hopefully my experiment works; if not, nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?

(For any of my "long-term readers", those of you who've been following my Challenger material, this story takes place before Challenger arrives in the Gateway Sector. I hope y'all enjoy!)
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Old August 19 2011, 12:01 AM   #6
Admiral2
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

Cobalt Frost wrote: View Post
Admiral2 wrote: View Post
Fair warning: Breaking the fourth wall like that will tend to dissociate the portrayer from the character in the mind of the reader, which is the exact opposite of your goal. I'm not saying don't do it, but as you progress you should have at least as many actual "Challenger" scenes as these interviews.

The concept itself I like. A special for a new Trek series on Starz has a nice "wish fulfilment" feel to it.

Also, you only need to cast the most prominent characters. It's fine if you cast all of them, but then you should have them appear, or else putting them all in the credits is just making more work for yourself. (Another reason why there should be more "Challenger" scenes...)
I agonized about breaking the fourth wall, but I wanted to something a little different than just posting more story, so I decided to go for it. The Challenger material will outweigh the 'real life' bits, which was always my plan. Hopefully my experiment works; if not, nothing ventured, nothing gained, eh?
Exactly. Carry on.
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Old August 19 2011, 07:44 PM   #7
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

I love the concept and it makes perfect sense considering the challenge. To me it came as a total but pleasant surprise.

I didn't realize that Challenger was already an established series of yours. That helps to explain the rather, dare I say, unlikely cast you put together for a made for TV miniseries based on Star Trek.

And while your Trek story has an intriguing beginning, it seems rather tame for a Trek pilot on a raunchy pay TV network.
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Old August 19 2011, 10:09 PM   #8
Cobalt Frost
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

^Thanks, glad you're enjoying it! And yeah, it's definitely a fantasy cast As far as the tame-ness, that's due more to me running into the word count ceiling faster than I expected. Most of my past challenge entries are Challenger stories, and if you'd like, I can provide links to my other Challenger threads.

As far as the challenge entry, it's soon to be shortly concluded!
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Old August 20 2011, 11:10 AM   #9
Cobalt Frost
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

Unfortunately, however, it seems we are going to have to wait… until the show premieres. As the director is taking us to yet another part of the seemingly endless Challenger set (seriously, it seems like they built the whole ship here), an obviously flustered assistant comes running, waving an iPad. The director excuses himself, and the two engage in a whispered but furious discussion. After a few minutes, the director sends the assistant scurrying in the direction of the wardrobe department before coming back to our group.

“I’m really sorry,” he starts, looking simultaneously angry and embarrassed. “A scheduling conflict has come up, the details of which I can’t discuss; suffice it to say, we can’t have any visitors on set for the rest of the day.” There are some disappointed groans, but considering the studio paid for our trip and hotel, most of us grin and bear it.

“I’ve got to send you all back to your hotel for a few hours, but assuming we can overcome this problem – knock on wood – a studio van will be back later tonight to bring you back, when you can take pictures. Also, in order to make up for the situation, you each have a choice: you can get tickets to the pilot’s premiere at Mann’s Chinese Theatre, or when we bring you back, there will be someone in wardrobe to take your measurements and we’ll get a Challenger uniform made for you in the branch color you’d like. Once again, I apologize.” He waves at the assistant from earlier, who’s headed back in our direction. “LaTonya will take down your choice and contact information.” He moves off as if heading for the bridge set, but takes a step back in our direction.

“On your way out, you might notice a table with some props on it. Just phasers, actually, the non-light-up stunt versions.” The director winks conspiratorially. “It’d be a shame if some of them went missing, hmm?” And with that, he’s gone, and LaTonya is dutifully recording our information.

About six hours later, the studio van does in fact come back to the hotel, and we get unlimited access to the fully-lit, all-monitors-and-sound-effects-running sets of the USS Challenger. Good thing I brought extra batteries and memory cards. I can’t wait to put the pictures up on the site, which I do on the flight home, as the airplane has excellent wi-fi.

