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Old February 9 2012, 05:45 PM   #1
TheLoneRedshirt
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Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Starship Grenada – “Against the Tide”
A tale from the 11th Fleet Universe


(Special thanks to Gibraltar for the use of Donald Sandhurst in a cameo appearance.)


Introduction

The USS Grenada (NCC-11861) is a Constitution II–class (Block 3) starship originally built as the USS Hornet in 2286. Constructed as a heavy cruiser/explorer, she served faithfully in that capacity until shunted aside by the larger, faster Excelsior-class ships and the cheaper to build Mirandas. Thus, in 2317, the Hornet was decommissioned, her anti-matter removed and her name was stricken from the list of active Starfleet vessels. She was encased in durapolymers and left to drift, forgotten and alone, in the boneyards of Klaamet IV.

But not everyone forgot her. In 2328, Vice-Admiral Jaiden Nurr, formerly Chief Flight Control Officer of the Hornet, ordered the reactivation of five decommissioned ships, including the old Connie. An urgent need for hospital ships and supply vessels had arisen due to an outbreak of Blood Fever in the Arkella system plus a civil war amongst the Kynercians of the Ul’urnunth Cluster. The former Hornet was refit and refurbished as an armed supply ship. The living quarters in the engineering hull were removed to make space for machine shops, cargo storage and additional fusion reactors. Upgrades in the systems reduced the minimum crew size from 400 to just over 200. The newly refit ship was commissioned as USS Grenada, under the command of Captain Armand Groothuis.

With the end of the crises in Arkella and Ul’urnunth, Grenada was assigned courier duties with the Federation Diplomatic Service for several years before being placed in the Ready Reserve Fleet in 2342. Once more, her fires were dropped and she slumbered in the void awaiting her next call of duty.

The call came in 2351 as the clouds of war appeared on the horizon. Tensions with the Cardassian Union continued to escalate over border disputes. Grenada was reactivated as an armed supply ship and helped evacuate the colony of Boca Azure. She was en route to help evacuate Minos Corva when the Cardassians attacked that colony, destroying half a dozen Border Service cutters and severely damaging the USS Cairo. During the First Cardassian War, Grenada was tasked with picket duty, escorting convoys and serving as a supply vessel for the front-line fleets. She and her crew served with distinction, earning three battle stars.

With the cessation of hostilities, the USS Grenada again served faithfully as a courier ship until once more placed in the Reserve Fleet in 2359. There she would remain until late 2375 and the closing days of the Dominion War.

This story is about what takes place after that.

Chapter 1

Starbase 71 (TOT11F Universe)
March 2376

If you were to look up the word “ordinary” in a dictionary, you might find a picture of John Urquhart beside the entry. He was an unremarkable man for a Human, perhaps on the shorter side of average with an unassuming build. His face was pleasant though unremarkable – not unattractive but certainly not memorable. Typically, he wore a friendly if somewhat puzzled expression – giving one the notion that he was late for an appointment but not quite sure where or when he was to show up.

His sandy brown hair was shifting towards gray and styled in a thoroughly regulation manner. His record was unremarkable – he received promotions in the due course of time, had received a typical number of citations for good conduct and consistent service but he never served on any ship of note. He had never fought in a major battle, never served under a famous captain, nor did his ancestry reveal any extraordinary historical predecessors. Back home on Earth, (London, to be precise) his mother had been a civil-servant and his father repaired replicators when he was sober.

It was this last bit that moved John Urquhart up from the level of slacker to ordinary. His father’s frequent embrace of single malt Scotch gave John ample opportunity to hone his own repair skills, lest his father’s business fall to ruin. To his surprise, John Urquhart discovered his one extraordinary talent.

He could fix things.

And not only could he fix things, he could do so without instructions or even the proper tools. Many were the occasions when he repaired a given-up-for-dead replicator with nothing more than a soldering torch, pliers and conductive grease. No one ever told him he was doing it wrong, for no one ever took the time to instruct him how to do it right. His father would merely grunt and offer a begrudging, “adequate, I s’pose,” and deliver the refurbished appliance back to its owner.

