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Old August 1 2012, 01:06 PM   #91
CeJay
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

A surprisingly tense Bobby DeSoto turned from where he stood in the middle of the bridge to face Amaya Donners as she stepped into the room with the senior officers following closely.

“Report,” she asked as she made her way towards her chair.

“We’ve just detected another ship near Iota Crucis IV,” he said and then quickly stepped up to the helm station, clearly eager to resume his normal post and leave the captain to deal with whatever he had discovered.

“Romulan Warbird,” Lure Mer’iab said before he had reached the tactical station even if by now few had to be told after seeing the imposing emerald-colored starship looming large on the main view screen. Most were fully aware that the warbird was just as threatening as its huge size and aggressive design implied.

“The Romulan vessel is still over twenty AU away. At our present maximum speed of full impulse we wouldn’t be within weapons range for at least another eleven hours,” said Allenby after taking her own seat and bringing up the sensor information. She shot the helmsman a telling look. “Hardly a reason to call red alert.”

Texx came to the young officers defense. “Better save than sorry.”

DeSoto aimed a grin at Allenby which she responded to by rolling her eyes, an exchange which went unnoticed by the rest of the bridge crew.

“Agreed,” said Maya, “but let’s stand down from red alert and switch to yellow. I don’t want to come into this with an overly aggressive posture.”

Texx, sitting next to her, hit the right panels on his console and the alert klaxons and flashing red lights died away to be replaced by a much gentler mustard-colored glow.

Amaya considered the deceptively large image of the Romulan Warbird on screen. As a Starfleet officer assigned to starships and bases she had faced opponents in battle countless times over her career but never before as the person ultimately responsible for an entire ship and her crew. This would be her first real test as a commanding officer and the notion of having to take her ship into battle so soon after taking command was not a pleasant one. It would be a test not just of her abilities to lead but also of Agamemnon and how her crew would perform under pressure. She couldn’t resist a quick glance at the display integrated into her armrest to find out the overall response time to the red alert. She was pleasantly surprised to find that the crew had responded swiftly to prepare for battle stations in what marked a clear improvement over the time achieved during initial drills. She made a mental note to congratulate Chief Holly at coming through on his promise to whip the crew into shape.

They had prepared for the worst for the last few days. Now it was time to put all that practice into action and hope for the best.

“Head-to-head, Lieutenant,” Texx asked the security chief. “What’s your tactical analysis?”

“In pure offensive capabilities we’re probably just about even,” said the avian. “I’d give us a slight edge thanks to better speed and maneuverability. There is no definitive precedent of a battle considering our current circumstances and my suggestion would be to avoid setting one. But if it were to come to a fight, I’m confident we could win. It would make for a good measure of our own abilities.”

The Bolian smirked and looked at the captain. “You have to appreciate the aplomb.”

“If we are looking at a battle here,” said Vej, “we might help start something the Federation can ill afford. Last time I checked we’re not on the best of terms with the Klingons and the Dominion is not exactly crazy about us either.”

Maya nodded in agreement. “We don’t need to make any more enemies,” she said. “Let’s see if we can put off testing all our fancy offensive weapons to another day.”

“These Romulans,” Queen Ket asked form where she stood near the science station, “our people have not come across them before. Are they as dangerous as you seem to imply?”

“They’re not the kind of people who are likely to invite you over for dinner,” said DeSoto without taking his eyes off his station. “And if they do, it’s probably because you’re on the menu.”

The Xenarth considered the young helmsman curiously, apparently not following.

Texx was quick to help. “What Ensign DeSoto is clumsily trying to explain, Queen Ket, is that the Romulans are first and foremost looking out for their own interests. They are indeed a very powerful empire and you are lucky not to have had previous run-ins with them before considering that their border is only a stone’s throw away from here.”

“If they are here now, violating the Neutral Zone this blatantly, it’s only because they see an opportunity for themselves which is tempting enough to disregard previous agreements,” said the security officer.

Maya shuddered at the idea of what that meant exactly. “Then let’s find out, shall we? Hail the warbird, Lieutenant.”

It didn’t take long for them to respond. A middle-aged, female Romulan officer with a sharp military haircut sat comfortably in her throne-like command chair on her bridge, her posture and body language just relaxed enough to show that she had been expecting this call and was prepared for it. “My name is Commander Toreth of the Imperial Romulan Warbird Khazara. I extend cordial greetings to our friends in the Federation. May I inquire as to your business in this system?”

Maya couldn’t help but envy the seemingly effortless manner in which the other woman presented herself and she knew that as much as she wanted to emulate it, her own body language and tone was likely coming across much more rigid. “Commander Toreth, I’m Captain Amaya Donners of the Agamemnon. I must say I am surprised to find a Romulan vessel on this side of the Neutral Zone. You may not be aware of this but this system lies within the sovereign territory of the Federation.”

Toreth feigned surprise. “Within the Federation you say? How odd. My records show that Starfleet has avoided this part of space for over one-hundred years.”

Maya cracked a humorless smile. “Regardless of our past deployments you will find Iota Crucis IV to be firmly within Federation territory to which the Romulan Empire has never made a legitimate claim. So you must forgive me for asking what would make you decide to enter this system unsolicited.”

“I am saddened that you would think so little of us to believe we would come here uninvited, Captain.”

Maya frowned. “I don’t understand,” she said and immediately regretted the phrase which put a wide smile of triumph onto Toreth’s own face, momentarily shifting this conversation into her favor. Maya was painfully reminded that every interaction with a Romulan, even a verbal one, was akin to battle itself.

“I’d be more than happy to educate you, Captain. What you call Iota Crucis IV is in fact inhabited by a sentient race called the Xenarth who have no interest whatsoever to have any business with the Federation. Now remind me if I’m wrong, Captain, but doesn’t current Federation policy allow sovereign races to make up their own mind about their allegiances? Within your territory or otherwise.”

Maya didn’t take the bait this time. “Are you trying to imply that the Xenarth have chosen to align themselves with the Romulan Star Empire? Voluntarily?”

Now Toreth looked offended. “I do not care for your implication, Captain. And to answer you question; yes, they have indeed. The Xenarth have chosen to become allies of the Star Empire and therefore now enjoy our protection.”

Ket stepped forward. “Our people would not choose to ally themselves with a foreign power so easily.”

The Romulan Commander glanced at the insectoid. “And you are?”

“Artisan Queen Ket of the Xenarth Aggregate. I speak for my people.”

“Ket,” she said as if remembering the name from somewhere before focusing on Donners again. “Captain, are you aware that you are sheltering a Xenarth criminal and traitor to her people on your ship? I know that no formal extradition treaty exists between our two nations but on the behalf of the Xenarth Colony, we would be extremely grateful if you turned this fugitive over into our care so that we may return her to her people to face punishment for her crimes.”

The Artisan Queen’s agitation was palpable as she her mandibles clicked nervously and her feelers stood at attention. “I am no traitor.”

“I am not interested in arguing Xenarth politics with a criminal,” Toreth responded icily and looked at Donners, eagerly awaiting her decision.

“Do you expect me to take all this at face value, Commander?” she said. “That the Xenarth just happen to ally themselves with you and declared one of their own leaders an outlaw?”

The smile on the Romulan’s face caused a cold shiver to run down Maya’s spine.

“Of course I do not,” she responded. “Sadly the relationship between our two people is not one based on trust. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be today,” she said and gestured to one of her officers who quickly attended his station.

The image on the view screen split in half to allow the face of a Xenarth not unlike Ket to appear next to the Romulan commander. “Captain Donners, I have been able to monitor your conversation with Commander Toreth. I am Supreme Klestra of the Xenarth Aggregate and I can confirm to you everything that has been said. The Xenarth Colony is under the protection of the Romulan Star Empire. I expect you to fully acquiesce with our wishes and to surrender Queen Ket to us before you depart this system.”

“Klestra, you are making a grave mistake by trusting these Romulans,” Ket spoke up before anyone else had the chance. “We don’t know anything about them except that they only appear now after we have begun our recent experimentations with powerful technology”

The Supreme considered the Artisan Queen for a moment. Maya couldn’t be certain but she thought the look on her insectoid face was supposed to mirror disgust and disappointment. “And you think this Federation is any different? Your obsession with their previous visit to New Xenarth is based on nothing more than the questionable stories left behind by your own kin. And even if those stories are to be believed, their interest in us has only ever been to destroy what we have created. The Romulans are offering us the greatness which is our birthright.”

