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Old June 17 2012, 09:47 PM   #16
DarKush
Rear Admiral
 
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

^
Hey CeJay,

Still working my way through your story and I saw that Vej is a Ullian counselor. Maybe that's why I thought the idea was so good at the time. I don't want things to be too similar to what you've got going on, so I'll change the species designation.

Note to readers, it's a good bet that I will change Dendron's species. Looking at Betazoid, but I might go with something else. Maybe Deltan. My apologies if this causes any confusion.
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Old June 17 2012, 10:03 PM   #17
CeJay
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

DarKush wrote: View Post
^
Hey CeJay,

Still working my way through your story and I saw that Vej is a Ullian counselor. Maybe that's why I thought the idea was so good at the time. I don't want things to be too similar to what you've got going on, so I'll change the species designation.

Note to readers, it's a good bet that I will change Dendron's species. Looking at Betazoid, but I might go with something else. Maybe Deltan. My apologies if this causes any confusion.
And here I thought it was a homage.

But seriously, I would leave him an Ulllian if I were you. It makes perfect sense for them to be counselors, considering their telepathic skills and there is bound to be many more across the Federation and in Starfleet. Your call.
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Old June 17 2012, 10:26 PM   #18
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

^
Thanks but as I was reading your passage with Donners and Vej I was seeing the similarities. Perhaps too many. Could it be a great minds think alike coincidence? I don't want to step on what you're doing?

If I keep Dendron Ullian maybe I'll change the gender. There is one homage to the Star Eagle though, when Dendron mentioned Tenarian Glow.
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Old June 19 2012, 10:49 PM   #19
Dnoth
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

It's interesting to see a preexisting tight-knit crew deal with a newcomer the reader knows more about.

Helen and the doctor are going to have a time taking orders from their new exec.
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Old June 21 2012, 03:17 AM   #20
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Author's Note: I revised the previous passage as I said I would do. There isn't much change, though Dendron is now an Andorian (with Aenar heritage). And I also changed the doctor's name and species to Narsan and he's now a Halanan.

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


USS Erickson
Captain’s Ready Room

The captain’s smile was askew. “You picked a hell of a time to continue our session counselor,” Redfeather remarked, lifting one eye from the padd she held in her hand. “You do know the ship is on blue alert.” The gaunt, pale blue Andorian male smiled at her, completely unruffled. The antenna stalks just in front of his receding hairline undulated gently.

“I know captain and I find the blue lighting on the bridge a better color schema than the usual bright lighting, I don’t see how it doesn’t contribute to constant eye strain.” Though he was smiling, Wyoma knew that Dendron hybrid makeup, part Andorian and part Aenar, an Andorian subgroup of mostly blind telepaths, left him sensitive to intense lighting.

It was commendable how he had learned to cope with the situation during his various postings, and at least aboard Erickson the captain made sure to dim the lights in his presence. She didn’t have to make adjustments in the ready room this time because she generally bedimmed the lighting when she was reading over reports. She thought it added to the quiet that she demanded when she had to absorb lots of data.

“I am so glad you acceded to my request to not sit bridge side,” Dendron’s smile widened.

“And this is how you repay me?” The captain rolled her eyes before placing the padd down on her desk, otherwise empty except for the baseball signed by all players on the 2373 Cestus Comets Championship team, including her sister. “Please, have a seat.” While the man was acceding to her request, the captain continued talking, “I want you to know that I didn’t plan this blue alert to avoid getting out of our session.”

“Of course you didn’t,” Dendron chuckled, tapping one of his bulging temples. “I am a telepath after all.”

“Very funny,” Wyoma joined in the laughter. She knew that Dendron abhorred peeking into others’ minds without their express consent. The captain also knew that his pacifistic Aenar heritage had left Dendron vigilant about using his abilities in any harmful way. Sometimes to an extreme degree. It sounded almost like he needed a counseling session himself, but if she suggested that he would just redirect the conversation right back to her.

“How are things working out with the new first officer?” The Andorian asked, waving off an offer for refreshment. “I haven’t had a chance to get Mr. Donar on my couch yet, and we’ve only met in passing.” He stroked his graying goatee, waiting for her answer.

“I think Mr. Donar is adjusting well to his new duties,” the captain said, careful to choose her words.

Of course Dendron noticed her caution. “And how do you think the crew feels about him?”

“Why don’t you tell me?” Redfeather snapped, not meaning to be so sharp. She winced, “I’m sorry.”

“No, no, it’s perfectly alright, I am being a bit too coy after all,” Dendron admitted. “I think most of the crew is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It wasn’t completely his decision after all. He was presented with an opportunity and he took it.”

“And what about Helen?” Wyoma decided to cut right to the quick. “She says she is okay with the decision, but she might be more…forthcoming with you.”

