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Old August 18 2013, 09:59 PM   #31
Tribble puncher
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

TheLoneRedshirt wrote: View Post
Tribble puncher wrote: View Post
I hope this story doesn't go the way of "Tales of the Bluefin: Trajectory"
Gibraltar shared with the United Trek writers that he will be on hiatus for an indeterminate period. We all hope he is able to resume writing soon.

As to "Trajectory," I apologize for the lengthy delay. Due to work and health issues, I haven't done any writing in over a year. Both situations have improved and I may get back to writing before long.

-TLR

Thanks for bringing us up to date. My comment was meant with the utmost respect, as I followed both this Story and Trajectory and was dissapointed when the new material stopped. I understand you guys do this out of love and have lives and issues that take precidence. That being said, glad to hear your health is improving and look foward to reading new stuff!
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Old August 19 2013, 03:54 AM   #32
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UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 3 cont'd)

Chapter Three
<cont'd>

USS Europa

The holodeck had been laid out in an exacting replica of Europa’s briefing room, as to make best use of the chamber’s holographic capabilities.

Lieutenant(j.g.) Lightner was making his first presentation as the ship’s newly appointed Strategic Operations Officer. At Lar’ragos’ encouragement, he’d taken on that new assignment in addition to his helm duties. The captain hoped that it would become a first step for the young man into the larger world of command.

The starship was underway at Warp Eight, on course for a system two sectors distant, the farthest push yet into the Delta Quadrant by a participant of Vanguard. En route, they would carry out tests to determine if the transwarp drive could be restored to operability.

A bright yellow line traced its way through the starscape above their heads, denoting Europa’s present course to its ultimate destination. “This is us,” Lighner began. “As you can see, we are only one of a number of vessels undertaking operations in this theater at present.”

An orange line arcing in the opposite direction was highlighted as Lightner narrated. “This is Valiant escorting the Gilsan Aggregate convoy to a Class-M planet that Giacobini surveyed six weeks ago in System D-463/8. Valiant will be helping them to establish a colony site and an orbital defense grid. That mission will likely keep Valiant's crew occupied for most of the next three months.”

A green line, some parsecs distant, indicated yet another TFV vessel. “Ascendant is presently shadowing the alien fleet formation designated UIF-6 as it approaches the coreward-most shelf of the Norma Arm. We don’t know their intentions, as it appears most if not all the lifeforms aboard their ships are in cryonic suspension and the vessels aren’t responding to linga-code hails.”

Lightner continued, detailing the assignments of a half-dozen other starships before moving on to address Europa’s latest mission.

“Our task out here is two-fold. Our secondary assignment is to try and get the transwarp drive working again. Our primary task, however, is to attempt to locate Captain Sandhurst’s tribe of Amon who are believed to be operating somewhere in this region. Their pattern to date indicates they prey on the resulting confrontations between the incoming alien fleets and those settled societies in the refugee’s path.”

The overhead image shifted, speeding ahead of Europa’s golden course marker to their destination sector. “One of our advance reconnaissance probes has been tracking two incoming fleet formations in close proximity to one another and traveling at identical warp velocities. From the probe’s observations, it appears their technology is sufficiently dissimilar to suggest they are separate species, and detectable damage to both fleets and recurring energy blooms believed to be weapon exchanges are indicative of sustained warfare between the two groups.”

A red line charting the shared course of these two entwined formations traced towards a nearby star. “They are heading for a system containing a Class-M world that another of our probes identified as being home to a sentient species. The planet-bound species is estimated to have a level of technology analogous to that of mid-nineteenth century Earth. However, indications of derelict high-orbit artificial satellites and abandoned lunar installations suggest that the native species achieved some level of technological sophistication before a general societal collapse prompted their backslide.

“The resulting struggle that we anticipate over this planet and its natural resources by these two more advanced cultures will likely involve in a significant death toll, which is why we believe it may be an opportune target for Amon ‘harvesting.’”

With a nod, Lightner turned the briefing over to Shanthi. The tall Zulu stood, calling up an enhanced image of the bluish-green sphere. “This is Alanthal, the planet in question. We’ve begun attenuating our sensors to detect the dimensionally offset collection arrays the Amon typically place in orbit around worlds they’re feeding on. We haven’t identified any yet, but we’re still a long way out from the system.”