Amaya stood from her chair before addressing the Xenarth leader. “That offer comes at a high price, Supreme. Are you certain you are willing to sell out your race into slavery for a chance at greatness that may never be allowed under your new leadership?”

“As I have told you, Supreme, the Federation is trying to use lies an intrigue to paint an unfavorable picture of our benevolence,” said Toreth and then drilled her eyes into Donners’. “Tell us, Captain, what do you plan to do with what the Xenarth have discovered? Can you honestly say that you will help them fulfill their potential the way we are able to?”

She hated to admit it but Toreth was good at what she did. She had maneuvered Maya into an untenable position. Revealing her orders to destroy the Omega Molecule would only strengthen the Supreme’s dedication to stick it out with the Romulans. The alternative was to lie about her true purpose here and that would only backfire in the long run. She focused on the Xenarth instead. “You are inviting disaster by meddling with powers you do not fully comprehend, Supreme. And the Romulans will show no qualms to sacrifice you and your people in getting their hands on that power. We can help you find another way that will guarantee the safety of your people as well as the entire quadrant,” she said, knowing that she had lost the argument before it had even begun.

“Klestra, please listen to her. As difficult as it may be to believe and as hard as it may be to try and turn your back on something as powerful as Xendaru, it is not worth putting at risk the entire Colony over it,” the Artisan Queen pleaded.

Predictably the supreme was not to be swayed. “I have made my decision and it will stand. Your title has been stripped and you are considered a traitor for your involvement with an enemy of the Colony,” she said and focused her large compound eyes towards Donners. “Captain, my directive is unchanged. Surrender your prisoner to the Romulans and leave this system at once.” And with that her imaged blinked out, leaving only Toreth left on the screen.

“You’ve heard the lady,” said the Romulan commander with all the smugness of a person knowing she had the upper hand. “I do not wish any conflict with the Federation but if you try to interfere any further with Xenarth affairs you will, by implication, be interfering with Romulan affairs and that I cannot tolerate. Your failure to comply in this regard could be interpreted as an act of war and surely that is an outcome neither of us favors.”

Maya had the strong urge to sit down again but she forced herself not to show any more weakness in front of the Romulan commander.

“We will rendezvous with your vessel in six hours and twenty-two minutes and expect you to hand-over the fugitive Ket without incident. Then you will depart this system at once.”

Toreth didn’t cut the link and instead seemed to savor this moment of apparent triumph over the Starfleet officer.

Maya nodded sharply. “We’ll be there. Agamemnon out.”

The Romulan was once again replaced by the image of the imposingly large Khazara and Donners sat back in her chair, fully aware that every set of eyes on the bridge was now focused on her. None as concerned and perhaps anxious as those belonging to the former Xenarth Artisan Queen.
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Old August 8 2012, 05:54 PM   #92
CeJay
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Agamemnon, 2372


The main science lab was empty except for Daystrom and Chen. While the captain had shared knowledge of the Omega Molecule with her senior officers, she had made it perfectly clear that no one else in the crew would be privy to their true mission details and had sworn her officers to secrecy.

Whatever work needed to be done in order to accomplish this mission had to involve the least amount of personnel.

For the chief science officer and chief engineer that meant that they had to seal themselves into the lab and find a way to destroy the controversial sub-molecular particle by themselves. And the captain had given them a tight timetable to produce results.

“I do not understand why you doubt this method,” said the Xindi as he considered the computer simulation running on the monitor. “It appears to have proven successful when breaking down the molecule in the past.”

“According to our long-range scans the Xenarth are not using the same resonance containment chamber design as last time they tried to synthesize the molecule,” the scientist responded. “We will not be able to simply inverse the isofrequency to destabilize the particles.”

“Then we construct our own resonance chamber and transfer the molecules inside to be destroyed.”

But Daystrom had since turned away almost as if no longer interested in partaking in this conversation.

Chen’s feelers twitched in confusion. “Lieutenant?”

“Listen to yourself, Commander,” he said without turning back to face the chief engineer. “You are talking about wanton destruction. About tearing down ideas and new technologies which could be beneficial to billions of people.” The young man turned around. “Shouldn’t we be in the business of preserving those things? It just feels so wrong.”

The insectoid engineer considered this for a moment. “My people used to build massive underground lairs by digging out many dozens of meters into the soil,” he said and getting a blank look from the scientist in response. “In fact many Xinid-Insectoid colonies still prefer to live underground in that manner. But sometimes those colonies become infected due to diseased roots or plant-life and the only choice is to fill in the colony and effectively destroying it before starting over somewhere else.”

“I don’t understand the reference,” said the scientist.

“On some occasions you have to destroy in order to survive.”

“But this is different,” Daystrom insisted. “We’re not allowed to start over anywhere. We’re not even allowed to think or know about Omega. What if the Xindi leadership told your people that you cannot built underground colonies anymore because they are too dangerous even though thousands of Xinid prefer to live in exactly that manner?”

“You imply that the majority is always correct,” he responded. “Just because a great many people want something to be a certain way does not make it right, or safe. And yes, the Xindi leadership has deemed certain areas off-limit to underground colonies because of the inherent dangers to dig there. We have to accept that they know better than we do and that they make those decisions purely for the welfare of the many.”

Daystrom clearly didn’t care for that answer and stepped away from the chief engineer. “Right,” he mumbled and then finally turned back to face Chen when he had reached the far bulkhead “And what if they don’t know better? What then?”

Chen moved his large head from side-to-side in a motion designed to mirror a human headshake. “It occurs to me that this conversation is neither productive nor appropriate at this time, Lieutenant. Our orders are to come up with a plan to destroy the Omega Molecule. As Starfleet officers we are not supposed to questions our orders.”

“That’s not true,” he said quickly, stepping closer. “Starfleet doesn’t want mindless drones …” he stopped himself and his face turned into an embarrassed grimace at using the term while addressing an insectoid.

“Not offensive,” Chen clarified after sensing the man’s discomfort.

“There is something called an unlawful order which should be disregarded. In fact it would be our duty to do so. It’s in the regs,” he quickly went on.

“And you are implying that Captain Donners and by implication Starfleet Command has given us an unlawful order? I suggest you seek out a JAG lawyer before making these kinds of accusations.”

Daystrom unsuccessfully tried to figure out if Chen had made a joke. It was difficult to tell with his non-humanoid facial gestures and body language.

Finally he uttered a heavy sigh, perhaps realizing that he would not be able to win this argument today. He stepped back up to the workstation and entered a few commands. “Building a resonance chamber from scratch would take too long. I suggest we simply disengage the power flow to the containment chambers without disturbing the containment field itself.”

The chief engineer considered the new simulation Daystrom had entered. “A simple yet elegant solution, Lieutenant. If we use the right modulation the particles would simply fizzle out and disengage, thereby neutralizing them quickly.”

“Lex parsimoniae,” said Daystrom in lackluster fashion and without affording his colleague with another glance.

“Indeed,” said Chen, understanding the human expression most often referred to as Occam’s razor for reasons he wasn’t fully aware of.

“Excuse me, Commander,” he said and then swiftly left his chair and headed for the doors and before the chief engineer could even inquire about his hasty departure.

Chen didn’t remain alone in the lab for long. His feelers straightened tellingly when the only other person outside the ship’s senior officers who had been given leave to enter the science lab stepped inside, leaving the security guard tasked to escort her by the doors outside.

“Queen Ket,” he said.

“Please,” she said quickly. “My title has been stripped by my people. Ket will suffice.”

The Xenarth and her unique blend of insectoid and humanoid characteristics were fascinating to the Xindi chief-engineer who in his Starfleet career had often struggled to identify with his fellow officers. And while Ket shared many attributes with humanoids, she unquestionably saw herself first and foremost as an insectoid. The bond that they had created in the short time they had known each other went beyond the simple acknowledgement of their similarities. In fact their differences were still significant. Ket for example was a clearly female member of her species while Xindi-Insectoids were asexual even if Chen had long since made the decision to identify himself as a male to simply social interactions.

