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Old March 12 2012, 06:35 PM   #46
TrekkieMonster
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Thank you for resurrecting another of my very favorite franchises. And your tale is the perfect counterpoint to Gibraltar's Operation Vanguard work. It's great to see my 2 favorite crews back in action, as well as the reprise of the Resolute. Can't wait to see what wild adventure your magic Space 'Shroom takes us on!
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Old March 12 2012, 08:29 PM   #47
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Thanks, TM! More of Bluefin and the Star 'Shroom coming up soon. (Sounds like a 60's Bay area band. )
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Old March 13 2012, 06:55 AM   #48
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

TheLoneRedshirt wrote: View Post
Thanks, TM! More of Bluefin and the Star 'Shroom coming up soon. (Sounds like a 60's Bay area band. )
Hmm, I wonder if their opening act is Donny and The Rock of Rages?
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Old March 19 2012, 09:40 AM   #49
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

I'm late commenting on this one, even though I've been reading from the start.
I like the build up and mystery around this unknown ship. I suspect an interesting chain of events will occur if the Klingons get involved.

Now that communications are cut off, I wonder how our hapless Bluefin crew is going to fare?

Keep it coming. And BTW, check out my PM to you when you get a chance.
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Old March 19 2012, 01:51 PM   #50
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Thanks, Galen4! I responded to your PM - an intriguing idea, we may be able to work that out. Looking forward to your opening chapter.

By the way, here's the graphic for the Refugee Crisis stories created by CeJay. I was remiss in not adding it at the beginning of this tale.



Thanks, CeJay - nice work!
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Old March 22 2012, 05:30 PM   #51
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Chapter 7 – Guardian

Stardate 54657.4
USS Bluefin
Sector 7432

Captain Franklin stepped out of the turbo-lift and paused. This was her first time aboard an Alabacore-class cutter and she was not expecting such a small, cramped bridge.

Presently, there were four people on the Bluefin's bridge – a Red Orion was seated off to her left at tactical while a mocha-skinned Human woman was to her right. An Andorian female who looked too young to be a cadet, much less a commissioned officer, sat at the Helm. In the center seat, a 30-ish Human male with a deep tan and sandy hair turned to face her. A roguish grin spread across his face.

“Cap’n Franklin? I’m Lt. Bane. I understand you need to speak with Resolute. Ensign Vashtee can take care of you.”

He gestured to the woman seated before a multitude of screens at a cramped and crowded station. Maya Vashtee turned toward Franklin.

“I’ve established a laser-comm link, ma’am. It’s audio only but the signal is clear.”

Franklin stepped over to join Vashtee. “Are you the Communications Officer, Ensign . . .?”

“No ma’am – Ops. I’m Maya Vashtee, ma’am. We do double duty on cutters. I handle operations, communications and environmental controls from this station.”

Franklin was impressed. On Resolute three different officers at three different locations would handle the same workload. Six different displays faced the Sri-Lankan officer revealing a dizzying amount of data. There was even an old-fashioned sensor hood jutting up from the console to Vashtee's left. Franklin hadn’t seen a sensor hood since she was an ensign.

“I suppose multi-tasking goes with the job,” Franklin remarked with a smile.

Vashtee returned the smile. “Yes ma’am. It’s a challenge but I enjoy it. Lt. Jubarktu is standing by.”

“Open the channel, please.”

Vashtee tapped a yellow touch pad which shifted to green. “Go ahead, ma’am.”

“Franklin to Resolute.”

“Resolute, Lt. Jubarktu, ma’am.”

“Lieutenant, what’s the ship’s status?”

“All systems functioning normally with the exception of the comm system and the transporters. We’re attempting to punch through the subspace interference but no luck yet.”

“Keep at it. We’ll be heading back shortly on one of Bluefin’s Stallions. Have the flight deck standing by to receive us. We’ll send a laser-comm signal when we depart.”

“Aye ma’am. Any other instructions?”

“Not at this time. Maintain position relative to Bluefin, Lieutenant. We’ll see you shortly – Franklin, out.”

Ensign Vashtee cut the laser transmission as Captain Franklin turned to speak to Bane. At that moment, the entire cutter shook violently, forcing Franklin to clutch the pit rail to maintain her footing.

“Talk to me, Maya,” ordered Lt. Bane, now all-business.