“We’ve all read the brief,” an agitated Georgia Kirk remarked, holding up her padd. “And if we find the Amon, what then?” She was obviously unwilling to sit passively through the rest of Lightner and Shanthi’s scripted presentations. “What if they don’t want to talk? Have you seen the tactical specs on that souped-up cube they’re flying?”

Shanthi looked down at her with hooded eyes. “Actually, Lieutenant, I’ve stood toe-to-toe with it. Many of those around this table have as well.”

Lar’ragos considered intervening, but ultimately took a page from Sandhurst’s leadership guidebook and allowed the two officers to grind down one another’s rough edges via friction. He could sense Wu’s frustration with the ongoing interplay, but disciplined as she was, Wu refrained from looking to Lar’ragos or showing any visible sign of her irritation.

“We’ll have an ‘in’ with Sandhurst,” Shanthi pointed out.

“He’s one man,” Kirk replied disbelievingly. “And based on how he fought his way off this ship, they’d pretty well pickled his brains on life-essence already. You really think one AWOL Starfleet officer with a monkey on his back that size is going to sway an entire nation to our side?”

A flicker of uncertainty clouded Shanthi’s expression. “We’ll have the captain… and Commander Pell,” he continued haltingly.

Kirk waved one hand dismissively. “Oh, well then, by all means. Just so long as we’ve got a duranium-clad plan in place.”

“That’s enough,” Wu called, verbally stepping in between the two.

Kirk turned her gaze on the XO. “Respectfully, sir, you should be the one pointing all this out. I realize that most of the senior-staff have served together for years, and that to them this scheme might make some kind of sense, but to me it sounds like a blindly desperate stab in the dark.”

“It’s the plan we have,” Wu uttered in a frosty voice. “This is where you shut up and listen, Lieutenant.”

Kirk raised her hands in a mock gesture of surrender. “Aye, sir.”

Shanthi directed a question towards Leone. “I trust you’ve had the chance to look over the tactical profile of the Amon vessel?”

“I have,” Dom replied seriously. “My assessment of their capabilities would be that anything short of a devastating sneak-attack with an Alpha Weapon would leave us completely at their mercy. They’re hundreds of times our mass with the firepower to match.”

The science officer’s response was a patient, “We’re not planning on fighting these Amon.”

Leone held the taller man’s gaze effortlessly. “And have these Amon acknowledged receipt of that memo, Lieutenant?”

Shanthi turned his back dismissively on Leone and looked to Lar’ragos. “A little help, sir? I don’t see that I have to justify our mission to anyone.”

“No, of course not,” Lar’ragos agreed, sitting forward. “For those of you who are new here, I understand that I can’t expect the same confidence that I do from those I’ve served with previously. We’ve been through a great deal together, and that underlying trust is something that can’t be replicated quickly. I’ll have to ask each of you to extend me a certain amount of faith that I and those above me who planned this mission are more familiar with the circumstances and the players than you.”

There was a grudging expression of acceptance from Kirk, and Leone appeared skeptical but resolute.

“Sandhurst’s presence carries great weight among the Amon,” Lar’ragos explained. “It’s true that we don’t fully understand his particular significance and all it portends, but we hope that it can be exploited in order to foster an alliance between our peoples.”

That seemed to quell the figurative murmurs of dissent from the newcomers, and Shanthi picked up where he’d left off. “The approach of the alien species to Alanthal will also give us better opportunity to observe their tactical strengths and weaknesses, should we eventually have to oppose either or both groups down the line.”

“Dare I ask as to the fate of the indigenous population?” Counselor Liu inquired. “May I presume the Prime Directive is being invoked here?”

“Yes,” Lightner confirmed, fielding the query for Shanthi who again wore a pained expression. “They have no weapons advanced enough to allow for any kind of effective defense. The best case scenario for them would be to hunker down and try to stay out of the way while the two spacefaring species plunder their world for natural resources.”

Jaws set and eyes hardened around the table.

Lar’ragos spoke up to dissuade another round of fruitless inquiries. “Tragic though it is, the plight of the native Alanthians is not our concern. We are interested in this world because it fits the profile we believe most tempting to the Amon.”