Unfortunately, his repair skills were John’s only true gift. He was an average student, a klutz at sports and a total washout when it came to romantic relationships. It was on a dare from one of his few friends that he decided to apply to Starfleet Academy.

To his great incredulity, he was accepted.

To his befuddlement, he passed the entrance tests.

And, to his utter astonishment, he discovered a place where he fit. Granted, he did not exactly excel in his class-work, but he absorbed what he needed to know. His grades in the engineering curriculum were actually rather good but these were offset by barely passing grades in xeno-politics and interstellar diplomacy.

He graduated 197th out of a class of 240 and received a commission as an ensign in Starfleet and assigned to the Corps of Engineers Base on Al’Quan VI. There, he was assigned to repairing replicators.

All in all, it was a satisfactory life for Ensign Urquhart. He had found his niche.

In the subsequent years, he proved to be a dependable if not a memorable officer. He served billets on C.O.E. ships, various starbases and three ship yards before finally doing a stint as Chief Engineer on the USS Recalcitrant, an aptly named Constellation-class vessel where things were constantly in need of repair.

For Urquhart, it was pure bliss. He spent many a happy hour crawling through the bowels of the old starship, dragging his tool kit along. Seldom was he spotted without a smudge of grease on his face or coolant on his vest. Even the Captain, an over-the-hill Caitian with patchy mange and a habit of coughing up hair-balls took note of his devotion to duty.

The Dominion War came like a sudden storm and Recalcitrant was deemed too old and ill-equipped for front line duty. She served in quiet dignity as a courier behind the lines for the duration.

During those dark days, Urquhart carried a vague sense of guilt. He understood that he was doing his duty, but he felt ashamed that others were going off to face the enemy while he spent his days patching up a ship whose best days had been before he was born.

The end of the war brought a sense of relief and a return to normalcy for Lt. Commander John Urquhart. He happily spent his duty shifts tinkering, patching, repairing and repurposing. Urquhart had a unique ability to turn something useless into something useful – though not necessarily in a manner the manufacturer intended.

And he would have been quite happy to do so for the remainder of his days in Starfleet.

But all that changed in March of 2376 when Captain Hu’Chuuk entered his office in Engineering, coughed up a fur-ball and spat it on the deck as he handed Urquhart a PADD.

“Congratulations, Mr Huurquhart” *Hack* Hurk*. “You are hereby promoted to Commander and assigned as First *Hack* Officer of USS Grenada. *Horf* Here, you can read the rest. *Hack* So, when are you going to get my *Hack* holographic scratching post fixed?” *Hurk*

“Um, this afternoon, latest.” Urquhart paused as he picked up the PADD. “Ah, excuse me Captain, what did you just say . . .?”

* * *

And so, a somewhat bewildered Commander John Urquhart now stood in a crowded passageway on Starbase 71 en route to Star Station Gamma. Several ships had recently converged on the base – some for shore leave, some for repairs and one for a major refit. The resulting influx of Starfleet personnel was disconcerting to the newly frocked commander. Enclosed spaces did not bother him but he was not used to crowds.

He frowned at an information display, attempting to decipher the arcane directions to landing bay Beta-3 (navigation had never been one of his strong points) when he heard his name called out.

“John? John Urquhart!”

Surprised, he turned to spy a familiar figure approaching through the teeming throng. A smile spread across his face.

“My God, it’s Donald Sandhurst!” he exclaimed in pleasure. It had been years since he had last seen his old Academy classmate.

Sandhurst grinned in return and grasped the outstretched hand of Urquhart. “What are you doing way out here? The last time I saw you, you were still with the Corps of Engineers.”

“I just wrapped up a four-year stint on the Recalcitrant as Chief Engineer. How about you?”

Sandhurst glanced around at the crowd. “Look, I’m about to grab some lunch – do you have time to join me? We can get out of the traffic and catch up.”

Urquhart nodded. “I have three hours before my runabout departs.”

“Good. Come on, follow me – there’s a replimat not too far.”

They made their way through the crowd and soon came to a large open area which was surrounded by banks of replicators. Urquhart ordered fish and chips – a favorite from his childhood days while Sandhurst opted for a salad. They took their trays to an empty table in a somewhat quieter area of the replimat.