“That was the strongest wave yet, another 8% increase. No hull damage reported and no degradation to the shields. The alien ship is maintaing warp 4.6 . . . our power output is up to warp 5.9. Current gravimetric shear is equivalent to a force 2 ion storm.”

Bane caught the frown on Captain Franklin’s face. “No worries, ma’am. Bluefin was built to handle a force 9 storm. This is but a little rough patch.”

She shook her head. “That may be, Lieutenant. But Resolute was not. With structural integrity fields at full, she’s only rated to handle a force 6 storm for brief durations.” Followed by six weeks in space dock, she thought, ruefully.

Bane’s grin faded. “Crikey, I hadn’t considered that.”

Franklin turned back to Maya. “Ensign Vashtee, can you project how long it will take before that vessel is pouring out gravity waves equivalent to a force 6 ion storm?”

“Yes ma’am – assuming the increase remains constant.” Vashtee entered a series of commands before turning. “Captain, best estimate is 29 hours, assuming the power curve doesn’t change.”

Franklin took that in and nodded. “Thank you, Ensign, Lieutenant. I’m heading back to meet with Captain Akinola in the ward room. It seems there is more to consider before I return to my ship.”


* * *

Delta Simms' eyes flew open at the rumbling noise that seemed to come from every direction. She sat up in her bunk, rubbing her sleep-starved eyes and wondering if she had imagined the sound.

“Lights,” she commanded as she swung her legs out of her bunk and rubbed her hair vigorously to bring herself awake. She glanced at the chronometer and groaned. It was still only midway through Alpha shift. Delta had more than three hours to her normal wake-up time, but sleep was elusive with all that troubled her mind. She guessed she had managed four hours sleep, max.

And now she was wide-awake once more. Rather than retreating to her bed for a few hours tossing and turning, she stripped off her over-sized University of Alabama T-shirt and made her way into the sonic shower.

A few minutes later, somewhat refreshed and dressed in a clean uniform, she made her way to the wardroom only to find it occupied for a meeting. Rather than interrupt, she moved on to the crew mess where she found Dr. Octavius Castille munching on a bagel. Chief Steward Marco “Cookie” Marino sat across from him, drinking coffee.

Cookie nodded at Simms. “How about some breakfast, Commander?”

“Just some coffee, Cookie. I may eat later.”

Marino extricated his large frame from the chair and ambled off to the coffee urn. Castille looked at Simms appraisingly.

“Can’t sleep?” he asked.

She collapsed into a chair and ran her fingers through her thick, auburn hair. “Not with all that shaking going on. The gravity wave must be getting stronger.”

The CMO shrugged. “Beats me. No one bothers to let the medical staff know anything while we’re chasing a giant alien toadstool through the cosmos.”

“Mushroom,” she corrected absently. “I’m sorry, O.C., my mind is in a thousand different directions and I’ve got to keep my focus on this.”

Cookie placed a mug of coffee before Delta. “Cream, two sugars,” he said. “I’ve got some really nice Antarean melon if you’d like some.”

Simms smiled. “You know, that does sound pretty good.”

“Coming right up.” Marino ambled off to the galley. Castille regarded Delta with a look of concern.

“Still worried about your brother?” he asked.

“Wouldn’t you be?” she retorted sharply before her hand flew to her mouth in consternation. Castille’s mother and sister had disappeared without a trace from Rigel IV almost a decade earlier.

“O.C. I am so sorry . . . I didn’t mean to . . .”

Castille smiled and waved off her apology. “Forget it. I can tell you’re stressed over this. Maybe I should give you something to help you sleep.”

She shook her head. “Maybe later – my shift starts in a few hours and I need to be alert. And yes, I’m still concerned about Tommy. We’ve always been close and to just lose touch like this . . . it feels wrong.”

“He’s a Starfleet officer, Delta. If he’s on a clandestine mission, he won’t have any say in the matter and he won’t be able to contact you. I understand your concern, but he’s a grown man - I’m sure he can handle himself just fine.”

Delta sighed. “I keep telling myself that.”

Cookie approached with a generous bowl of sliced blue melon and placed it on the table before returning to the galley. Delta took a piece and chewed on it thoughtfully. “D’you want some? I can’t eat all this.”

O.C. shook his head and tapped his chest. “Gives me indigestion.”

“Physician, heal thyself,” she said with a smirk.