“Collateral damage, then?” Liu said acidly, his unmistakable pout of distaste aimed directly at Lar’ragos.

“Natural selection,” Lar’ragos countered without missing a beat.

“Easy for you to sa—“ Liu began, only to be cut off in mid-sentence by Pava’s fist crashing down onto the table top.

“Stop acting like a goddamn child, Counselor!” Lar’ragos barked, startling more than one person at the table. “A first-year cadet understands the why’s and wherefore’s of the Prime Directive, and I won’t waste my breath debating the subject with you out here on the bleeding edge of the Delta Quadrant. And while we’re on the subject, next time you want to flaunt your moralistic hand-wringing over the fate of a helpless victim species, perhaps you shouldn’t try it with someone whose whole race was annihilated by the fucking Borg!”

A shocked silence followed and Liu appeared to be expending a great deal of energy on inspecting his hands resting in his lap, as everyone else wished mightily that they were exactly anyplace other than here.

“We’ll try this again in two hours, people. When you return, leave your bleeding hearts at the door. We’re here to prevent a giga-deathcrime from being visited upon the Alpha Quadrant, and I’ll thank all of you to remember that.”

Lar’ragos’ eyes scorched across everyone at the table. “Everyone except Commander Wu is dismissed.”

After the others had beat a hasty retreat from the holodeck, Wu gazed impassively at Lar’ragos from across the table. “That may be one of the best impressions of Lucian Ebnal I’ve ever seen employed, sir,” she remarked dryly.

Lar’ragos smirked. “It did the trick. I need them all focused on the big picture here, not obsessing over those we can’t save.”

“Just between us,” Wu inquired blatantly, “just how much of a gamble is our present mission?”

“A blind man grasping at straws blown by gale-force winds would stand a better chance of success than we do,” he answered with equal candor.

She digested that in silence for a long moment. “Why me?” Wu asked.

“You’re a soldier, like me,” he replied. “Come what may, you’ll follow orders and complete the mission, if at all possible.” Lar’ragos stood, turning away from her. “Before this is over, we may well be called upon to do… unspeakable things, Commander. I needed a hard hand, and a harder heart from my XO.”

“You’ll have both,” Wu answered sincerely.

“I know.”

* * *
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Old August 19 2013, 07:35 AM   #33
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Glad to see you back and writing again.
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Old August 19 2013, 02:21 PM   #34
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

^ Ditto!

Interesting glimpse into the complicated crew dynamics brought on by the influx of the noobs. I'm not sure how Pava will be able to pull off emulating both Sandhurst and Ebnal. If Lar'ragos turns out to be bi-polar, I fear for the existence of the universe.

Now I understand Wu's value to Pava and the mission. She checked her compassion at the door and is ready to do whatever it takes to protect the Federation, whether it involves diplomacy, finesse or genocide.

Brrr.
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Old August 19 2013, 04:43 PM   #35
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Woo hoo!
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Old August 20 2013, 08:24 PM   #36
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Wow, got all excited to see another segment posted.

Pava's outburst was interesting. I can't really tell if it was completely calculated, in which case he came across a bit like a jerk, or if he lost control for a moment. Especially considering that he yelled at his counselor of all people. Don't want to do that.

Regardless, his point comes across. And the term 'giga-deathcrime' needs to be added to the dictionary.
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Old August 25 2013, 05:08 PM   #37
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Query -- if this is Part III, where are Part I and Part II? I'd like to start reading at the beginning.
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Old August 25 2013, 09:00 PM   #38
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

See links below. You may find it easier to read a completed story over at Ad Astra.

Part 1: TrekBBS / Ad Astra

Part 2: TrekBBS / Ad Astra
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Old August 25 2013, 10:17 PM   #39
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Okay, I figured it out. I had it set to display topics with posts in the last 30 days. I had to change that. Wow! That's a lot of reading material now. I should be writing, not reading.
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Old September 1 2013, 08:22 PM   #40
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Welcome back, Gibraltar, and thank you most heartily for the fortifying "fix". Both were sorely missed. Nice way to pick things back up again. It will be interesting to see how this mission plays out, as well as how these newbies integrate with the old timers.
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Old September 16 2013, 11:24 PM   #41
Gibraltar
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UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 4)

Chapter Four


* * *

Captain’s Personal Log.