The most notable physical similarities between them, like their similarly shaped skulls, their compound eyes as well as their feelers and mandibles made Chen more adapt at reading Xenarth body language than anyone else on the crew.

And at the moment he could easily tell that she was in a despondent mood.

“I apologize for the delay,” she said. “My briefing with Lieutenants Mer’iab and Sh’Fane took longer than expected.”

“You have not missed much other than Lieutenant’s Daystrom’s doubts over our current strategy.”

“I have noticed the lieutenant leaving the lab,” she said. “I am not able to easily read human expressions but if I am not mistaken, he did not appear pleased. Has no progress been made?”

Chen gestured towards the monitor to show her the last simulation they had been running. “On the contrary, we believe we have a solution which we can present to the Captain.”

She studied the screen shortly but not being a scientist or an engineer she quickly gave up understanding the details of this plan.

“Forgive me for saying so,” said Chen. “It is you who appears dispirited.”

She fixed those large dark compound eyes on him. “You find this surprising? My own people have marked me a traitor and demanded I be returned to them as a prisoner when all I ever wanted was to ensure that they do not destroy themselves by meddling in powers beyond our comprehension.”

“Captain Donners has made it clear that she will grant you asylum if you request it. You mustn’t fear being handed over to the Romulans.”

“And yet I have an armed guard which shadows my every move on this ship as we continue to head towards a rendezvous with the very people who expect me to be transferred into their care,” she said with her mandibles clicking anxiously.

“The guard is a routine precaution and follows you as much for your own safety as for the safety of the ship. We continue to head towards your world while the captain decides if to follow through with the destruction of the Omega Particle. You should not be discouraged by these factors,” he said.

Her mandibles constricted tightly and Chen figured that if they worked anyway like his, then this gesture was an equivalent to a human smile.

“I am grateful for your words, Lieutenant Commander Chen. They are soothing and greatly appreciated.”

“If you insist on me disregarding your title, I must ask that you extend me the same courtesy.”

“Then so I shall,” she said with her mandibles constricting a little further. “Chen.”

While it was obvious that her spirits had been lifted slightly, her overall sadness was not easily dispelled. “I have faith in Captain Donners to resolve this matter with the Romulans and your people. She may be young for a starship captain and she may have limited experience but she is resourceful and has a good crew to provide her with sound advice.”

“I do not doubt her wisdom,” she said, her feelers twitching slightly. “Or that of her crew.”

“If we are successful your people may be able to see their mistake in trying to pursue the Omega Particle and casting you out.”

“You don’t know my people as I do. You don’t know Supreme Klestra. She has waited a very long time to come to power and take over the Aggregate. Differently to her predecessors, she embraces technology but only for the purpose of making the Colony strong again. She has visions of a second Xenarth empire and I fear she will stop at nothing to try and grow her influence. She considers those who are in her way expandable,” she said and jerked her head slightly to the side before turning away and glancing towards the far bulkhead. “She will ensure I’ll never set foot on New Xenarth and be surrounding by my own people again.”

“There are other alternatives,” he said. “You claim you have always held a fascination for the stars and the Federation in particular. Why not become an emissary of your people to the Federation. You can learn from us while you teach us about the Xenarth. And if you required a guide in your journeys, I would be glad to offer my services.”

To that she turned back to face him. “You would leave your vessel?”

He took a step towards her. “I am an explorer. But some discoveries cannot be made on a starship.”

“I might come to enjoy that,” she said and then leaned her head forward as if starting to nod.

Chen mirrored the gesture until their feelers touched. It was a sensation unlike anything Chen had ever experienced before.


* * *
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Old August 8 2012, 05:55 PM   #93
CeJay
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

She took a knee an then placed the plate with the large chunks of replicated raw meat onto the floor. Cosmo was ripping into his dinner the moment it was eye level, smartly using his large right claw to hold the food in place, and then tearing at it with his razor sharp teeth.

Maya watched the le-matya devour his meal and couldn't quite help but feel a tiny tinge of jealousy.

Cosmo had been with her for most of her life. Discovered as a cup on a seized Orion vessel by her parents while serving on the Border Service cutter Thrasher, they had given him to her as a present and companion in lieu of being able to make real friends as the daughter of two career service members. After all, for many years, she had called home various starbases and occasionally even the Thrasher or other vessels not designed for a civilian crew.

It hadn’t been until she made chief engineer on the Columbia that she’d had enough clout in her career to be able to keep Cosmo on her own assignments and even then it had not been an easy task to get permission from Starfleet bureaucrats to keep a wild animal as a pet.

The feeling of envy were new for her. But lately she couldn’t help wonder what exactly Cosmo had to worry about in his life. Just over twenty years old and what did he really do but eat, sleep and play. Right about now it seemed to her as if Cosmo had it made.

She petted his head which garnered her a quick, uninterested look before he went back to tearing up the fake meat. “You don’t even know how good you have it, do you?” she said to him, even as he paid her no further attention.

“I’m sure he appreciates all that tender love and care you extend his way,” said Texx who stood by her desk in her ready room, holding a padd. A large smirk on his lips. “Le-matya’s are nowhere as cold and emotionless as their Vulcan planet-mates.”

She stood and turned to face her first officer. “Judging by the tongue baths I’ve endured over the years I tend to agree.”

Texx handed her the padd. “Mer’iab and Sh’Fane have come up with a plan for a multi-pronged ground assault on Iota Crucis IVa and IVd using both Starfleet security personnel and Marines.”

“So quickly?” she said as she studied the padd.

The Bolian nodded. “And I’ve looked it over. It appears promising. They’ve used long range scans of the two moons to get an indication of the layout of the facilities and interviewed Ket for information about expected troop strength, weapons and abilities. Doctor Rass took extensive scans to better understand Xenarth anatomy. Sh’Fane and Mer’iab both believe that the results may help their assault strategy.”

“Honestly, I’m just impressed they managed to work on this together without killing each other first.”

“I’m more concerned about Daystrom to tell you the truth.”

Maya looked up from the padd and towards the sofa on which Vej had made himself comfortable. “He’ll be fine. I know he isn’t crazy about the idea of destroying Omega but he’s a Starfleet officer and when push comes to shove he’ll do his duty.”

“Don’t make the mistake to take that for granted,” the counselor warned. “Right now he’s displaying all the classic signs of experiencing a serious internal conflict over what he thinks is right and what he has been asked to do. Starfleet officer or no, sometimes people decide to follow their conscience instead of their orders.”

The captain sighed. “What do you suggest I do? Sideline him for the rest of the mission?”

Texx shook his head. “If we are serious about going after this molecule we can’t afford not having his expertise. From what I understand he knows more about Omega than the rest of this crew put together.”

“I appreciate that,” Vej said. “All I’m saying is to keep an eye on the young man and not to push him to hard or to fast or you might invite a disaster when you least need it.”

“As if this isn’t one already,” said Maya and picked up a small white ball with red stitching which she had been told was used in a once popular sport on Earth. It had been a gift from Terrence Glover when she was on Deep Space Five, no doubt in trying to establish himself as an avid athlete in her eyes. Of course the gesture had changed nothing between them and she had little use for the obscure sport. Nevertheless she had liked how the ball felt in her hand and therefore kept it near her desk.

Her two advisors watched her curiously as she began to pace her ready room and throwing the baseball into the air, a bad habit she had developed when pondering serious thoughts. A moment later, Cosmo, having completely devoured his dinner, prowled behind her, his eyes eagerly following that ball.

“Gentlemen, I’m not ashamed to say that I feel a little bit in over my head here. With the Romulans in the equation this has become even more of a powder keg situation which could quite easily lead us down a road to interstellar war if we don’t tread carefully,” she said and stopped to turn and face the two men. “If we carry out the Omega Directive to the letter we will not be able to avoid a battle. If we do nothing and tug in our tails and run away, the Romulans will get their hands on what may be the most powerful force in the galaxy, either changing the balance of power in the galaxy for good or leading to an arms race and quite possibly destroying half of subspace in the quadrant in the process.”

Vej smirked. “Still enjoying sitting in the big chair?”

She fixed him with a scowl and the counselor wiped that smile off his face.

“We could hold our ground and wait for reinforcements to arrive,” said Texx.