“If she was, you know I couldn’t reveal that to you,” Dendron leaned forward, a somber yet sympathetic look on his face.

“Not the details I get that,” Redfeather angled, “but what would be your impressions, hypothetically, figuratively, or whatever?”

“I…would think it could be difficult to be in line for the first officer position and then have it snatched away from you,” Dendron replied, “hypothetically speaking of course.”

“And she’s said this? To you?”

“I thought we were speaking in hypotheticals?”

“Oh, yes,” Wyoma leaned back in her chair and slouched down, suddenly feeling drained. Helen Norrbom was one of her closest friends, had served Erickson with distinction as chief operations officer, and was the captain’s pick to succeed the retiring Commander McDuffie. McDuffie had also thought Helen would be an excellent choice, but Starfleet Command, particularly Rear Admiral Glover, had other ideas. And he had inveighed upon her to consider an external selection.

After looking at the Angosians’s service record, Wyoma couldn’t help but both impressed and worried. He had displayed exceptional courage and leadership with Special Missions, fought on the frontlines in both the Klingon and Dominion Wars, been a senior officer on one of the most advanced ships in the Fleet, taught at the Academy, and also helped turn back the Talarians during their ill-fated incursion. With a record like that, Redfeather was surprised the man wasn’t angling for her job, and not just to be her second in command.

Of course his life before joining Starfleet had to have given the admirals pause about promoting him to the captain’s chair, as it had given the captain some hesitation about taking their recommendation to be her executive officer. The Tarsian War had been brutal and from what Donar had described, in his own words, of the actions he took in that war, they had chilled her bone marrow upon first reading.

It made her wonder if the man shouldn’t still be on that Lunar V prison moon. She had expressed as much to Admiral Glover. He had expressed understanding before pointing out how Donar had tried to make amends after the Tarsian conflict had ended and how he had moved on with his life and career. Redfeather had then been blunt and brought up that Donar had served with Glover on the Aegis and that some cronyism was at play.

The admiral, whom Wyoma had heard could have a mercurial disposition, had allayed her concerns. He admitted to having caring about the wellbeing of the people once under his command-which she couldn’t fault him for-but at the same time he thought that Donar languishing and needed a new outlet, a new lease on life, and to learn new skills.

To sweeten the deal, the admiral had then let her in on what was happening with Taskforce Vanguard and the coming refugee crisis, and how Command wanted Erickson at the forefront. Glover added that Command, and himself included, felt more comfortable with having Donar out there to greet any potential hostile forces than cooped up at Starfleet Command or on some Starbase.

Taking Donar on would be a sign of Erickson’s rising reputation in the Fleet, and that kind of word of mouth would improve everyone’s careers in the long run, including Commander Norrbom’s, or so that’s how Glover had put it, punctuating it with a knowing, yet dazzling smile. Wyoma hadn’t seen a sign of the man’s prickly nature, but she had gotten caught a little in the magnetic field of his charisma.

Still it had taken her several days to give him an answer. Once she poured back over the man’s record, and after she talked to him via subspace, Wyoma had to admit that Donar had been an impressive candidate. He was more qualified than Norrbom, she had to be honest with herself, though Helen was more tied into the crew, and Redfeather liked the idea of a close knit unit. Perhaps a bit too much, she had reasoned, and throwing a curveball or two at all of them from time to time was necessary to keep stagnation at bay.

Pulling herself out of the wellspring of memory, the captain glanced at the small sphere, its white surface nearly covered by all of the squiggled autographs. She had clutched that ball before telling Helen the decision and held it while making the call to Admiral Glover.

Once the decision was made she didn’t question it, and she would make the same decision again, though she was disappointed that she and Helen had become more distant. Commander Norrbom stayed on top of her duties, perhaps even more efficient than she was before, but gone was the banter on the bridge or the late nights at Birdland.

Wyoma had leaned on Helen heavily after her lover, Lt. Commander Gavin Mohmand, had died in a terrorist attack on Point-Station Epsilon over a year ago. And now it felt like Wyoma had betrayed her, even if it was the best decision. She just hoped Helen would understand in time and dreaded that one day she would walk into the Ready Room with a resignation or reassignment request.

So far that hadn’t happened and Wyoma wanted to pick Dendron’s brain to see what she could do to head off what she knew in her gut had to be coming. “I’ve tried talking to this about her,” the captain admitted, “but Helen just says everything is fine and buries herself even more into her work,” she shook her head, and bit her lip. “I know she’s not fine, but I’m not sure how to get her to open up.”

“I think that’s going to take some time,” Dendron said, “She needs to reconcile all the emotions she is feeling and that process works differently for everyone.”

“I understand,” Wyoma said, a small sigh escaping her lips. Norrbom’s coolness hadn’t affected her job one bit, but Redfeather missed her friend. “So this is something I have to sit back and allow to happen.”