The board is set; all the pieces are in place for the coming contest. Europa is as ready as we can make her, and the crew is single-minded in their focus on the mission ahead. I wish I were as well… but I’m plagued by doubts and fears of what lies in wait for us. My concern isn’t merely for the crew, but for what failure on our part could mean for the Alpha Quadrant.

Standing on my own two feet, responsible for none but myself, I am undeniably formidable. This isn’t hubris, but hard fact underscored by my still drawing breath after everything the universe has thrown at me. Yet, I feel as though I must expand beyond myself and spread all that I am into an impossibly thin layer in an effort to encompass and protect this ship and crew. In so doing, I become vulnerable. Decades of refusing promotion, of deferring responsibility, all to avoid this damning weakness that now consumes me.

The system and situation we’re heading for are promising, obviously, but something deep in my marrow tells me that we’ll find Donald there with his warrior clan. I’m not sure how or why, but it’s a sense of certainty that I’m unable to shake.

Even if we locate him, will anything remain of the man I remember… of my friend? I fear that I may find him only to discover he has become as twisted by the Amon as Ramirez has been by the Baron. And if so, what then? Could I bring myself to destroy Donald Sandhurst?

Deities, I can’t even bring myself to say the word in reference to him… me, of all people!
Kill. Will I be able to kill the only true friend I’ve known in the last hundred years?

Before this confrontation… this Dark Contact, I must put my house in order. I have neglected members of my senior staff, some out of convenience, and others out of anger. We must form a united front if we are to survive the Amon, and that effort begins with me.

End Entry

* * *
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Old September 17 2013, 01:16 AM   #42
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Short, but painfully to the point.

Pava reveals his Achilles' heel: self-doubt when faced with the burden of command. The Most Dangerous Man in the Quadrant™ is damn near invincible when on his own - but throw in the elements of responsibility, compassion and friendship and Lar'ragos becomes all too mortal.

And the salient question - could he kill Sandhurst should it be necessary?

Hopefully, we won't have to find out.
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Old September 19 2013, 05:10 PM   #43
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

You gotta appreciate a man who can correctly identify his strength as well as his weaknesses. Pava is many things but clearly not self-deluded.

Now he's going to have to rely more than ever on his crew to be able to face what must be done. And that could be another Achilles' heel considering some of them are anything but tested.

Oh, this is going to be all kind of fun.
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Old September 22 2013, 09:33 PM   #44
Gibraltar
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UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound (Chapter 4 cont'd)

Chapter Four
<cont'd>

Pell glared across the ready room desk at Lar’ragos, her flinty gaze causing the exhausted El Aurian to look away first. “Pouting won’t change matters, Ojana,” he offered a bit too flippantly, even for his taste.

“You bring me on board and then restrict me from your senior staff meetings,” Pell countered in an even voice that belied the hard set of her features. “Please explain to me how that makes any sense whatsoever?”

“You’re not serving in the capacity of a senior officer here,” Lar’ragos explained as he struggled to collect the shredded remains of his patience. “You’re a diplomatic advisor in case we make contact with the Amon.”

“So, in the meantime I do what? Sit in the TOC and polish the consoles?”

“How you spend your time is your affair, Commander,” Lar’ragos deflected. “If I were in your boots, I’d be spending all my available time collating everything we know about the Amon in preparation for our genuine First Contact with them.”

Pell’s eyes remained fixed on Lar’ragos. “I did that before we’d left Galaxy Station, sir, and as I sent you my compilation of all relevant records prior to our departure, you already know that.” She sat forward in her chair, her posture inviting a candid reply. “What’s really going on here, Pava?”

He hesitated, but finally answered. “We’re heading for an inhabited planet that’s about to be overrun by two warring intruder species. The mission profile has certain… similarities to Velkohn.”

Pell nodded her understanding. “You wanted to avoid my causing a scene en route to the planet. I can respect that.”

Lar’ragos threw her a surprised look, clearly caught off guard by Pell’s sedate reaction.