But Maya quickly dismissed the idea. “To what purpose? Besides if our reinforcements are moving in, I guarantee so are the Romulans. Instead of two ships facing off we end up with two fleets. That’s only going to complicate matters further,” she said with a sigh. What she hadn’t revealed yet were her own doubts about the Omega Directive itself. Maya had been truthful when she had told Ket earlier that it would be difficult for some Starfleet officers to carry out an order which so blatantly violated the Prime Directive even if it had been legitimized. What she hadn’t mentioned was that she counted herself as one of those officers. The Prime Directive wasn’t just some high concept or another Starfleet regulation to her. It had been indoctrinated into her so effectively that she found the idea of imposing her will onto an alien race which wanted nothing to do with the Federation nothing less than repulsive.

“It occurs to me that this is a matter of weighing the costs of our actions versus our inactions,” said Vej. “A potential war and millions of deaths if we take action against the Romulans or an end to the galaxy as we know it we take no action and risk an Omega Molecule accident,” he added and looked first at Texx and then at the captain. “There are too many hypothetical scenarios and ethical quandaries in there for anyone to be expected to make well-founded decision.”

“Not to mention the epic scope of either implication,” said the first officer.

“Gentlemen,” she said and placed the baseball onto her desk. “You are here to help me find solutions and not to remind me what a difficult decisions this is. Trust me I’m already well aware of that.”

“Sorry, Cap,” Texx said. “I suppose what I’m trying to say is that perhaps there isn’t a right decisions to be made here, just two inherently bad ones.”

“Agreed,” said the counselor. “You will have to deicide which one is the lesser evil. And most importantly, which one you’ll be able to live with.”

“I think Cosmo wants to play fetch,” said Texx.

Maya turned around just to see the large cat having managed to put both his paws onto her desk to get to the ball sitting there.

“Hey!”

But Cosmo had already pushed the ball off the desk so that it bounced onto the floor and then quickly scooped it up in his large wet maw.

“That’s not yours, it’s mine,” she said angrily and then reached right into his mouth to dislodge the ball. Cosmo hissed in protest at first but eventually relented and the salvia-covered orb was set free again. She wiped it clean on her uniform pants with one hand and grabbed the large animal’s jaw with the other, pulling it up so his eyes were focus on hers. “We talked about this. You have your things and I have mine. You can’t have mine.”

Texx and Vej exchanged an amused look at the captain’s interaction with her pet, both getting the distinct impression this was one of many similar ‘talks’ they’ve had.

Maya was unconcerned by her audience and kept hold of Cosmo. But her gaze had wandered off. “You can’t have mine,” she quietly repeated to herself.

“Cap?” Texx said when he realized that she didn’t appear to be thinking about the le-matya anymore.

Cosmo finally managed to free himself from his master’s grip and trotted back to his favorite place below the window.

She turned to glance at the first officer with a little twinkle in her eye.

“I don’t think I like that look,” said Vej.
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Old August 11 2012, 09:47 AM   #94
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Just catching up on this one, and man oh man, Maya can’t catch a break, can she?

Having to balance the competing interests of the Prime and Omega Directives is hellish enough for a rookie captain, but now she’s facing off against the Romulans and their machinations? I don’t envy the decisions she’s going to have to make sooner rather than later.

She’s getting good counsel from her senior officers, though it’s a good bet that Daystrom’s over-active ‘conscience’ is going to prompt him to do something stupid before all this is over. Whatever it is, I hope it’s not sufficient to cut short what otherwise appears to be a promising career.

Your characterizations are spot on here, with crisp dialogue and a flowing narrative that draws the reader farther into the story with each successive chapter.
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Old August 11 2012, 02:33 PM   #95
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

I've just caught up with the latest chapters. It continues to impress, with good characters and believable dialogue.

The steady escalation of the situation increases the drama, and makes it look like a successful resolution is impossible. But Maya seems to have had a revelation, and I'm fascinated to see what it will be.
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Old August 12 2012, 02:11 PM   #96
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Good to see you were able to get caught up, this thread had gotten a little quiet lately.

And yes, Maya's not in an enviable position here, is she? Now to see if this so-called revelation is going to prevent this mission into escalating into a full blown disaster.

Thanks for reading and commenting. Next segment coming later this week.
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Old August 15 2012, 06:26 PM   #97
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Khazara, 2372


The door chime to her quarters sounded to announce a visitor and she barked, “Enter,” without ever taking her eyes off the padd she had been studying diligently.

Rekar stepped into Commander Toreth’s spartan quarters and walked up to her desk. “You wished to see me,” the Tal Shiar operative said, keeping the tone of his voice haughty as if coming here was a great imposition to him.

Toreth responded by holding up a finger towards him and without affording him a single glance as she kept her eyes on the padd. It was a gesture likely to rankle the man on purpose.

She left him stewing for nearly half a minute. Toreth had never much cared for the Tal Shiar, considering their methods of fear and intimidation counter-productive and their agents even more arrogant than most Romulan officials. Secretly she had hoped that after their decimation at the hand of the Dominion things would change within the empire. Instead what was left of the intelligence apparatus had tightened its grip on Romulan society even further, perhaps in fear that otherwise it might slip out of their grasp for good.

She finished reading the document and then, without warning, slung the padd at the man’s chest who struggled catching the device for a moment as it nearly slipped through fingers. “What is the meaning of this,” he seethed.

Toreth fixed the man with a glare of her own. “That’s what I want you to tell me, Sub-commander.”

Rekar visibly suppressed the urge to further demonstrate this inappropriate behavior, fully understanding that no matter his own sense of importance, on the Khazara, Toreth was the ultimate authority. He glanced at the padd and after reading just a few lines, his eyes widened and he shot her a disbelieving glance. “How did you obtain this?”

Toreth stood. “Do not concern yourself with how I acquire my information, what matter is that I did. Now I want to know, is it true?”

The man needed a moment to compose himself. “You have not been authorized to –“

“Is it true, Sub-commander?” she barked.

Rekar took a small breath and returned the padd back onto her desk before returning her accusatory stare in kind. “Do you really think we would be here if what the Xenarth had to offer was not immensely valuable to the Empire?”

“You call that valuable,” she said and snatched the padd up again, quickly scrolling down the many pages it contained. “According to this the entire Psi Velorum star system was made impassable by our own scientists’ failed experiments with this molecule,” she said and kept scrolling. “Three hundred civilians and soldiers were killed in a separate incident in the Borderlands. According to statements by every respected molecular scientist within the Empire, the inherent risks of trying to synthesize this particle far outweigh the possible benefits.”

“I’m certain those are the same warnings leveled against the first people trying to utilize fire,” he responded smugly.

“You and Tomalak are willing to start a war over a substance which we may never be able to even control? Are you insane?”

Rekar expression darkened significantly. “Commander, I’m willing to extend to you the respect that you deserve as the commander of this vessel and I will put up with your eccentrics up to a point. But you are dangerously close to crossing that line,” he said, his voice cold as ice. “You cross that line and you may never be able to step back into your place.”

“You are my first officer,” she said dismissively.

“I am a Tal Shiar agent,” he shot back. “And you can be assured I will use all the resources and privileges my organization affords me to see this mission fulfilled.”

“Does the Senate know what we are doing here? How about the Praetor?” she said.

“You are a solider, Commander. You mustn’t concern yourself with politics. All that is required of you it to follow the orders given to you by your superior officers. And those order are to secure the particle at any cost before it can fall into enemy hands.”

She waved the padd at him. “We both know that the Federation already knows about this and that they are not here to secure it for themselves. Captain Donners didn’t come out an say it but it was obvious that their mission is to find a way to destroy it.”

“We cannot allow this to happen.”

“Even if it that means war with the Federation?”

Rekar smirked. “If it comes to war, it will be because of their doing. It will be Starfleet firing the first shot.”

She considered those words for a moment. “You seem quite certain of this.”

He nodded. “Why wouldn’t I be? Don’t forget, we are in the right here. The Xenarth have voluntarily asked for our protection and they have no intention of surrendering their most powerful weapon to the Federation. If Agamemnon doesn’t back down, we are entirely within our rights to defend the good people of New Xenarth from foreign aggression.”

She frowned. “And then what? We take the particle for ourselves and trust that our scientists won’t blow up another star system by mistake?”