“I don’t remember you being into rabbit food, Donald,” remarked Urquhart, gesturing at the salad.

Sandhurst patted his mid-section with a wry grin. “I’ve packed on some ballast serving as First Officer of the Venture. Our CMO threatened me with physical abuse if I didn’t drop a dozen kilos.” He stabbed a leaf and regarded it sadly. “No more meatball subs for a while.”

Urquhart splashed malt vinegar on his fish and fries. “So what’s it like serving under Captain Ebnal? I hear he eats anti-matter and pisses Deuterium.”

Donald shook his head. “No, no, you have it all wrong. Lucian Ebnal is a black hole that sucks the life-force from those that displease him. I’m lucky to leave the Venture with my eternal soul intact.”

John lifted an eyebrow. “Leaving the Venture? So you’re going on to command a ship of your own?”

Sandhurst stared at Urquhart before bursting into laughter. “Are you crazy? Hell no! Starfleet Command finally came to its senses and is sending yours truly to Utopia Planitia as Chief Yardmaster. Somebody finally realized I had no business sitting in the center seat of a starship.” He regarded his old friend thoughtfully.

“So what about you, John? I couldn’t help but notice the red collar and three pips.”

Urquhart shrugged. “Just the opposite of you, Donald – I’m heading out to Star Station Gamma to meet up with the Grenada as her new First Officer.” His expression was rueful. “Apparently not everyone at Command has come to their senses.”

“I’m sure you will do fine, John,” encouraged Sandhurst. “Hey, if I can manage it under Captain Ebnal you can manage under . . .” He paused. “Hell, I have no idea who your new C.O. is going to be.”

“Captain Kelzo Dregg. He’s an Orion. In fact, most of the senior staff is non-Human on Grenada.”

It was Sandhurst’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “Does that trouble you?”

“Oh no, I don’t have xenophobia, if that’s what you’re wondering. It’s just . . . well, I have a hard enough time relating to Humans . . . I wonder how I can be responsible for a crew with such a diverse makeup?”

“You’ll find a way to manage. Just take things a day at a time – you’ve always had a knack for figuring things out.”

Urquhart snorted. “Sure – if you’re talking about machinery. I’m not quite so skilled with organics.”

Sandhurst chuckled. “Spoken like a true engineer.” He glanced up at a bulkhead chronometer. “I hate to run but I’ve got to get stuff packed on Venture before I catch a runabout to Mars.” He stood and extended a hand. “Really good to see you again, John. Good luck with your new billet.”

Urquhart stood and clasped his friend’s hand. “You too, Donald. And for what it’s worth, I meant what I said about you commanding a ship. You always had a way for bringing out the best in people. I wouldn’t have made it through the Academy without your help. Someday, I bet I’ll be hearing about Captain Donald Sandhurst.”

An odd expression crossed Donald’s face, but it quickly passed and he grinned. “Maybe in some twisted parallel universe, John, but not in this reality. Take care of yourself.”

Urquhart watched as Sandhurst moved off and disappeared into the crowded passageway. He envied his old friend but he was also happy for him. Utopia Planitia would be a great billet for an engineer.

He sighed. No point dreaming about what was not to be. Urquhart took his tray to the ‘cycler slot and moved off in search of bay Beta-3.

* * *

To be continued . . .
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Old February 9 2012, 09:23 PM   #2
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Excellent start! I can't wait to read more!
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Old February 10 2012, 01:41 AM   #3
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Thanks, Mistral! The next chapter is coming soon.
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Old February 10 2012, 10:35 AM   #4
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

I like the concept. We've seen plenty of stories of unimpressive ships being pressed into active service but what if you mix that with an obvious underachiever. Disaster? Giving the comedic tone of this tale, I'm prepared for anything.

Sandhurst's cameo was brilliant. Twisted parallel universe indeed.
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Old February 10 2012, 04:19 PM   #5
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Thank you, Cejay! Urquhart is the classic "fish out of water" character in this tale. He's smart, brave and a top notch engineer - he's just never been placed in a particularly challenging situation. And he's yet to meet Captain Dregg and the crew of Grenada.