“Or not,” Dendron added with a slight wince, “My apologies.”

“No, no, you are right,” the captain shook her head. “She might not be able to reconcile her feelings regarding my decision.”

“That is a possibility,” Dendron stroked his goatee again. “I didn’t want to give you false hope.”

“Thanks Denny,” Wyoma’s smile was wan.

“Regarding the rest of the crew’s feelings regarding Mr. Donar,” the Andorian moved on smoothly, “there is one noticeable holdout.”

“Dr. Narsan,” the captain said. The counselor nodded, his smile receding. One blot on Commander Donar’s record had occurred during a botched rescue mission on Kesprytt III. Donar had been a part of Special Missions Team-9 which had conducted the mission.

Scores of Kes had died as a result. One of the Federation casualties had been Egren’s spouse. The Halanan had pulled from his own tragic experiences to help provide solace to Wyoma during her time of grief as well. The captain had made sure to seek out Narsan’s advice before making her final decision, and at the time the man had expressed no reservations. But now that Tai had come aboard, Narsan suddenly didn’t have time to do anything but the most precursory medical scan on the man.

“I have spoken with the Chief Medical Officer,” Dendron said. “He was very communicative. He knows he shouldn’t blame Commander Donar for what happened, and in a way, he doesn’t, he said that he thought he had moved on, but whenever he sees the man he thinks of his wife.” The Andorian stopped, his face contorting with frustration. “There is little I can do to help him at this stage except recommend continued sessions to allow him to express his frustration and anger.”

“Anger?” Redfeather asked, shocked; even though she shouldn’t have been. She had been very angry herself in the months after Mohmand’s murder. She had blamed God, fate, the universe, and especially the Cardassian militants. The anger had become so strong, so poisonous that for a time it had nearly imperiled her career. She had to take a leave of absence and Commander McDuffie had graciously stepped in, as well as out, when she returned. So she knew how stultifying unchecked anger could be. “Perhaps, I could speak to him as well?” she suggested.

“I think that would be a great help,” Dendron nodded.

“Is that the real reason you came to see me?” The captain was finally catching on.

“Absolutely. Not.” Dendron smiled. “I came to see that Tenarian Glow smile of yours.” The captain blew through her teeth.

“On that note…”

“I’m being dismissed, aren’t I?” The Andorian was already standing up.

“You’re a better mind reader than I thought.” The captain quipped.
************************************************** ****************

USS Erickson
Main Bridge

The seat opposite Commander Donar was empty. Lt. Commander Norrbom, as acting executive officer, should have been filling it, but the woman had chosen to remain at her post on the deck ringing the command well.

The tall, willowy, ash blond woman was awkwardly propped over her standing console, gazing a bit too intently at her console. Tai knew when someone was avoiding eye contact with him. He had trained enough evasive recruits to know the signs. Of course, it wasn’t fear driving the woman’s behavior. He also sensed how rigid her body language became in his presence, how her throat constricted, and her expression grew impassive.

If he didn’t know signs so obvious that someone didn’t care for him he wouldn’t long been carrion food. Of course the real question was what was he going to do about it? On Angosia III, disagreements could be solved with personal combat and if necessary, lethal personal combat, but he was a long way from home. He was even a long way from Special Missions, which sometimes also solved disagreements in physical ways.

He knew that was not the appropriate course to take with the operations officer, though she might have been game. He smiled at the thought.

“Something funny Commander?” Captain Redfeather sauntered onto the bridge, a padd clutched in her hand. Before he could get up, she waved for him to remain sitting. “Have you seen A’nurd’s latest status report on multiphasic shield output?”

“Yes ma’am,” Donar said.

“Our current shield strength is good, but I think we can do better,” she said, “If we have to go into the expanse I want to make certain the multiphasic shield generation holds.”

“Understood captain,” the Angosian replied, shooting out of his seat. “I’ll see to it at once.”

Both senior officers were drawn to a soft, but noticeable throat clearing. “Something you care to add Helen?” The captain asked.

“Perhaps I can talk to A’nurd,” she suggested, looking only at the captain, as if Donar didn’t exist. “I know that Main Engineering has to be a mad house right now, and could also lend a hand. I did get my start as an engineer.”

The captain nodded, “Of course I remember.” She turned back to Donar. “What do you think Commander?”

Tai pursed his lips as he contemplated his reply. He wasn’t sure what the captain was angling at. He felt put on the spot and he didn’t like it. There was an expectant gleam in her eye, and he knew she was testing him on some level. He didn’t know what answer she wanted, and he didn’t care for obsequiousness. He had never been one for shipboard politics. He liked the direct, blunt approach the best. “Captain I think…”

The captain snapped loudly, interrupting him. The gleam took on a devilish twinkle. “How about you two both go inform A’nurd that I want the multiphasic projection matrix increased by 2000 cochranes to account for subspace compression factor if we for some unfortunate occurrence have to warp the hell into or out of the expanse.”