“It’s a simple enzymatic imbalance, my dear. Truth is, I don’t really care for melon that much.” He regarded her. “That was almost a genuine smile. Glad my gastro-intestinal issues can cheer you up.”

Her smirk softened into a genuine smile. “You somehow always manage to cheer me up, O.C.” She rose and kissed him atop his balding head. “I need to catch up on some work. See you later.”

She picked up her coffee mug and left the crew’s mess.

“I have my moments,” he muttered to the empty chair. He picked up a piece of melon, took a tentative bite, grimaced, and tossed it back on the plate.

* * *

The alien ship was very, very old. More than just a ship, it was a semi-sentient star faring computer utilizing technology far beyond the imagination of the inhabitants of the Alpha and Beta quadrants.

The original builders had named it Zhar, though the ship no longer remembered its name. The ravages of time, space travel, and numerous attacks over the centuries had degraded the mighty computer brain of the ship. Now, much like a Human being with dementia, it had forgotten much and traveled more by instinct than programming. Automatic repair systems attempted to reverse the damage but to no avail. It felt alone and bewildered.

It still carried organic passengers though the current occupants were not the original builders of the ship. Zhar did not remember how they came to become its passengers but a strong remnant of its programming told it that they were to be protected. It dutifully maintained an appropriate atmosphere and provided nutrients and waste recycling just as it had done for . . .

But Zhar could no longer remember how long it had cared for its charges. It simply knew that it must care for them at all costs. That was its primary function, hard-wired into every aspect of every system at the sub-molecular level.

The Border Service and Starfleet crews that followed thought of Zhar as a ship.

In truth, Zhar was a guardian.

Although much of its memory had been corrupted, it vaguely recalled a more recent attack that had forced it to change course toward unfamiliar stars. That attack had damaged its primary star-drive and forced it to sub-light speeds to attempt repairs.

But Zhar had forgotten so much and the repairs were neither complete nor effective. Once, Zhar had been able to create trans-warp corridors to span vast distances in mere minutes. Now, it could only crawl at low warp speeds and then only in an emergency.

Part of its memory warned that something was critically wrong with the warp drive, but it no longer could run the diagnostics necessary to determine what was wrong nor why it was dangerous. It was a nagging conundrum for Zhar. It understood it was a vitally important piece of data that was now hopelessly lost. The aging computer felt frustration.

Zhar had experienced momentary hope when the first tiny ship appeared. The small vessel had attempted to contact Zhar without attacking. But Zhar’s comm system malfunctioned as it attempted to reply. Still Zhar managed to modulate a gravimetric wave to send a binary message, but this sub-processor failed after the first attempt.

Once more unable to speak, it had continued in silent frustration until the arrival of the second vessel.

Despite its small size, something about the second ship triggered a flight response in Zhar. Without understanding why, the ancient ship activated its malfunctioning star drive and jumped to warp, heedless of course or heading.

For Zhar was terrified.

* * *
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Old March 22 2012, 07:47 PM   #52
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

So...a giant ship with a computer brain that manipulates gravity is terrified and heading toward Klingon space. Well, I'm just envisioning a happy ending right now, aren't you?

I like Zhar. I like ancient, cosmic things in sci-fi and horror stories.
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Old March 22 2012, 07:55 PM   #53
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Some terrific character moments here, most especially between Dr. Castille and Simms. Poor Captain Franklin is still stuck between the Star ‘Shroom and a hard place, forced to keep potentially vital information from Captain Akinola and his crew. And now the time-crunch has grown even shorter in duration, some 29 hours until Resolute will be forced to break off pursuit. Franklin will have to unleash her weapons at 28 hours and 59 seconds.

And we get our first glimpse ‘behind the veil’ at what lay inside the mysterious craft. It would seem Zhar is an ancient traveler suffering from a kind of systems-failure-Alzheimer’s that has left it operating on instinct only… making it far more dangerous and desperate than it might otherwise have been.

Great stuff, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment.
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Old March 22 2012, 08:41 PM   #54
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Oh the poor little Akira-class cannot handle a little bit of space turbulence, eh? I think I may have to write a story in which the bold Starfleet ship can go places the Bluefin cannot follow. Just to even things out a bit.

Ok, seriously now. Love the twist of the sentient starship so old and decrepit it has long since forgotten or lost the ability to carry out is duties the way it was intended.