Pictures and set visit report posted, I lean back and watch the deep blue of the night sky through the 737’s tiny windows. Man, what a trip…
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Old August 21 2011, 03:41 PM   #10
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Re: August challenge: "Dramatis Personae"

Oh, and me, I picked the uniform. I figure I can watch the premiere on TV with my friends back home, sporting my unquestionably authentic uniform. Which, when Star Trek: Flight of the Challenger premieres, is exactly what I do.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

USS Challenger

“May I remind the captain,” Connie said as the turbolift sped towards the bridge, “that we are overdue in the Gateway Sector? We should have Transitioned into the Corridor a day and a half ago!”

“I know, Commander. But since we’re already late, a few more hours won’t matter, hmm?”

“Admiral MacAllister won’t be happy, and I suspect you could care less, but there are also the crews of two starships waiting for us to relieve them, crews that haven’t been home in over three years.” Gabriel met Connie’s pleading gaze with a neutral expression. She shook her head in frustration.

“I might as well be talking to the bulkhead,” she muttered. The rest of the short trip to the bridge passed in silence.

“Helm,” said Gabriel, sliding in front of Connie as they stepped on to the bridge, “set your course for the Ranieri system, warp six.”

“Set my course for the Ranieri system, warp six, on your word, Captain,” Lt. Mokul said, his fingers moving deftly over his console.

“Execute.” Challenger pivoted lightly on her axis and jumped to warp in a burst of silent thunder.

“Estimate arrival in three hours, Captain,” stated LCDR K’kon, from his position at Ops.

“Very well. Once we arrive, helm, set your course for the Vidshi Drift, orbiting the fifth planet of the system.”

“On your word, sir”.

Connie gave Gabriel a concerned look. “The Vidshi Drift, sir? Starfleet is persona non grata there.”

“There’s someone there that I need, that the ship needs.”

“And it doesn’t bother you that the last Starfleet ship to visit the Drift barely made it out of the sector in one piece?” Gabriel looked at Connie, and a half-smile crossed his face. I really hate that smile, Connie thought darkly.

“Commander, we’ll be fine. You just have to know how to talk to those people…”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

En route to the Vidshi Drift

Gabriel stepped into the dimly-lit section of the ship that housed the Black Seven commando team. Nestled in the lowest decks of Challenger’s engineering section, the commandos’ enclave looked more like part of a Medieval dungeon than a Starfleet vessel. Torches guttered in wrought-iron sconces, ancient-looking tapestries fluttered in a wind of unknown origin, and weapons of exotic make hung from the dark metal walls. Though no-one was visible, Gabriel knew he was being watched.

“Major T’sera?” Gabriel called. Shortly, the Vulcan commander of the Black Seven appeared as if coalescing from the shadows. She wore a form-fitting body glove, specially designed for the commandos’ armor and other gear to attach to. The body glove left nothing to the imagination.

“Yes, Captain?” T’sera’s voice was quiet and matter-of-fact, though it carried a decidedly un-Vulcanlike menace. Despite having known her for as long as he had, or perhaps because of it, she still gave Gabriel chills. She knew it, and he knew that she knew it, and that she took a most definitely un-Vulcanlike pleasure in the fact.

“We’ll be arriving at the Vidshi Drift shortly, and I need to go aboard. I need two, ah, volunteers to accompany me and the away team.”

T’sera considered Gabriel’s request for a moment, then barked: “Makto, Kyu-Syubi, front and center!” At her command, Sgt. Makto, the Seven’s heavy weapons specialist, and Sgt. Kyu-Syubi, their tracker, appeared and stood at attention, three steps behind T’sera. They were both shirtless; by the look of them, Gabriel had interrupted a workout of some sort. He looked at Makto’s deep bronze skin and Kyu-Syubi’s blubber-like flesh, and noted that both had amassed several new scars since…

Gabriel shivered imperceptibly, deciding not to follow those memories any further. Time to focus on the task at hand.

“You probably know that Starfleet personnel aren’t exactly welcome on the Vidshi Drift,” Gabriel said. “It can get a little rough.” At this, Makto and Kyu-Syubi smirked; ‘a little rough’ was a cosmic understatement. Both men were already anticipating busting a few heads. “But there’s someone there who I need, and we’re going to go get him, whether he likes it or not.” Gabriel’s gaze fell on Sgt. Makto. “We’re going to find your father, Kromm.”

“I have no father,” rumbled the Klingon.