Tai looked at the operations officer before he replied. Her wintry gaze nearly gave him freezer burn. “We will see to it at once captain,” he said quickly, peeved at his delayed reaction. He met Norrbom’s icy blue eyes again. “After you Commander,” he gestured toward the turbolift.

Norrbom dipped her head and gave a pointed look at the captain before acceding to his gesture. She stalked toward the lift, barely hiding her impatience as she waited on the first officer to step out of the command well to join her. The Angosian couldn’t help but look back at the captain once more as he ascended the steps toward the lift. The woman eased into her command chair, a satisfied smile on her face.
************************************************** **************

Last edited by DarKush; June 21 2012 at 03:28 AM.
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Old June 21 2012, 05:07 AM   #21
Gibraltar
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Oh, yes, Tai's definitely going to have to get to the bottom of this. And the captain obviously thinks she's helping by sticking the two of them in a turbolift together.

Well, knowing Donar, this situation might be sorted by the time they reach engineering.
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Old June 21 2012, 06:29 PM   #22
Dnoth
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Gibraltar wrote: View Post
Oh, yes, Tai's definitely going to have to get to the bottom of this. And the captain obviously thinks she's helping by sticking the two of them in a turbolift together.

Well, knowing Donar, this situation might be sorted by the time they reach engineering.
Yeah, I was also concerned about Redfeather's good intentions.
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Old June 24 2012, 02:41 PM   #23
CeJay
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Nothing like some good ol'fashioned tension among the crew following the introduction of an outsider.

Tai is the odd an out here with no fault of his own but as the XO he'll have to figure out quickly how to fix up the slighted Norrbom and either get her full support or find another way to deal with her. Even if that means getting her off the ship. The status quo is not tenable.
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Old July 4 2012, 04:52 PM   #24
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Happy Fourth everyone! As always thanks for commenting and reading.

************************************************** ***************
Shuttlecraft Greenaugh

“I know,” Lt. Shashlik said, cutting off the science officer, “It looks vaguely Tholian in design,” she finished. The alien ship looked like a large, dimmed pyramid lying on its side. Ensign Fryer tensed at the mention of the reclusive, territorial species.

“I just said it looked somewhat like a Tholian vessel, not that it was one,” she chided him gently, “Cool your thrusters.”

“Yes sir,” he replied, though he now looked at the ship through slitted eyes. The Kaylar took in the darkened, pitted hull dominating the front viewer. The vessel was large, much larger than any Tholian ship or freighter she had seen before, but it had a similar, conical shape.

“I am not reading any Tholian life signs,” Ramlo was still on audio. “And the power readings are totally incompatible with Tholian propulsion.”

“So what’s powering that thing, or did power it?” Shashlik asked, clenching her hands in anticipation of beaming aboard the alien craft.

“I’m reading residual polaric ion isotope signatures,” Ramlo said, pausing. Both Shashlik and Fryer shared a confused look.

“Why is that important?” Rarely did Shashlik like to not have the appearance of knowing what was going on around her, but this find was too important for vanity.

“I think we need to get aboard that vessel,” Ramlo said instead, quickening her interest. “I’ll meet you on the bridge.”

“Oyekan just beamed down one,” Fryer said just seconds later.

“I’m usually the one chomping at the bit,” Shashlik grinned as she eased out of her seat, fighting against the bulky white EV suit. Despite a more streamlined design, the suit still hampered her movement. She trudged over to the transporter alcove, snatching up her helmet along with a utility belt with a tricorder and a phaser clipped to it that she had left by the transporter pad in anticipation of an away. Jumping on the pad, she turned to Fryer. “Keep this channel open and be ready for an emergency beam out,” she ordered. She slid on the helmet and sealed it before nodding at him, “Beam me down.”
************************************************** **************

USS Erickson
Main Bridge

“I wonder if I should shut off power to the turbolift?” Captain Redfeather wondered aloud, prompting several chuckles from the bridge. “Would that be me being bad captain again?”

“Bad captain,” Lt. French intoned. “Very bad.”

“I know,” Redfeather smiled, turning half-way in her seat to the row of consoles behind her. A spry Tellarite was operating Helen’s station. “Lieutenant, please shut off the power to the turbolift.”

The Tellarite paused, one shaggy, brown eyebrow raising in a Vulcan-like manner. She looked back up at the captain, a curious expression on her porcine face. “Captain the turbolift has already stopped.”

Redfeather pursed her lips, nodding with satisfaction. “Somebody on that lift gets it.”

“Well let’s just hope they both come back in one piece,” French muttered.