The Tal Shiar operative headed for the doors but stopped short to turn and face her once more. “Your problem, Commander, is that you worry too much about matters entirely outside your control. Follow your orders, protect the Xenarth and ensure the particle is safe. Leave all other considerations to the people better equipped to make those decisions,” he said and then promptly stepped out.

“I haven’t dismissed you, you bastard,” she mumbled after the doors had closed behind him.

She glanced towards the single, forward facing viewport in her quarters. Somewhere out there a seemingly unavoidable confrontation was heading towards her and her vessel. Toreth had served with the Imperial Navy long enough as not to let an encounter with the enemy scare her anymore. She was confident in the superiority of the Khazara and the skills and abilities of the men and women who crewed her. If it came to a fight, she knew she could win.

But for the first time in her long career she wondered if victory was in the bet interest of the Empire. The galaxy even.
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Old August 17 2012, 05:24 PM   #98
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Despite being nominally on the same side, Toreth and Rekar have their own agendas. Very believable.

Slight typo, Rekar's “What is the meaning of this,” should really have a question mark at the end. But these things easily slip through. Other than that, up to the usual high standard.
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Old August 19 2012, 02:27 PM   #99
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Thanks for the catch.

The God Particle will go on hiatus for a few weeks while I recharge my batteries. In the meantime, here's a little sneak preview at my next project.




“Is it time for spring cleaning already?”

Wenera turned to find DeMara Deen leaning casually against the bulkhead.

“Dee, I didn’t see you there.”

The Tenarian smirked. It wasn’t very often that she could go unnoticed amongst a crowd. She enjoyed her rare inconspicuous moments. “No wonder,” she said, “you were too busy spinning your people’s heads.”

Wenera took a step closer to the operations manager, concern now edged on her face. “You don’t think I was too hard on them, do you?”

She shook her head and stood away from the wall. “No, I just think you’re confusing the hell out them,” she said. “And after watching a nice relaxing play that is.”

She smiled. “You were fabulous, I really mean it.”

“You liked the play?”

Wenera nodded eagerly. “It’s one of my all-time favorites.”

Deen shot her a suspicious look.

“What?”

“I thought I remember you saying that before.”

“Maybe I mentioned it once,” she said and then stepped away and began removing equipment from one of the cabinets in preparation to have them all re-ordered.

Deen followed. “It’s a bit suspicious that we are suddenly putting on your favorite play, don’t you think?”

She shook her head. “Don’t be silly. The crew was in dire need for some relaxation. The fact that it’s my favorite play is a mere coincidence,” she said and moved on to the next cabinet.

“Sure. And then, all of a sudden you get your entire sickbay reorganized. Oh and of course there is that senior staff dinner the captain has so conveniently scheduled for this evening. I suppose those are all coincidences as well.”

Wenera didn’t say anything to this.

The golden-haired Tenerian stepped closer to the doctor. “Not to mention those subtle mood changes I’ve been observing lately,” she said. “And you look, I don’t know, fuller, I guess. But it’s not weight gain. It’s something else.”

The doctor froze.

“You want to know what I think?”

Wenera shot the younger woman a sharp look. “Come with me,” she said and then turned to head into her office. She closed the doors behind Deen and then walked to her desk.

“I think you are with child, Doctor,” said Deen with a wide grin on her face now. “I think the captain knows about it and has been putting up this whole –“

“I’m leaving Eagle, Dee,” said Wenera after she had sat down in her chair.

That smile dropped off her face. “Say what now?”

“Tonight,” she added. “I’m making the announcement at the dinner this evening.”


This Fall in
The Star Eagle Adventures V:
Shadows In The Haze
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Old September 16 2012, 01:06 AM   #100
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Agamemnon, 2372


She hadn’t even been consciously aware that she was pacing the space in front of her chair until she caught the subtle frown on Vej’s face. She froze in her tracks and mentally chided herself for displaying such blatant anxiety in front of her crew.

Maya turned to face Tess Allenby at the operations console. “Time to intercept, Lieutenant?”

“Just under five minutes, sir,” the young officer responded promptly.

“Captain, I recommend that we raise shields and power weapons,” said Mer’iab from tactical in a firm and confident tone.

“Why would we want to do that?” quipped Texx. “We’re just here to make a drop off,” he said with a smirk and when his eyes found Ket he promptly shot her an apologetic look.

The former Xenarth queen showed no outward signs of having been insulted.

The tactical officer however didn’t appear to appreciated the levity shown by the Bolian first officer. “With all due respect, sir, the Romulans have already indicated that one perceived misstep could have severe consequences. We should be prepared for anything.”

“What’s the Khazara’s status?” asked Maya.

The Aurelian looked noticeably uncomfortable answering that question. He didn’t even have to check his board. “Their shields are down and their weapons are offline. But I still believe –“

“Noted, Lieutenant,” she said. “But you said it yourself. One misstep is all it takes. I’d rather not be the one triggering hostilities here today. Keep a close eye on that ship and advise of any changes immediately. If they raise shields, so do we. If they power their weapons, I want our phasers and launchers hot and ready to blow her apart.”

“Yes, sir,” he said, responding to the belligerent tone in her voice.

“They’re hailing us,” said Texx.

“Showtime,” added Vej, shooting the captain a quick, reaffirming glance.

Maya nodded and took her seat. She crossed her legs by the knee and straightened her shoulders. She was determined to present a more tranquil and confident appearance this time around even if inside she felt anything but. Toreth had clearly owned their last meeting but this time Maya wanted to turn the tables on the Romulan and negotiate from a position of strength. She allowed herself one last little breath of air. “On screen.”

“Captain Donners,” Toreth said without preamble as her image appeared on the main viewer. “We stand ready to receive the prisoner.”

Maya took her time to respond, deciding to give the other woman a thorough once over first, almost as if seeing her for the first time. “I’m afraid there has been a change of plans, Commander.”

“Is that so?” she responded, cocking an eyebrow in a manner that would have made a Vulcan proud.

“Queen Ket has requested political asylum on board my vessel. After hearing her case I am concerned that she may be subjugated to what we would consider harsh and inappropriate punishment resulting in serious bodily harm or even death. Leaving me with little choice but to grant her request.”

“And I suspect you would not be swayed even if I’d personally guarantee her safety,” the Romulan said.

“As we would have limited means to verify this, I will have to stick to my decision.”

Toreth leaned forward in her chair. “Captain, I find it curious that you decided to advise me of this new development only now. You could have contacted me at any time over the last few hours to tell me this.”

“I’ve arrived at this decision only very recently,” she lied. Toreth had already told her what she wanted to know without having to spell it out. The Romulan commander would make very little fuss over this decision even if it would anger their new allies that they had been unable to secure Ket to stand trial as a traitor. This meant that Toreth was most likely as eager to avoid a confrontation that could lead to interstellar war as she was. The thought greatly encouraged Maya.

“Of course. You do realize that the Romulan Senate is likely to lodge a formal complaint over this to the Federation Council on the behave of the Xenarth Aggregate,” she said with very little bite in her tone.

Maya smirked. “It’ll be a matter for politicians and diplomats to resolve,” she said.

The little nod she received in response gave proof that Toreth was about as weary of such figures as she was. “Indeed,” she said and remained silent for a moment as if to appreciate one of the few similarities she shared with her Starfleet counterpart. “I expect you and your ship to turn around and leave this system immediately.”

Maya forced herself to maintain her calm demeanor. “I won’t be able to do that.”

Toreth looked downright disappointed. “Captain, we have been through this. The Xenarth are now under our protection and unwilling to stand for Federation interference. Are you telling me that you are willing to risk a war over this?”

She quickly shook her head. “Of course not. And the Federation respects the wishes of any sovereign government even if those include alliances with foreign powers.”

The Romulan woman’s frown was born of genuine confusion. “I’m not entirely sure that I follow your logic here, Captain. You appear to be contradicting yourself.”

“Not at all,” she said. “I’m fully committed to this. You may even advise the Xenarth leadership that we are more than happy to assist their relocation to a world within the Romulan Star Empire if they do not have the capacities to do so themselves.”

“The Xenarth have no intention of relocating,” she said sternly as her facial features hardened. “This system is their home.”