“Then you won’t mind if I insult him.”

“Pfah. Words. Do as you wish. If I have the chance, I will gut him like the spineless peta’Q that he is.”

“I would prefer you didn’t, Sergeant. As I said, I need him… and unmolested, mind you.” At Makto’s glower, Gabriel added, “that’s an order, Sergeant.” Makto bared his teeth, and his hands tightened into rock-solid fists.

“I. Have. No. Father,” he repeated. “Nor do I have a House. The female that bore me was a gutter-dwelling whore, the weak-blooded coward who sired me is an honorless dog who forgot his oaths and vows to his wife whilst rutting with any woman who would spread her legs for him. I do not take his name as my own; he is not my father.”

“Whether you claim Kromm as your father or not, you are bound by the negh’Ch’taL blood debt that he swore to my family.” Gabriel’s voice grew icy. “And Sergeant… I am your commanding officer, and if you question my orders again, you and I will have more than words. You’ve seen me fight, or do you need a reminder?”

A long, tense moment passed. “I obey,” said Makto, grudgingly backing down. Gabriel nodded at the two commandos.

“Gear up. The stinger leaves in ten minutes.”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Gabriel, Connie, Lt. Erika Priest, and Lt. D’negel arrived in shuttlebay two just before Makto and Kyu-Syubi. Lt. Mokul was already in the stinger’s cockpit, running down the pre-launch checklist, and several enlisted crew were busy loading ordnance in the stinger’s weapons bays. Gabriel had his Celvani thrustergun strapped to his hip, while Connie displayed a brace of (circa 2371) type-II phasers. D’negel was wearing his traditional Tas-Bestonian battle armor; he and the two commandos bore a variety of close-combat weapons. Together, they looked more like a pirate raiding party than a Starfleet away team.

“The Drift is heavily scan-shielded,” said Gabriel as they took their seats in the stinger’s troop compartment, “so we were unable to pinpoint Kromm’s exact location. This was not unanticipated.” A hologram of the Drift’s layout appeared in the center of the compartment.

“Mokul will put the stinger down here, in this cargo transfer bay. From there, we head for the commons deck, and we start asking questions.” At this, Makto and Kyu-Syubi shared a knowing grin; this was the part where they’d be able to ‘flex their muscles’. “If Darozan the Skug is still tending bar, he’ll be our best source of information.” The hologram winked out of existence. “Weapons on heavy stun; don’t kill anyone unless you have to.” Gabriel paused. “You may have to.”

“That’s a lovely thought,” Connie snarked.

“I want everyone paired up,” said Gabriel, ignoring Connie. “Sgt. Makto with Commander Taylor, Sgt. Kyu-Syubi with Lt. Priest, and Lt. D’negel, you’re with me.” Gabriel paused to adjust the fit of his ma’asti leather holster. “While we’re on the Drift, no one goes anywhere alone.”

“We are cleared for launch,” said Lt. Priest, from the gunner’s position in the stinger’s cockpit. Gabriel nodded his consent, Erika nodded to Lt. Mokul, and the heavily armed strike craft shot out of the shuttlebay and described a gentle arc towards the Vidshi Drift.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The away team made their way from the cargo transfer bay to the so-called ‘commons deck’ – which was basically one very long, very wide corridor that ran the entire length of the Drift’s x-axis – with minimal difficulty. To say they stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb when they appeared on the commons deck would be quite an understatement; it seemed like the entire deck, from end to end, went silent for a long moment before the normal hubbub resumed. Most of the beings looked at the Starfleet away team, figured ‘their funeral’, and went back to whatever they’d been doing. A few of them, however, began actively planning said funeral.

Gabriel navigated the commons deck with a familiarity and a bold stride that surprised Connie, who wouldn’t have expected him to exude such an aura of command. She stayed close to Sgt. Makto, taking a measure of comfort in the Klingon’s presence, but she was hard-pressed to suppress her explorer’s instincts; there were beings here from races that Starfleet hadn’t even encountered yet, or who were the stuff of starfarer legend.