That is about to change.

Glad you enjoyed the scene with Donald Sandhurst. I had to run that one by Gibraltar first, lest I create a trans-dimensional paradox and bring on the Apocalypse.

More coming soon.
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Old February 10 2012, 04:30 PM   #6
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

I enjoyed it - I like the *hurk* light-hearted tone of the story and the *hork* Urquhart character in particular.

Yes it's another mothballed or beaten up ship being reactivated and pressed into service, which (in my own opinion) is becoming a bit of a fanfic cliché nowadays, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story.

Looking *hurk* forward to *hark* reading more.
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Old February 10 2012, 04:53 PM   #7
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

An excellent start as always TLR.

I'm a lover of old beat-up ships, so I'm looking forward to more on the Grenada and her diverse crew.
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Old February 10 2012, 07:07 PM   #8
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Sandoval - Thank you! Of course, as any sound 24th century financial planner will advise concerning starships: Always buy used. Those shiny new Sovereigns depreciate about 20 million credits the moment you pull them out of spacedock.

Insurance is cheaper, too.

Bry - Thanks! Hopefully I'll have another chapter up later on today.
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Old February 10 2012, 11:32 PM   #9
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Chapter 2

USS Grenada
Sector 6178, Approaching Star Station Gamma
19 March 2376


Commander M’Hurh, the Caitian First Officer of the Starship Grenada (at least for twelve more hours), shifted uncomfortably in the command chair. Her hand rested absently on her distended abdomen where four cubs were still waiting to make their debut in two weeks’ time. Three females and a male jostled for space in her crowded womb.

She was filled with mixed emotions. M’Hurh was excited about the prospect of being reunited with her mate, H’Nahr, and of course the birth of her first litter of cubs. Yet, she would be sad to leave her shipmates with whom she had served four years. And, while obstinate and frustrating at times, she would greatly miss Captain Kelzo Dregg.

Her whiskers twitched in amusement as she recalled some of the “frank conversations” they had conducted in past years – first on the USS Tian Shan and more recently on the Grenada. He had once threatened to throw her out an airlock and she had once threatened to rip out his throat with her claws.

All for the good of the ship and crew, of course.

Theirs had been an adversarial but close relationship. Both were stubborn and proud, yet they held each other in high regard. M’Hurh could not think of anyone other than her mate who she respected more.

Yes, despite their verbal battles and head-butting, she would miss Captain Dregg the most.

The small comm-screen on the chair chimed softly. She glanced down and saw a text message from Captain Dregg.

“My ready room. Now.”

She stifled a sigh. Perhaps she wouldn’t miss everything about the Captain.

“Mr. Sural, you have the conn. I’ll be in the ready room.”

* * *

Runabout USS Sewanee
Sector 6177


Commander Urquhart tried not to fidget, but he was bored. He had been easily distracted as a child, restless as a teenager and generally preoccupied as an adult. Sitting and waiting was akin to torture. He was bored to tears and needed something to while away the hours.

The voyage from Starbase 71 to Star Station Gamma generally took two days at warp 6 – the normal cruising speed for a runabout.

To Urquhart, it felt like two weeks. He idly wondered if he should get out and push.

He had strongly considered breaking something on the runabout, just to have something to fix, but thought better of it in the end. The flight crew would frown on such activity and the co-pilot, a hulking Bolian who looked to weigh well over 100 kilos, did not seem the type to appreciate a tiny bit of sabotage, even if it resulted in a handsome bit of repair work.

If only he had kept his PADD with him, but he had thoughtlessly packed it away in his carryall which was stowed in the aft cargo compartment. He could try to find it but the other passengers might frown on his rummaging around their luggage to locate his own.

A Zakdorn lieutenant sat down with a huff in the seat across from him. It was obvious that he was displeased about something.

“Piffling replicator is frinxed up,” he muttered. “I suppose we will go without even-meal until we reach the Station.”

A smile of anticipation spread across Urquhart’s face. “What was that you were saying Lieutenant?”