“Amen to that Tim,” Redfeather added.
************************************************** **************

Alien Vessel
Bridge

“This can’t be a coincidence,” Ramlo said, flashing the wrist lamp around the room. The walls were filled with polished, orange gemstone etchings of gigantic, six-legged figures, crystalline in shape. “Those are Tholians,” he remarked, his voice sounding tinny coming from his helmet’s speakers. “And the data that I have downloaded from their computer banks has similarities to Tholian script.”

Except for the elaborate etchings the bridge was largely unadorned. Ramlo was surprised that such a large and advanced vessel as this ship appeared to be only had one steering console, standing at the very prow of the bridge.

“Both of my optical units are functioning Ram,” Shashlik said, bending down, “but it makes no sense,” she said, running her tricorder over the one burned husk on the deck. “These bio-readings do not contain the mineralogical makeup of Tholian physiology,” she said, chancing to touch the blackened corpse. She noticed the plumed hat, its tip reminding her of flames. “They are, were, carbon based life forms.”

“I had already deduced that they weren’t Tholians, chiefly due to the environmental factors on the ship. There are scant traces of the methane-chlorine mix that the Tholians breathe. It was a standard oxygen mix until the air was vented from the vessel due to hull perforations.”

Shashlik stood back up again. “Which brings me to my next point,” she said, her rage starting to simmer. “Who attacked these people and why?”

“A good question and I don’t have the slightest clue,” Ramlo admitted.

“Could it be the Calderans?” The Kaylar ventured. Though not as famously territorial or xenophobic as the Tholians or Sheliak, the species native to this stretch of space weren’t known for being neighborly.

“It is a possibility,” Ramlo conceded, tapping his long chin with the edge of his tricorder. “However, they are a deuterium based, biomimetic life form that generally doesn’t leave the gas giant they inhabit at the edge of the eponymous expanse.”

“So you don’t think it was them?” Shashlik asked.

“It is doubtful, but not completely beyond the realm of actuality.” The Arkenite admitted. “Perhaps a deeper exploration of the ship might yield us those answers.”

“Agreed,” Shashlik said, giving the bridge a once over again before following the scientist out in the pitch black corridor.
************************************************** *************
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Old July 4 2012, 06:09 PM   #25
CeJay
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Redfeather is a bad captain. I like that. But this time it didn't even appear as if she had to be. I'm eager to find out what kind of words are being exchanged in the 'lift.

In the meantime we have a two-folded mystery on our hands on the alien vessel. Who are these people and who killed them ... and why? OK, three-fold, I guess.

Great stuff. Must have more.
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Old July 5 2012, 11:35 PM   #26
DarKush
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

CeJay,

Here is a little more. I hope you enjoy it. I'm also glad you are enjoying Captain Redfeather. It was my hope to make the Erickson crew a bit more light-hearted than some of the other crews I've written about in past stories. Of course I can't go without having some interpersonal conflict.

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

USS Erickson
Turbolift

“This is highly improper, not to mention unprofessional and unbecoming of an officer of your rank!” Lt. Commander Norrbom snapped, folding her arms across her chest, her gaze becoming wintrier.

Commander Donar set his feet as well as his jaw, ratcheting up his determination. But the Angosian did take a step back. He didn’t want to loom over the woman, or give her the impression that he was trying to intimidate her. “Commander Norrbom,” he started slowly, patiently, “we have been tiptoeing around each other too long. Since we have been largely on routine assignments, I was content to let the situation work itself out in time, but now that we are headed into a potentially hostile situation, I need to know where things stand. Our ability to trust each other might become the difference between life and death in the Caldera Expanse.”

Norrbom tightened her arms across her chest, and shifted her jaw, her expression totally unconvinced. “We have to get down to Main Engineering…sir.”

“Not until we hash this out,” he stated.

“Hash what out exactly?” She asked, her flippancy making his bottom lip twitch with frustration. He exhaled, quickly centering himself.

“I had no intention of denying you this position,” he said. “That wasn’t my plan.”

“But here you are,” she retorted, gesturing at him.

“There was nothing perfidious about my placement aboard Erickson,” he said, not liking his defensive tone.

The operations officer chuckled, the sound harsh. “Sure,” she said, her contorted features belying the words, “I can see no cronyism at all in the fact that you’re buddies with the newly installed Admiral Glover, a man who has the sympathies of the whole Federation for the loss of his father and for what he himself endured at the hands of the Romulans. The Admiralty would practically give the man anything he wanted, and it seems what Glover wanted to do was hook up his friends.”

Tai’s face flashed hot, and he tugged at his collar, in a vain attempt to give the heat rising throughout his body a release valve. “I think you have totally misconstrued what occurred…”

Norrbom blithely waved away the man’s denial, “Look sir, that’s fleet politics and I understand that, and I can’t be too mad about it, to be honest, because I know that you’ve had a distinguished service record. You’ve got a lot more experience than me.”