Maya did her best to take on a concerned look. “I’m afraid that is no the case,” she said. “Our records clearly indicate that this system was entirely uninhabited just over one-hundred years ago which implies that the Xenarth arrived here at some later point. They settled on Iota Crucis IV, a Federation world, without our permission. By interstellar law we are within our right to request that the Xenarth immediately vacate this system. Particularly if they wish to align themselves with a foreign power.”

Toreth considered the Starfleet captain for a moment, her expressions as stone-faced as that of a gargoyle. “I appreciate that you may not have much experience in these matters, Captain, so I must ask you, are you certain this is the path you wish to pursue? I urge you to reconsider.”

Now it was Maya’s turned to look annoyed by the clearly condescending tone her counterpart had allowed to slip into her voice. “Commander, my decision on this matter is guided by Federation and interstellar law and I will stand by it.”

Neither of them spoke for a moment as they appraised each other carefully in a manner which reminded Maya of a high-stakes poker game in with each player had thrown all their chips into the pot. She wasn’t certain if she held the better hand just yet. Not until Toreth revealed hers.

“A shame, Captain,” the Romulan commander finally said and then stabbed a control on her armrest, causing her face the blink out from the screen.

“Well played,” said Texx. “You had her on the robes.”

But Maya was not sharing his first officer’s enthusiasm. “Lieutenant, talk to me, what’s the Khazara doing?”

“Her status is unchanged and … strike that, they’re powering weapons.”

“Red alert, shields up,” Texx barked.

Maya looked at the Bolian. “Not well enough, it would appear.”

“Our position is legitimate,” the counselor offered. “You’ve taken away their moral high ground. If they open fire and consequently start a war now, they will be seen as the aggressors.”

But Maya shook her head slightly. “I don’t think that will be much of a consolation to the casualties.”

“Captain,” Bobby DeSoto said urgently, “they are approaching in a standard attack run.”

“Weapons range in ten seconds,” said Allenby, her fingers flying over her own console as she braced herself and the ship for imminent battle.

“We shouldn’t allow them to get the upper hand and open fire first,” said the tactical officer. “I recommend we go on the offensive before we are forced to play a defensive game.”

The captain uncrossed her legs and grabbed her armrests tightly. “Transfer all available power to the shields, including everything we’ve got in our weapons.”

Mer’iab didn’t appear to understand or agree with this tactic which clearly went completely against his own recommendation. “Sir?”

“Do it, Lieutenant.”

To his credit he didn’t hesitate again. “Shields at one-hundred forty percent. The shield grid will not be able to absorb this amount of energy for long.”

Texx leaned towards the captain on his left. “We blow the grid and we lose shields for good, Cap,” he whispered.

She responded with a sharp nod.

“Romuans entering weapons range,” Allenby said, her voice now unable to hide her anxiety any longer.

“They’re opening fire,” Mer’iab said.

Maya mentally cursed herself for her apparent miscalculation and held on tighter to her chair as she braced herself for the incoming volley.

It never came.

Instead every eye on the bridge watched the screen as the imposing warbird came within seemingly a hair’s width of Agamemnon to perform a strafing attack but instead simply shot past them.

Arden Texx looked as confused as the rest of the bridge officers. He stood from his chair and turned to look towards Mer’iab. “Lieutenant, what just happened?”

Clearly the avian seemed slightly flustered himself as he double checked his instruments. “They … they powered up their weapon emplacements and our sensors picked up massive energy spikes implying an imminent weapons discharge. But they never actually fired.”

Vej smirked. “It was a bluff, Lieutenant,” he said and glanced at Donners. “And we didn’t blink.”

“They are preparing for another pass,” DeSoto said.

Texx looked at the captain. “What are the chances they go for the same trick twice?”

“Zero to none,” she said. “Lieutenant, redistribute shield power to weapons before we blow out that grid. Ensign, evasive pattern Omega. Stand by to return fire on my mark, target their weapons and engines.”

Maya noted that her crew reacted instinctively to her orders.

“Captain, I have a new contact at two-four-six mark eight,” Allenby said.

“More Romulans?” Texx asked.

“Where did they come from?” Vej wanted to know.

“Must have been cloaked,” said Maya as her face twisted into an ugly frown. Things had been bad enough with Agamemnon having to face off one warbird. She realized that their chances to survive this encounter battling two or more were miniscule at best.

“It is not a Romulan vessel, at least no design we’ve ever seen before,” Mer’iab said.

Texx clearly didn’t appreciate the surprisingly vague report. “So who is it, Lieutenant?”

For a second time today the tactical officer appeared stumped. “I am not entirely certain,” he said, “computer identifying now.”

Tess Allenby seemed to have an answer sooner. “Sir, I recognize this design,” she said and swiveled around in her chair to face her superior officers, her eyes wide as saucers. “It’s the Borg.”
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Old September 24 2012, 06:35 PM   #101
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Well that complicates matters!

Another excellent chapter. Maya's verbal duelling with Toreth was very well written, and there was a definite sense of tension as things escalated.
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Old September 29 2012, 04:28 PM   #102
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Lexington, 2267


In the transporter room, Wesley found his Zulu chief of security already waiting with two of his red-shirted officers. They both held type-II phaser pistols which they kept trained on the as yet empty transporter platform while awaiting the Xenarth representative to beam on board.

“Quite the friendly welcoming committee we’ve put together here,” said Doctor Vincent who had joined the commodore and Alexei Kuznetsov.

“These creatures have already demonstrated their hostile attitude twice,” Lieutenant Nealo Mtolo pointed out. “I’d rather be prepared for any other such displays.”

“Armed guards is a wise precaution, Lieutenant,” said Wesley. “But have your men holster their weapons until they may be needed. And let’s try to refrain from calling them creatures.”

“Yes, sir,” said Mtolo and gestured to his men who quickly attached the phasers to their hips before standing at attention.

“Ensign,” said the commodore, looking towards the officer manning the transporter console. “Do you have the coordinates?”

He nodded. “Just come through, sir.”

Wesley faced the platform while his first officer and chief surgeon flanked him on either side.

“Do they really look like bugs?” asked Doctor Vincent.

“Da. Imagine an ant, walking upright and with a particularly nasty disposition,” said the Russian first officer.

“That be all of that, gentlemen,” said Wesley. “These are our guests and we will treat them us such. Ensign, energize.”

Vincent couldn’t help himself but subconsciously start scratching himself.

The beam effect lasted only a few seconds and promptly revealed a tall insectoid. As already expected she stood on two legs and was as much upright as an average human. Thanks to her long feelers protruding from the front of her face, she stood quite a little taller than anyone else in the transporter room. Now that Wesley got to see a Xenarth up close, he realized that they were perhaps not so different after all. That was of course besides the clearly hardened exoskeleton, the antennae, the mandibles, the disturbingly large and round black eyes and the four arms.

He also thought he could see a few, what he believed to be, female characteristics. Her torso was slim and bulged out slightly around her hips. She had slender legs and appeared to wear hints of facial painting around those large eyes which could be considered make-up. She wore a form-fitting, simple green dress with golden, crescent-shaped marking across the chest.

“Welcome aboard the Lexington. I’m Commodore Robert Wesley. This is my first officer Commander Alexei Kuznetsov and ship’s physician Doctor Charles Vincent.”

But the Xenarth was paying little attention to the Starfleet officers and instead kept studying the transporter with great curiosity.

When Kuznetsov cleared his throat, she whipped her head towards the officers as if seeing them there for the first time. They didn’t hold her interest for long. She looked passed them and towards the transporter console. When she stepped off the platform and towards it, Wesley quickly stepped aside to let her pass.

Mtolo and his security detail tensed up noticeably, all three reaching for their phasers but Wesley raised his hand to let them know to hold their positions.

Their curious guest looked over the red and black console and the colorful control panel.

The ensign behind it had taken a step away but apparently couldn’t help himself but stare wide-eyed at this alien creature as her head twitched back and forth. Then she stopped moving suddenly and looked up and right into the surprised ensign’s face. “You appear startled. Is this because of my appearance?” she asked, the universal translator now working perfectly to re-modulated and translate her language.

The ensign was completely stone-faced, apparently unable to speak.

Wesley stepped up. “I apologize for the behavior of my crew. We don’t meet non-humanoid life-forms like yourself very often.”