After walking for about five minutes, the away team reached their apparent destination. It was a bar, impossibly seedier than the rest of the Drift. Neon-like signs displayed advertisements for drinks from all across the known galaxy, morphing every few minutes or so to hype the drink in a different language. Connie thought she recognized the logo for the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster, but she couldn’t be sure; her eyes were watering from the stench emanating from the bar. Lt. Priest seemed to be in the same boat, but the others were apparently unaffected.

Behind the bar itself, which was an odd amalgam of duranium, wood, and bone, was perhaps the ugliest being Connie had ever seen. His four eyes caught sight of the away team, and particularly Gabriel, and they widened in… surprise? No, more like terror. Connie had to take another look at Gabriel. The barkeep was scared of him?

“Darozan,” said Gabriel lightly, as he stepped up to the bar. “Long time no see, as they say.”

“My left knee still hurts when it gets cold,” the Skagganak burbled. “Come back to ‘adjust’ the other one?”

“Just need some info, ‘Zan. That’s still what you do, hmm? Of course it is. Because people tell you things, and you take that and find a way to profit from it.” Gabriel leaned close. “You should be glad I stopped with the knee, ‘Zan. The info from that sale – you remember the one – led to some kids getting hurt.” Gabriel gave Darozan a dirty look, then stepped back.

“Just need some info, ‘Zan,” Gabriel repeated. “Here’s the deal: in my left hand, I have three Misiak sovereigns. Three. They’re yours if you tell me what I want to know. In my right hand, I have a Celvani thrustergun. I think you know what a weapon like that can do, especially in a place like this.”

Darozan was suddenly interested in the glasses on the bar in front of him, rubbing each vigorously with a permanently soiled towel. But greed got the better of him, and he asked, “What do you want to know?”
“Kromm.”

“Haven’t seen him,” Darozan said quickly. “Been months, maybe years. Heard he drank so much bloodwine, he pickled himself.”

“Kromm, Darozan.” Gabriel flashed the Misiak sovereigns, the coins’ obsidian-black finish glinting in the bar’s dim lighting. Connie thought she could see the Skagganak drool at the sight, and it wasn’t pretty. That’s going to keep me up nights…

Two of the Skagganak’s four eyes glanced to his left; Gabriel traced the line of sight to a booth on the bar’s south wall. From what Gabriel could tell, the comment about Kromm being pickled wasn’t too far from the truth; even so, the once-proud Klingon warrior was unmistakable. Gabriel tossed one of the black coins in Darozan’s direction before heading for the booth.

“You said three,” Darozan whined.

“You get the other two if we get out of here without being shot at,” replied Gabriel over his shoulder. Makto caught the subtle signals in Gabriel’s tone of voice: get ready, things will likely get ugly soon. Gabriel stopped in front of the booth, paused for a moment, then grabbed the tankard of bloodwine out of Kromm’s hands and took a swig that he promptly spit onto the floor.

“You call this bloodwine?” Gabriel grimaced. “Weak. No fire.” He leaned closer to the inebriated Klingon. “Just like you.”

No response.

“I have come with a chance for you to redeem your honor, Kromm. I need you on my ship.”

Still nothing. Gabriel had to look for a moment to make sure the Klingon was even still alive. He pitched his voice for Kromm’s ears alone.

“Do you honor your blood debt, do you stand and join me, and serve on my ship? Or do I stand and tell everyone, including your son…” At this, Kromm’s eyes flicked upwards. “…how you fled and lived while a woman, a human woman…”

“No…”

“… how my mother gave her life so you could save your miserable skin?”

Kromm’s eyes moved slowly over to Makto, then back to Gabriel. “He must not learn of it,” he slurred.

“Secrets have a way of coming out,” Gabriel said flatly.

“If he is to hear it, it will be from my lips.” Kromm stood, unsteadily at first but with growing resolve. “I will honor my oaths; I will serve you.” Gabriel and Kromm walked over to where the others in the away team had been waiting.

“Let’s blow this joint,” said Gabriel, taking a step towards the exit. A gravelly voice piped up from behind them.

“Oh, I think not. Kromm I came for, but ah, Frost, you I find as bonus. Leaving? In body bags only.” Gabriel turned around, though he’d recognized the voice instantly.

“You…”

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

kanryou
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Damn the resonance cannons, full speed ahead!

Last edited by Cobalt Frost; August 21 2011 at 07:32 PM.
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