“Okay,” Donar said, cooling down a tick. “If you think I am qualified for the position…”

“I do,” she said, interrupting him for a second time. In the interest of furthering the dialogue, Tai let it pass. “Based on your Starfleet service record, I think you could be a great addition to Erickson.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“Do you really want to know?” Norrbom leaned forward, spearing him with her stare. Her eyes raked over his face and eventually found his heads. She held his gaze, as if she was trying to burrow into his soul. He nodded, without breaking the hold.

“Yes, Commander, I want to know,” Donar said, trying not to bark the words.

“Despite how gold plated your record is, you’re a weapon, designed in a lab somewhere, no better really than the Jem’Hadar!” She hurled the words at him and he back stepped, feeling stung. It was like the woman had saw into his very soul and uncovered one of his deepest fears.

With a full head of steam, the woman continued, “Sure there was a purpose for a person like you during the war, but what about peacetime huh? You were made to kill, not to explore, not to look over ship reports, or build communities among the crew aboard starships, and Erickson is more than a job for me, more than a stepping stone, this crew is family, and having you around them is like having a fully charged disruptor lying around your house. Who knows when that weapon might go off?”

“Weapons generally need someone to utilize them,” Donar pointed out.

“Not from what I’ve learned about your some of the Tarsian War veterans,” Norrbom shot back. Her smile was cruel as she plunged the knife in deeper, “Oh yeah, I did some research. I know how they locked you and others like you away after the war. You couldn’t cope with the peace, you were a threat to the social order.”

“That-that was a long time ago, a different war,” Tai looked away from her, momentarily engulfed in sorrowful, terrible memories.

“It’s admirable how you have tried to put that war behind you,” he heard Norrbom saying, from someplace high above the well he now found himself in. “But what about the Dominion War, huh? Who knows what demons it’s conjured in you? Who knows what needs to be exorcised now?”

“I, like every other veteran, have undergone psych evaluations,” he said, his voice faltering. Norrbom shook her head, disbelieving.

“Our head doctors might be good, but obviously not good enough. You know that Federation News Service has been all over the rash of mental breakdowns that have affected war veterans, even some ‘cleared’ by the shrinks.”

Tai shook his head, hating the woman’s words but despising the truth in them even more. He had been troubled by the news reports, each one reminding him of old colleagues that had not made it home, even though they survived the war, and of his own struggles with adjusting to the hard won peace, then and now.

“I-I didn’t know the depth of your antipathy,” he said, “but now I do.”

“So, what are you going to do about it?” Norrbom was literally hugging herself, her arms were wrapped so tightly around her, and for the first time Tai could see beyond the anger, and he saw the fear that was melting the ice in her gaze. She was afraid of him, afraid of what he might do.

Admittedly Donar had used his size and the reputation of Angosians as super soldiers at times in the past when necessary in Special Missions, but he had often tried to be as nonthreatening as possible aboard Starfleet vessels and for the most part, he had thought he had been successful. He had never encountered this level of resistance on the Aegis, and he had even found a second chance at love with Juanita.

He didn’t know what to do, or how to allay the woman’s fears. Grasping for an answer, he fell back on what he knew, or had observed from a man who he considered a mentor, Terrence Glover. The admiral had shown a lot of faith in him and he wasn’t going to let him down. Thinking about how Glover might handle the situation, Tai formulated a reply. “Well,” he started slowly, considering his words, “I do appreciate your honesty, but let me be clear with you. I intend to continue in this posting and give my all to the Erickson and her crew. You don’t have to like me, but you will respect me, and the chain of command. Is that clear?”

It took Norrbom a moment to work her mouth to say, “Yes sir.”

“Further, I don’t have a problem with you extant, and I won’t have a problem with you if you respect my authority,” the Angosian continued. “But if you find yourself unable to do so, I suggest you take another starship posting. And is that clear, Commander?”

“Yes sir,” she said more quickly, the chill in her voice dropping to freezing levels.

After ordering the lift to resume to Engineering, Donar said, “I really do appreciate your honesty.” He hoped the woman saw his words for the olive branch that they were. “I hope that we can continue this dialogue.”

“May I speak freely sir?” Norrbom ventured.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Honestly…I don’t,” she said, just as the turbolift reached their destination.
************************************************** *************
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Old July 6 2012, 06:22 PM   #27
Gibraltar
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Wow, Norrbom really let Donar have it with both barrels, didn’t she? In her defense, Tai did ask her what her problem was and then granted her permission to speak freely.