The Xenarth turned around to study the commodore, her head once again twitching back and forth slightly. “No apologies necessary.”

“You are not Queen Quelphi, I presume,” said Wesley. In truth he wasn’t able to tell by her appearance but her mannerisms appeared very different to the Xenarth he had dealt with earlier.

She uttered a series of quick clicks which the UT was unable to decipher and Wesley interpreted as a laugh. Either that or a sign of great offense. He hoped it wasn’t the latter.

“All-Mother, no,” she said. “I feel I am the one who should offer apologies. I was so distracted and intrigued by your matter-conversion technology that I have failed to behave like a guest is expected to,” she said and lowered her head in a universal gesture of apology. “I am Artisan Queen Selphi and I most humbly ask your forgiveness.”

Wesley took a step forward and smiled. “Not necessary,” he said, repeating her earlier words. “First contact situations like these are fraught with misunderstandings and misconceptions as we try to learn each other’s mannerisms and behaviors,” he said. Making it quite obvious, at least to his fellow officers, that this wasn’t his first encounter with a new species he’d had in his illustrious Starfleet career. “I appreciate that going through our transporter can be disturbing when you experience it for the first time.”

Quelphi looked up and then passed him to look back at the platform. “It is a most curious machine. Tell me, does it allow you to move matter over any distance?”

If Wesley appeared surprised by the question, he did not show this. “It has a limited range. We can easily and safely transport persons and objects from a planet’s orbit to the surface. Just as we have you just now.”

The Artisan Queen appeared almost disappointed by this revelation. Of course Wesley couldn’t be entirely certain. It was too early to be able to fully interpret the Xenarth’s complex facial expression.

“Perhaps you would like to join us in our briefing room. We could continue our conversation there in greater comfort.”

“I would be delighted to,” she said.

Wesley nodded and pointed towards the doors. The Xenarth required only a couple of seconds to correctly interpret the gesture and then headed out of the transporter room.

“I think you can relax,” said Vincent in a hushed town to Mtolo as he passed him by. “Looks like we beamed up the agreeable one.”

Of course the security chief showed no intentions of doing so and promptly followed Selphi and the senior officers.

The short trip to the briefing room unexpectedly took longer than usual. Most crewmembers stopped upon seeing the alien creature walking passed them and did a poor job at avoiding staring at the insectoid. Thankfully the Xenarth didn’t seem to mind and instead simply stared back. Overall she seemed more interested in Lexington and her technology then in her crew, leaving Wesley to think that she had a greater familiarity with humanoid life than he and his officers had with insectoids.

Once they had arrived at their destination, Wesley had the two security officers positioned outside while he, Kuznetsov, Vincent and Mtolo joined Selphi at the briefing room table.

As it turned out the Artisan Queen was not at all shy about speaking of herself and her people and quite curious to learn about Lexington and the Federation. Within moments the conversation was in full swing.

“You are saying that you Federation encompasses dozens of planets and different species? This is very interesting.”

Wesley nodded. “We have only explored a very small percentage of our galaxy. And as you can tell we haven’t come across very many species which are as different to us as you are.”

“We have made similar discoveries,” she said.

“Forgive me if I’m too forward,” Vincent said. “But we have never heard of your species before and we know for a fact that this planet used to be uninhabited just a few years ago. Naturally this makes me wonder –“

“Where we come from?” she completed for him.

The doctor nodded.

“I suppose that is a valid question, considering that we have appeared within your territory uninvited.”

“As I have tried to explain to Queen Quelphi. While you may have come here uninvited, you are certainly not unwelcome,” Wesley said.

The Xenarth queen lowered her head again slightly before continuing. “Having a rational conversation with the Warrior Queen is a great challenge, I have to admit. If she’d had her way we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all and you’d be fighting off our swarm ships instead.”

“She is not your leader then?” Kuznetsov asked.

“No. However she wishes she were and the way things are progressing in the Aggregate, perhaps she will be soon. It is not a prospect I am looking forward to and I fear what it may mean for the good of the Colony.”

When neither of the Starfleet officers could think of a response, she continued. “I understand that you have offered to help us and it is solely because of that reason that I have been allowed to come and meet with you. But before we continue any further it is imperative that you understand the complexities of the Xenarth Aggregate and the difficulties we face,” she said, making an effort to look at each of the four men she was sharing the table with. “We have come here from a place we assume to be very far away. Please do not ask me where our now lost home world is located as I am not well-versed in such matters and I fear not even the Scholar Queen and her scientists would be able to explain it adequately. What I know for certain is that the stars in this place are very different to what they used to look like.

Driven by our ancient texts and promises, our entire Colony has been obsessed over the last one hundred sun-cycles to find Xendaru, the realm of our God-Queen. A new and powerful force we discovered not so long ago convinced our Supreme, Queen Semunstra, that it would allow the entire Colony entry into Xendaru. In hindsight however Queen Quelphi remained right and it has only attracted elements which have nearly let to our total destruction. And as we stood at the very cusp of the downfall of our once great civilization, we placed all our trust into this powerful force, hoping against hope that it would take us to Xendaru and to our salvation.”

The room was quite for a moment after Selphi had told the tale of her people as Wesley and his officers took in this tragic and yet fascinating story.

“So instead of reaching Xendaru you and your people landed here?” said Vincent.

“That is correct,” she said. “But not everybody survived this journey. Millions of our sisters and brothers perished, including Supreme Semunstra.”

“That would certainly explain how your and your Colony appeared out of seemingly nowhere. This force you speak of? It must be immensely powerful,” said Kuznetsov and shot a quick glance towards Wesley at his side. Both men realizing that whatever Ketteract had discovered was clearly linked to the forces that had moved an entire civilization over presumably many hundreds of light-years of space.

“We have named it the Xendaru particle for the promises it was supposed to fulfill. And I have long since come to see it as a great curse on our people. Thousands of fellow colonists were killed in the sun-cycles wasted to attempt to create it and now millions more have been lost. Sadly our leaders have not learned from those mistakes and our new Supreme, the Cleric Queen Ergia, is determined to make use of this hellish force yet again to try and reach Xendaru once more.”

“I take it from your earlier talk about complexities in your ruling faction that there is opposition to this plan,” said Wesley.

She jerked her head in what could only be interpreted as a nod. “Yes. The Warrior Queen has made no secret of the fact that she is staunchly opposed to try for Xendaru once more. Sadly she lacks the subtleties for reason and negotiation while Ergia is far too obsessed with reaching the All-Mother to listen to anyone but her own best advice. I fear that the Aggregate will tear itself apart and the Colony along with it.”

“I sympathize for your situation, Queen Selphi,” Vincent said and then glanced towards Wesley. “But we usually don’t involve ourselves in the affairs of other races.”

The commodore considered this for a moment, fully aware the doctor was right. If the framers of the Prime Directive ever had a situation in mind to which their rules needed to be applied to, than this was it.

“I certainly don’t fault you for not wishing to become entangled in the power plays of my people,” Selphi said before Wesley could render some form of verdict. “But I fear that if Ergia and Quelphi are not stopped, the next time the Xendaru particle is employed, the disaster that will follow will wipe out the entire Colony.”
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Old September 29 2012, 04:29 PM   #103
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

The doors to the briefing room swished open and loud voices interrupted the meeting.

Mtolo quickly jumped out of his seat and brought up his phaser, apparently expecting the worse.

“Sir, you can’t go in there,” one of the security officers insisted.

“Let me go, you red-shirted dimwit,” Ketteract complained loudly. “You couldn’t possibly fathom the seriousness of this situation. The entire galaxy is about to go up in flames and I may be the only person who can stop it.”

Surprisingly the comparatively frail scientist managed to sidestep the much bigger security guard and slip passed him and into the briefing room. He froze when he noticed Mtolo’s phaser pointed at him. Then he saw the Xenarth, now also standing with her feelers fully raised in alarm, before he managed to tear his wide-open eyes away to focus on a clearly annoyed Wesley.

“What is the meaning of this?” Kuznetsov barked.

Not a moment later Zha’Thara appeared by the open doors. She looked flustered and out of breath as if she had run all the way from the bridge. “I’m sorry, sir. I tried to stop him but he’s faster than he looks,” she said.