* * *

USS Grenada
Ready Room

The green Orion male was tall and lean, muscular without excessive bulk. His hair was as dark as the void and his gaze as deep as a black hole. To say that Kelzo Dregg was an intimidating figure would be to say that stars are hot and ice is cold – obvious and unnecessary.

Commander M’Huhr stood before his desk with her arms folded. She was part of the small minority of the ship’s complement that was immune to his brooding presence and sonorous voice. For that matter, the Caitian could be more than intimidating herself, when the need arose.

“We’re twenty minutes out from the Station. Couldn’t this wait?” she asked with forced patience.

“I want you to meet Commander Urquhart when he arrives,” he began, ignoring her perfectly reasonable observation, “Show him around, lay down the ground rules that I require.”

“Shouldn’t you be the one to do that? You are the Captain, after all.”

He leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. “It will be more effective coming from you as a peer. He will feel more freedom to ask questions of you. Answer him the best you can. I’ll meet with him in due time to reinforce my expectations.”

An ominous rumbling rose from her throat, signifying her annoyance. “You do remember I’m leaving the ship in less than 12 hours?”

“Yes, most inconvenient. I have to say, M’Huhr, it was very inconsiderate of you to decide to become a mother at this time.”

“Oh, here we go,” she shot back, her green eyes flashing. “You just can’t let go of this, can you?”

He sighed, shaking his head like a disappointed school teacher. “Where is your sense of duty? You took an oath as a Starfleet . . .”

She held up a fur-tufted hand. “Kelzo, I will hurt you if you don’t stop. Now.”

Her lips pulled back revealing impressive fangs. “I am taking maternity leave, so you might as well accept the fact. Commander Urquhart is well qualified to serve on a ship like ours – better qualified than I am, for that matter. You need someone with an engineering background.”

He glowered at her. “I’m used to you, M’Hurh. I don’t want to ‘break in’ a new First Officer,” he replied petulantly.

“Oh my ancestors! Listen to yourself, Kelzo. No, strike that. You listen to that twisted voice in your head too much already. Listen to me – I am going home to Cait to have my cubs. Can you wrap your green head around that?”

His expression relaxed fractionally. “There’s no need to be insulting. I realize you have made up your mind regarding the matter. And, I wish you and H’Nahr great happiness.”

She blinked. “You do?”

A very, very small smile. “Of course I do.”

“Well then. Okay.” She paused, regarding her long-time antagonist. “I appreciate that, Kelzo.”

“Although,” he added, “Dr. Thaarn was telling me just the other day about a new procedure where the fetuses can be beamed out of the womb and placed in stasis until a more convenient time should . . .”

She shook her head and turned to leave. “I’ll be on the bridge, Kelzo. Call me if you want to be disemboweled.”

* * *

Star Station Gamma
Landing Bay 9


“Thank you, Commander – I appreciate you taking care of that replicator glitch for us. I was afraid the passengers might mutiny.”

Urquhart smiled and nodded at the massive Bolian. “My pleasure, Lieutenant.”

“And the seatback adjustment on my chair,” continued Lt. Krix. “I was getting a back-ache from leaning back too much.”

“Happy to be of service,” he responded, beginning to feel uncomfortable with the effusive gratitude. “Look, I uh, have to catch a starship. I’d love to chat but duty calls and all that.”

He scooped up his carryall which contained his most cherished possessions - his tool pouch, holo-cubes of his Mum and Dad, his personal PADD and his toothbrush. Commander Urquhart sauntered off in search of his new billet.

* * *

USS Grenada
Approaching Star Station Gamma


“We are on final approach to Gamma Station,” chirped the Insectoid ensign at the helm. “We have clearance to dock at berth Alpha-two.”

“Ahead slow, Mr. Krzizt. When we reach 5 kilometers, go to thrusters only.”

“Aye, aye.”

In ten minutes time, Grenada gracefully glided into her berth at Star Station Gamma. As her hull kissed the forward docking points as tractor beams held her in place. Automatic umbilical lines snaked out to the ship as did service gantries and the main gangway extended from the station airlock.

“Thrusters at station-keeping,” announced Ensign Krzizt.