Norrbom is just saying what many others in the crew are undoubtedly thinking about the Angosian. He’s got a long road ahead to prove himself to Erickson’s crew, and demonstrate that he’s a leader who cares about the welfare of his subordinates. Fortunately, Tai Donar isn’t the kind to back down from a challenge.
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Old July 7 2012, 01:54 PM   #28
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

It was a conversation that had to be had. But I have little sympathy for Norrbom here. I may understand her feelings but they are highly prejudiced and as a Starfleet officer she should really be above that. Or at the very least hide them well enough that they are a non-issue.

But maybe that's because I know Donar better than she does. Maybe she and Erickson's crew will need a chance to get to know the man. Clearly Norrbom is not interested. Yet.
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Old July 8 2012, 04:21 PM   #29
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

I appreciate both of your comments. Instead of waiting to build up the eventual confrontation between Tai and Helen, I decided to just go for it early on. And I wanted to put all of Helen's fears out there so that she doesn't come across-hopefully-as a bad person. And I wanted her fears to also mirror some of Tai's own doubts. As Gibraltar said, some of the other crew are probably thinking some of the same things and I wanted that doubt to be out there to weigh on Tai's mind as the story goes forward. And as CeJay said, the Erickson crew and Tai definitely need to continue getting to know each other and perhaps that will allay the mutual concerns...or add to them. Read on to find out.


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

Alien Vessel

By birth and occupation, Lt. Ramlo was not one to be swayed by emotion or superstition. However they deeper they traversed into the dead ship, his trepidation multiplied. He was glad that Shashlik was with him. She walked quietly at his side, her compression rifle at the ready.

But even with her there, he couldn’t quite shake the feeling of dread resting on his shoulders, and wiggling into his thoughts. Each body they passed, as burned out a husk as had been the corpse they had found on the bridge, only confirmed his suspicions that something wicked had befallen the crew.

Something so terrible that they had preferred self-immolation. “I still can’t believe it,” Shashlik’s voice squeaked through his helmet’s receiver. “That an entire ship would commit mass suicide,” her helmet shook. Ramlo was surprised, pleasantly so, that his concerns were so transparent. Even though they were no longer together, the simpatico between them remained, an ember of a fire that could perhaps be rekindled in time.

“I stand by my hypothesis,” Ramlo said. “The proof is growing incontrovertible,” he declared. “My readings indicate that most of the corpses were incinerated, from the inside out.”

Shashlik stopped and faced him, a ghastly expression on her face. “But why? How could they do that to themselves?”

“As opposed to being shot or stabbed,” the Arkenite didn’t mean for his reply to sound so flip. Along the way Shashlik had first discovered a few dead bodies that had been sliced open with blades or punctured with projectile weapons. Their tricorders even picked up faint disintegrator static, so the unfortunates had been set upon by assailants with a variety of weapons, none that could be traced to a definitive source. Among the few disintegrator markers the devices had noted were Type 3, usually used by Klingons, Breen, or Romulans, Eminian sonic disruptors, or banned Varon-Ts’, so the culprits could have been anyone.

“I would have preferred facing a warrior’s death, on my feet than taking my own life,” Shashlik stated, a note of disgust clouding her concern about the fate of these travelers. “It would have been far preferable.”

“From your cultural perspective,” Ramlo couldn’t help but point out. Despite all of her admirable qualities, her physical strength and strength of purpose, her compassion for her fellow crew aboard Erickson, and her sharp military mind, Ramlo often found her cultural bias disappointing. Shash often felt that everyone should think or feel like she, or the Kaylar did, and the universe was just simply too big for that. It was an ongoing debate between them.

“So you agree with this mass suicide?” Exasperation was heavy in her voice.

“I didn’t say I agreed, or disagreed, but perhaps these people took what they felt was the best option, as opposed to being butchered,” Ramlo answered. “Perhaps it was the most logical course of action.”

Shashlik snorted, “Now you sound like a Vulcan.”

“Well you do know I spent several years at their Science Academy,” he pointed out. The Kaylar leaned in close enough so that he could see her roll her eyes.

“I know, I know, you love to tout that don’t you?”

“No, I was just saying,” Ramlo replied, feeling a little defensive.

“Yes, you went to the intergalactically prestigious Science Academy,” Shash shrugged her broad shoulders, “well why you were learning how logical it was to kill yourself, I was surviving real life and death trials to earn my place among my clan.”

“As I have heard before too,” Ramlo allowed a wearied tone into his voice. “Are you going to regale me with another tale of how carried an egg unbroken in your mouth while you battled mountain devils and winged raptor-wolves while making your way unaided through the Ingarr Mountains?”

“Well, it was an amazing feat,” now Shash felt a little sheepish. “And I did it without food or water, wearing only a loincloth.”

“Thank you for that visual at least,” the Arkenite smoothly injected. It took the warrior a moment to catch on. Then she cuffed him hard on the back, almost knocking him over.

“Still the same old slime snake you are,” the security officer continued laughing. “After all this time, you still amuse me.”