“Doctor, I’m waiting for an explanation before I have Nealo here shoot you were you stand and then dragged to the brig from where you may enjoy the rest of this mission,” the Bear said, clearly fuming over this entirely inappropriate display by the scientist.

But Ketteract ignored the Russian and the phaser pointed at his chest and instead took a step towards the commodore. “My findings leave no doubt. This Omega Molecule will kill us all if we don’t take immediate action.”

This seemed to pique Queen Selphi’s interest. “And you believe you can help us avoid a disaster?”

Ketteract looked at the Xenarth for a moment, now carefully considering his response. “Yes. I think so.”

“Doctor Ketteract, after this meeting you and I will have a serious conversation about expected decorum on a starship,” said Wesley sternly. “Until then, sit down and tell us what you’ve found. You too, Commander.”

Ketteract and Zha’Thara took a seat and after a moment the security chief secured his weapon again and joined them.

“I apologize for this rather unexpected interruption, Queen Quelphi,” said Wesley once he and the Xenarth were in their seat again as well. “As you may have deduced, Doctor Ketteract is not a regular member of my crew and still has to learn about the behavior I find acceptable on my ship,” he said and shot the scientist a stern look even though he didn’t appear to notice.

“Doctor Ketteract is the main reason we are here. He is the one who first discovered the energy readings from your Xendaru particle and pinpointed them to the planet you currently inhabit. Commander Zha’Thara is my science officer.”

Quelphi looked at them both but seemed slightly more interested in the Andorian, studying her closely. “A pleasure to meet you both. And if I may say, I am rather fond of your antennae, Commander.”

The science officer smirked at the unexpected compliment. “Yours are not that bad either, your … majesty.”

The title was properly incorrect but Quelphi didn’t seem to mind and she moved her head from side to side which appeared to be a sign of appreciation.

“If I may ask, are all the leaders of your world female?” asked Vincent.

“Only a female can become a queen,” she said. “It has been this way for a great many generations and as long as anyone can remember.”

Vincent nodded, now seemingly understanding why she seemed to take so well to Zha’Thara.

“Doctor, you were about to tell us about this … Omega Molecule, was it?” Wesley said.

“Yes,” he said excitedly. “A fitting name for the substance which is going to bring an end to the universe as we know it.”

If nothing else Ketteract was a master of hyperbole with a flair for the dramatic and he seemed to enjoy the reactions he had forced from his audience as he waited patiently for his words to sink in.

Wesley had not use for this. “Doctor, by all means, don’t leave us all in suspense here and elaborate on your theory.”

He nodded quickly. “From what I can tell, further to my detailed analysis of the substance I have located on Iota Crucis’ surface, this molecule is even more powerful than I previously anticipated. I now believe that the shockwave we experienced earlier was nothing more than a tiny taste of what kind of forces would be unleashed if it became unstable.”

“The shockwave you speak of was the result of an accident in our research facility which killed over six hundred of our workers and scholars. Sadly it has become a common occurrence,” explained the Artisan Queen.

“I think they tried to synthesize maybe a handful of molecules when this accident must have taken place. But from my scans the Xenarth have the ability to generate thousands of molecules. And another accident could easily trigger them all in a chain-reaction of unimaginable proportions.”

“Let’s try and be a little less vague, Doctor. Let’s assume something like that would happen. What kind of damage would it do?” Wesley asked.

The scientist didn’t even have to think about that. “Total.”

Wesley uttered a heavy sigh and then looked towards his science officer.

Zha’Thara cleared her throat. “Subspace damage on a quadrant-wide scale is not out of the question. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around this Omega Molecule and its potential. But I am certain that subspace is particularly vulnerable to it.”

“Subspace in this region is already damaged,” said Kutznetsov. “We attributed this to the black hole at first but do you think it may be linked to this molecule?”

Ketteract jumped back in. “Yes, I do. Now imagine the same kind of damage not just across the sector but the entire quadrant and on a much more severe scale. Forget warp drive and subspace communications. This is a ticking time bomb we’re dealing with here and once it goes off it’ll throw the Federation back into the Stone Age.”

Wesley looked at his science officer for confirmation and he got it when she nodded along slowly. “And you can prevent this?” he asked Ketteract.

“I have a theory on how it could be safely stabilized, yes. If I’m right and I think I am, the potential applications for this kind of power source would be endless. It would completely replace anti-matter engines on starships. Hell it may even replace starships all together. You could build portals so powerful, they’ll beam you across the quadrant instantaneously.”

At that Queen Selphi peaked up a little more. “The Star Portal.”

Wesley and the others gave her puzzled expressions.

“The name of the device we have used to bring us here and powered by the Xendaru … your Omega Molecule,” she explained.

“Don’t get me wrong, this all sounds quite horrific to an old country doctor like myself, but do we really want to take the chance to mess around with powers so clearly beyond our understanding?” asked Vincent.

Except for Ketteract nobody in the room appeared to be perfectly comfortable with the idea.

It was Quelphi who spoke up first. “I don’t see how we have much of a choice in the matter. The future of my people is at stake and from what you have said perhaps the future of yours as well. If you are willing to assist us, I will gladly recommend your services to the Supreme.”

“Of course. In fact I can come with you right now,” said Ketteract, clearly excited about the opportunity to finally see with his own eyes that which he had only imagined previously.

Vincent shot the commodore a concerned look, one he understood perfectly. “Queen Quelphi, further to what we’ve learned today I agree with you that we stand much to lose if we don’t take swift action. And yet I am not entirely confident in making any rushed decisions on this subject. Perhaps it would be best if you relay to your leaders what has been discussed here and we will communicate further afterwards.”

Selphi stood from her chair and everyone else quickly followed. “Commodore Wesley, I share your trepidations in this matter. I will do as you ask so that we can reach a solution which will be beneficial for the both of our people,” she said and then looked at the other humans and the Andorian. “It was my pleasure to make the acquainted of such fascinating creatures.”

“The pleasure was ours,” said Wesley. “I’m certain we will meet again soon. Lieutenant Mtolo, please escort our guest back to the transporter room.”

The security chief nodded and led the Xenarth out of the room.

“Doctor, why don’t you get back to the bridge and look over your readings again. I want to be absolutely certain that we know what we’re dealing with here before we make any firm pledges of assistance,” said Wesley.

Ketteract seemed offended by the suggestion that he could have made a mistake. “I’m confident in my assertions.”

“I don’t think that was a request, Doctor,” said Kuztnesov sternly.

Ketteract huffed but ultimately left the briefing room.

“We could just let him go down there and see if he can talk them out of this whole Omega Molecule business,” said Vincent. “Ten minutes around that man and they’ll do whatever he asks as long as we promise to take him back.”

Even the Bear had to smirk at that.

“On a serious note,” said Wesley. “I don’t like where this is going. Putting the Prime Directive implications to one side for a moment, we’re potentially talking about not only the complete annihilation of a race but a threat to the entire Federation.”

“Are you suggestion that we don’t give Ketteract a chance on stabilizing these molecules?” asked Zha’Thara.

“We can’t just ignore this, that much is certain. But I need you to look into an alternative to Doctor Ketteract’s plan. I don’t think we can talk the Xenarth out of experimenting on this molecule.”

“Which means we help them to stabilize it, avert a catastrophe on a galactic scale and watch them beam themselves hundreds of light-years away,” said the first officer.


Vincent looked doubtful. “And if they cannot be stabilized?”

The commodore looked straight at his Andorian science officer. “Then we have to find a way to destroy it. If the Xenarth like it or not.”
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Old October 8 2012, 03:23 AM   #104
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

While Amaya plays a high-stakes game of chicken with the Romulans in the present, a century ago Commodore Wesley is faced with the unwelcome prospect of violating the Prime Directive in order to safeguard the entire quadrant.

Too many fantastic character moments here to list, but you’ve clearly infused everyone in the story with their own unique personalities and perspectives.

I very much enjoy how the 23rd century portion of the story informs the events of the 24th, and that you’re unveiling both in interlocking installments.
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Old October 10 2012, 09:19 PM   #105
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Re: Agamemnon Voyages: The God Particle

Another excellent instalment. Switching between the two time periods lets the story progress in an unusual and interesting manner. And as Gibraltar pointed out, every character has their own personality.
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