This is going to come to blows sooner or later and I fear there isn't anyone here who deserves that happening to them.
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Old March 22 2012, 10:00 PM   #55
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Absolutely fascinating. A terrific instalment TLR. As Gibraltar says, the character moments were great. Ole Castille and Simms really need to get their act together - but it seems as though we said that once about a certain Vulcan and Texan XO and look what you went and did then - so I'm going to keep stump on that matter. (you cruel, vindictive author)

Again, the way we see differences between the Fleet and Dogs is always great. Stands to reason that the Border Patrol purpose built ships are designed for such extremes and by the same token would not be up to many of the tasks required of the Fleet ships. The multiple shifts/duties is another prime example of a difference.

But of course, the real awesome stuff here is the insight into the alien ship. It remains a mystery as to who is still on board and there is a mystery about the recent attackers - although what recent means in this case we cannot say for sure - but instead we get offered up this old man ship, stumbling its way through space, holding on to the last vestige of its memory and purpose as Guardian. Beyond that it knows nothing. That is a neat mystery and a terrific story. Damn. As so often, just plain envious of your stories TLR. Super job.
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Old March 22 2012, 11:52 PM   #56
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

It kinda makes you feel sorry for the 'Shroom. It's doing the best it can with what its got. Minding its own business until some pesky humanoids show up and start picking on it.
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Old March 23 2012, 03:00 AM   #57
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

Thanks for all the kind comments. Things are about to get even more complicated for Captains Akinola and Franklin as time grows short. The Klingons will begin to take note of the approaching Star 'Shroom and the Akagi has yet to make her appearance.

What could possibly go wrong?

CeJay wrote: View Post
Oh the poor little Akira-class cannot handle a little bit of space turbulence, eh? I think I may have to write a story in which the bold Starfleet ship can go places the Bluefin cannot follow. Just to even things out a bit.
Heh. CeJay, you might recall my short-story, "Aftermath," where Bluefin had to sit out a major battle of the Dominion War because she was too old, too slow, and lacked sufficient firepower. Her job was to pick up the pieces in that story. The Akiras and other big boys had all the fun that day.

Like MirandaFave said, I wanted to juxtapose some of the differences between Starfleet and the Border Service. Bluefin is a search & rescue/interdictor built with ion storms in mind while Resolute was built for speed and combat. Different design philosophies with different strengths and weaknesses.

Yeah, we all know that head-to-head Bluefin wouldn't last five minutes against an Akira. Hopefully, that won't be put to the test in this story.

More to come.
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Old March 23 2012, 07:21 PM   #58
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

TheLoneRedshirt wrote: View Post
CeJay wrote: View Post
Oh the poor little Akira-class cannot handle a little bit of space turbulence, eh? I think I may have to write a story in which the bold Starfleet ship can go places the Bluefin cannot follow. Just to even things out a bit.
Heh. CeJay, you might recall my short-story, "Aftermath," where Bluefin had to sit out a major battle of the Dominion War because she was too old, too slow, and lacked sufficient firepower. Her job was to pick up the pieces in that story. The Akiras and other big boys had all the fun that day.

Like MirandaFave said, I wanted to juxtapose some of the differences between Starfleet and the Border Service. Bluefin is a search & rescue/interdictor built with ion storms in mind while Resolute was built for speed and combat. Different design philosophies with different strengths and weaknesses.

Yeah, we all know that head-to-head Bluefin wouldn't last five minutes against an Akira. Hopefully, that won't be put to the test in this story.

More to come.
So you're telling me the Border Service doesn't always get to play with the coolest, newest toys? That they are not the pride and darling of the Federation?

Yeah ... whatever ...
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Old March 24 2012, 10:07 AM   #59
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

I feel for Zhar. Poor old thing.
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Old March 24 2012, 12:28 PM   #60
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis / Bluefin - "Trajectory"

I like how you bring to mind again the differences between the Bluefin's bridge as compared with the other ships of this era, that we're used to from the screen. Nice touch. Unfortunately, in my mind when I'm reading this, I do often envision a full Constitution-refit type bridge, until you remind us that it's not quite that ... "luxurious".

Also, nice touch with the pseudo-living ship idea. I'm also very intrigued by the little bit about the current "passengers" not being the original or the creators.

Curiouser and curiouser ....
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