“A good thing, I guess,” Ramlo ventured.

“Why yes Ram,” Shashlik peered down at him again, “because I don’t think you want to be on the opposite side of my laughter.”

“No, I’ve seen the results of that,” Ramlo replied, “I’m happy where I’m at.”
************************************************** ***************

Shuttlecraft Greenaugh

Ensign Roland Fryer frowned as he scanned the data rolling across his screen, sent from the Oyekan. “How did you pick up this warp trail?”

“More like a reconstruction,” Ensign Karen Kittles replied, a satisfied smile on her face. “While waiting on Lieutenants Ramlo and Shashlik to return or make their next report, I isolated all energy signatures that were not naturally occurring in the expanse. It’s been the proverbial needle in the haystack, but I think we’ve got the escape routes leading into the expanse for the monsters that attacked the ship.”

“No, you’ve got it,” Fryer said, his furrowed brow smoothing out again. He smiled, “Good job Karen.” The fair, freckled woman smiled, and Fryer’s heart skipped a beat. He tried to recover by getting back to business, “We need to inform the lieutenants about this.”

Kittles’ smile dimmed. “I’m not so sure we should do that,” she answered, prompting both Roland’s eyebrows to shoot up in confusion.

“Why?”

“Well, this is all just speculation, and I don’t want to take them away from their investigation.”

“But this is something that majorly impacts that investigation,” Fryer pointed out, not sure why he would need to, with Karen of all people.

“Maybe,” she replied, “however this could just be totally unrelated traffic.”

“Yeah,” Fryer riposted, “you don’t believe that either.”

“You’re right Roland, I don’t,” she admitted, “However, you know what they say about me on the ship, how I’m a kiss ass and a ladder climber, well, I don’t want to play into that by jumping the gun.”

“Or is it that you don’t want to make a mistake that might derail your career choices?” As much as Fryer liked the beautiful, red cornrowed woman, he was never one to hide from the truth. Karen glared at him, a pinched expression marring her beautiful features.

“That’s not it at all,” she shot back.

“Okay,” he shrugged, unconvinced, “Then I think we should inform the lieutenants.”

“No,” she shook her head, “Let me look into this.”

“You know the captain told us not to go into the expanse.” He pointed out. “And what do you think defying her orders are going to do for your ambitions, whether you find something or not?”

Karen shrugged, “If I find nothing, no harm, no foul, and it will just be between us, but if I do verify the warp trails, I could see me getting a commendation for original thinking.”

“You’re delusional, you know that right?” Fryer pointed out, hoping to splash the cold water of reality onto his colleague.

“Look Roland, it’ll be a quick in and out, I promise.”

He shook his head. “Hey I’ve heard that before.”

“You’ve probably used that line before on one of your many suitors,” she smiled at him, a lascivious gleam in her green eyes. The temperature suddenly increased in the shuttle’s cabin. Fryer resisted the urge to tug at his mustard collar.

“I wouldn’t say that,” he managed, after a big gulp.

“Roland, I would,” she remarked, “and others say the same thing.”

“Stop kidding.”

“I’m not, no joke,” she said, “I’ve heard that you’ve sent a few hearts fluttering around the ship. It’s made me curious to see what all the fuss is about.”

Roland tugged on his collar, unable to resist any longer. “You know this isn’t working Karen.”

“Yes it is,” she replied, punctuating it with a musical laugh. “I promise it will be quick, and once I have confirmed that they are actual warp trails, I’ll be back, and once we’re back on Erickson…”

“I should back you up,” Fryer said, pulling his last card. “What if the Tholians are involved? You can’t handle them on your own.”

“I don’t think even two shuttles could deal with a Tholian warship,” Kittles said, “and I definitely have no problem with discretion being the better part of valor. If anything, if there are Tholians hiding out in the expanse I can warn you, the lieutenants, and Erickson in case they have an ambush in mind.”

“Not buying it,” Fryer insisted, “I’ll go with you.”

“And risk incurring Shashlik’s wrath?” Kittles asked. “I don’t think so.”

“Good point,” Roland replied. He sighed, “I know I’m going to regret this but do it quick, and Karen, please be safe.”

“Back in a flash,” she promised before signing off. Out of his port window he watched the Oyekan break away from the shuttle and zip into the expanse’s coruscating gases.

Whatever happened going forward, Roland just knew that his own life had just had a major turning point, and he just hoped that Karen got back before the oppressive finality of that thought fully seeped into his consciousness.
************************************************** **************
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Old July 8 2012, 07:40 PM   #30
CeJay
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Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

Famous last words: 'Back in a flash.'

Kittles may have just sealed her fate but I enjoy the ongoing crew banter here. Yes, these are professionals (for the most part) but they're also friends who have served with each other a long time. I really like how you are bringing that across.
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