“I was forced to learn a good deal of pragmatism as Worf’s XO, Captain,” Pell said by way of explanation. “The mass migration is a tragedy for everyone involved, and I’m not so naive as to think we can save everybody.” She gave Lar’ragos a sanguine expression. “It’s important to me to be of real value on this mission, aside from just being leverage to influence Donald.”

Lar’ragos raised his hands in a gesture of supplication. “Then I owe you an apology, Ojana. Given our strained history, I thought it was better to handle you with kid gloves.”

“I can be an asset, if you’ll let me,” Pell offered.

The El Aurian inclined his head. “I’d welcome that.”

* * *

Lar’ragos hopped from one river-wetted rock to the next in order to get close enough to Counselor Liu to be heard over the burbling river and the chattering of swooping bullet-head sparrows.

Liu stood waist-deep in the water, wearing hip waders. He cast the line from his fly-rod in gentle, swishing arcs above his head.

“This another North American river?” Lar’ragos asked, forced to raise the volume of his voice to be heard over nature’s cacophony.

“No,” Liu called back. “It’s a tributary of the Cochrane River on Alcent.” He gestured offhandedly to the reptilian bullet-heads that flitted back and forth above the river. “Not so many flying lizards on Earth anymore.”

Lar’ragos nodded distractedly, the gesture lost on Liu. “I’ve never been to Alpha Centauri.”

Liu continued fishing, and an awkward silence followed before Lar’ragos was moved to say, “I wanted to apologize for snapping at you during the staff meeting. It was out of line.”

Liu shrugged. “I did lay it on a bit thick, but I’d be lying if I said the moral ramifications of this mission didn’t bother me.”

“It’s a shit mission,” Lar’ragos admitted, “for all of us.”

“Apology accepted,” Liu said. “I’m sorry if I struck a nerve.”

“Some nerves are especially sensitive, even after four-hundred years.”

Another silence followed, this one more comfortable, leaving both men alone with their thoughts for a few minutes.

“You’re not Sandhurst,” Liu said finally.

“I never claimed to be.”

Liu turned to glance at Lar’ragos. “You keep trying to be, though. You played by Sandhurst’s rules in the engagement with Masada, and they handed us our asses.”

Lar’ragos’ expression soured. “I’m well aware of my failings, Counselor.”

“Then play to your strengths,” came Liu’s response. “You’re a bloodthirsty, cold-hearted bastard, Captain. That’s not a criticism, by the way, so much as an acknowledgement of your gifts. When you play against type, you stumble. When you’re so focused on following in Sandhurst’s footprints, you lose sight of the objective.”

Lar’ragos bit back an acidic reply as he was forced to concede the truth of Liu’s words to himself. “What would you recommend?”

“Be what you are,” Liu pressed.

“And what’s that?”

“They don’t send a man like you to make treaties, Captain. You’re not a scalpel for precisely excising a cancer. You’re the last option, the doomsday weapon launched to lay waste everything in your path.”

Lar’ragos digested that. “That’s quite the backhanded compliment.”

“If you want someone to blow sunshine up your ass, look elsewhere,” Liu sighed.

“You’re suggesting they sent Europa out here to do… what? Destroy the Amon outright?”

“And Sandhurst, if necessary,” Liu added. “I think Command is hoping you’ll convince Sandhurst’s tribe to make war against their countrymen, before wiping out whoever’s left standing at the end of that fight.”

A thrill of realization arced up Lar’ragos’ spine as Liu so effortlessly articulated what Lar’ragos had been unable to verbalize for days.

“When they replenished the Alpha Weapons Ramirez made off with, did Command issue us anything new?”

Lar’ragos closed his eyes, cursing his own lack of imagination. “As a matter of fact… yes.”

Liu called out, “Computer, end program.”

The idyllic environment vanished, leaving both men standing within a naked holodeck.

“There’s your answer then, Captain.” Liu walked towards the exit, pausing as the heavy doors parted with a pneumatic sigh. “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one,” Liu quoted from the Bhagavad Gita. “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

He left Lar’ragos alone on the holodeck, the younger man’s prophetic words ringing in his ears.

* * *
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Last edited by Gibraltar; September 23 2013 at 06:14 AM.
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Old September 22 2013, 10:23 PM   #45
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: UT:TFV – Part III – Infinities Unbound

Pava Lar'ragos - the nuclear option.

Well, yeah.
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