“All stop,” ordered Commander M’Hhur. “Deactivate navigational deflectors and switch over to station power. Run pressure seal check on the main airlock and send our complements to the traffic control manager.”

“Acknowledged. Positive pressure on main airlock and we are now on station power. All drive systems are off-line and reactors on stand-by.”

M’Huhr let out a breath to ease her tension. No matter how many times she did this, it was always somewhat nerve-wracking to dock a ship the size of Grenada, despite all the automatic systems and safety protocols.

It struck her that this might be the very last time for her to do so.

She put such thoughts out of her mind. Standing, she said, “Send the duty officer to the main airlock and open her up. Notify Beta shift that liberty call commences at 1700 hours. Mr. Jirkutbu, you have the bridge.”

* * *

John Urquhart stood at the large transparent aluminum viewport, transfixed by the image of the USS Grenada as she approached the station and slowly came to rest at her berth.

It was love at first sight.

The old Constitution-class ship was in pristine condition. She looked like she may have been commissioned yesterday. He took in her graceful lines - the canted sweep of her nacelle struts, the subtle curves of her primary hull and the elegant, slender neck that would ultimately prove to be the Achille's heel of the class and cause her to lose favor with the brass.

John did not care about that. He gave no thought to her tactical weaknesses, her limited field of fire or her obsolete Duranium hull. No, his heart was taken. He was thoroughly smitten. This majestic ship called Grenada was now his new home and . . .

“Hey, Commander!”

John blinked, his reverie broken. He turned to face a civilian custodial worker in a baggy yellow jumpsuit who was giving Urquhart a dirty look.

“Yes, what?”

“D’ya mind not puttin’ your nose on the flippin' viewport? I just cleaned it.”

“Oh, sorry,” he replied sheepishly. Urquhart beat a hasty retreat, leaving the maintenance worker muttering about bloody-minded fan-boys.

* * *

To be continued . . .
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Old February 10 2012, 11:40 PM   #10
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

I really enjoyed this opener TLR. An interesting commander by virtue of how mundane he is. It was a real LOL moment to hear Donald talk about the twisted parallel universe. That same tone carries through the story and it adds a feel of not being sure where this is headed - it could be tragic or comedic. You sir though, can carry off both with aplomb. Looking forward to the results.
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Old February 10 2012, 11:48 PM   #11
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

A good start and a solid continuation. Have to say its a shame to see M’Huhr leave, I get the impression she would be a character I would like.

Looking forward to the first meeting between Kelzo and Urquhart.
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Old February 10 2012, 11:55 PM   #12
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Hee, hee. Bloody minded fan-boys. Writing the falling in love with a Connie moment sounds like such a fan-boy moment. I really liked the banter between outgoing XO and captain. It promises to make Urquhart's job as executive officer very interesting - i.e. very difficult.
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Old February 10 2012, 11:57 PM   #13
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

And as Bry says, M'Huhr is but briefly appearing character, but we caught a quick snatch of her that was very likeable and engaging character to read and it offered a snapshot of a Caitian personality too.
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Old February 11 2012, 01:59 PM   #14
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Oh boy, what is Urquhart stepping into here? A guy with seemingly very little interpersonal or command skills will have to work with a demanding Orion captain who seems to have gotten used to having a first officer who can easily hold her on.

This is going to be an interesting and likely explosive combination.
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Old February 11 2012, 05:28 PM   #15
Admiral2
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Re: Starship Grenada: "Against the Tide"

Well, NG'll probably pitch a fit 'cause I'm saying something negative, but I gotta say it.

TLR, I can see you're doing a lot of work to build this new universe, but it seems to me all you're doing is setting up for a Gibraltar clone. It centers on a reluctant engineer promoted past his desires and the Constitution refit he falls in love with. It's a good thing you had Sandhurst make a cameo appearance. For me it had the effect of having Batman and Bruce Wayne in the same room at the same time.

I like Gibraltar to, but not enough to perpetrate this big an "homage" to it. And it's unnecessary. You've made a big enough impact on this fanfic group with your own creations (everybody has used a border cutter in his or her story at least once). You don't need to copy anyone else's to this extent.

That's my gut reaction to this so far.
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